Jane Russell was, in her time, a very famous film star - you may have seen her alongside Marilyn Monroe in the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, released in 1953.
She first hit notoriety when she starred in Howard Hughes' The Outlaw as a sulky, sexy, siren lying on a bed of straw: Hughes, an engineer, had designed a special cantilevered bra to the shape of Jane's voluptuous figure (although she says in her autobiography that she never actually wore it).
When she was 18 years old, she slept with her boyfriend and became pregnant. "In those days, no 'nice girl' got pregnant," she wrote in her autobiography. "There was no such thing as keeping a child out of wedlock in 1942. The only solution was to find a quack and get an abortion." This was California, and she duly found a "quack", who did the job and was subsequently described as a "butcher" by the doctor who patched her up.
Subsequently, she married Robert Waterfield, and her career prospered - she did movies with Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, Roy Rogers.
But, after eight years of marriage, to her disappointment, there were no children.
Jane was raised a Biblical Christian and so she prayed. She said that the Lord directed her to seek to adopt a child. When she mentioned this in a media interview, a grandmother contacted her to say that her daughter would soon have a child available for adoption.
Jane said, "Praise the Lord" and the baby was delivered. "I had a baby daughter... born on my birthday!" It was as simple as that.
Jane grew up with four brothers, and so she wanted a baby boy as a brother for the little girl. This proved more difficult.
The waiting time in America was two years. Jane travelled to France and Germany to visit orphanages. In France, she saw "a long room with long benches and tables where children sat and stared at their plates".
She was depressed by the glumness of the institution and the apparent lack of love. The nuns in charge told her that none of the children were available for adoption, even though "they had been put there by some member of their family who never saw them".
And then, as it happened, she had to travel to England for a royal film performance, ordered by the dying King George VI. This was October 1951. Along with the news of Winston Churchill's re-election came a newspaper splash headline: "Miss Russell in London to adopt a baby boy."
Presently, an Irishwoman phoned the Savoy Hotel, and Jane arranged to see her. "She was a sweet little woman," Jane wrote, "and she put the 15-month-old baby on the bed. He had blue eyes that looked straight through you and a mass of golden curls." He reminded Jane of a baby brother of hers who had died.
The birth mother explained that she had other children and they couldn't provide an education for this baby. She wanted him to go to America to have a better life. The mother, Jane wrote, "did all the talking".
After the meeting, Jane went off and prayed "hard" about the decision and came to believe she was meant to accept the baby, named Thomas.
His birth mother, Florrie Kavanagh, cried when she said goodbye to her infant, but she stood by her decision, believing it was for the best.
It blew up into a public controversy, because there was an adoption law in Britain (since 1926) and questions were asked in Parliament about Americans "stealing" British babies.
But Thomas was Irish and, as yet, Ireland had no adoption legislation.
Thus, Jane and her husband Robert were able to bring Thomas back to California, where he grew up, along with the two other children she adopted. She dedicated her autobiography to "my children" - her reason for living. (She also founded a World Adoption International Fund).
Thomas said later he had a happy childhood - he was, he said, "blessed" - and he was with Jane when she died in 2011, aged 89.
"Mom was very grounded," he said. She had always encouraged him to connect with his Irish roots and he was delighted to meet up with his biological relations in Co Clare as an adult. He made his life in Arizona and seems a contented person.
Jane's story illuminates the times that she lived in: pregnant as a teenager when having a baby out of wedlock was completely unacceptable. Unable to have a child after a botched abortion, she sought to adopt and being a movie star made it easier (easier, too, for Angelina Jolie and Madonna in our time).
She visited orphanages in continental Europe filled with sad, abandoned children. The Irish baby she adopted was placed with her at the initiative of the birth mother, who believed she was giving her son a better life.
But here's the question: did the Jane Russell case prompt, or encourage, other transatlantic adoptions which weren't so voluntary, or weren't so happy in their outcome?
In the film Philomena, in which Judi Dench plays Philomena Lee, whose child was whisked off to America without her consent, you can glimpse a background photograph of Jane Russell at the Roscrea convent laundry.
An unlikely pin-up for a nun's study, perhaps? It's presented as though she was the model for American adoptions.