Jane Russell, Sex Symbol of 1940s and '50s, Dies

UPDATED 03/01/2011 at 08:00 AM EST Originally published 02/28/2011 at 08:20 PM EST

Jane Russell: Hollywood Sex Symbol Dead
Jane Russell
George Hurrell/John Kobal Foundation/Getty
Jane Russell, the full-figured beauty who was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols of the 1940s and '50s, died Monday at her home in Santa Maria, Calif.

The Minnesota-born icon, 89, died of a respiratory-related illness, according to reports.

Discovered by Howard Hughes in 1941, Russell shot to fame in the controversial Western The Outlaw, about Billy the Kid. The publicity stills were as scandalous as the film, with Russell sprawled in the hay wearing a tight, low-cut dress.

Russell also hit movie gold in 1953, when she starred opposite Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Russell also tried a career in music, forming a gospel group that had a hit single in the mid-'50s.

Following her gospel career, Russell started the Hollywood Christian Group, a Bible study at her home for people in the film industry. She also appeared periodically on television's Praise the Lord.

Russell was married three times. Unable to have children on her own, Russell and first husband Bob Waterfield adopted two boys and a girl, and in1955, she founded World Adoption International Fund.

Russell was married to her third husband, John Calvin Peoples, through his 1999 death.

Please note: Comments have been suspended temporarily as we explore better ways to serve you. Your opinion is important to us; you can find current discussions at facebook.com/peoplemag.

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters