Craig Russell (Canadian actor)
Russell signing autographs at the opening of Outrageous!. Lori Jenkins is pictured at right
|Born||Russell Craig Eadie
January 10, 1948
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Died||October 30, 1990
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Cause of death||AIDS-related stroke|
|Resting place||Pine Grove Cemetery|
|Occupation||Female impersonator, actor|
|Spouse(s)||Lori Jenkins (m. 1982–90)|
Early life and career
Born in Toronto, Russell became president of Mae West's fan club as a teenager, and he briefly worked and lived in Los Angeles as her secretary. He returned to Toronto where he moved in with the writer Margaret Gibson. He worked as a hairdresser while pursuing his career as a stage performer. By 1971, he was a regular performer in Toronto gay clubs and had a burgeoning international following.
His impersonations included Carol Channing, Bette Davis, Mae West, Barbra Streisand, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Midler, Anita Bryant, Shirley Bassey, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. While performing, he always spoke and sang in the voices of the celebrities he was impersonating.
In 1977, Russell starred in the film Outrageous!, based on a short story written by Gibson about their time as roommates. The film was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival, where Russell won the Silver Bear for Best Actor. A decade later, in 1987, he starred in the sequel to Outrageous! entitled Too Outrageous!.
Personal life and death
Russell fathered a daughter, Susan Allison ("Allison"), who was born January 6, 1973 in Toronto. Father and daughter developed a relationship in the years prior to his death. Although he publicly identified as gay rather than bisexual, Russell married his close friend Lori Jenkins in 1982.
His widow Lori died on August 15, 2008 at Toronto Grace Hospital, after a long battle with cancer. Her body was buried beside that of her husband in Port Perry.
A play entitled Margaret and Craig, written by David Solomon, based on the writing of both Russell and his friend, Margaret Gibson is in development for a further theatrical life. The play was produced in workshop at Vassar College's Powerhouse Theater in the summer of 2011 with Mario Cantone as Craig Russell, directed by Sheryl Kaller, and music directed by Paul Masse, with Jeni Verdon portraying Margaret.
- "Craig Russell, Actor And Widely Known Female Impersonator, Was Mae West Fan". The Seattle Times. November 3, 1990.
- "Berlinale 1978: Prize Winners". imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- Craig Russell at the Internet Movie Database
- Craig Russell at AllRovi
- Craig Russell Glbtq.com
- Craig Russell at Find a Grave