Ron Russell discusses his own mortality, the stars that we've loved and lost and how aging affected Silver Screen legend Jane Russell
Ron Russell, hit radio/TV star and Golden Age Hollywood expert spoke with us recently for an in-depth interview. This week we continue our journey with the co-star of The Jimmy Star Show with Ron Russell on W4CY.com as he shares interesting stories about aging, living a healthy life and what made Jane Russell sad after he showed her a tribute film.
Michelle Tompkins: Which celebrity death bothers you the most? Who do you miss the most of old Hollywood?
Ron Russell: Oh my, Jane, are you kidding me. Mr. Blackwell whom I love. My dearest friend in the world was Richard Blackwell, 10 Worst-Dressed List.
Richard Blackwell and I used to hang. He was a fashion designer, fabulous guy. He and his lover, Spencer, would always go out with us as couples. I miss Mr. Blackwell terribly. I miss my Jane Russell the most. I miss Tab now.
There's so many of them that I miss that I wish were still in my life because I had such joy with them and yeah. But they all died very old, they all died in their late 80s, some in their early 90s. So they lived good lives. But I do miss them.
Michelle Tompkins: Who do you think will outlast the other, Kirk Douglas or Olivia de Havilland?
Ron Russell: Oh God only knows that. I couldn't even say. I have no idea. If I knew I would be God, wouldn't I?
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I made a bad joke with it because I think they're holding on for family, friends, life and everything. But I do think that they both want to be the last Golden Age superstar, so they are trying to outlast each other.
Ron Russell: Well, I think women live longer than men so I'm going to go with Olivia. And she lives in Europe where things are different than here. Kirk is a tough guy. I've never met him but I know people that know him. He was a womanizer when he was young. I mean, he banged everybody in Hollywood. And a tough guy. He was strong. So he may outlast Olivia because of those reasons. We'll find out [laughter]. They can't go too much longer, another five years and that's it. Olivia's what? 102? 101 or 99 or something?
Michelle Tompkins: They're both about 101.
Ron Russell: Right. And what do I think about living that long? No. Not for me. I look like shit already. At 78 I look like shit, can you imagine at a 100. I got to look at that ugly puss.
Michelle Tompkins: I think you look really good.
Ron Russell: Yeah well, at 98 years old come and see what I look like [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Well, if you keep moving around and have a happy, good life it shows in your face too. So that's good.
Ron Russell: Well, I don't drink and I don't do drugs and I don't smoke. Not because I'm a virtuous guy it's just because cigarette smoke, it burns my eyes when people do it and I tried smoking years ago and my sinuses, which I suffer from, were terrible.
Drinking, I am a controlled person, I control everything around me. When you drink you're not in control and I can't deal with that feeling of not walking correctly or speaking. No. I can't. So I don't drink. Drugs, my father brainwashed me as a kid, taught me how bad they were, never to do it and I just grew up not being interested in drugs or being high or being, again, not in control.
So I think that has a lot to do with looking good. I go to bed very early, I'm not a night owl in spite of my lifestyle. I have to be in bed at least by 9:00 p.m., reading a book, falling asleep. I'm an early riser. I do everything I have to do between six and eight in the morning. I eat correctly. I'm not a restaurant-goer, I don't like restaurant food. I cook and I like my own cooking and I cook healthy. The food that I make is organic and fresh and good. And I think the other thing is happiness. If you're happy your face shows it, if you're unhappy, as I've been, my face showed it too. So those are the tricks to living a long time. And, of course, a lot has to do with your family background.
Michelle Tompkins: That's true too. I don't know who said the line first but you get the face you deserve at 50.
Ron Russell: Oh, well, gee, I didn't deserve that face [laughter]. I used to be really good looking.
Michelle Tompkins: I think you're great looking. I really do.
Ron Russell: Let's talk about that. My sweetheart Jane Russell, and nobody had the balls to ask her the questions I did but I did, in private of course. And I said, ‘Jane,’ one day, ‘What does it feel like when you look back at yourself, 1942, when they voted you the most beautiful woman in the world. And she looked at me and she said, ‘What the fuck do you think I feel like, Ron?’ I said, ‘I don't know. I just asked a simple question, Jane.’ That's how she talked, like a tough broad. She did not like aging one bit, not one bit.
I had a party at my house in Palm Springs years ago when I lived in the other house and I invited a select group of people and I ran on my big screen TV of those days, the big ugly box that we used to have. I edited all of her musical pieces from all of her movies together, and Jane sat there mesmerized because she hadn't seen many of those scenes in years of what she looked like as a young woman singing and dancing and performing, and everybody was in awe of it because they said she just didn't stop looking and staring, and she was so engrossed in the film.
After it was over, I said, ‘What did you think about the film, Jane?’ She said, ‘Ron, it was very painful,’ and I felt bad. I said, ‘Jane, I didn't mean it to be. I meant it as a tribute to you.’ ‘I know you didn't mean to be mean.’ She said, ‘I know that.’ She said, ‘But it was very painful for me.’ She said, ‘Because as the film was running, I was remembering all the incidents off camera with the stars that I was with.’ It was painful for her because some of them were dead. Being a Hollywood star is not what everybody thinks it is. It's very very tough, it's a tough life. You got a couple of laughs, but you cry a lot.
Ron Russell can be found on The Jimmy Star Show with Ron Russell on W4CY.com on Wednesdays from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Pacific time and 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. Go to W4CY.com and hit the iTV button to watch it live.