Lillian Russell

Photo of Andrea King as Lillian Russell in "My Wild Irish Rose." Warner Bros., 1947.

Andrea King was pleased and proud to portray Lillian Russell, the legendary early-1900s Broadway star with the “hour glass figure,” in the Warner Bros. 1947 Technicolor musical “My Wild Irish Rose.” Aside from the singing and dancing in the picture, and working opposite Dennis Morgan again, Andrea adored the costumes and jewelry. Miss Russell had been famous for, among other things, her courtship with the notorious Diamond Jim Brady, and Warners saw to it that she reflected that little bit of history. Andrea was dripping with diamonds in her scenes — and all the jewels were real! As part of a publicity agreement with Van Cleef and Arpel’s, the costly gems were on loan during her weeks in front of the camera, and there were two armed guards present at all times on the set.

To achieve Lillian Russell’s much-ballyhooed “hourglass figure,” Andrea’s costumes had to be padded, primarily below the waistline, to fill her out in all the appropriate places. The extra padding, along with the weight of the layered costumes and the hot Technicolor lighting made filming at times very difficult. She got through it like a trooper however.

One interesting point of note: the nice woman playing Lillian Russell’s maid Della in several scenes was none other than Ruby Dandridge, the real-life mother of film star Dorothy Dandridge (“Carmen Jones”).