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Bob Hope's quips about Jane Russell

The Sun is running former L.A. Times staffer Claudia Luther's tip-top obituary for Jane Russell (click here).

Readers might benefit, though, from Pauline Kael's brutally succinct summary of "The Outlaw," the movie that made Russell a pin-up goddess: "Jane Russell swings her bosom around and shows her love for frail, seedy Billy the Kid (Jack Buetel) by hitting him over the head with a coffeepot and putting sand in his water flasks when he is setting out over the desert. To reciprocate, he ties her up with wet thongs and leaves her out in the sun."

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Bob Hope cast Russell in his 1948 Western comedy "The Paleface" partly to play off her "Outlaw" notoriety -- though made in 1941, "The Outlaw" was not released until 1947. A few weeks after the Academy Award ceremony where "Buttons and Bows," from "The Paleface," won best song, Hope got off these zingers (thanks go to Kurt Jensen for finding them):

"I went to the Academy Award board to complain because I didn't get an Oscar for my performance in 'Paleface' with Jane Russell. But they told me the award is given for acting ... not recreation."

"I was really thrilled that 'Paleface' had the Academy Award-winning song. Though, of course, you know where they got the idea for "Buttons 'n' Bows"? Bob Waterfield [Russell's husband] tying my straitjacket before each love scene."

An alternate version of that last crack is racier: "Of course, you know where they got the idea for "Buttons 'n' Bows"? Bob Waterfield didn't trust my zipper."

As readers of this blog know, Russell's allure has never been forgotten by Baltimore movie-lovers. Sun entertainment writer and Maryland Film Festival 3-D guru Chris Kaltenbach told me a year ago that his ideal  3-D presentation would be to "bring the Jane Russell 1954 3-D extravaganza 'The French Line' to Baltimore. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?"

Photo of Jane Russell by George Hurrell

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