Old Jane Russell fine

There’s an anecdote that a reporter once sent Cary Grant a telegram on his birthday, asking, “How old Cary Grant?” Grant sent a telegram with the reply, “Old Cary Grant fine, how you?”

This was Jane Russell at age 80. Old Jane Russell fine, how you?

The Mt. Rushmore of cinematic bosoms

The following is my entry in the Mount Rushmore of Movies Blogathon, being hosted by m.brown at the blog Two Dollar Cinema on March 1, 2019. Click on the image above to read bloggers’ takes on their favorite cinematic foursomes, be they actors, actresses, or inanimate objects!

(WARNING: This blog entry is all about the breasts. If you are offended by such expression, seek shelter elsewhere!)

I hit puberty smack dab in the middle of the 1970’s, or should I say it hit me…hard. The ’70s — as you’ll recall, if you were there — used sex to sell almost anything, so there was no way to avoid being bombarded by bosomy images everywhere. As I have always been a pop-culture nut, the images I absorbed from movies and television have stuck with me the longest.

On that basis, I decided to make my blogathon entry about actresses whose outsized bosoms have made the longest-lasting impressions on me. Some people are bound to quibble that some of their favorite famous busty celebrities — Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, et al — are not represented here. I certainly have nothing against those women’s memorable physiques. But as I could only choose four (or eight?) for this blogathon, I chose those whose imagery has stuck with me over the decades.

I’d like to note at the outset that I regard all of these woman as talented as they are physically attractive. All of their filmographies and TV work include some very good performances. But if these women wanted to be remembered as much for their bodies of work as for their, er, bodies, some brassieres might have helped.

Jane Russell. I was unaware of Jane until I came across a photo of her in a lavish coffee-table book titled, simply, The Movies. The photo was taken from Jane’s 1955 movie The French Line (also shown above), and it showed Jane wearing only a barely-there bathing suit and a s**t-eating grin. I’ve been mesmerized with her ever since.

Jayne Mansfield. I don’t remember how or when I first came across Jayne, but it was probably similar to the way I came across the Jane listed above. In any case, she starred in two very funny comedies directed by Frank Tashlin, The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). I don’t care for any of the movies Jayne made after those, but considering that you can hardly find a photo or film clip of her where she’s not wearing a tighter-than-tight gown or dress, you can’t help but conclude that Jayne was willing to exploit herself as much as anyone else was.

(Honorable mention must certainly be given to Jayne’s daughter, “Law & Order: SVU” actress Mariska Hargitay — who, while not as exhibitionistic as her late mother, is certainly eye-catching in her own right.)

Valerie Perrine. Like Jayne Mansfield in her own way, Valerie’s movie career started out strong (she was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Lenny), but eventually, she seemed to turn into a parody of herself. Valerie actually began her career as a Vegas showgirl, and from then on, she seemed to have no qualms about showing off her astounding body to anyone who wanted to look, even giving a frank interview to Playboy magazine in 1981 in which she admitted as much. “T**s and a**?” she said. “Everybody shows t**s and a**! National Geographic — t**s and a**!” So if she wasn’t hesitant about showing herself off, I wasn’t hesitant about looking.

Adrienne Barbeau. If I really could create my own artistic mountain, Adrienne would be the only actress inhabiting it. I started watching “Maude” (the 1972-78 sitcom in which she co-starred as Bea Arthur’s feminist daughter) when it first aired, so I can truthfully say that I never watched it just for Adrienne alone.

In fact, I honestly didn’t notice Adrienne’s immense chest until an issue of MAD magazine made reference to it. After that, I studied Adrienne just a little more closely.

The really amazing thing — at least, if you believe Adrienne’s own account of it in her memoir — was that she was quite willing to let her hefty chest bounce all over America’s TV screens, and yet it apparently never occurred to her how that image would affect millions of male TV viewers. According to Adrienne, it took her second husband to point out to her that whenever she was making an entrance on the show, the cameramen took great pains to focus on her bosom as she was, say, walking down a staircase. If that was truly the case, Adrienne was quite the combination of radical feminist and naive starlet. And her fans have enjoyed that ironic combination for nearly 50 years.