Best Known For
Nipsey Russell was best known for his comic rhymes and his appearances on TV game shows.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
During the 1960s and 1970s, Russell capitalized on his success as a stage performer to become a fixture on television comedy shows. He appeared frequently on The Tonight Show, Missing Links, The Ed Sullivan Show, What's My Line and The Jackie Gleason Show. It was on Missing Links with Ed McMahon in 1964 that Russell first began incorporating into his routines the brief,
rhymed poems that would become his trademark and earn him the title "The Poet Laureate of Television." A typical example of one of his humorous poems went: "Before we lose our autonomy/ And our economy crumbles into dust/ We should attack Japan, lose the war/ And let Japan take care of us."
In addition to his comedy routines, Russell also enjoyed a successful acting career. He landed his first major acting role as police officer in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? and went on to roles in Barefoot in the Park (1970) and The Red Skelton Hour (1967-1968). Russel's most acclaimed acting performance came as the Tin Man in The Wiz, an all-black remake of The Wizard of Oz costarring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor. While continuing to perform live shows in New York City and Las Vegas, in his later years Russell became a staple of daytime television with long-running roles on The $20,000 Pyramid, Password Plus and Hollywood Squares.
Nipsey Russell was never married and did not have any children. He often joked, "I have enough trouble living with myself, how could I ever live with anyone else?" Russell passed away in New York City on October 2, 2005 after a yearlong struggle with cancer.
With his beaming smile, intelligent wit and endless supply of clever rhymes, Nipsey Russell brought laughter to generations of club-goers and television-watchers, both black and white, while helping to break down the racial barriers that had long plagued the American entertainment industry. He was an entertainer who both reflected and helped bring about the increasingly multicultural makeup of American society. Extolling American diversity in characteristically humorous fashion, Russell once quipped, "America is the only place in the world where you can work in an Arab home in a Scandinavian neighborhood and find a Puerto Rican baby eating matzo balls with chopsticks."
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
profile name: Nipsey Russell profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
From the early comedy of Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to the contemporary routines of Steve Harvey, Mo'Nique, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle, black comedians have often used their wit to become the voice and face of the African-American experience. These legendary comedians have also set a very high bar—not only for African Americans, but for all comics trying to make it in show business. Learn more about these famous jokesters, from their early days to their comic beginnings, to their side-splitting performances and more.
Black Comedians 33 people in this group
Originally called Toast of the Town, The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948-1971 on CBS and was an American staple in the 50s and 60s. The American variety show featured the Who's Who of celebritydom over the decades, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, The Jackson 5, and The Doors.
The Ed Sullivan Show Guests 215 people in this group
Famous Virgoans 561 people in this group