Jane on a 1946 Lincoln V12 Carphone

Year of Jane Russell: Day 91

Here’s one more image of Jane taken at the Van Nuys home of her mother-in-law where Jane and husband Robert Waterfield resided for a spell. At first glance, it’s a charming photo of Jane behind the wheel. But, she’s also talking on a phone in the car, which was not a common occurrence in the 1940s! Since I know pretty much nothing about automobiles or early carphones, I turn to my friend Daniel Nauman who is rather well versed in both. He came back with much more information than I could have hoped! His theory is that Jane is posing in the Boss’s car, aka Howard Hughes. Here’s what he had to say:

The car is a 1946 Lincoln V12. There were no exterior changes to the car in 1947-8, so maybe HH [Howard Hughes] would keep it that long. A totally new car was introduced for ’49. He seemed to be partial to Lincolns.

LA had mobile service by 1947. It was more advanced than the phone call JR did on the Outlaw set in Navajo Country, but not by much. It was a dedicated FM system, just above the newly allocated FM broadcast band. The handset had a button to push to talk, release to hear. There was no dial system. The caller asked the mobile operator to connect to either another mobile or land line. If it was a land line, the mobile operator connected to the land line operator, who completed the call from her switchboard. In reverse, a land to mobile call was placed with the land operator, who connected to the mobile operator, who dialed the mobile unit—and if reached, made the connection. Early on, the light on the mobile receiver remained on if a call was not answered, so they knew someone had called. Not sure if the mobile operator kept track of calls, but probably did—especially for someone like HH.

Also note the compass protruding from the dash—HH was always off on some adventure. The knobs high on the dash in front of the steering wheel are not standard equipment. They may be controls for custom air conditioning, which was very very rare and expensive.

This would not be the first time Hughes customized a Lincoln. Jane’s salary under HH probably wouldn’t have allowed her to make customizations like this (and would she need a carphone?), even when combining her income with Waterfield’s paychecks from the Rams. Daniel’s theory that this was Hughes’ car seems reasonable to me!

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