Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American television and film actor. Russell was born on March 17, 1951, in Springfield, Massachussetts, the son of Louise Julia (née Crone), a dancer; and Bing Russell, a character actor, best known for playing Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza. In the mid-1960s, Russell graduated from Thousand Oaks High School.
Russell began his career in the late 1950s with an appearance as a child in the pilot of the ABC western television series Sugarfoot. His film career began at the age of eleven in an uncredited part in Elvis Presley’s It Happened at the World’s Fair. His major acting role was a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963-1964). He has appeared in the television series The Fugitive, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Gilligans Island and
Russell, like his father, had a baseball career. In the early 1970s, Russell played second base for the California Angels minor league affiliates, the Bend Rainbows, Walla Walla Islanders, Portland Mavericks and El Paso Sun Kings. During a play, he was hit in the shoulder by a player running to second base; the collision tore the rotator cuff in Russell’s right/throwing shoulder. Before his injury, he was leading the Texas league in hitting, with a .563 batting average. The injury forced his retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.
In the autumn of 1976, Russell appeared with Tim Matheson in the 15-episode NBC series The Quest, the story of two young men in the American West seeking the whereabouts of their sister, a captive of the Cheyenne.
In 1979, Russell was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for the made-for-television film Elvis. This would be his first pairing with John Carpenter, the director of Halloween. Although Russell did not perform the singing vocals in the series – which were provided by country music artist Ronnie McDowell – he would later go on to provide the voice of Elvis Presley in the 1994 film Forrest Gump.
Throughout the 1980s, Russell would team with Carpenter several times, helping create some of his best-known roles, usually as anti-heroes, including the infamous and iconic former army hero-turned robber Snake Plissken of Escape from New York and its sequel, Escape from L. A.. He played Antarctic helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in the 1982 horror The Thing, based upon the short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr., which had been interpreted on film before, albeit loosely, in 1951’s The Thing from Another World. In 1986, the two made Big Trouble in Little China, a dark kung-fu comedy/action film in which Russell played truck driver Jack Burton who was caught in an ancient Chinese war. While the film was a financial failure like The Thing, it has since gained a cult audience.
His portrayal of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in the 2004 film, Miracle, won the praise of critics. “In many ways,” wrote Claudia Puig of USA Today, “Miracle belongs to Kurt Russell.” Roger Ebert wrote, “Russell does real acting here.”
In 2006, Russell revealed that he was the director of Tombstone, not George P. Cosmatos, as credited. According to Russell, Cosmatos was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and was, in effect, a ghost director, much as he had been for Rambo: First Blood Part II. Russell said he promised Cosmatos he would keep it a secret as long as Cosmatos was alive; Cosmatos died in April 2005. Russell owns the rights to the masters and makes reference to possibly re-editing the film, as he was not originally involved in the editing.
Russell appeared as villain Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino’s segment Death Proof of the film Grindhouse. After a remake of Escape from New York was announced, Russell was reportedly upset with the casting of Scottish actor Gerard Butler for his signature character, Snake Plissken, as he believed the character ‘was quintessentially American.’
Russell is one of the very few famous child stars in Hollywood who has been able continue his acting career past his teen years. Russell received award nominations well into middle age. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for his performance opposite Meryl Streep in the 1984 film, Silkwood.
This entry was posted on March 17, 2012 by Geordie. It was filed under Biography, Biography: ACTORS and was tagged with Action, Actors, Awards, Big Trouble in Little China, Cult, Death Proof, Escape From New York, Grindhouse, Icons, John Carpenter, Snake Plissken, Stuntman Mike, The Thing, Tombstone.