Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Let's get this out in the open: Jane Russell had breasts. The actress, who passed away yesterday at the age of 89, famously debuted in 'The Outlaw,' a movie whose notorious reputation exceeded its actual content by tenfold. The original poster revealed too much of Russell's cleavage to please the Production Code Administration, which kept the film out of theaters for years. (Completed in 1941, it received a brief, limited release in 1943 and did not receive national release until 1950.)

As a bookend, she became famous to a generation of young men through her bra commercials in the 70s and 80s. Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that the first reports of her death provoked a ripple of cheap jokes on Twitter, as though the only reason that she should be remembered is because she was a woman and she had a full figure.

But such a stand betrays a woeful ignorance of both cinema history and her place in it. And it diminishes her attributes as a screen personality and star, a woman who was always warm and vivacious and strong.
categories Features