GAIL RUSSELL, JOHN PAYNE, and soft hands

I did a post months ago about Jergens so I'm not going to bore myself or anyone else by repeating the information. You can click here to read about Jergen's hand lotion. Gail Russell and John Payne are another matter.

In my continuing searh for stars hawking products I give you Gail Russell and John Payne for Jergen's lotion. Well, actually they're doing it for Paramount who is hoping to spread the word about their movie El Paso. So, let's get started with the stars of our ad. Again, this ad is from the April 1949 Photoplay magazine. A treasure trove I tell 'ya! A real gold mine!

Gail Russel_Jergens_tatteredandlost

Click on image to see it larger.

Our tragic and beautiful leading lady:
Gail Russell (September 21, 1924 – August 26, 1961) was an American film and television actress.

She was born Elizabeth L. Russell to George and Gladys (Barnet) Russell in Chicago, Illinois, and then moved to the Los Angeles, California area when she was a teenager. Russell's extraordinary beauty brought her to the attention of Paramount Pictures in 1942. Although she was almost clinically shy and had no acting experience, Paramount had great expectations for her and employed an acting coach to work with her.

At the age of 19 she appeared in her first film, Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour (1943). Russell appeared in several more films in the early and mid 1940s, the most notable being The Uninvited (1944) with Ray Milland, and Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944), in which she co-starred with Diana Lynn. Russell later appeared in the more popular films, Calcutta (1947) with Alan Ladd, and two films with John Wayne, Angel and the Badman (1947) and Wake of the Red Witch (1948).

She continued working after 1947, and married actor Guy Madison in 1949, but by 1950, it was well known that she had become a victim of alcoholism, and Paramount did not renew her contract. She started drinking on the set of The Uninvited to ease her paralyzing stage fright and lack of self-confidence. Alcohol made a shambles of her career and personal life. She was divorced by Madison in 1954, and after a five-year absence, returned to work in a co-starring role with Randolph Scott in the western Seven Men from Now (1956), produced by her friend Wayne, and had a substantial role in The Tattered Dress (1957).

On July 5, 1957, she was photographed by a Los Angeles Times photographer after she drove her convertible into the front of Jan's coffee shop at 8424 Beverly Blvd. Russell was driving under the influence.

She appeared in two more films after that, but was not able to control her addiction, and on August 26, 1961, Russell was found dead in her apartment in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California at the age of 36. She died from liver damage attributed to alcohol. She was found to have been suffering from malnutrition at the time of her death. She was buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
You can find her IMDb listing here. Click here to read more about her troubled life and here to see very sad photos of her in the LA Times near the end of her life.

Our very handsome leading man:
John Payne (May 28, 1912 - December 6, 1989) was an American film actor who is mainly remembered as a singer in 20th Century Fox musical films, as well as his leading role in Miracle on 34th Street.

Payne was born in Roanoke, Virginia. His mother, Margie Payne, graduated from the Virginia Seminary in Roanoke and became the bride of George Washington Payne, a developer of Roanoke. They lived at Ft. Lewis, an antebellum mansion that became a state historical property. It was destroyed by fire in the late 1950s. Payne went to Roanoke College then enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1930. He studied drama at Columbia and voice at Juilliard School. To support himself, he took on a variety of odd jobs, including wrestling and singing in vaudeville. In 1934, he was spotted by a talent scout for the Shubert theaters and was given a job as a stock player.

Payne toured with several Shubert Brothers shows, and frequently sang on New York-based radio programs. In 1936, he was offered a contract by Samuel Goldwyn, and he left New York for Hollywood. He worked for various studios until 1940, when he signed with 20th Century Fox. Fox made him a star, in 1940s musicals like Tin Pan Alley (1940), Sun Valley Serenade (1941), and Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943). In these films, he was usually cast as somewhat of a supporting player in love with the likes of Sonja Henie, Betty Grable, and Alice Faye. A highlight during this period was co-starring with Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power in The Razor's Edge (1946).

Payne's most popular role may be in his final film for Fox, that of attorney Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). It is almost certainly his most visible role, as it typically receives frequent airplay during the Christmas season.

Later in his career Payne changed his image and began playing tough-guy roles in Hollywood films noir and westerns including Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953), Silver Lode (1954), Tennessee's Partner (1955) and Slightly Scarlet (1956). Payne was a contract star with Pine-Thomas Productions where he shrewdly insisted that the films he appeared in be filmed in color and that the rights to the films reverted to him after several years that made him wealthy when he rented them to television.

Payne also starred in a television western series, The Restless Gun (1957-1959). In 1955, he paid a $1,000-a-month option for nine months on the Ian Fleming James Bond novel Moonraker (he eventually gave up the option when he learned he could not retain the rights for the entire book series).

In March 1961, Payne suffered extensive, life-threatening injuries when struck by a car in New York City. His recovery took two years. In his later roles, facial scars from the accident can be detected in close-ups; he chose not to have them removed. One of Payne's first public appearances during this period was as a guest panelist on the popular CBS-TV game show What's My Line.

Payne directed one of his last films, They Ran for Their Lives (1968). His final role was in 1975 when he co-starred with Peter Falk and Janet Leigh in the Columbo episode Forgotten Lady. Later in life, Payne became wealthy through real estate investments in Southern California.

Payne was married to actress Anne Shirley from 1937 to 1943; they had a daughter, Julie Anne Payne. He then married actress Gloria DeHaven in 1944; the union produced two children, Kathleen Hope Payne and Thomas John Payne, before divorcing in 1950. Payne then married Alexandra Beryl Curtis in 1953, and remained with her until his death. He was also the father-in-law of writer-director Robert Towne.

Payne died in Malibu, California of congestive heart failure on December 6, 1989, aged 77. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
You can see John Payne's IMDb listing here. I always thought he was an incredibly handsome man, but for some reason I remember as a kid getting John Payne and Robert Taylor mixed up. Have no idea why.

You can also see a web page devoted to him here.

As to El Paso. I imagine I've seen it, but I don't remember.
El Paso (1949) Ex-confederate officer Clay Fletcher jumps at the chance to reunite with his once lady-friend, Susan Jeffers, when his father, Judge Fletcher, sends him on an errand to El Paso, Texas to get the signature of Susan's father, Judge Jeffers, on a legal document. Once there he finds the judge has become a drunk and a laughing stock, doing the bidding of local magnate Bert Donner and his running dog, Sheriff La Farge. Just as Clay starts straightening out the town's problems, events occur which force him to abandon the legal system and instead adopt the murderous tactics of a vigilante. (Source: IMDb; Written by Doug Sederberg)
It's rather strange to go digging into the lives of these people simply because of finding an old advertisement in a magazine, but that's what fascinates me about ephemera. I never know what will link to what, what story will unfold. Gail Russell died too young and when she did I was too young to be aware of it.

Fame is ephemeral and those in search of it need to remember that.

New book available on Amazon.
Tattered and Lost: Forgotten Dolls

This one is for those who love dolls!

Snapshots from the last 100+ years of children and adults with dolls. Okay, there are a couple of dogs too.

Perfect stocking stuffer!


  1. I mostly consider these paranoid ads about soft hands, body odor, etc. to be amusing, but there were so many actresses who died deaths similar to Gail Russell's. It makes me think it really was an unenviable life full of stress.

  2. Used up and thrown away like tissues. It's such an odd town with such an odd business. People bought and sold. No real structure built in to save the weakest. These days I believe it's even worse with more and more people seeking fame as a profession.

  3. The pictures of her decline are so sad. Alcoholism and addiction will do that. Reminds me of Judy Garland who died in her 40s, but looked like she was 60. Hard and brittle. And you're right about fame as a profession. That's what it is. All these bold faced names, and what are most known for? Being famous. That's it. Not accomplished. See Kardashian, Kim.

  4. Yes, Garland was so sad. Addicted to drugs by the studio who saw her as nothing more than a product. Lame race horses are treated better. You can look around at all the young hungry fame hunters being used today and predict their future. They all think they'll be the exception.

  5. Anonymous4/17/2012

    So sad about Gail Russell. She was truely one of the most beautiful women ever to have graced the Hollywood screen.
    She still has millions of fans.

  6. also love Gail Russell wish somebody would write a book about her life. it was so sad that nobody helped her.

    1. Indeed, it's sad and that she's mostly forgotten.

    2. Helen weinbrecht11/01/2014

      She not forgotten when I seen uninvited I was fascinated by her . That will live on . Ill tell you ive forgotten guy madison and j wayne there you go

    3. Helen weinbrecht11/01/2014


    4. It's nice to know there are still people who remember her.

  7. Anonymous1/05/2015

    Dealing with a alcoholic can be a very ugly and defeating experience for the person who tries to help. I hope those closest to Gail gave it their best effort to help her before giving up. I would have just held her close and given it my all. Would have loved trying to find out what made her tick.

    1. You're right. Let's hope there was someone who at least tried.