Most people know two things about Jane Russell:
Her scandalous-for-the-time promo shots of The Outlaw featuring what is generally acknowledged as the first underwire push-up bra, invented under the watchful eye of producer and tissue-box enthusiast Howard Hughes and being the woman who wasn’t Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Speaking of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, everyone knows the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number, many even know the showgirl piece “Just Two Little Girls from Little Rock” but what folks seem to forget is the greatest assembly of golden age Safety Gays ever committed to celluloid:
I loved Jane Russell because she was obviously so much smarter than the doofuses who treated her as a just a bouncy bouncy bombshell. Plus, she inadventently helped a young Miss Plumcake come to peace with dressing her body.
In an interview sometime before 1993, Ms Russell bemoaned what a terrible time costumers had dressing her because she was so tall, long-waisted and actually much bigger than the 38-24-36 measurements the studio’s publicity department decided she had. She never once said it was a problem with her figure, the problem was with inept costumers, NOT her figure.
WELL! Enough lightbulbs to power Dallas went off in my young head. Was it possible the reason I had problems finding clothes that made me look as fabulous as I wanted (and remember, I was probably about 12 at this point) wasn’t because there was something wrong with ME, but with the people making the clothes?
I mean there was certainly nothing wrong with Jane Russell’s figure, and if SHE had a hard time of it, then CLEARLY the fault wasn’t in the star, dear Brutus, but in her seamstresses.
JR never got the respect she deserved as an actress. Her comedic timing was great and her dramatic roles had an undercurrent of ferocity that elevated even the flimsiest script. Yes, she had a great rack and was beautiful, but she was sharp, bright and unapologetic on and off the screen.
Rest in peace, Ms Russell, and in Heaven I hope everyone has the courtesy to look you in the eyes.