Monday, June 21, 2010
Happy Birthday Jane Russell !
Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell, in Bemidji, Minnesota, she was eldest child and only daughter of the five children of Roy William Russell.
Her father was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and her mother was a former actress with a road troupe. Her parents spent the early years of their marriage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For her birth her mother temporarily moved back to the U.S. to make sure she was born a U.S. citizen. Later the family moved to the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. They lived in Burbank in 1930 and her father worked as an office manager at a soap manufacturing plant.
Russell's mother arranged for her to take piano lessons. In addition to music, she was interested in drama and performed in stage productions at Van Nuys High School. Her dreams were to be a designer, until the death of her father at forty-six, when she went to work as a receptionist after graduation. She also modeled and at the urging of her mother, studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop and with famed Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya.
In 1940, Russell was signed to a seven-year contract with Howard Hughes and made her first movie, The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to show her figure.
One of my favorite Jane Russell movies is:
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953).Director: Howard Hawks.Cast: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, Taylor Holmes, and Norma Varden in supporting roles. The screenplay by Charles Lederer. Music of songwriting teams Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson and Jule Styne and Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written for the film.
The movie is a comedy with musical numbers. Russell is down-to-earth, with a sharp wit. Monroe role is the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is best remembered. Who can forget Monroe's performance of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"!