Jane Russell, who starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in the classic film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, has died aged 89.
Her daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield released a statement confirming the Hollywood star died from a respiratory-related illness on Monday night at her Santa Maria home.
The actress, who was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell in 1921 in Minnesota, took the screen by storm after being discovered by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.
He cast her in the 1943 western The Outlaw, catapulting her to stardom, and she quickly became a favourite pin-up of the American armed forces in World War Two.
Her most famous role came in 1953 with the classic Hollywood comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in which she starred alongside Marilyn Monroe.
She followed it up with other successful films such as The Tall Man, Foxfire and Gentlemen Marry Brunettes.
However her career slowed throughout the sixties, and Russell decided to leave acting behind.
She later told an interviewer: “Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn’t go on acting in those years if you were over 30.”
Russell remained active throughout her life until her health began to deteriorate a few weeks ago, working with the church and charitable organisations.
Waterfield said of her mother-in-law: “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.”
Russell leaves three adopted children, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
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