Rosalind Russell - Biography - IMDb
Rosalind Russell Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trivia (36)  | Personal Quotes (15)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
Died in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (breast cancer)
Birth NameCatherine Rosalind Russell
Nickname Roz
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The middle of seven children, she was named, not for the heroine of "As You Like It" but for the S.S. Rosalind on which her parents had sailed, at the suggestion of her father, a successful lawyer.

After receiving a Catholic school education, she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934, with some stock company work and a little Broadway experience, she was tested and signed by Universal. Simultaneously, MGM tested her and made her a better offer. When she plead ignorance of Hollywood (while wearing her worst-fitting clothes), Universal released her and she signed with MGM for seven years.

For some time she was used in secondary roles and as a replacement threat to limit Myrna Loy's salary demands. Knowing she was right for comedy, she tested five times for the role of Sylvia Fowler in The Women (1939). George Cukor told her to "play her as a freak". She did and got the part. Her "boss lady" roles began with the part of reporter Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940), through whose male lead, Cary Grant, she met her future husband, Grant's house-guest at the time.

In her forties, she returned to the stage, touring "Bell, Book and Candle" in 1951 and winning a Tony Award for "Wonderful Town" in 1953. Columbia, worried the public would think she had the female lead in Picnic (1955), billed her "co-starring Rosalind Russell as Rosemary." She refused to be placed in the Best Supporting Actress category when Columbia Pictures wanted to promote her for an Academy Award nomination for her role in Picnic (1955). Many felt she would have won had she cooperated. "Auntie Mame" kept her on Broadway for two years followed by the movie version.

Oscar nominations: My Sister Eileen (1942), Sister Kenny (1946), Mourning Becomes Electra (1947), and Auntie Mame (1958). In 1972, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for contributions to charity.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <>

Family (2)

Spouse Frederick Brisson (25 October 1941 - 28 November 1976)  (her death)  (1 child)
Parents James Edward Russell
Clara A. Russell

Trivia (36)

Diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a double mastectomy and other treatment but the cancer spread.. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law (actress Patricia Morrow), and a priest were at her bedside when she died at the age of 69. She was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Russell gave birth to her only child at age 35. She and husband Frederick Brisson welcomed a son, Lance Brisson, on May 7, 1943.
Died about three weeks after Patrick Dennis, the author of Auntie Mame (1958), one of her most famous roles.
She refused to be placed in the Best Supporting Actress category when Columbia Pictures wanted to promote her for an Academy Award nomination for her role in Picnic (1955). Many felt she would have won had she cooperated.
Won Broadway's 1953 Tony Award as Best Actress (Musical) for "Wonderful Town", a musical based on the same source as her film My Sister Eileen (1942), for which she received an Oscar nomination playing the same character. She also received a 1957 Tony Award nomination as Best Actress (Dramatic for "Auntie Mame", a role she recreated in an Oscar-nominated performance in the film version Auntie Mame (1958)).
In 1971, she accepted the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role on behalf of Helen Hayes, who was not present at the awards ceremony. Hayes won the award for her tour-de-force role as Mrs. Ada Quonsett in Airport (1970).
Her performance as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940) is ranked #28 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Cary Grant introduced her to her future husband and was the best man at their wedding.
In Italy, almost all her films were dubbed by either Tina Lattanzi or Lydia Simoneschi.
Sister-in-law of actress Elizabeth Russell.
In Gypsy (1962), Russell portrayed the mother of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. In The Trouble with Angels (1966), Russell appeared with the real life Gypsy Rose Lee.
Her son married actress Patricia Morrow on March 15, 1975. They later divorced in the 1980s.
Helped Van Johnson overcome his fear of live audiences after goading him into performing in nightclubs. He made his Las Vegas debut in the 1950s.
Shared the screen with actress and former vaudevillian June Havoc in My Sister Eileen (1942). Twenty years later, she portrayed Havoc's mother, Mama Rose, in the film version of the Broadway hit musical Gypsy (1962).
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman (1999).
Russell wanted the role of Sylvia Fowler in The Women (1939) so much that she did five screen tests. On the fifth one, she burlesqued the role, which pleased director George Cukor and won her the role. During filming, Russell actually bit Paulette Goddard in their fight sequence. Despite the permanent scar the bite left Goddard, the actresses remained friends.
She was a Republican and an avid supporter and personal friend of Dwight D. Eisenhower in particular.
She was considered for the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945), which went to Joan Crawford.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Is one of 20 actresses who did not receive an Oscar nomination for their Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe-winning performance; hers being for A Majority of One (1961) and Gypsy (1962). The others, in chronological order, are: June Allyson for Too Young to Kiss (1951), Ethel Merman for Call Me Madam (1953), Jean Simmons for Guys and Dolls (1955), Taina Elg and Kay Kendall for Les Girls (1957), Marilyn Monroe for Some Like It Hot (1959), Patty Duke for Me, Natalie (1969), Twiggy for The Boy Friend (1971), Raquel Welch for The Three Musketeers (1973), Barbra Streisand for A Star Is Born (1976), Bernadette Peters for Pennies from Heaven (1981), Kathleen Turner for Romancing the Stone (1984) and Prizzi's Honor (1985), Miranda Richardson for Enchanted April (1991), Jamie Lee Curtis for True Lies (1994), Nicole Kidman for To Die For (1995), Madonna for Evita (1996), Renée Zellweger for Nurse Betty (2000), Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), and Amy Adams for Big Eyes (2014).
Had appeared with Robert Montgomery in five films: Forsaking All Others (1934), Trouble for Two (1936), Live, Love and Learn (1937), Night Must Fall (1937) and Fast and Loose (1939).
Had appeared with Brian Aherne in four films: Hired Wife (1940), My Sister Eileen (1942), What a Woman! (1943) and Rosie! (1967).
Had appeared with Binnie Barnes in four films: Rendezvous (1935), This Thing Called Love (1940), The Trouble with Angels (1966) and Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! (1968).
At the 1948 Oscar awards ceremonies, just prior to the announcement of the name for the Best Actress Award, she started to get up (she assumed she would win for "Mourning Becomes Electra"), and had her balloon burst when Loretta Young's name was announced.
Inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame in 2005.
Rosalind Russell was also the name used for the final female bailiff on the 1984-1992 sitcom, Night Court. Marsha Warfield played the character of Rosalind "Roz" Russell from the fourth season, following the death of Florence Halop, until the series ended.
She appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Women (1939) and His Girl Friday (1940).
Returned to work three months after giving birth to her son Lance to begin filming What a Woman! (1943).
Was four months pregnant with her son Lance when she completed filming on Flight for Freedom (1943).
Daughter of James (1860-1926) and Clara (née McKnight) Russell (1874-1958). Both were born and raised in the state of Connecticut.
Maternal granddaughter of James (1852-1923) and Katherine (née Geary) McKnight (1855-1896). Both were born and raised in the state of Connecticut.
Maternal great granddaughter of Thomas (1808-1873) and Bridget McKnight (1816-1893). Both were born and raised in Ireland, and died in the state of Connecticut.
Alumna of the AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Class of 1929.
Educated at the exclusive Marymount School in Tarrytown - on -Hudson.
Under contract to MGM she made her debut in a small role in 'Evelyn Prentice from which she climbed to stardom in 'Night Must Fall'.
She began her career as a leading lady in a tent show then graduated to the New York stage appearing in many successful hits.

Personal Quotes (15)

Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
Success is a public affair. Failure is a private funeral.
At MGM, there was a first wave of top stars, and a second wave to replace them in case they got difficult. I was second in line of defence, behind Myrna Loy.
Flops are part of a life's menu and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.
In all those types of films I wore a tan suit, a grey suit, a beige suit and then a negligee for the seventh reel near the end when I would admit to my best friend on the telephone that what I really wanted was to become a little housewife.
Taste. You cannot buy such a rare and wonderful thing. You can't send away for it in a catalogue. And I'm afraid it's becoming obsolete.
Taking joy in life is a woman's best cosmetic.
Being given good material is like being assigned to bake a cake and having the batter made for you.
I just get out there and belt a song around. No one would dare give me anything with a range of more than seven notes - and four would be better.
[on her role in Picnic (1955)] [William Inge] has sisters who were schoolteachers. That helped him in writing Rosemary so perceptively.
It's fine to have talent, but talent is the last of it. In an acting career, as in an acting performance, you've got to have vitality. The secret of successful acting is identical with a woman's beauty secret: joy in living.
People can teach you a lot if you'll let them. I know.
[on Joan Crawford] She was very much the star. I think that's a very important thing to remember about her, that she was in command of what she did. Now, if she was not that confident herself, she certainly gave a damned good performance of somebody that was! She lived the life of a star. When you walked into her house, it looked as though a star lived there.
[on Frank Sinatra] Ohhhh, he is quite a guy! Frank is a remarkable human being. Very colorful. He is several people, all interesting. He is a man with concern for people - not only his friends, but people he doesn't know. I guess there is just reams that could be written about the things he has done for people which no one knows other than the recipients. He likes it that way.
Moments. A couple of moments that people remember, that they can take with them, is what makes a good movie.

Salary (1)

Hired Wife (1940) $40,000

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