From Obit Mag’s recent send-off to Jane Russell who died last week, “A Figure of Contradiction”:
Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell, the actress hailed from Bemidji, Minn., a place she seemed anxious to leave. At 19, she had an abortion, then illegal, and the operation was so botched that she was unable to bear children. In 1943, she married Bob Waterfield, her first boyfriend and a Los Angeles Rams quarterback; that marriage ended a quarter of a century later. Her second marriage, to actor Roger Barrett, came to an abrupt end after just three months when while making love to Russell, he suffered a heart attack (as who would not?). Russell’s third marriage lasted another 25 years.
During all this time, she made adoption her work and her life. She adopted a daughter and two sons; in 1952 she founded the World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), which claimed to have facilitated more than 50,000 adoptions. She also lobbied strongly for financial aid for those who adopt handicapped children.
Russell never was too clear on how she managed to reconcile the various parts of herself, especially the devout Christian (or as she once phrased it, “a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot”) and the sexy strumpet. But then why should she have managed to reconcile anything?
“Christians have bosoms too,” she used to say, with perfect accuracy.