Aaron Russo

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Aaron Russo
Aaron russo-cannes.jpg
Russo promoting his film America: Freedom to Fascism
BornFebruary 14, 1943
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 2007(2007-08-24) (aged 64)
Los Angeles
Known forMusic manager, film producer, libertarian politician and activist

Aaron Russo (February 14, 1943 – August 24, 2007) was an American entertainment businessman, film producer and director, and political activist. He was best known for producing such movies as Trading Places , Wise Guys , and The Rose . Later in life, he created various Libertarian-leaning political documentaries including Mad as Hell and America: Freedom to Fascism . After a six-year period with cancer, Russo died on August 24, 2007.

Activism efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, religious, economic, or environmental change, or stasis

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.

<i>Trading Places</i> 1983 comedy film directed by John Landis

Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. It tells the story of an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet. Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, and Jamie Lee Curtis also star. The storyline is often called a modern take on Mark Twain's classic 19th-century novel The Prince and the Pauper.

<i>Wise Guys</i> (1986 film) 1986 television film directed by Brian De Palma

Wise Guys is a 1986 black Mafia comedy film directed by Brian De Palma and produced by Aaron Russo from a screenplay written by George Gallo and Norman Steinberg. It stars Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo as two small-time mobsters from Newark, New Jersey, and features Harvey Keitel, Ray Sharkey, Lou Albano, Dan Hedaya, and Frank Vincent.

Contents

Early life

Aaron Russo was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1943 in a Jewish family. Growing up on Long Island, Russo worked for his family's undergarment business.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is a borough of New York City coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States. It is New York City's most populous borough, with an estimated 2,504,700 residents in 2010. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island.

Long Island Island in New York, United States of America

Long Island is a densely populated island off the East Coast of the United States, beginning at New York Harbor approximately 0.35 miles (0.56 km) from Manhattan Island and extending eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. The island comprises four counties in the U.S. state of New York. Kings and Queens Counties and Nassau County share the western third of the island, while Suffolk County occupies the eastern two-thirds. More than half of New York City's residents now live on Long Island, in Brooklyn, and in Queens. However, many people in the New York metropolitan area colloquially use the term Long Island to refer exclusively to Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and conversely, employ the term the City to mean Manhattan alone.

Entertainment career

In April 1968, Russo opened the nightclub Kinetic Playground in Chicago, Illinois, originally naming it the Electric Theater. He booked numerous prominent rock groups and musicians at the club such as The Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Vanilla Fudge, Rotary Connection, and The Who.

The Kinetic Playground was a short-lived nightclub located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most-populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third-most-populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most-populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second-most-populous county in the US, and portions of the city extend westward into neighboring DuPage County. It is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third-most-populous in the nation.

Illinois American State

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

In addition to owning his own nightclub, Russo managed several musical acts throughout the 1970s including The Manhattan Transfer and Bette Midler. [1]

The Manhattan Transfer American vocal music group

The Manhattan Transfer is a jazz vocal group founded in 1969 that has explored a cappella, vocalese, swing, standards, Brazilian jazz, rhythm and blues, and pop music.

Bette Midler American singer-songwriter, actress, comedian and film producer

Bette Midler is an American singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and film producer. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Midler began her professional career in several Off-Off-Broadway plays, prior to her engagements in Fiddler on the Roof and Salvation on Broadway in the late 1960s. She came to prominence in 1970 when she began singing in the Continental Baths, a local gay bathhouse where she managed to build up a core following. Since 1970, Midler has released 14 studio albums as a solo artist. Throughout her career, many of her songs became hits on the record charts, including her renditions of "The Rose", "Wind Beneath My Wings", "Do You Want to Dance", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", and "From a Distance".

Russo then moved into producing and directing movies, six of them receiving Academy Award nominations and two receiving Golden Globe Award nominations. [2] His final film would be America: Freedom to Fascism , a political documentary critical of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve System and warning about the coming of the New World Order.

<i>America: Freedom to Fascism</i> 2006 film by Aaron Russo

America: Freedom to Fascism is a 2006 film by filmmaker and activist Aaron Russo, covering a variety of subjects that Russo contends are detrimental to Americans. Topics include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the income tax, Federal Reserve System, national ID cards, human-implanted RFID tags, Diebold electronic voting machines, globalization, Big Brother, taser weapons abuse, and the use of terrorism by the government as a means to diminish the citizens' rights.

Internal Revenue Service Revenue service of the United States federal government

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The government agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed to a five-year term by the President of the United States. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of federal statutory tax law of the United States. The duties of the IRS include providing tax assistance to taxpayers and pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings. The IRS has also overseen various benefits programs, and enforces portions of the Affordable Care Act.

New World Order (conspiracy theory) Conspiracy theory

The New World Order or NWO is claimed to be an emerging clandestine totalitarian world government by various conspiracy theories.

Political career

Russo became involved in political issues in the early-1990s when he produced and starred in the documentary entitled Mad As Hell in which he criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the federal government's War on Drugs, the concept of a National Identity Card, and government regulation of alternative medicine. [3]

North American Free Trade Agreement trade bloc

The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994, and superseded the 1988 Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada. The NAFTA trade bloc is one of the largest trade blocs in the world by gross domestic product.

Because of the uncertain nature of various alternative therapies and the wide variety of claims different practitioners make, alternative medicine has been a source of vigorous debate, even over the definition of "alternative medicine". Dietary supplements, their ingredients, safety, and claims, are a continual source of controversy. In some cases, political issues, mainstream medicine and alternative medicine all collide, such as in cases where synthetic drugs are legal but the herbal sources of the same active chemical are banned.

In 1998, Russo took his political interests to a higher level, running for governor of the state of Nevada as a Republican. Placing second in the Republican primary with 26% of the vote to candidate Kenny Guinn, Russo later endorsed the Democratic nominee, then-Las Vegas mayor Jan Laverty Jones, who would eventually lose to Guinn.[ citation needed ] Russo was planning to run again for Nevada governor in 2002 as either an independent or Libertarian but was sidelined by cancer.

In January 2004, Russo declared his candidacy for the President of the United States initially as an independent but then as a Libertarian. At the Libertarian National Convention in May 2004, Russo received 258 votes to Michael Badnarik's 256 votes and Gary Nolan's 246 votes, short of the majority required to receive the presidential nomination. Russo would eventually lose the nomination on the convention's third and final ballot to Badnarik by a vote of 423–344.

On February 14, 2004, Russo gave his full endorsement to the Free State Project, saying in his letter, "I encourage my fellow Libertarians and all freedom-loving Americans to consider joining the Free State Project." [4]

In 2007, Russo created the political grassroots organization, Restore the Republic, to fulfill the political ambitions laid out in his final movie documentary, America: Freedom to Fascism. Regarding the organization, Russo said his goal was to "try and get the word out to the public about what's happening to America – and give them an opportunity to try to change things". [ citation needed ]

The Aaron Russo Gold Commemorative Memorial Piece. Aaron Russo Gold Commemorative Memorial Piece.jpg
The Aaron Russo Gold Commemorative Memorial Piece.

Death

On August 24, 2007, Russo died at the age of 64 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. [5]

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References

  1. Mahoney, John C. (November 1979). "Bette Midler in "The Rose"". Bette on the Boards. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2007.
  2. "Aaron Russo". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  3. "Vengeful investor and cheating wife testify in trial". Reuters.
  4. "Aaron Russo endorses the Free State Project". Archived from the original on October 11, 2004. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  5. Former Bette Midler manager and film producer dies at 64 The Associated Press . August 26, 2007.