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Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American television and film actor. His first acting roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963–1964). In the 1970s, he signed a ten-year contract with the Walt Disney Company, where he became, according to Robert Osborne, the "studio's top star of the '70s."[1] In 1979, Russell was nominated for an Emmy Award for the made-for-television film Elvis.

In 1983, 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. During the 1980s, Russell was cast in several films by director John Carpenter, including anti-hero roles such as former air force hero-turned robber Snake Plissken in the futuristic action film Escape from New York, the horror film The Thing (1982), and the dark kung-fu comedy/action film Big Trouble in Little China (1986). Both Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China have since become cult films.

In 1994, he had a starring role in the military/science fiction film Stargate. In the mid-2000s, his portrayal of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in Miracle (2004) won the praise of critics. In 2006, he appeared in the disaster-thriller Poseidon, and in 2007 Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof segment from the film Grindhouse.

Early life

Russell was born on March 17, 1951, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Louise Julia (née Crone), a dancer; and Bing Russell, a character actor, best-known for playing Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza.[2] In the mid-1960s, Russell graduated from Thousand Oaks High School.


Late 1950s–1960s

Russell began his career in the late 1950s with an appearance as a child in the pilot of the ABC western television series Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins. His film career began at the age of eleven in an uncredited part in Elvis Presley's It Happened at the World's Fair and two extra episodes, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the then defunct series 'Rin Tin Tin. On April 24, 1963, Russell guest starred in the ABC series Our Man Higgins, starring Stanley Holloway as an English butler in an American family. He appeared in 1963 as Peter Hall in the episode "Everybody Knows You Left Me" on the NBC medical drama about psychiatry The Eleventh Hour.

Later in 1963, he landed a big part for a juvenile actor: the lead role as Jaimie in the ABC Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963–1964). Based on a book by Robert Lewis Taylor, the series starred Dan O'Herlihy, John Maloney and the young Osmond Brothers. Charles Bronson became a semi-regular in the series. In 1964, he guest-starred in "Nemesis", an episode of the popular ABC series The Fugitive in which, as the son of police Lt. Phillip Gerard, he is unintentionally kidnapped by his father's quarry, Doctor Richard Kimble. That same year he appeared on The Virginian as a mistaken orphan whose father was an outlaw played by Rory Calhoun who was still alive and recently released from prison looking for his son. He played a similar role as a kid named “Packy Kerlin” in a 1964 episode (Blue Heaven) of Gunsmoke.

On February 6, 1965, Russell, not quite fourteen, played the role of Jungle Boy on an episode of CBS's Gilligan's Island. He guest starred on ABC's western The Legend of Jesse James. In 1967, he, Jay C. Flippen, and Tom Tryon appeared in the episode "Charade of Justice" of the NBC western series The Road West starring Barry Sullivan. In a March 1966 episode of CBS's Lost in Space entitled "The Challenge", he played Quano, the son of a planetary ruler.


The young actor was soon signed to a ten-year contract with the Walt Disney Company, where he became, according to Robert Osborne, the "studio's top star of the '70s."[1] Russell starred in many Disney films, such as Follow Me, Boys!, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band with then-newcomer Goldie Hawn, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and The Strongest Man in the World. He auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars but lost the role to Harrison Ford.

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.

Russell, like his father before him, had a baseball career. In the early 1970s, Russell played second base for the California Angels' (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Double-A minor league affiliate, the 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 .763 batting average. The injury forced his retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.

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.


Over the 1980s, Russell would team with Carpenter several times, helping create some of his best-known roles, usually as anti-heroes, including the infamous Snake Plissken of Escape from New York and its sequel, Escape from L.A.. Among their collaborations was 1982's John Carpenter's 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 a truck driver caught in an ancient Chinese war. While the film was a financial failure like The Thing, it has since gained a cult audience.

Elvis Presley connections have run like a thread through his career. Aside from appearing as a child in one of Presley's films and giving a convincing portrayal of the singer in the 1979 television biopic, Russell starred as an Elvis impersonator involved in a Las Vegas robbery in 3000 Miles to Graceland and provided the voice of Elvis for a scene in Forrest Gump.

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.


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 of the Chicago Sun Times wrote, "Russell does real acting here." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Russell's cagey and remote performance gives Miracle its few breezes of fresh, albeit methane-scented, air."

In 2006, Russell revealed that he was the director of Tombstone, not George P. Cosmatos, as credited.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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 Gerard Butler for his signature character, Snake Plissken, as he believed the character 'was quintessentially [...] American.'[4][5]

File:Kurt Russell.jpg

Russell in 2005

Personal life

Russell married actress Season Hubley, whom he had met on the set of Elvis in 1979; they had a son, Boston Russell, in 1980. In 1983, in the middle of his divorce from Hubley, Russell re-connected with Goldie Hawn on the set of the film Swing Shift and they have been in a relationship ever since. They had a son, Wyatt, in 1986. One year later, in 1987, the couple starred in the film Overboard. Hawn's son and daughter with Bill Hudson, actors Oliver and Kate Hudson, consider Russell to be their father.

It was long reported that the final written words of Walt Disney were Kurt Russell's name scribbled on a piece of paper. Russell confirmed that he had seen the paper himself, but did not know what Disney was trying to convey.[6]

Russell is a prominent member of the Libertarian Party, a political party in the United States which favors strong civil liberties.[7] He claims that he was often an viewed as an outcast in Hollywood because of his libertarian views, so he and Hawn moved to an area outside Aspen, Colorado where he has tried his hand at writing (he co-wrote the screenplay for Escape from L.A.).

In February 2003, Russell and Hawn moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, so that their son could play hockey. Russell is a FAA licensed private pilot holding single/multi-engine and instrument ratings and is a Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings of Hope.[8] Former Major League Baseball player, Matt Franco, is his nephew.[9]


Film and Television
Year Title Role Notes
1963 It Happened at the World's Fair Boy who kicks Mike Uncredited
1964 Guns of Diablo Jamie McPheeters Lead role
1964 Virginian, TheThe Virginian Toby Shea Episode 3.8, "A Father For Toby"
1965 Gilligan's Island Jungle boy Episode 1.19, "Gilligan Meets Jungle Boy"
1965 Virginian, TheThe Virginian Andy Denning Episode 4.1, "The Brothers"
1966 Follow Me, Boys! Whitey
1968 One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, TheThe One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band Sidney Bower
1968 Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, TheThe Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit Ronnie Gardner
1969 Guns in the Heather Rich
1969 Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, TheThe Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Dexter Riley
1971 Barefoot Executive, TheThe Barefoot Executive Steven Post
1971 Fools' Parade Johnny Jesus
1972 Now You See Him, Now You Don't Dexter Riley
1973 Charley and the Angel Ray Ferris
1973 Superdad Bart
1975 Strongest Man in the World, TheThe Strongest Man in the World Dexter Riley
1975 Deadly Tower, TheThe Deadly Tower Charles Whitman TV Movie
1975 Search for the Gods Shan Mullins TV Movie
1979 Elvis Elvis Presley Nominated—Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1980 Used Cars Rudolph "Rudy" Russo
1981 Escape from New York Snake Plissken
1981 Fox and the Hound, TheThe Fox and the Hound Adult Copper Voice Only
1982 Thing, TheThe Thing R.J. MacReady
1983 Silkwood Drew Stephens Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1984 Swing Shift Mike "Lucky" Lockhart Co-starred with Goldie Hawn
1984 Terror in the Aisles archival footage
1985 Mean Season, TheThe Mean Season Malcolm Anderson
1986 Big Trouble in Little China Jack Burton
1986 Best of Times, TheThe Best of Times Reno Hightower
1987 Overboard Dean Proffitt Co-starred with Goldie Hawn
1988 Tequila Sunrise Det. Lt. Nicholas 'Nick' Frescia
1989 Winter People Wayland Jackson
1989 Tango & Cash Detective Gabriel "Gabe" Cash
1991 Backdraft Stephen 'Bull' McCaffrey / Dennis McCaffrey
1992 Unlawful Entry Michael Carr
1992 Captain Ron Captain Ron
1993 Tombstone Wyatt Earp Also (Uncredited) Director
1994 Stargate Col. Jonathan "Jack" O'Neil
1994 Forrest Gump Voice of Elvis Presley Uncredited
1996 Executive Decision Dr. David Grant
1996 Escape from L.A. Snake Plissken Sequel to Escape from New York
Also Writer/Producer
1997 Breakdown Jeffrey "Jeff" Taylor
1998 Soldier Todd
2001 3000 Miles To Graceland Michael Zane
2001 Vanilla Sky McCabe
2002 Interstate 60 Capt. Ives
2003 Dark Blue Eldon Perry
2004 Miracle Herb Brooks
2005 Sky High Steve Stronghold / The Commander
2005 Dreamer Ben Crane
2006 Poseidon Robert Ramsey
2007 Death Proof Stuntman Mike Segment from the Quentin Tarantino film Grindhouse
2007 Cutlass Dad


  1. 1.0 1.1 Introduction by Robert Osborne to the TCM premiere of The Barefoot Executive, 13 April 2007.
  2. "Kirk Russell Film Reference bio". Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Beck, Henry Cabot. "The "Western" Godfather." True West Magazine. October 2006.
  4. by Stax (2007-03-22). "IGN: Kurt Blasts 'Escape' Remake". Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  5. "News Russell Enraged with New Snake Plissken". Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  6. "Kurt Russell Confirms That Walt Disney's Last Written Words Are His Name". 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  7. "Libertarian Party:Platform", Official Website of the Libertarian National Committee. Retrieved on July 20, 2008.
  8. ":.: The Official Wings Of Hope Homepage :.:". Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  9. "SI Vault Sports Beat". 2002-09-02. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name

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