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Hollywood star Jane Russell dies at 89

BBC News, 1st March 2011

Former Hollywood actress and sex symbol Jane Russell has died at the age of 89.

The brunette was discovered by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, who cast her in his 1943 Western The Outlaw.

Some of her most memorable films include the The Paleface (1948) with Bob Hope, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe.

She died on Monday at her home in California of a respiratory-related illness, her daughter-in-law confirmed.

"She always said I'm going to die in the saddle, I'm not going to sit at home and become an old woman. And that's exactly what she did, she died in the saddle," Etta Waterfield said, recounting that Russell had remained active in her local community until illness intervened in recent weeks.

Russell was a pin-up girl in the 1940s and 1950s, but her film career had faded by the 1960s.

"Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn't go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30," she said in an interview in 1999.

In 1971, she featured in the Broadway musical Company.

Later, she appeared in TV commercials promoting brassieres, including the 18-hour bra for Playtex.

Russell married three times and adopted three children.

After experiencing problems during the adoption process, she founded the World Adoption International Agency, which has helped organise the adoptions in the US of tens of thousands of children from overseas.

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

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