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Legendary Actress Jane Russell Dies at 89

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Mar. 1 2011, Published 1:31 p.m. ET

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Jane Russell, a pin-up girl during World War II and actress discovered by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, has died at 89. She passed away from respiratory failure at her home in the central coast city of Santa Maria, Calif.

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Jane first made her mark as a provocatively dressed (for standards of that time anyway) friend of Billy the Kid, a western movie that Howard fought censors to get into wide release. During that time, according to The Huffington Post, Howard churned out photo after photo of Jane in swimsuits and revealing outfits (again, for that time) that turned into pinpus of World War II GIs.

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Howard also bought an ailing RKO film studio and signed the star to a 20-year contract (yes, you read that right — 20 years!) to pay her $1,000 each week. She reached fame by the time she starred as Calamity Jane to the late legendary comedian Bob Hope's cowardly dentist sidekick in The Paleface

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