by Jeet Heer
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Jane Russell, who died last Monday at age 89, will be remembered fondly for many reasons: her full-bodied sexiness, her saucy performance as Marilyn Monroe’s co-star in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, her various turns as a comic foil for Bob Hope. But comics fans will also remember that she was one of the many Hollywood stars that Will Eisner recruited in his work (Lauren Bacall was an especial favourite). Russell’s erotically charged performance in the 1943 movie The Outlaw, a film in which her cleavage was much on display, was hugely controversial in the 1940s. In the Spirit section of Sept. 1, 1946, Eisner transformed Russell into Olga Bustle, “the girl with those big, big eyes.” Farewell, Jane Russell: your movies will continue to entertain the world, as will Eisner’s affectionate parody of your early persona.