After Mary Phelps Jacobs successfully introduced her “Backless Brassiere” in 1910s, many people tried to enhance it and make it more useful not just in covering and supporting a woman’s breasts but accentuating their shape underneath the clothes she is wearing. Howard Hughes was one of those people who tried to make a new type of brassiere in 1940s. Hughes is not actually a designer, he was a film director; but while directing a movie, he saw the need to create an underwire push-up bra for the leading actress. A very wealthy Hollywood socialite in the early 1940s, Howard Hughes is an American business tycoon who is also an aviator, aerospace engineer, a film producer and a director. During his lifetime, Hughes was considered as one of the wealthiest people in the world.
In 1941, Hughes produced and directed a movie called The Outlaw. The story of the movie centers on the rivalrous friendship between Billy the Kid, Doc Holiday, and Pat Garret. All three were fighting over possession of a stallion and a sultry Mexican girl Rio McDonald who was portrayed by 19-year old Jane Russell. The movie became a Hollywood gossip because of Russell’s erotic scenes, which actually helped in publicizing it. The Outlaw was Jane Russell’s first shot in show business and after the movie was released in 1943, she became a star overnight. The movie was also Jane Russell’s stepping stone in becoming America’s sex symbol in the 1950s and 1960s; her voluptuous figure was emphasized all throughout Hughes’ The Outlaw.
Jane Russell was a promising girl; Hughes sensed that. With measurements of 38D-24-36 and standing 5’7 ft, she was definitely a beauty to behold and Hughes believed that she had the potential to become America’s next superstar. However, while filming The Outlaw in 1941, Hughes felt the camera did little to emphasize Russell’s large bust. Wanting to highlight Russell’s voluptuous figure, Hughes used his engineering skills to design an underwire push-up bra and let his staff create it. The bras that Jane Russell were wearing while filming the movie either squashed her breasts or failed to provide support to prevent them from bouncing so Hughes felt the need to change it. The said underwire bra Hughes designed was believed to be worn by Russell while filming The Outlaw which gave her bosom an astonishing figure.
The movie caused quite a commotion in Hollywood because of Jane Russell’s seductive scenes. As a matter of fact, 20th Century Fox postponed the release date because of the controversies surrounding the movie. However, when it was released in 1943, it became an instant hit and Jane Russell became an instant star. The movie however was only shown in theaters for one week and then it was pulled out due to its violation to the Production Code, but it was enough for The Outlaw to become popular and Jane Russell to become a coveted Hollywood star. In 1946, The Outlaw was finally released widely and it became a box office hit.
In Jane Russell’s 1985 autobiography, the actress revealed that Hughes’ underwire push-up bra was so uncomfortable that she only wore it once and that was in her dressing room. She never really wore it while filming The Outlaw. Russell wrote that the contraption hurt so much that she wore it only a few minutes, instead, she wore her own bra, padded the cups with tissues and tightened the straps. Hughes, however, never knew about this. The famed bra is now housed in a Hollywood museum.