Jane Russell Dies at 89

Jane Russell has died at the age of 89 at home in Santa Maria, California of respiratory failure.

Jane Russell has died at the age of 89 with her family beside her in Santa Maria, California. The actress who was discovered by Howard Hughes when she was 19 and working in a doctor’s office. Hughes would cast her in The Outlaw in her first movie appearance.  She appeared in nineteen movies between 1943 and 1957. She would only appear in four more movies, with her last movie appearance coming in 1970 in Darker Than Amber. She was 49 the year her last movie was filmed.

Russell was born in Bemidji, Minnesota on June 21, 1921. Her family moved back to United States from Canada so she would be born a U.S. citizen.

She co-starred with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. Then in 1955 she received top billing in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes.

Television appearances were few and far between for Russell as she appeared in only seven television appearances with her last appearance being in a 1986. She hadn’t acted in movies or television in the last 25 years of her life.

Russell  would pursue a singing career that started in 1947 but she was more famous for her movie career. She did have a very listenable voice which was very soft. She was part of this singing group that included big band singer Connie Haines and actress Rhonda Fleming:

Jane Russell singing One For My Baby.

Allmusic.com has short  clips of many of her songs:


While going to church she became involved in singing with a group that included big band singer Connie Haines and would later include Rhonda Fleming another famous Hollywood actress.

Her first husband Bob Waterfield was a football player who won the Heisman Trophy and would later play quarterback in the NFL for the Cleveland Rams and Los Angeles Rams. He would be inducted later into the NFL Football Hall of Fame. Their marriage lasted twenty four years.

Roger Barrett an actor was her next husband but died only three months after their wedding. She next married John Peoples in 1974 and they would be married till his death in 1999.

Russell battled a drinking problem that got worse after his death but eventually conquered alcoholism and she had this to say about her reliance on God in the last paragraph of her New York Times obituary:

A higher power was always there, she wrote, “telling me that if I could just hold tough a little longer, I’d find myself around one more dark corner, see one more spot of light and have one more drop of pure joy in this journey called life.”


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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