Actress Jane Russell, star of Howard Hughes’ ‘The Outlaw,’ dies at 89

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Actress Jane Russell, who became a star with the 1943 release of “The Outlaw,” Howard Hughes’ challenge to the Hollywood production code, has died. She was 89.

Russell went on to play Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in “The Paleface” (1948), and she starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

As former Times staff writer Claudia Luther explains in her obituary of the actress, “Russell’s provocative performance in ‘The Outlaw’ -- and the studio publicity shots posing her in a low-cut blouse reclined on a stack of hay bales -- marked a turning point in moviedom sexuality. She became a bona fide star and a favorite pinup girl of soldiers during World War II. Troops in Korea named two embattled hills in her honor. ...

“Meanwhile, Hughes brilliantly publicized the film, issuing Russell-in-the-haystack posters with such lines as ‘How Would You Like to Tussle With Russell?’ and ‘Mean! Moody! Magnificent!’ In one publicity stunt, askywriter wrote ‘The Outlaw’ in the sky and then carefully drew two circles with a dot in the center of each.”

Some readers will remember Russell as a pitchwoman for Playtex bras, for “full-figured women.”


The full obituary of Jane Russell will follow at

Until then, tell us your favorite Jane Russell movie memory.