Tina Russell (September 23, 1948 – May 18, 1981) was the stage name of a pioneering adult film actress active in New York City between about 1970 and 1975. She also performed in some of the earliest "live sex shows" to appear in New York in the early-1970s (they actually featured simulated sex).
Tina Russell was born Linda Marie Mintzer, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to John H. and Margaret Ditzler Mintzer. She grew up in Williamsport and graduated from high school there in 1966. Her senior photo shows a mature brunette with a "Laura Petrie" hairstyle, looking more like a future nurse than a porn star. She became one of the best known adult film actresses of the "Golden Age" of porn, admired for her fresh looks and evident enthusiasm for her on-screen liaisons. The Williamsport city directories of 1968–1970 show Russell living at home and listed as a student, but she moved to New York City to attend New York University shortly thereafter.
In the late-1960s, she married photographer John Sanderson (later called Jason Russell - who was several years her elder), and the couple moved to New York City, where Russell enrolled in New York University. Under the pseudonyms Jason and Tina Russell, the couple began their film careers appearing in "loops", which were very short, plotless pornographic films which were shown in peepshows in New York's Times Square. They appeared in a number of "marriage manual" films during the early 1970s, and Tina Russell was a featured actress in some of the earliest hardcore pornographic feature films to be produced in New York. The two also modeled in sexually-oriented photographs and performed in so-called "live sex shows" (the "sex" of the period was usually pantomimed). After appearing in 16mm "stag" loops, Russell began to take small roles in feature films during early 1970s. Russell only really acquired star status, however, after the publication of her 1973 memoir, Porno Star, in which she described (in often glowing terms) her life in the New York adult film industry. She and Jason separated shortly thereafter, and Tina's star sank as quickly as it had risen. Rumors of alcohol abuse haunt her later years.
Sometime in the mid-1970s, the Russells' relationship ended. Tina Russell became depressed and alcoholic. She was visiting her brother in San Diego in May 1981 when she collapsed and was hospitalized. She died several days later of renal failure. Russell is buried in Resurrection Cemetery, Montoursville, Pennsylvania, under her birth name.