Jane Russell Tribute

Sadly we say goodbye today to actress, singer, dancer, Jane Russell who passed away at age 89.

LOS ANGELES — Jane Russell, the brunette who was discovered by Howard Hughes and went on to become one of the biggest stars of the 1940s and ’50s, has died at age 89.

Russell’s daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield says the actress died Monday at her home in Santa Maria of a respiratory-related illness.

Hughes, the eccentric billionaire, cast Russell in his sexy, and controversial, 1941 Western “The Outlaw,” turning her into an overnight star.

She would go on to appear opposite such leading men as Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope, as well as fellow actress Marilyn Monroe.

Although her film career slowed in the 1960s, Russell remained active throughout her life.

Until her health began to decline a few weeks ago, Waterfield said she remained active singing and working for various causes.

Source: foxnews.com
Bio
Jane Russell was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell in Bemidji, Minnesota, she was eldest child and only daughter of the five children of Roy William Russell (January 5, 1890 – July 18, 1937) and Geraldine Jacobi (January 2, 1891 – December 26, 1986).Her parents were both born in North Dakota. Three of her grandparents were born in Canada, while her paternal grandmother was born in Germany. Her parents married in 1917. Her father was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and her mother was a former actress with a road troupe. Her parents spent the early years of their marriage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For her birth her mother temporarily moved back to the U.S. to ensure she was born a U.S. citizen. Later the family moved to the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. They lived in Burbank in 1930 and her father worked as an office manager at a soap manufacturing plant. 

“Bye Bye Baby”


Russell’s mother arranged for her to take piano lessons. In addition to music, she was interested in drama and participated in stage productions at Van Nuys High School. Her early ambition was to be a designer of some kind, until the death of her father at forty-six, when she decided to work as a receptionist after graduation. She also modeled for photographers and, at the urging of her mother, studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt’s Theatrical Workshop and with famed Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya.
Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

In 1940, Russell was signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul Howard Hughes[1] and made her motion picture debut in The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure. Although the movie was completed in 1941, it was released for a limited showing two years later. There were problems with the censorship of the production code over the way her ample cleavage was displayed. When the movie was finally passed, it had a general release in 1946. During that time, she was kept busy doing publicity and became known nationally. Contrary to countless incorrect reports in the media since the release of The Outlaw, Russell did not wear the specially designed underwire bra (the first of its kind[2]) that Howard Hughes constructed for the film. According to Jane’s 1988 autobiography, she was given the bra, decided it had a mediocre fit, and wore her own bra on the film set with the straps pulled down.

With measurements of 38D-24-36 and standing 5’7″ she was more statuesque than most of her contemporaries. Aside from thousands of quips from radio comedians, including Bob Hope, who once introduced her as “the two and only Jane Russell” and “Culture is the ability to describe Jane Russell without moving your hands”, the photo of her on a haystack was a popular pin-up with servicemen during World War II. She was not in another movie until 1946, when she played Joan Kenwood in Young Widow for RKO.

“When Love Goes Wrong”

In 1947, Russell attempted to launch a musical career. She sang with the Kay Kyser Orchestra on radio and recorded two singles with his band, “As Long As I Live” and “Boin-n-n-ng!” She also cut a 78 rpm album that year for Columbia Records, Let’s Put Out the Lights, which included eight torch ballads and cover art that included a diaphanous gown that for once put the focus more on her legs than on her breasts. In a 2009 interview for the liner notes to another CD, Fine and Dandy, Russell denounced the Columbia album as “horrible and boring to listen to”. It was reissued on CD in 2002, in a package that also included the Kyser singles and two songs she recorded for Columbia in 1949 that went unreleased at the time. In 1950, she recorded a single, “Kisses and Tears,” with Frank Sinatra and The Modernaires for Columbia.

“Am I In Love?”

She performed in an assortment of movie roles, which included Calamity Jane, opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount, and Mike “the Torch” Delroy opposite Hope in another western comedy, Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount. Russell was Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Marilyn Monroe for 20th Century Fox, which was well-received.

She appeared in two movies opposite Robert Mitchum, His Kind of Woman (1951) and Macao (1952). Other co-stars include Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx in the comedy Double Dynamite (1951); Victor Mature, Vincent Price and Hoagy Carmichael in The Las Vegas Story (1952); Jeff Chandler in Foxfire (1955); and Clark Gable and Robert Ryan in The Tall Men (1955).

In Howard Hughes’ RKO production The French Line (1954), the movie’s penultimate moment showed Russell in a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit with strategic cut outs, performing a then-provocative musical number titled “Lookin’ for Trouble”. In her autobiography, Russell said that the revealing outfit was an alternative to Hughes’ original suggestion of a bikini, a very racy choice for a movie costume in 1954. Russell said that she initially wore the bikini in front of her “horrified” movie crew while “feeling very naked”. She and her first husband, former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield, formed Russ-Field Productions in 1955. They produced Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956) starring Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker, Run for the Sun (1956) and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957).

On “What’s My Line?”

She starred in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, opposite Jeanne Crain, and in The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956). After making The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957), which failed at the box-office, she did not appear on the silver screen again for seven years.On the musical front, Russell formed a gospel group with Connie Haines, former vocalist in the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, and Beryl Davis, a British emigrant who had moved to the U.S. after success entertaining American troops stationed in England during World War II. With Della Russell as a fourth voice and backed by an orchestra conducted by Lyn Murray, their Coral single “Do Lord” reached number 27 on the Billboard singles chart in May 1954. Russell, Haines and Davis followed up with an LP for Capitol Records, The Magic of Believing. According to the liner notes on this album, the group started when the women met at a church social. Later, another Hollywood bombshell, Rhonda Fleming, joined them for more gospel recordings. A collection of some of Russell’s gospel and secular recordings was issued on CD in England in 2005, and the Capitol LP was issued on CD in 2008, in a package that also included more secular recordings, including Russell’s spoken word performances of Hollywood Riding Hood and Hollywood Cinderella backed by a jazz group that featured Terry Gibbs and Tony Scott.

In October 1957, she debuted in a successful solo nightclub act at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. She also fulfilled later engagements in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe. A self-titled solo LP was issued on MGM Records in 1959. It was reissued on CD in 2009 under the title Fine and Dandy, and the CD included some demo and soundtrack recordings as well. “I finally got to make a record the way I wanted to make it”, she said of the MGM album in the liner notes to the CD reissue. In 1961, she debuted with a tour of Janus in New England. In the fall of 1961, she performed in Skylark at the Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago. In November 1962, she performed in Bells Are Ringing at the Westchester Town House in Yonkers, New York.

At her 89th Birthday Gala


Her next movie appearance came in Fate Is the Hunter (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 1971, she starred in the musical drama Company, making her debut on Broadway in the role of Joanne, succeeding Elaine Stritch. Russell performed the role of Joanne for almost six months. Also in the 1970s, she started appearing in television commercials as a spokeswoman for Playtex “cross your heart bras for us full-figured gals”, featuring the “18-hour bra”. She wrote an autobiography in 1985, Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours. In 1989, she received the Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award.

Russell’s hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.

Russell has had three husbands: Bob Waterfield, a UCLA All American, Cleveland Rams and Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Los Angeles Rams head coach, and Pro Football Hall of Fame member (married on April 24, 1943, then divorced in July 1968); the actor Roger Barrett, (married on August 25, 1968 through his death on November 18, 1968); and the real-estate broker John Calvin Peoples (married January 31, 1974 through his death on April 9, 1999). Russell and Peoples lived in Sedona, Arizona for a few years, but spent the majority of their married life residing in Montecito, California. In February 1952, she and Waterfield adopted a baby girl, Tracy. In December 1952, they adopted a fifteen-month-old boy, Thomas, and in 1956 she and Waterfield adopted a nine-month-old boy, Robert John. Russell herself was unable to have children and, in 1955, she founded World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), an organization to place children with adoptive families that pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans.

At the height of her career, Russell started the “Hollywood Christian Group”, a weekly Bible study at her home which was arranged for Christians in the film industry.[4] Russell appeared occasionally on the Praise The Lord program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian television channel based in Costa Mesa, California.[5] Russell was at times a prominent Republican Party member who attended Dwight Eisenhower‘s inauguration along with other notables from Hollywood such as Lou Costello, Dick Powell, June Allyson, Anita Louise and Louella Parsons.

Russell resides in Santa Maria Valley along the Central Coast of California.

Sources: wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nndb.com

Filmography

Features
Short Subjects

Russell was voted one of the 40 Most Iconic Movie Goddesses of all time in 2009 by Glamour (UK edition).[3]

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George Shearing Tribute

Sir George Shearing, the ebullient jazz pianist who wrote the standard “Lullaby of Birdland” and had a string of hits both with and without his quintet, has died. He was 91.

Shearing, blind since birth, died early Monday morning in Manhattan of congestive heart failure, his longtime manager Dale Sheets said.

“He was a totally one-of-a-kind performer,” said Sheets. “It was something wonderful to see, to watch him work.”

Shearing had been a superstar of the jazz world since a couple of years after he arrived in the United States in 1947 from his native England, where he was already hugely popular. The George Shearing Quintet’s first big hit came in 1949 with a version of songwriter Harry Warren’s “September in the Rain.”

“The Continental”

He remained active well into his 80s, releasing a CD called “Lullabies of Birdland” as well as a memoir, “Lullaby of Birdland,” in early 2004. In March of that year, though, he was hospitalized after suffering a fall at his home. It took him months to recover, and he largely retired from public appearances after that.

Sheets said that while Shearing ceased working, he never stop playing piano.

“He was getting better periodically and doing quite well up into about a month ago,” said Sheets.

In a 1987 Associated Press interview, Shearing said the ingredients for a great performance were “a good audience, a good piano, and a good physical feeling, which is not available to every soul, every day of everyone’s life.

“Lullaby of Birdland”

“Your intent, then, is to speak to your audience in a language you know, to try to communicate in a way that will bring to them as good a feeling as you have yourself,” he said.

In 2007, Shearing was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to music. When the honor was announced, he said it was “amazing to receive an honor for something I absolutely love doing.”

Shearing’s bebop-influenced sound became identified with a quintet — piano, vibes, guitar, bass and drums — which he put together in 1949. More recently, he played mostly solo or with only a bassist. He excelled in the “locked hands” technique, in which the pianist plays parallel melodies with the two hands, creating a distinctly full sound.

“I Cover The Waterfront”

Among the luminaries with whom Shearing worked over the years: Tito Puente, Nancy Wilson, Nat “King” Cole, Mel Torme, Marian McPartland, the Boston Pops, Peggy Lee, Billy Taylor, Don Thompson, Stephane Grappelli and Sarah Vaughan, whom Shearing called “the best contralto in pop.”

When Torme won Grammys two years in a row in 1983-84, for “An Evening With George Shearing and Mel Torme” and “Top Drawer,” he blasted the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for failing to nominate his partner, Shearing, either time.

-My favorite Shearing Album, “Beauty and the Beat” with Peggy Lee.

“It’s hard to image a more compatible musical partner,” Shearing said after Torme died in 1999. “I humbly put forth that Mel and I had the best musical marriage in many a year. We literally breathed together during our countless performances.” And he told Down Beat magazine: “Mel was one of the few people that I played with whom I felt I worked with and not for.”

Shearing wrote “Lullaby of Birdland” in 1952; it’s named for the famous New York jazz club. He acknowledged composing it in just 10 minutes. “But I always tell people, it took me 10 minutes and 35 years in the business,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 1980. “Just in case anybody thinks there are any totally free rides left, there are none!”

“The Shadow Of Your Smile”

At an 80th birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall in 1999, Shearing introduced “Lullaby” by joking: “I have been credited with writing 300 songs. Two hundred ninety-nine enjoyed a bumpy ride from relative obscurity to total oblivion. Here is the other one.”

Among other songs recorded by the George Shearing Quintet: “I’ll Never Smile Again,” “Mambo Inn,” “Conception,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon).”

The landmark albums he and the quintet made include “The Swingin’s Mutual,” backing up vocalist Wilson, and “Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays.”

But Shearing laid the quintet to rest in 1978, except for occasional revivals.

“I needed a breath of fresh air and a chance to grow individually,” he told the AP. “What I find as a soloist or working with a bassist, is that I can address myself more to the proposition of being a complete pianist; I find a lot more pianistic freedom.”

“It Never Entered My Mind” Interesting version, coupled together with Erik Satie’s, “Gymnopedie No. 1”

He was already working at his memoir in 1987, saying he was using a Braille word processor. “I think there are a lot of things to be told from my view — the world of sound and feel,” he said. Years earlier, in a 1953 AP interview, he had said he referred to his blindness as little as possible because, “I want to get by as a human being, not as a blind person.”

As he grew older, he spoke frankly of aging.

“I’m not sure that technique and improvisational abilities improve with age,” the pianist said. “I think what improves is your sense of judgment, of maturity. I think you become a much better editor of your own material.”

Shearing was born Aug. 13, 1919, to a working-class family and grew up in the Battersea district of London.

A prodigy despite his inability to see printed music, he studied classical music for several years before deciding to “test the water on my own” instead of pursuing additional studies at a university. Shearing began his career at a London pub when he was 16.

During World War II, the young pianist teamed with Grappelli, the French jazz violinist, who spent the war years in London. Grappelli recalled to writer Leonard Feather in 1976 that he and Shearing would “play during air raids. Was not very amusing.”

With Nat King Cole, “Pick Yourself Up”

Shearing had a daughter, Wendy, with his first wife, the former Trixie Bayes, whom he married in 1941. The marriage ended in divorce in 1973 and two years later he married singer Ellie Geffert.

The popularity of the Shearing quartet’s records a half-century ago had some writers suggesting he didn’t take his jazz seriously enough. In a 2002 New York Times piece, critic Terry Teachout said such talk was beside the point.

“I’ll Be Around”

“The time has come,” Teachout wrote, “for George Shearing to be acknowledged not as a commercial purveyor of bop-and-water, but as an exceptionally versatile artist who has given pleasure to countless listeners for whom such critical hairsplitting is irrelevant.”

Shearing is survived by his wife, Geffert

Sources: Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer.  youtube, nndb.com, imdb.com

Former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson contributed to this report.

George Shearing has had a profound effect on me both as a pianist and as a lifelong jazz enthusiast. He will be sorely missed by leagues of fans and admirers. How lucky we all are to have had him in our musical lives and fortunate for the dozens of wonderfully remastered recordings to listen to when ever we want to hear that “Shearing sound.” -Paul Roth

So Long Margret Whiting

I first met Margaret Whiting in 1981 while I was performing at Ted Hook’s, Backstage Restaurant on West 45th Street and 8th Ave. in New York City. It was a rainy night and Margaret had been out front of the restaurant trying to hail a cab. After having no success she came back in to the club and asked Ted if he wouldn’t mind calling a taxi for her. She was soaking wet, her hair, without style from the weather,  slicked back. After Ted made the call, Margaret said she was going to wait for the taxi under the awning outside. As soon as she left, I turned to Ted and said, “Who was that?” Ted replied, “Who is that? That’s only one of the most famous singers in the world, Margaret Whiting!” Up until that point, the only thing I knew about Margaret was her version of the song, “Moonlight in Vermont.” Maggie was a regular at Backstage, and over the course of the next two years, I got to see her and spend a lot of time with both she and Jack Wrangler. As anyone performing around New York City could tell you, Margaret was most generous, and accessible to those of us first starting out. She was actively performing all over the city and all around the country yet she always found the time to attend friend’s performances, me included. Even years later, once I had relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, Margaret made of point of showing up to hear me at the Cirque Room in the Fairmont Hotel. I recall reading an article once from columnist, Herb Caen in the San Francisco Chronicle. He said he was on a cable car one day and Margaret Whiting happened to get on a few stops later. At one point, the cable car operator rang the familiar cable car bell and spontaneously, Maggie got up and sang the “Trolley Song” from start to finish, delighting everyone who was along for the ride. Herb Caen said it was one of his most favorite moments. If I had been there, it surly would have been one of mine too.

Recently I was on a trip to New York to see my family and catch a few shows. As I was walking down West 57th Street, I mentioned to a friend that Margaret Whiting lives just up the block. I said I had been meaning to send her a note. He then told me that he was pretty sure he read that she had passed away just a couple of weeks before. Sure enough when I checked, I read the news. There will never be another Margaret Whiting. She had a unique, lovely style that only comes along once in a lifetime. There are a lot of terrific singers out there, but only one Margaret Whiting. I hope where ever she is, that along with Jack, there is a smooth sounding baby grand piano and microphone…..

Following is an obituary taken from Legacy.com. I’ve also included a few photos and some vocal highlights of Margaret’s career.

Paul Roth

Sources: youtube, wikipedia, legacy.com

With Johnny Mercer, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

Her signature song, “It Might As Well Be Spring” from the musical, State Fair

“Taking My Turn”

____________________________________________________

Margaret Whiting, the sweet-voiced singer who sold millions of records in the 1940s and ’50s with sentimental ballads such as “Moonlight in Vermont” and “It Might as Well Be Spring,” has died at age 86.

She died Monday at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home in Englewood, N.J., home administrator Jordan Strohl said. She had lived in New York City for many years before moving to the home in March.

Whiting grew up with the music business. She was the daughter of Richard Whiting, a prolific composer of such hits as “My Ideal,” ”Sleepy Time Gal” and “Beyond the Blue Horizon.” Her family’s home in the posh Bel-Air community in Los Angeles was a gathering place for such songwriters as George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.

It was Mercer, her father’s lyricist and close friend, who inspired the young Whiting to take years of vocal training when he told her following an early audition, “G row up and learn to sing.”

After Whiting’s father died in 1938, Mercer remained close to the family. When he became a founding partner in Capitol Records in 1942, the 18-year-old Whiting was the first singer he put under contract.

Fifty-five years later, Whiting and her fourth husband, Jack Wrangler, honored Mercer with a musical tribute called “Dream,” which ran for 133 performances on Broadway.

It was Mercer who had coached the teenage Whiting through her first recording, of her father’s “My Ideal,” and although Maurice Chevalier and Frank Sinatra had already recorded the tune, her version sold well.

She followed it with a remarkable procession of million sellers: “That Old Black Magic,” ”It Might as Well Be Spring,” ”Come Rain or Come Shine” and her biggest seller and signature song, “Moonlight in Vermont.”

She was asked in 2001 what separated a good singer from a great one.

“Being a great actress, being very dramatic,” she replied. “S ome people sing beautiful songs, but they don’t put all the meaning into them, and that’s the important thing. To read a lyric, to make the words come alive, that’s the secret.”

Like most recording stars of the 1940s and early ’50s, her career was eclipsed by the rock ‘n’ roll revolution, although she continued to find work in such Broadway productions as “Pal Joey,” ”Gypsy” and “Call Me Madam.”

She also toured regularly with the big bands of Freddy Martin, Frankie Carle and Bob Crosby and sang in cabarets, in auditoriums and with the St. Louis Symphony. With Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Connell and Rose Marie, she crossed the country in a revue called “4 Girls 4.”

In all, she recorded more than 500 songs during her career and was one of the first mainstream artists to delve into Nashville, Tenn., combining with country star Jimmy Wakely on the hit “Slippin’ Around.” She also recorded rock, novelty and sacred songs.

Whiting, born in Detroit on July 22, 1 924, moved with her family to Los Angeles after musicals became the rage and her father headed west to write for them. He turned out songs for Chevalier and Bing Crosby while at Paramount and composed “Hooray for Hollywood” and “Too Marvelous for Words” for Warner Bros.

Whiting recalled in 2000 how she came home from school with an all-day lollipop while her father was trying to write a song for a Shirley Temple movie. At first he was annoyed by the sticky kisses, but then inspiration struck.

He called lyricist Sidney Clare and said, “How about ‘The Good Ship Lollipop’ for Shirley?”

Whiting’s romance with Wrangler turned heads in the 1970s: He was an openly gay porn actor 22 years her junior. But he told the Chicago Tribune they “see things the same way, comically, professionally and romantically.” He turned his attention to theater and cabaret, crafting Whiting’s cabaret acts and several shows. Their marriage lasted until his death in 2009.

“One For My Baby…..”