Nipsey Russell

Nipsey Russell

87 (passed away Oct. 2nd, 2005)
Sep. 15th, 1918
Born in
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
5' 9

Nipsey Russell's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
The Dean Martin Show TV Show
The Dean Martin Show
The Merv Griffin Show TV Show
The Merv Griffin Show
Barefoot In The Park TV Show
Barefoot In The Park
The Dean Martin Comedy World TV Show
The Dean Martin Comedy World
Blankety Blanks TV Show
Blankety Blanks
Personality TV Show
To Tell The Truth (1969) TV Show
To Tell The Truth (1969)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Nipsey Russell was born in Atlanta Georgia in 1918. Russell got his start in Rock and Roll and other music reviews in the 1950s. In the 1960s Russell achieved his first major role as Officer Anderson in "Car 54, Where Are You?" (1961). After being on the show for a year Russell was a mainstay on variety shows, appearing on Laugh-In, "The Dean Martin Show" (1965), the Jackie Gleason Show, among many others. Russell also appeared in so many small shows in the 1960s as an always unique personality that would liven up almost any program. As the 1970s approached Nipsey Russell became a popular game show panelist, appearing mostly on To Tell The Truth, "Match Game PM" (1975), and many others. Nipsey was known as Television's Poet Laurete. On such shows like The Tonight Show, and many other very popular talk shows of the day.

Nipsey's film roles have been remarkably scarce, but will always be remembered for his role of the Tin Man in the 1978 remake of the Wizard of Oz, The Wiz (1978). The movie was a box office failure, but since the movie has been considered a cult classic. But Russell's skill cannot be weighed by his television and movie appearances. He is an accomplished actor and singer on stage. Russell has been on Broadway for many years, and still appears to be going strong on stage.

  • Obtained the rank of captain in the Army World World II, when African American officers were very rare and segregation was official policy.
  • Had a singing/dancing background. He danced with the Ragamuffins of Rhythm.
  • Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 483-485. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
  • Became one of the first African-American to be a regular on game shows ("To Tell the Truth") and also one of the first black game show hosts with NBC's "Your Number's Up."
  • Frequently gives a humorous poem during his game show and talk show appearances.
  • An early job as a carhop kick-started his career. To generate tips he would joke around to make his customers laugh. It helped him hone his nightclub act at such establishments as the Club Baby Grand and Apollo Theater. Received his first big break in the late 1950s on _"Toast of the Town" (1948)_ (qv).
  • Although he claimed to have been a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, he actually attended for only one semester in 1936 and did not receive a degree.
  • Delivered standard four-line topical poems as part of his routine. An example: "The opposite of pro is con; That fact is clearly seen; If progress means move forward, Then what does Congress mean?"

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