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  1. Gail Russell (September 21, 1924-August 27, 1961) Her name may not ring any bells but her face certainly might. She appeared in several westerns, notably the ones in which she starred opposite John Wayne, and her haunting beauty even rivaled those of Elizabeth Taylor and Hedy Lamarr, the actress her school mates often compared her to. However, acting was never really Gail's calling. It was actually painting that she was passionate about and dreamed of becoming a pro. But if that's so, why did she become an actress? Well, my theory is that talent scouts were awed by Gail's beauty and immediately asked her to audition, even though she had no acting experience whatsover. And her family encouraged her to accept the offer, maybe hoping that acting would relieve her shyness. Not wanting to disappoint her parents, Gail gave in. On the outside, it looked like she was doing well in her new career. The role she is arguably the most known for was Stella Meredith, the young woman learning more about her past, in the 1944 film The Uninvited. She befriended John Wayne, married Guy Madison, and even got to meet her idol, Ginger Rogers. But, sadly, this was not the case. Acting only intensified Gail's shyness which led her to a path of alcoholism. In addition, her marriage to Guy Madison ended after only 5 years and rumors circulated of an affair between her and a very much married, John Wayne, even though both denied them. Ultimately, the stress and humiliation became too much for our poor heroine. Gail Russell died of alcoholism in a lonely Hollywood apartment at only 36 years old. Some said that before she died, Gail would call a radio station anymously and request Stella by Starlight, the song forever associated with her, to be played. Whether this is true or not, it can still bring a tear to one's eye. I often look back at Gail's story and wonder what it would be like if things were different. If Gail pursued painting like she wanted to. She would probably be happier but then again, her friendship with John Wayne would seize to exist. I would like Gail Russell to be remembered not for how she died, but for how she lived. Movies Gail appeared in that I recommend: The Uninvited (1944) Angel and the Badman (1947) Wake of the Red Witch (1948) Moonrise (1948) The Lawless (1950) The Tattered Dress (1957)
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