William Russell (American actor)

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William Russell
William Russell, silent film actor (SAYRE 8867).jpg
Russell in 1923
William Lerche

(1884-04-12)April 12, 1884
New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 18, 1929(1929-02-18) (aged 44)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1892–1929
(m. 1917;div. 1921)

(m. 1925)

William Russell (born William Lerche; [1] April 12, 1884 – February 18, 1929) was an American actor, film director, film producer and screenwriter. He appeared in over two hundred silent-era motion pictures between 1910 and 1929, directing five of them in 1916 and producing two through his own production company in 1918 and 1925.


Early life and career

Born in the Bronx borough of New York City, Russell began his acting career on the stage when he was eight years old. He appeared with such notables as Ethel Barrymore, Chauncey Olcott, Blanche Bates, Maude Adams and others.

Russell's Broadway credits include Princess Flavia (1925), Cyrano de Bergerac (1923), and The Tenderfoot (1904). [2]

His career came to a stop when he was 16, however, when he became an invalid. Through rigorous physical therapy, he recovered his health six years later. He then became an amateur boxing champion.

Motion pictures

Russell began his screen career in New York with the Biograph Company, where he worked for nine months before signing with the Thanhouser Company. He was also part of the company of players for the American Film Manufacturing Company and its Flying "A" Studios in Santa Barbara.

In 1917, he and actress Charlotte Burton were married. They divorced in 1921. He and actress Helen Ferguson were married on June 21, 1925, at the Wilshire Boulevard Congregational Church, after a six-year romance. [3]

William Russell died at the age of 44 from pneumonia at Hollywood Hospital in Los Angeles. [4] He is entombed in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Love, at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale. His brother, director Albert Russell, died two weeks later from pneumonia.

Selected filmography

Pride and the Man (1917) Pride and the Man.jpg
Pride and the Man (1917)
Louise Lovely and William Russell in a scene still for the 1920 Fox production The Twins of Suffering Creek The Twins of Suffering Creek 1920.jpg
Louise Lovely and William Russell in a scene still for the 1920 Fox production The Twins of Suffering Creek


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  1. "Secrets of the Movies Revealed". Detroit Free Press. Thompson Feature Service. February 7, 1923. p. 12. Retrieved March 31, 2021 via Newspapers.com.
  2. "William Russell". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on March 21, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  3. "Dan Cupid Bowls Over Film Husky. Film "Strong Man" Weds." Los Angeles Times . June 22, 1925. p A 1.
  4. "Russell Rites To Be Saturday." Los Angeles Times. February 19, 1929. p. A 1.