Welcome to Mean…Moody…Magnificent!
When Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel was released in November 2013, I was often asked, “who are you going to write a book on next?” At the time, my answer was an emphatic “No one!” It had taken me 15 years to research and write the book on Ann and I simply could not conceive of tackling a similar project on someone else. Instead, I went the opposite route and started writing issues of the My Little Pony comic book series.
After a spell, Patrick McGilligan over at the University Press of Kenucky asked me if I had considered writing a follow-up book. By that time, I had thawed on the idea of never writing another biography and was open to it. I told him I found Aline MacMahon fascinating, to which he replied, “We’d like to see you write about someone less obscure than Ann Dvorak. How about Jane Russell?”
How about Jane Russell? I have to admit that I had never given much thought to Jane Russell. Sure, I LOVED her in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and was vaguely familiar with all the hoopla surrounding Howard Hughes and The Outlaw, but otherwise I knew nothing about Jane. Ok, I did remember those Playtex bra commercials from when I was a kid. I found the suggestion intriguing and started exploring the life and career of Jane Russell.
What did I discover? Jane Russell is fascinating! Despite being discovered by Howard Hughes in 1940, Jane only had 3 movies released the entire decade, but managed to hold the public’s attention all that time, largely by being one of the favorite pin-ups of servicemen. While the marketing of Jane Russell was some of the most overtly sexual in Hollywood history, off-screen Jane was extremely spiritual and an avid student of the Bible. Jane worked with some of the era’s most notable director’s and actors, but considered her work as an adoption advocate to be her greatest accomplishment. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on Jane and commit to another book.
Amazingly, there has never been a biography on Jane Russell, though she did pen her own memoir in 1985. That book is incredibly candid and I recommend it. However, I believe an examination of her life and career is certainly in order and I view the book I am working on as a companion to the autobiography.
So where is the project at? I’ve been researching on and off for around three years now, and have a good deal of info compiled. I’ve conducted a handful of interviews, but would like to get some additional input for people who knew and worked with her. I’ll still need to go through an official submission process with University Press of Kentucky, but I feel pretty good that I will move forward with them. Overall, I am far enough along that I felt the need to launch this site and get the word out about my commitment to Jane!
If you’re a Jane Russell fan, I hope this is exciting news. If you’re not that familiar with Jane, I hope this book will make you a fan.
Catch you back here soon!