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". 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 army hero-turned robber Snake Plissken in the futuristic action film Escape from New York and its sequel, Escape from L.A., Antarctic helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady in the horror film The Thing (1982), and truck driver Jack Burton in the dark kung-fu comedy/action film Big Trouble in Little China (1986), all of which have since become cult films.
In 1994, Russell 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.
Russell at the premiere of Grindhouse in Austin, Texas, March 2007
Kurt Vogel Russell|
March 17, 1951
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse||Season Hubley (m. 1979–1983)|
(1983–present; 1 child)
Early lifeRussell 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. In 1969 Russell graduated from Thousand Oaks High School.
Late 1950s–1960sRussell 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 the 1964 episode "Blue Heaven" of the western series 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. In the same year he played a starring role in Disney's Follow Me, Boys!. He then went on to star in The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, the latter of which spawned two sequels: Now You See Him, Now You Don't in 1972 and The Strongest Man in the World in 1975.
1970sIn 1971, he co-starred as a young robber released from jail, alongside James Stewart in Fools' Parade. Russell 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". He later auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars but lost the role to Harrison Ford.
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.
1980sOver 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 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.
1990s–2000sIn 1991, Russell was cast alongside William Baldwin as a firefighter in Backdraft. In 1994, he starred as Colonel Jack O'Neil in the military science fiction film Stargate.
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. 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.'
Personal lifeRussell 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.
Russell is a Libertarian. In 1996, he stated: "I was brought up as a Republican. But when I realized that at the end of the day there wasn't much difference between a Democrat and Republican, I became a libertarian."
In February 2003, Russell and Hawn moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, so that their son could play hockey. Russell is an FAA licensed private pilot holding single/multi-engine and instrument ratings and is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings of Hope. Former Major League Baseball player Matt Franco is his nephew.