The Most Beautiful Hair Act of Them All

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2021 at 3:46 am

happy birthday Rene Russo! If you came up in the 1970s her name would probably rank high in any objective assessment of the most beautiful woman in the world, with her sumptuous, perfect features and bone structure that could be both the definition of classical patrician, fresh and dewy country lass and diabolically sexy, a face, as I used to say, you could fall into.

Surmounting that spellbinding visage was an endless wealth of thick naturally curly hair which easily fell into a mane of pre-Raphaelite ringlets Rossetti would have killed to paint, and that was how she was wearing it the night we met and danced at the Mudd Club. Quite a night it was too, as I was part of genius makeup man Way Bandy’s entourage – they’d picked me up at a one-woman Tallulah Bankhead show by her protégée Eugenia Rawls ( original Alexandra to her Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes), which I had attended earlier and solo, that typically hectic Saturday night. Rene, dressed with devastating simplicity in a man’s white cotton button-down and tight jeans, we encountered at our first stop after the show, at Max’s Kansas City, and it was she who went out onto Park Avenue and hitched us all a ride from a goddess-gobsmacked guy driving a van, downtown to the Mudd. What I distinctly recall was how excited she was to learn that Linda Ronstadt was already inside, with her date Governor Jerry Brown. As soon as that van stopped, she FLEW into the club. She rejoined us once we were all on the dance floor and I remember that was the first time I’d ever heard Debbie Harry-Blondie’s “Rip Her to Shreds,”as she shimmied hypnotically with that cascade of curls and truly translucent skin. There that night, also, was my future friend, hair wizard extraordinaire, Harry King, who, in coalition with Way beating face and Francesco Scavullo behind the lens, produced the impossibly flawless and timeless iconography which made Rene THE print model of the day, and caused the also flawless baby Brooke Shields to say she wanted to be her.

The shots below all show off the perfection created by that trifecta of great artists out of the most unimaginably gorgeous hunk of human clay.

Russo’s early years were anything but a picnic, however, for like many eventual world class beauties, she suffered as a kid. Her father walked out on her and her mother when she was two, and, diagnosed with scoliosis in junior high school she had to wear a full torso brace. This brought forth intense bullying, exacerbated by her height, for which she was called The Jolly Green Giant. It got so bad that she dropped out of school in her sophomore year.

Russo experienced a rough upbringing that forced her to mature at a young age. Born in Burbank, CA on February 17th, 1954, her father Nino Russo abandoned the family when she was just two years old leaving her mother to raise her and her sister Toni on her own. Russo was diagnosed with scoliosis in junior high school, and had to wear a full-torso brace every day, which led to insults and mockery from her peers. They teased her for her height as well and called her by the nickname “Jolly Green Giant.” The bullying became so severe that she struggled to maintain good grades and ended up dropping out of high school her sophomore year.

She worked part time jobs from an early age, supporting her struggling Mom and younger sister, as a cashier a Disneyland and sometimes without pay, at movie theaters and restaurants, as a hostess, so she could see movies for free and eat. At 17, everything changed when she was at a Rolling Stones concert where she was spotted by ICM agency scout John Crosby, and that encounter led to a contract with Ford models.

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