Hollywood’s ‘First Brunette,’ Actress Jane Russell, Dies at 89

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A portrait of US actress Jane Russell. Popperfoto/Getty Images.

Jane Russell, the bombshell who during her brief career gave Marilyn Monroe a run for her money, has passed away. 

The iconic film actress from ’40s and ’50s died Monday in Santa Maria, Calif. from respiratory failure at the age of 89. Russell rose to fame after Howard Hughes selected her for his film The Outlaw and controversy followed over the prominence (and provocativeness) of Russell’s cleavage in the film.

(More on TIME.com: See the 1946 TIME story on Russell)

She starred in a string of films, before retiring from acting in films full-time in 1957. After her career she began a family, adopting three children and she founded the World Adoption International Agency, which helped arrange overseas adoptions. (via WSJ)

(More on TIME.com: See why Howard Hughes qualifies as one of the most reclusive personalities)