Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Jane and her men

Miss Jane Russell, who would have been 95 years old today, was a bit of a conundrum. Unlike many of her compatriots in Hollywood - not least her friend and co-star Marilyn Monroe - she was a staunch religious Republican; yet she made her name as a "sweater girl" (largely thanks to Howard Hughes' obsession with her breasts), and campaigned on social justice issues such as adoption all her life - and to my knowledge was never on record saying anything discriminatory about race or sexuality issues.

Commenting on one of her ever-popular "in conversation" appearances in front of her adoring fans, Huffington Post columnist Danny Miller wrote:
...Russell was certainly no homophobe. She spent a lot of time in the Q&A waxing nostalgic over her openly gay choreographer in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Jack Cole. She repeatedly called him a genius and said he was largely responsible for the success of the film since neither she nor Marilyn Monroe could dance a step when they started shooting.

Jane always seemed to enjoy her status as a gay icon, and she commented on the bizarre bit of homoerotica in the film when she sings Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love in the middle of a training session for the Olympic team. As dozens of beefy studs go through their work-out moves, Jane darts in and out of their routines singing lines like “I like big muscles, and red corpuscles, I like a beautiful hunk of man.” The men ignore her completely and seem far more interested in each other as they gyrate in suggestive positions. How that bizarre scene ever got past the censors is beyond me.
I have featured this clip here several times before, no doubt, but, in this countdown week to London's Gay Pride on Saturday we always have time to squeeze in a "beautiful hunk of man". Or several!

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (21st June 1921 – 28th February 2011)


  1. Jane is brilliant! She's my favourite Republican movie star after Jimmy Stewart.

    I think she was pretty libertarian on most things except abortion (I think she had one as a young woman and regretted it.) I've never heard of her being intolerant at all.

    1. She certainly was not in the league of the likes of Ginger Rogers, who was more-than-enthusiastic in her support for McCarthy's "witch-hunts", apparently. Jx

  2. Some of the fifties movie stars who were conservative republicans are very odd, doesn't sit with what they played on screen.

    Gentleman Prefer Blondes is a rare chance to see two beautiful funny women who actually like each other in a movie. I can never remember the two men she and Marilyn end up with.

    1. Apart from "Piggy" and the little boy, there were no memorable men, really... Jx


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