Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Poet Has Passed Away

A tip of the hat to actor and comedian Nipsey Russell, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 80. With his trademark smile, quick wit and penchant for impromptu poems, Mr. Russell was a hit wherever he appeared. I remember him best for his appearances on “The Dean Martin Show” and “To Tell the Truth,” as well as the reruns of “Car 54, Where Are You?”

Nipsey Russell was one of the first black comedians to be accepted and featured on nationwide television. But one thing that many probably do not know is that, immediately after graduating from the University of Cincinnati, he served in Europe during World War II as an officer in the United States Army. After returning to the states he settled in New York, where he was part of several rock & roll and rhythm & blues reviews before getting his “big break” as part of the cast of Car 54.

Russell never married, stating on numerous occasions, “I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else?” He left no surviving family, other than the many adoring fans who will miss that smiling face. The Poet Laureate of Television has passed away.

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