Julius “Nipsey” Russell was an African American comedian, poet, and dancer. Mr. Russell has appeared on several games shows, such as Match Game, Hollywood Squares, and Pyramid, in the 1960s – 1990s. He was born in Atlanta, GA and attended Booker T. Washington High School. He got his start as a comedian in the 1940s as a carhop at The Varsity. As a result of his comedic nature, Mr. Russell earned huge tips by making customers laugh.
Mr. Russell was discovered after he began performing in nightclubs in the 1950s. After that he made many party albums, which were compilations of his stand-up routines. Mr. Nipsey’s role as the Tin Man in The Wiz, a remake of the Wizard of Oz using an all-African American cast, will always be a favorite with moviegoers. The movie was considered a failure at the box office. However, as the years went by the movie gained many fans. During the 1990s, Mr. Russell gained popularity with a new generation of television viewers by being regular on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
Mr. Russell has ties to Disney by hosting two episodes of The Mouse Factory. The Mouse Factory was a syndicated television series produced by Walt Disney Pictures that aired from January 26, 1972 to March 5, 1973. The series was cancelled in its second season due to low ratings. The series consisted of various DIsney cartoons and movies, hosted by celebrity guests who interacted in live skits with Disney characters from the theme parks and they also visited the Disney studio.
If you missed the previous A Touch of Disney in Black History post, read about Lanny Smoot here.