Gentleman Prefer Blondes star Jane Russell has died aged 89.
Russell was discovered by Howard Hughes and went on to become one of the biggest stars of the 1940s and '50s.
Her daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield said the actress died Monday at her home in Santa Maria of a respiratory-related illness.
Legendary: Sex symbol Jane Russell in her 1940s heyday; the actress has died at the age of 89
'And that's exactly what she did, she died in the saddle.'
Hughes, the eccentric billionaire, cast Russell in his sexy, and controversial, 1941 Western The Outlaw, about Billy The Kid.
The movie was initially subject to strict censorship laws because of the ample cleavage displayed by Russell, born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell in June 1921 in Minnesota.
When it was released two years later it turned her into an overnight star.
The Outlaw, although it established her reputation, was beset with trouble from the beginning.
Controversial: The release of Russell's first film The Outlaw was delayed by two years by censors worried about the amount of cleavage she displayed; it eventually hit screens in 1941 and made her an overnight star
Director Howard Hawks, one of Hollywood's most eminent and autocratic filmmakers, rankled under producer Hughes' constant suggestions and finally walked out.
'Hughes directed the whole picture - for nine bloody months!' Russell said in 1999.
The film's rambling, fictional plot featured Russell as a friend of Billy the Kid as he tussles with Doc Holliday and Sheriff Pat Garrett.
The Los Angeles Times called it 'one of the weirdest Western pictures that ever unreeled before the public.'
With her sultry look and glowing sexuality, Russell had already gained a large following.
The Hughes publicity mill had sent out photos of the beauty in low-cut costumes and swim suits, and she became a pinup for World War II soldiers.
The pin-up: Russell starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in the 1952 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
That year she made her most successful film, a loanout to Paramount for The Paleface.
But at RKO she was cast in a series of potboilers such as His Kind of Woman"' (with Robert Mitchum), Double Dynamite (Frank Sinatra, Groucho Marx), The Las Vegas Story (Victor Mature) and Macao (Mitchum again).
Hughes had rewarded her with a unique 20-year contract paying $1,000 a week, then he sold RKO and quit making movies.Russell continued receiving the weekly fee, but never made another film for Hughes.
Special brasserie: Howard Hughes designed a bra for Russell to wear, but she claimed to have never used it
At a 2001 film festival appearance, Russell noted that Monroe was five years younger, saying: 'It was like working with a little sister.
She followed that up with the 1954 musical The French Line, which like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has her cavorting on an ocean liner.
The film was shot in 3-D, and he promotional campaign for it proclaimed J.R. in 3D. Need we say more?
In 1955, she made the sequel Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (without Monroe) and starred in the Westerns The Tall Men, with Clark Gable, and Foxfire, with Jeff Chandler. But by the 1960s, her film career had faded.
WWII star: Even before she released a film Russell had become a favourite of soldiers on the front line; pictured in a promotional poster for The French Line, produced by Howard Hughes
Although her look and her hourglass figure made her the subject of numerous nightclub jokes, unlike Monroe, Rita Hayworth and other pinup queens of the era, Russell was untouched by scandal in her personal life.
The actress was married three times but during her Hollywood career she was married to star UCLA and pro football quarterback Bob Waterfield.
Although her film career slowed in the 1960s, Russell remained active throughout her life.
She was busy in her church and with charitable organizations until her health began to decline just a couple weeks ago.
Still the star: Russell attends the Oscars in 2008; she remained active until her death
In recent years fans could see the Hollywood legend singing at a hotel bar near her Santa Maria home.
Russell adopted three children who survive her along with her six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Russell's hand and foot prints are immortalized on the forecourt of Hollywood's legendary Grauman's Chinese Theater.
She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Keywords - Marilyn Monroe Sex Symbol The Outlaw Nude Curvy Jane Russell