The Outlaw (1943)
Russell had modelled and studied drama in her youth before Howard Hughes (yes, him off of The Aviator ) spotted her and signed her to a seven-year contract.
This was her first movie for Hughes, though it struggled to get a release as censors were riled by her display of cleavage. The controversy only helped heighten her fame, and the image of her atop the haystack has endured throughout the decades.
Russell was all-round entertainer, and in 1947 she launched a singing career that would continue on and off for years.
She often paired the singing and acting, in musical movies, and on Broadway.
Here she is with Bob Hope, who championed her throughout her career, and with whom she starred in The Paleface ...
The Paleface (1948)
This comedy western gave Russell the opportunity to prove that she was more than just a sex-bomb screen siren. She could make 'em laugh too.
Starring with Bob Hope, who played dentist Peter Potter, Russell was infamous cowgirl Calamity Jane, and she was as convincing shooting a pistol as she was firing off quips.
They both appeared in sequel Son of Paleface , in different roles.
Double Dynamite (1951)
Despite the title, Russell toned it down a notch for this musical comedy, in which she was billed alongside Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx.
Sinatra plays a mild-mannered bank teller who is accused of embezzlement, with Russell as his girlfriend. Marx stars as the nutso waiter who offers the pair advice, via the medium of musical numbers, of course.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Another of Russell's most iconic screen roles, she starred opposite Marilyn Monroe in this musical comedy from Howard Hawks (not Hughes).
Here Russell shows off all the talents that made her a screen legend: a showstopping singing voice, astute comic timing and, of course, incandescent sex appeal.
The two screen sirens compliment each other perfectly as stage singers looking to snare rich husbands.
The French Line (1953)
Again, Russell shows she's more than just a pretty face/body by throwing herself into more musical antics, as a filthy-rich oil heiress who struggles to find love until she slips into a secret identity.
Howard Hughes certainly enjoyed making the most of Russell's considerable curves though, and here he courted controversy again by squeezing her into a skimpy, peek-a-boo bathing suit.
Oh, and it came in 3D...
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955)
Russell and her then-husband Robert Waterfield created their own production company, Russ-Field Productions, and this was among the three pictures they churned out.
It wasn't as memorable as some of Russell's earlier movies, perhaps because it reheated ideas (a pair of showgirls travel to Paris looking for love) from her more notable successes.
The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)
Russell showed her range when she starred in this drama, an adaptation of William Bradford Hule's novel.
She plays a former prostitute who moves from San Francisco to Hawaii in an effort to escape her past, but the backdrop of WWII, and her unshakeable reputation, are seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1966)
This was the last movie that Russell produced with husband Robert Waterfield (she didn't star in The King and Four Queens ), and it wasn't a success.
Perhaps that was something to do with her trading her brunette locks for a blonde 'do to play a kidnapped movie star. Maybe not the preferred colour after all, then...
Johnny Reno (1966)
One of Russell's last major movie roles - though she did make smaller appearances in The Born Losers (1967) and Darker Than Amber (1970).
Like Waco (released in the same year), Johnny Reno was another western for Russell, who was equally at home on the frontiers as she was glamming up for more frivolous roles.
Later in the '70s, following her final movie turns, she appeared in Company on Broadway, and guested on a couple of TV shows, including cop drama Hunter .
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