Jane Russell vs. Marilyn Monroe

Jane Russell vs. Marilyn Monroe
Isabel del Rio
Outlaw with Jane Russell

Outlaw with Jane Russell

Once, Jane Russell said: “Sex appeal is good but not in bad taste. Then, it’s ugly. I don’t think a star has any business posing in a vulgar way. I’ve seen plenty of pin-up pictures that have sex appeal, interest, and allure, but they’re not vulgar. They have a little art to them. Marilyn’s calendar was artistic.”

Within days, August 5, it will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe. Yes, 50 years without the sexiest blonde girl of all times. Different honors are already been prepared because, in fact, we miss her and every newspaper, magazine or TV program will speak about her tragic death.

Thinking about the icons of the 20th century, sometimes we feel sad, all of them went with the wind (also Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh) and it’s true they live in their films but they weren’t only fantastic as actors or actresses, they were also fantastic in their private lives, in their public commentaries and in their scandalous affairs.

Jane Russell has been one of the last survivors of that marvelous Hollywood world of myths and stars. She died in 2011 assuring her friend Marilyn Monroe didn’t kill herself: “Right before she died, she was planning to marry Joe DiMaggio, her second husband, again, and she had a new movie contract. So I don’t think she killed herself…Someone did it for her… There were dirty tricks somewhere…Soon after Marilyn died, I met Bobby Kennedy and he looked at me as if to say: ‘I am your enemy’.”

Gentlemen prefer blondes

Gentlemen prefer blondes

Brave Jane Russell, without mincing words!!! She and Marilyn made ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ together and they were well-matched, particularly during their duet, ‘Two Little Girls From Little Rock’ but their personalities and fates were opposite, also their physical appearance.

Jane has black hair and was much taller and bigger than the girls of her time, with measurements of 38D-24-36 and standing 5’7″ (97-61-91 cm and 1.7 meters). Bob Hope once said: “Culture is the ability to describe Jane Russell without moving your hands.” And Howard Hughes, less elegant: “There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough.” On the contrary, Marilyn was little and blonde and terrible shy.

“I remember –Jane Russell said- there was this actor, Tommy Noonan, who had to do a kissing scene with her, and afterwards some guy asked: ‘You’ve just kissed Marilyn Monroe. What was it like?’ And Tommy replied: ‘It was like being swallowed alive.’ Marilyn overheard that and ran crying to her dressing room.”

However, Jane Russell grew up with boys, she was the eldest child and only daughter of the five children of Roy William Russell, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and boys didn’t bother her. “I knew all about them. I don’t think Marilyn did.”

Both of them had several divorces and problems with drugs, but the strongest Jane Russell overcame the problems and during 40 years, she devoted herself to WAIF – World Adoption International Fund, an organization for the adoption of children, which she founded.

I don’t know if gentlemen prefer blondes but the only surviving copy of ‘The Outlaw’ poster, which depicts Jane Russell lounging in a haystack, her skirt hitched up to her thighs, a gun in her hand and a provocative expression in her eyes, it was sold a few years ago for a record-breaking £52,000.

Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, two opposite women but two good friends… we remember both of them.

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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