Actress Jane Russell, who lived in Sherman Oaks during the years she was starring in Hollywood movies, died today at the age of 89. Russell got started in drama at Van Nuys High School. She went on to become one of the most well known actresses in America during the 1940s and 50s.
At the height of her career, Russell was married to another graduate of Van Nuys High School, Bob Waterfield who was quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams NFL football team. They were married for 23 years and lived in the Sherman Oaks hills on Round Valley Drive.
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., flowers will be placed on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Russell's big break came in 1943 with release of "The Outlaw," a Howard Hughes production that showcased Russell's voluptuous figure. Russell's cleavage in the movie clashed with the Hollywood production code of the 1940s and it created censorship problems for the movie's producers. The film was banned in many cites.
"She was the sexiest movie star of her era," said 76 year old Mark Rosenblatt who lived in Boston where the movie was banned when it came out.
" I was only 9 years old at the time, but the ads for the movie were so provacative that I wanted to see it," added Rosenblatt.
"There was nobody sexier than Jane Russell," he said.
Russell went on to co- star with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, among them Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Clark Cable, Robert Ryan and others.
Russell got started in music at Van Nuys High School, she launched a singing career in the late 1940s and debuted a solo nightclub act in Las Vegas during the 1950s according to Wikipedia.
Married three times, after her marriage to Waterfield ended she was briefly married to actor Robert Barrett. Russell's third marriage was to real estate broker John Peoples, that union lasted 25 years until his death in 1999. The couple lived in Montecito where Russell was involved in a number of Christian charities and community projects.
Unable to have children herself, Russell and Waterfield adopted two boys and a girl when they lived in Sherman Oaks. Some current residents of Round Valley Drive still remember when Russell and Waterfield were neighbors.
"Bob used to shoot deer out of his upstairs bedroom window," a neighbor told us last December. The two story house they lived in has been torn down but the rear of the home faced a wilderness area where deer still run free today.
"During the years they lived in Sherman Oaks Jane Russell and her quarterback husband Bob Waterfield were one of L.A.'s golden couples," said the neighbor who asked that his name not be used.
Russell died at the home where she lived with her son's family in Santa Maria along the Central Coast of California.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. March 12 at Pacific Christian Church in Santa Maria.