Sexy screen legend Jane Russell passed away in Santa Maria, Calif. of respiratory failure at the age of 89 on Monday, her family told the Associated Press.
Known for her voluptuous hourglass figure, the brunette beauty became a pinup queen and movie star in the mold of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and other icons — but managed to avoid any major upheaval or scandal in her personal life.
Russell's vampy breakout role was in the 1943 Western The Outlaw, directed by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. WWI soldiers were huge fans of the busty brunette, who wore low-cut costumes and swimsuits in countless photos.
Other Russell hits included comedy-western The Paleface (1948) with Bob Hope, Double Dynamite with Frank Sinatra, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a musical in which she went toe-to-toe (and sang) with Monroe. (Russell also starred in 1955 sequel, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, without the world-famous blonde).
Her star had faded by the 1960s, and Russell largely dropped out of Hollywood.
"Why did I quit movies?" she said in 1999. "Because I was getting too old! You couldn't go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30."
Instead, she kept busy doing nightclubs, TV and musical theater.
Married to football star Bob Waterfield throughout her life, she is survived by three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
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