Russ Tamblyn

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Russ Tamblyn
Russ Tamblyn at the 1990 Annual Emmy Awards cropped.jpg
Tamblyn at the 1990 Annual Emmy Awards.
Born Russell Irving Tamblyn
(1934-12-30) December 30, 1934 (age 79)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Actor
Years active 1948–present
  • Venetia Stevenson (m. 1956; div. 1957)
  • Elizabeth Kempton (m. 1960 – d. ??)
  • Bonnie Murray (m. ?? – present)

Amber Tamblyn

China Tamblyn

Russell Irving "Russ" Tamblyn (born December 30, 1934) is an American film and television actor and dancer, who is arguably best known for his performance in title role of the 1958 tom thumb and the 1961 movie musical West Side Story as Riff, the leader of the Jets gang. He is also known for appearing in such films as Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The War of the Gargantuas, Peyton Place and The Haunting, as well as for his portrayal of Dr. Lawrence Jacoby in the television drama Twin Peaks.

Early life and career in films[edit]

Tamblyn was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of actors Sally Aileen (Triplett) and Eddie Tamblyn (Edward Francis Tamblyn).[1] He is the older brother of Larry Tamblyn, organist for the 1960s band The Standells. Discovered at the age of ten by actor Lloyd Bridges after acting in a play, Tamblyn's first film appearance was a small non-speaking role in 1948's The Boy With Green Hair. He also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show as a child.

He portrayed the young Saul in Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 version of Samson and Delilah. He played the younger version of John Dall's character in the 1950 film noir Gun Crazy. Later the same year, he had a minor role as Elizabeth Taylor's younger brother in Father of the Bride, as well as in the following year's sequel, Father's Little Dividend. He was also a young soldier in boot camp in 1953's Take the High Ground. His training as a gymnast in high school and abilities as an acrobat prepared him for his breakout role as Gideon, the youngest brother, in 1954's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

He appeared with Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford in The Fastest Gun Alive (1956), where he performed an extraordinary "shovel" dance at a hoe-down early in the film. Though uncredited, he served as a choreographer for Elvis Presley in 1957's Jailhouse Rock. He portrayed Norman Page in the 1957 film of Peyton Place, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He then played Tony Baker in 1958's High School Confidential prior to his being drafted into the US Army. Performances in film musicals included the title role in 1958's Tom Thumb and Danny, one of the sailors in the 1955 film version of Hit the Deck. His most famous musical role was Riff, the leader of the Jets in the 1961 West Side Story.

In 1960, he portrayed The Cherokee Kid in Cimarron. He appeared in two 1962 MGM-Cinerama movies, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and How the West Was Won. He was seen the next year as Orm in The Long Ships, as Luke Sanderson in The Haunting, and as Lt. "Smitty" Smith in Follow the Boys. Tamblyn starred in the 1966 Japanese kaiju film War of the Gargantuas. He appeared in the horror film Necromancer in 1988.

Tamblyn played the supporting role in Neil Young's 1982 Human Highway while also credited for screenplay and choreography. Tamblyn is self-credited as director, choreographer and actor for Neil Young's Greendale concert tour.[2] In 2011, he portrayed "Doc" in the action-thriller film Drive.

Television appearances[edit]

From 1990–91, Tamblyn starred as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby on the David Lynch-created series Twin Peaks (Alongside his "West Side Story" co-star Richard Beymer), though his scenes in the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me were cut. In 1999, he portrayed Dr. Hayden on the soap opera Days of our Lives, and in 2000, he made an appearance with his daughter Amber on another soap opera, General Hospital, as the character he portrayed ten years earlier on Twin Peaks. He also made an appearance on General Hospital in 1997 dancing with his daughter Amber during the Nurses Ball. In 2004 he appeared with Amber again, playing the "Dog Walker God" manifestation of God encountered by her in three episodes of Joan of Arcadia.

Tamblyn has also appeared in television series such as Tarzan, Fame (the 1980s spin-off of the film of the same name), Quantum Leap, Nash Bridges and in Babylon 5 (episode "A Distant Star"). Russ Tamblyn is Chuck Margaret onThe Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.

Personal life[edit]

Tamblyn has been married three times and has three children from his first and third marriages. He is the father of actress Amber Tamblyn, who played the starring role in the CBS television series Joan of Arcadia and Two and a Half Men since 2013. Tamblyn acted opposite his daughter in several episodes of the former as God in the form of a man walking dogs. The two have also worked together in Rebellious, Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard, and in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Russ and Amber also both have cameos in Quentin Tarantino's movie Django Unchained, billed as "Son of a Gunfighter" and "Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter" respectively, an allusion to Russ's leading role in the 1965 western Son of a Gunfighter.

Currently[when?] he is working on his autobiography, titled Dancing On The Edge. According to his official website, he is half way done with the book and just completed the chapter on his experiences making West Side Story.


Short Subjects
  • What Happened to Jo Jo 1950

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations
Award Category Year Title of work Result
Academy Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role 1957 Peyton Place Nominated
Golden Globe Award Most Promising Newcomer - Male 1956 Hit the Deck Won (shared with Ray Danton)
Golden Laurel Award Top Male Musical Performance 1959 Tom Thumb Nominated


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Russ Tamblyn's Official Site: Welcome Retrieved September 16, 2007

External links[edit]