Actor and WWII Vet Nipsey Russell Dies at 80

Funnyman Nipsey Russell died over the weekend after a long bout with cancer. He was 80 years old.

‘The Wiz’ Actor Nipsey Russell Dies at 80

Photo Nipsey Russell poses for photographers at the New York premiere of the film 'The Aviator' Tuesday Dec. 14, 2004. Russell, who played the Tin Man alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in 'The Wiz,' as part of a decades-long career in stage, television and film, Sunday afternoon Oct. 2, 2005 at Lenox Hill Hospital, said his longtime manager Joseph Rapp. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg) Nipsey Russell, who played the Tin Man alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in “The Wiz” as part of a decades-long career in stage, television and film, has died. He was 80. The actor, who had been suffering from cancer, died Sunday afternoon at Lenox Hill Hospital, said his longtime manager Joseph Rapp.

Born in Atlanta, Russell launched his television career as Officer Anderson in the 1961 television series “Car 54, Where are You?” He also appeared in the 1994 film version. He became a fixture on popular television game and talk shows, where he was welcomed for his poetic delivery that earned him the moniker the “poet laureate of television.” He also took his signature four-line poetry on the road for readings and performances. Russell also appeared in the films “Nemo” in 1984, “Wildcats” in 1986 and “Posse” in 1993.

He settled in New York after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and serving as an Army captain in Europe during World War II, Rapp said.

I grew up watching Russell on a string of game shows and remember him being quite funny. I saw “Car 54” in reruns years later but only vaguely remember him being part of it.

Update: Skippy offers a tribute to Russell, whom he describes as “kind and affable, and truly projected an enjoyment of his work”.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McGehee says:

    I remember him from the game shows. It was always fun listening to one of his little poems.