Belfast Telegraph

Robert McNeil: At 77, Jane Russell still shone like gold

How intriguing to read that Jane Russell had adopted a Londonderry baby. The heyday of the glamorous, flame-haired actress, who has died aged 89, was centuries before my time, of course. But I saw her close up in 1998.

I was part of a hack-pack waiting in a chandelier-dripping room in Edinburgh's swanky Caledonian Hotel.

For me it was just another job, for her another appearance. She was in the city to promote a TV series, which I almost certainly wouldn't watch, as I was always far too busy for that sort of thing.

So I shifted restlessly in my seat, and my diary records that, until asked to desist by her publicity manager, I picked my nose for some minutes.

Film critic Mark Cousins once said you could almost see steam on the lens when the star of The Outlaw and Paleface was on screen.

“So what?” I thought, “She's 77 now.”

Then she entered. It was a visitation from another planet. She arrived in beams of light. At 77, she still shone like gold in the sun. Stunning stuff. They talk of actors having ‘presence’ and an indefinable star quality. This lass had it in spades. She really lit up the place. I'm glad I'd the chance to bask momentarily in that light.

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