Russell, Ernestine Jane Geraldine
Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011) was an American film actress, and was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. Inscribed Photograph, n.d. - 8 x 10 B/W written in silver flet pen due to the high glossy finish on photo paper. Light yellowish hue around edging seen and a light crease in right sphere. Overall, fine condition.
Russell moved from the Midwest to California, where she had her first film role in 1943 with The Outlaw.
In 1947 Russell delved into music before returning to films. After starring in multiple films in the 1950s, Russell again returned to music while completing several other films in the 1960s. She starred in more than 20 films throughout her career.
Russell married three times, adopted three children, and in 1955 founded the World Adoption International Fund. She received several accolades for her achievements in films, including having her hand- and footprints immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1940 Russell was signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul, Howard Hughes, and made her motion-picture debut in The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure. Although the movie was completed in 1941, it was not released until 1943 in a limited release. It finally was released to a wide distribution in 1946. There were problems with the censorship of the production code over the way her ample cleavage was displayed. When the movie was finally passed, it had a general release in 1946. During that time she was kept busy doing publicity and became known nationally.
Contrary to countless incorrect reports in the media since the release of The Outlaw, Russell did not wear the specially designed underwire bra that Howard Hughes had designed and made for her to wear during filming.
According to Jane’s 1985 autobiography, she said the bra was so uncomfortable that she secretly discarded it and wore her own bra with the cups padded with tissue and the straps pulled up to elevate her breasts.
In 1947, Russell attempted to launch a musical career. She sang with the Kay Kyser Orchestra on radio and recorded two singles with his band, "As Long As I Live" and "Boin-n-n-ng!" She also cut a 78 rpm album that year for Columbia Records, Let’s Put Out the Lights, which included eight torch ballads and cover art that included a diaphanous gown that for once put the focus more on her legs than on her breasts.
She performed in an assortment of movie roles. She played Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount, and Mike "the Torch" Delroy opposite Hope in another western comedy, Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount. Russell played Dorothy Shaw in the hit film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Marilyn Monroe for 20th Century Fox.
Russell’s hand- and footprints are immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.
In February 1952, she and Waterfield adopted a baby girl, Tracy. In December 1952, they adopted a fifteen-month-old boy, Thomas, whose birth mother, Hannah McDermott had moved to London to escape poverty in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and, in 1956, she and Waterfield adopted a nine-month-old boy, Robert John.
In 1955 she founded World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), an organization to place children with adoptive families and which pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans.
At the height of her career, Russell started the “Hollywood Christian Group", a weekly Bible study at her home which was attended by many of the leading names in the film industry.