Jane Russell, Star of '40s and '50s Films, Dies

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Actress Jane Russell has passed away at the age of 89.

Surrounded by family members, the silver screen legend died Monday at her home in the central coast city of Santa Maria, Calif.

Russell was best known for her role in Howard Hughes 1941 western "The Outlaw." The film was released in 1943 to harsh reviews. The Los Angeles Times called it "one of the weirdest Western pictures that ever unreeled before the public."

She also starred in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" with Marilyn Monroe and in the Westerns "The Tall Men," with Clark Gable, and "Foxfire," with Jeff Chandler.

The actress turned to the Christian faith after a battle with alcoholism, relying on lessons she learned from her mother, who taught her the Bible.

Russell retired from the screen in the early 1970s and became an advocate for Christian and conservative values.

She continued to appear in nightclubs, television and musical theater, including a stint on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim's "Company." She formed a singing group with Connie Haines and Beryl Davis, and they recorded gospel songs.

She was also the leader of the Hollywood Christian Group, a group of people active in the film industry who gathered for Bible study and charitable activities.

After experiencing problems in adopting her three children, she founded World Adoption International Fund, which has helped facilitate adoptions of more than 40,000 children from overseas. She made hundreds of appearances for WAIF and served on the board for 40 years.

Her daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield said Russell remained active until just a few weeks ago when her health began to fail. Until then, she was active with her church, charities that were close to her heart, and as a member of a singing group that made occasional appearances around Santa Maria.

"She always said 'I'm going to die in the saddle, I'm not going to sit at home and become an old woman,'" Waterfield told The Associated Press on Monday. "And that's exactly what she did -- she died in the saddle."

A public funeral is scheduled March 12 at 11 a.m. at Pacific Christian Center in Santa Maria.

In lieu of flowers, Russell's family asks that donations be made in her name to either the Care Net Pregnancy and Resource Center of Santa Maria or the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County.

Related Link:

Pacific Christian Center

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