She made her acting debut in 'The Outlaw', directed by Howard Hughes in 1941 which was the film that catapulted Russell into the limelight. However due to the way Russell was portrayed in the film (namely her 'assets') the film had some censorship issues and wasn't allowed to generally released to the public until 1946.
Russell continued to make movies during the late 1940's but her most notable success after 'The Outlaw' was 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' alongside Marilyn Monroe.
After this time her film career became somewhat staggered, many attribute this to Howard Hughes as he had signed her on a 7 year contract, during this time she missed out on many roles that would have cemented her into Hollywood history.
During the 1960's and through to the 1970s Russell only made a handful of films, most unsuccessful.
After this time she retired from acting.