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    The Outlaw Sexpot Jane Russell Dies

    Jane Russell, The Outlaw Howard Hughes Productions

    Gentlemen didn't always prefer blondes.

    In the 1941 Western The Outlaw, it was brunette bombshell Jane Russell who had Doc Holiday and Billy the Kid ready to blow each other away. The film didn't see a wide theatrical release for five years because Russell's curves were too bodacious for the steam-censoring Hays Code.

    Russell died Monday of respiratory failure at her home in Santa Maria, Calif, just a few weeks after the still-active singer's health started to decline, according to her family. She was 89.

    The Outlaw was her motion-picture debut, and refusing to wear the tough-as-armor bra that was designed to strap her in turned out to be a very prudent decision.

    Bob Hope, whom she starred with in the 1948 comedy The Paleface and its 1952 sequel, would later refer to her as "the two and only Jane Russell."

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    Discovered by Howard Hughes, Russell was one of the biggest stars of the 1940s and '50s, when she landed roles opposite leading men like Clark Gable, Victor Mature, Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum.

    She even managed to hold her own against Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which featured Monroe's famous "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number. Sure enough, Russell starred in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes in 1956.

    The Minnesota native also kept up a singing career, cutting records with the Kay Kyser Orchestra, her own female gospel group and, after enjoying a successful nightclub run in Vegas, on her own.

    Her film career slowed down in the 1960s and Russell hit Broadway in 1971, replacing the fabulously cranky Elaine Stritch in Company.

    Russell, who adopted two children, also founded the World Adoption International Fund, which helped pioneer the practice of U.S. couples adopting from foreign countries, in 1955.

    In 2009, pointing out that true star presence never goes out of style, Glamour U.K. named her one of the 40 Most Iconic Movie Goddesses of All Time.

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