Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jane Russell

Ms Russell

From "The Outlaw"


Favorite WWII Pin Up (I don't know why)


"Yeah, I'm looking at you."

With Clark Gable

On the beach

With Marilyn

"The girl with the summer-hot lips... and the winter-cold heart"

I was very saddened to learn of the death Monday of Jane Russell, one of our countries more interesting actresses in the 1940's and 50s. She was a few months shy of her 90th birthday when she passed away from a respiratory related illness in her home, up north in Santa Maria, California. She died a born again Christian, and staunch Republican, pro-life conservative, so she and I would not have agreed on many issues, but I'm not writing this to debate her misguided political and social beliefs, rather I'm doing this to celebrate her life, her career, and the fact that she most likely helped us win World War II.
She was born while still very young in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1921. Bemidji means "lake that traverses another body of water" in Ojibwe, which of course is an indigenous language of the Algonquian family of languages. I assume Bemidji is near a lake. But here's something you probably didn't know, when she was born her name was Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell. She lost two of those names when she became a big movie star. Her father, William, was an officer in the army. Her mom, Geraldine, a former actress. Jane was the eldest of five kids, and the only girl (female).
Bill and Geraldine spent a lot of time in Canada when they first got married, moving back to the states when Jane was born to make sure she was an American citizen. As a matter of fact Jane's heritage is three quarters Canadian, and one quarter German.
Hey, guess what? The family soon found their way down here to L.A., Burbank specifically, in the San Fernando Valley, where I grew up. I've lived in Burbank as well. It gets hot there sometimes.
Geraldine arranged for Jane to take piano lessons. My mom arranged for me to take accordion lessons, which is actually very similar to the piano, except you can carry it around, and it sounds different. So Jane and I had a great deal in common despite our inherent political and philosophical beliefs. Here's another similarity, we were both interested in drama and appeared in high school theatrical productions, she at Van Nuys High School, and me at nearby Monroe (about three miles away as the crow flies). Isn't it wonderful!
Jane wished to be a designer of some kind, perhaps submarines. However she began working as receptionist for a dentist after her father died and she graduated high school. Being very pretty for a girl, she also found work modeling, and continued studying drama, following in her mother's footsteps.
Despite the tragic events that led to the death of Kristi Johnson ( ), sometimes, very rarely, what some call miracles do happen.
A casting agent for the aviation pioneer and burgeoning film producer, Howard Hughes, was looking for a voluptuous young female type person to play Billy the Kid's love interest in his upcoming production of "The Outlaw." Jane with measurements that averaged 38D-25-36 throughout her career certainly fit the bill. She got the part after one audition, and Howard signed her to a seven year contract in 1940. Hughes took an avid interest in his new star (but never romantically, despite his reputation for getting involved with young starlets. Jane was engaged at the time with her high school sweetheart, Bob Waterfield, who she would marry in 1943) and fired his director, Howard Hawks (although he is credited as co-director), taking over that chore himself. He used his engineering skills to design a special bra for Jane that emphasized her ample cleavage. Jane latter confessed that she never wore it, using her own bra while hiding the straps under her blouse (see the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pictures above).
For the time (1943) the footage of Jane was rather controversial, and Hughes had a great deal of trouble with censors. The film itself didn't do all that well at the box office, but it was Jane's breakthrough role, largely due to the costuming, turning her into a sex symbol, and Hollywood icon.
This is what Gil Kaufman of MTV said of her yesterday: "You can thank Jane Russell for "Sucker Punch" [I'm thinking he's referring to the upcoming movie starring Emily Browning], every Roger Corman jigglefest, the Catwoman outfit Halle Berry was poured into and just about any other body-baring costume that a Hollywood actress has shimmied in over the past 70 years. The buxom pinup beauty who helped push the envelope in onscreen sensuality."
The quote at the top of this post is from Ms. Russell herself, an estimate I believe, of what she thought of her public image.
Jane chose not to make another picture for three years, until 1946. But that fourth picture above, with her holding the revolver, was very popular with our servicemen fighting overseas during World War II, and has been credited, by some, as being one of the main reasons we won so quickly after invading France in 1944 (our boys wanted to get back home ASAP)... I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that her breasts singlehandedly saved millions of lives.
Jane attempted a musical career, singing in orchestras and making records. And she continued her work in motion pictures, staring with Bob Hope in 1948s "Paleface," and 1952s "Son of Paleface." Here's a clip with cowboy Roy Rogers:
She appeared with Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Here's a clip from that:
She appeared with Robert Mitchum twice, in "His Kind of Woman," and "Macao." Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx in "Double Dynamite" (I'm not exactly sure what the title is referring to), Victor Mature, Vincent Price, and Hoagy Carmichael in "The Las Vegas Story," and Clark gable and Robert Ryan in "The Tall Men."
In the late 50s she formed a production company with her husband and made three films. After making "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown," in 1957, she did not appear in a movie for seven years.
She became very involved with Christianity and formed The Hollywood Christian Group, a weekly Bible study at her home which was arranged for Christians in the film industry. She also toured as a solo musical performer in Las Vegas, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Europe.
Her next movie appearance came in "Fate Is The Hunter," in 1964, in which she was seen as herself performing for the USO in a flashback sequence. She made only four more movies after that, playing character parts in the final two.
In 1999, she remarked, "Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn't go on acting in those years if you were an actress over thirty."
1970s "Darker than Amber," a detective mystery starring Rod Taylor, was the last film Jane acted in.
Also in the 1970s, she started appearing in T.V. commercials as a spokesperson for Playtex. "'Cross-Your-Heart Bras' for us full-figured gals," she would say, featuring the "18-Hour Bra." I remember these vividly, and still wonder what happens exactly after 18 hours. I NEED TO KNOW!
Jane was married three times. Unable to have children herself due to her own abortions she received starting when she was 18, she adopted three children.
Describing her shock at finding herself pregnant at eighteen: "The only solution was to find a quack and get an abortion. I had a botched abortion and it was terrible. Afterwards my own doctor said, 'What butcher did this to you?' I had to be taken to hospital. I was so ill I nearly died. I've never known pain like it."
She later became a pro-life supporter: "People should never, ever have an abortion. Don't talk to me about it being a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death."
Our opinions evolve over time and experience.
She was involved throughout her later years in Christian and republican causes.
Jane's hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater (where only Chinese people can go) and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2009 she was voted one of the 40 most Iconic Movie Goddesses of all time by Glamour magazine, U.K. edition (my apologies to Bree Olson).
Here's a tribute:
Jane died at home, surrounded by her children. Like all of us her life was filled with pain, happiness, successes and sorrow. She was beautiful until the end and she will be remembered and missed.
Goodbye lovely lady.
A public funeral will be held on March 12, at Pacific Christian Church, Santa Maria.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Anne Again, & The 2011 Academy Awards

Ms Anne

The Hosts




Ooopps! This is her next movie.

I was talking to my lovely sister over the weekend, just a few hours before the 83rd annual Academy Award presentation was to begin right here in Los Angeles, in Hollywood in fact, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. It was around three in the afternoon, and we both planned on watching the ceremony. We didn't know why. Neither of us had been involved in the production of any of the nominated films. Neither of us had acted in any capacity in "The King's Speech" or "Inception" (although my lovely ex-case manager Erin and I had been chased off of the set of "Inception," while they were filming here downtown. We have pictures to prove it). We didn't write "The Social Network," or "The Fighter," or even "Toy Story 3," for that matter. As a matter of fact my sister Cheryl and I don't have any thing to do at all with the entertainment business whatsoever. It is true that I used to deliver booze to various stars inside the Universal City lot, along with my father of course, who owned the liquor store where the booze came from, but that was a very long time ago, more time than I'd like to admit. And I'm not exactly sure if delivering alcohol to Grandpa Munster counts exactly as "being in the business." So why were Cheryl and I looking forward to watching this three hour plus, self congratulatory, self aggrandizing, unapologetic monument to narcissistic, economic self promotion?
Nothing better to do I guess.
But that's not the true story at all. I have a long history of watching the Academy Awards. I don't know why (I remember clearly when Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Award for the "Godfather" due to his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television, sending instead American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who appeared in full Apache dress. And before that I'll always remember (it's not easy to remember as I was on acid at the time) the look on young (26 year old) Goldie Hawn's face when she opened the envelope for the Best Actor Award in 1971. First she sucked in her breath, shocked when she read who the winner was, then recovered her poise, smiled, and blurted out, "George C. Scott, for 'Patton.'" Scott had not attended the ceremony, had in fact stated he would refuse the award if it were presented to him feeling the politics surrounding such awards were "demeaning" and described the Oscar ceremony as "a two-hour meat parade." Little did he know it would evolve into a three and a half hour meat parade). I've seen them almost every year that I can think of (except when I served overseas in the navy). I guess it is due to the fact that I love movies so much, and know quite a bit about them. I have no idea why my sister watches the awards, although I know she enjoys films a great deal. Currently she enjoys films with Johnny Depp and Ryan Reynolds in them. But neither actor was to be found at the 83 annual Academy Award Show.
I made a point of watching every film that had been nominated for the Best Picture category before the awards, except one, "The Kids Are Alright." Not that I have any thing against lesbians. That's hardly the case. Some of my best friends are lesbians. Hell, if I were a girl I'd be a lesbian myself! It was just that no one sent me a DVD screener for the movie, and I could not muster the energy to rent it, so it was essentially inaccessible to me. I watched many other films that were released in 2010 that were not nominated for Best Picture to compensate (like "Skyline," where the aliens come to suck out our brains. I hope they make better use of them than we do).
So I believed myself to be thoroughly prepared for the evening. I had put in the work, and was ready to see who the winners would be (although there were not any big surprises throughout the night).
There was another reason I was happy to watch the awards. I told my sister.
"I'm secretly in love with Anne Hathaway," I told her. "Please don't tell anybody."
"You're in love with all of them," she inartfully replied.
It seems to be true, about Anne that is. Ms Hathaway is one of the very few ladies who have made repeat appearances on this very website, Joyce's Take. She first appeared on the second post... right after the first! Back in February of 2008. Here it is right here:
See! I told you. The occasion was the Academy Awards again. It's so funny how they keep popping up! She had been involved briefly with Hugh Jackman's opening bit, and I had commented on what a great job she did. She was wonderful, and I'm not saying that just because I was secretly in love with her at the time (yes, even back then).
She came back to Joyce's Take quite unexpectedly last November, the 12th to be precise, on one of the many birthday tributes that makes their way onto the site every now and then. Here is Anne's:
Anyway, she was so good that they invited her back to actually host the awards last Sunday night with the wonderful actor James Franco. You may have seen him in films like "Spiderman," "Pineapple Express," and "Milk." By golly, he was even nominated this year for Best Actor himself for his performance in "127 Hours." It amazes me that he didn't win! I mean anybody who cuts their own arm off in service to their craft should certainly deserve that recognition at least!
But it was not to be. Colin Firth won for "The King's Speech" (damn foreigner).
Here is a promo that James and Anne worked very hard on:
And here's the opening of the awards itself, which I enjoyed very much:
Anyway, the awards over now, the show itself has met with a great deal of negative reviews. Some saying it was too long (they always say that), some say it was the most boring in history, some that James seemed disinterested, distracted, or "high," on some kind of drug that makes one appear disinterested and distracted. They say of Anne, she was too perky, or too confident that everything was going well and playing off that. Many people got on this rolling bandwagon of heaping verbal and written abuse of the show and the guest hosts, it seemed to be the "in" thing to do.
You know what I say to all of that negativity. I say bullshit! That's what I say. I think both of the hosts were wonderful, especially Anne... because I'm secretly in love with her (although she really is a little too old for me).
Even 94 year old veteran actor and icon, the legendary Kirk Douglas thought Anne was wonderful (the lecherous bastard):
So I don't care what anybody says. If there was anything off about Sunday's presentation it had to due with the writing, a matter that was beyond the control of James and Anne, and I would have either or both of them back anytime, especially Anne.
Because I'm secretly in love with her.
I think Kirk is too.
Please don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Sweet Sixteen Jessie!


Erin & Jessie
The two lovely sisters in a stare out
I don't know why

This morning it is my great pleasure and honor to wish my lovely ex-case manager's sister, Jessie, a very happy sixteenth birthday! 16 times around the Sun. Way to go. She is into gymnastics, as am I. I'm going to go do some work on the old rings right now as a matter of fact. Well, everybody here at Joyce's Take wishes her every happiness, continued good health and fortune, many more successful trips throughout the solar system, and a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Jessie!