Jane Russell: My friend Marilyn did not kill herself
Although she and Marilyn Monroe made Gentlemen Prefer Blondes together - and were well-matched, particularly during their duet, Two Little Girls From Little Rock - their ultimate fates turned out to be dramatically different.
Despite their differences, she warmed to Monroe.
“Marilyn’s first husband, Jim, went to high school with me. One day he came by and said: ‘I want you to meet my wife’.”
It was Marilyn. “She was a pretty girl, and later on I discovered that she was shy and sensitive,” she remembers.
“When we made Gentlemen Prefer Blondes together and I discovered that she was nervous about going on set, I finally went to her dressing room and said: ‘All right, baby, come on set with me now, we’ve only got a few minutes.’ And she said: ‘Ooh’.” She copies Marilyn’s blonde breathlessness to perfection, but there is no malice in her mimicry.
“I remember there was this actor, Tommy Noonan, who had to do a kissing scene with her, and afterwards some guy asked: ‘You’ve just kissed Marilyn Monroe. What was it like?’ And Tommy replied: ‘It was like being swallowed alive.’ Marilyn overheard that and ran crying to her dressing room. I grew up with boys, so boys didn’t bother me. I knew all about them. I don’t think Marilyn did.
“But she wasn’t a dumb blonde.
‘Marilyn was planning to marry again’
“Right before she died, she was planning to marry Joe DiMaggio, her second husband, again, and she had a new movie contract. So I don’t think she killed herself.
“Someone did it for her. There were dirty tricks somewhere.”
I suggest that Jack and Bobby Kennedy - both Marilyn’s lovers - may have been involved, and Jane nods darkly.
“Soon after Marilyn died, I met Bobby Kennedy and he looked at me as if to say: ‘I am your enemy’.”