Controversial Hollywood sex symbol and actress Jane Russell has died in California at the age of 89.The star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes died of respiratory problems at her home in Santa Maria, central California.
"Jane Russell passed away peacefully today at home surrounded by her children at her bedside," son Buck Waterfield said in a statement.
Russell was one of the leading actresses of the 40s and 50s, getting her start in Howard Hughes-produced smash hit The Outlaw.
The star was discovered by chance when Hughes spotted her working as a receptionist at his dentist's office just as he was seeking a heroine for the film.
The poster for the movie showed the sultry Russell languishing on a bed of straw, looking petulant as her tight-fitting peasant blouse slipped off one shoulder.
The issue ended up in court, with one judge saying Russell's breasts "hung over the picture like a thunderstorm over a landscape. They were everywhere".
"There was absolutely nothing wrong with the picture," Russell told Christianity Today in 1999 in an interview that emphasised her religious faith.
"It was an amazing time. But all it was about was some cleavage!"
Censors held up The Outlaw for almost three years before a limited release in 1943.
Russell was at her best in comedies that, subtly or not, spoofed her sexpot image and focused on her figure.
Reviews of The Outlaw and many of her films were less kind, with one critic calling her "the queen of motionless pictures".
Russell is best remembered for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), a comedy musical in which Russell played the idealistic but responsible brunette to Marilyn Monroe's flighty and naive blonde.
The movie created a lasting friendship between the actresses.
"Jane tried to convert me [to Christianity] and I tried to introduce her to Freud," Monroe said.
At the age of 60, Russell's figure once again gained the attention of millions - this time on television screens advertising a brand of bras for "full-figured" women.
In 1978, she made headlines by being jailed for four days for drink driving and began her successful battle against alcoholism.
'Christians have bosoms too'Russell once told an interviewer that "Christians have bosoms too" and in her autobiography she talked about the conflict between her religious faith and her image.
She jokingly told Christianity Today that she could be described as "a mean-spirited right-wing conservative Christian bigot".
But she quickly qualified that: "I'm not bigoted about race at all. I am bigoted about those idiots that are trying to take the Ten Commandments off the wall [in courtrooms], the Bible out of school and prayer even out of football games."
Russell helped start the Hollywood Christian Group, a Bible study class, and said she was proudest of her work for children's causes.
The actress was born on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota and grew up in Southern California's San Fernando Valley.
Bob Hope, who once introduced her as "the two and only Miss Russell," teamed with her in 1948 in the Western spoof The Paleface which was followed by a sequel.
Russell also had a hit with Clark Gable in The Tall Men in 1955 but many of her movies were quickly forgotten.
However, her performance as a dance-hall girl in Montana Belle (1952) led to a career singing in nightclubs and on television.
By her own account, Russell's marriage to football hero Bob Waterfield was tempestuous.
They had no biological children, due to an inept back-alley abortion Russell underwent in her youth, and instead adopted three children.
Russell divorced Waterfield after 25 years and married actor Roger Barrett but he died three months later.
In 1971, Russell married John Peoples, a retired Air Force colonel who died in 1999.