Bob Russell (television presenter)

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Bob Russell (January 1, 1908 in Passaic, New Jersey – January 24, 1998 in Sarasota, Florida) was an American entertainer, best known for hosting the Miss America pageant during the years of 1940 to 1946, 1948 to 1950 and 1954. He also served as emcee for the Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss Canada pageants.[1]


Bob Russell's father was a Russian-born baker.[2] His family moved to New York at age nine and he began his career appearing in Broadway musicals in the 1920s. In the 1930s, he moved on to Philadelphia, where he became a local star as the singing master of ceremonies at the elegant Cafe Marguery in the old Adelphia Hotel.

In 1952 Russell co-created, directed and hosted the very first Miss Universe pageant in Long Beach, California, and continued with the pageant through 1957.[3] When the Miss America pageant was first televised in 1954, Russell rejected the song "There She Is, Miss America" in favor of two of his own. His recommended replacement, Bert Parks, in 1955 sang this promenade tune into history. Lee Meriwether, age 19 from California, was crowned Miss America on September 11, 1954, by a panel of judges including movie queen Grace Kelly. It was watched by 27 million people.

Russell helped to start many early television game shows, such as Name That Tune (1954–59). He appeared as the emcee of Bonnie Maid's Versatile Varieties (1950–51) and Your Pet Parade (1951), and was the announcer on the quiz show Time Will Tell (1954). From May 1956 to September 1957, he hosted Stand Up and Be Counted,[4]

Russell retired from the limelight to Sarasota, Florida, where he kept busy as Reservation Manager at the Aku Tiki Inn on Lido Key, and later at the Meadows Golf and Tennis Resort. Russell and his wife, Mignon Simpson Russell, had one child, a daughter named Ingrid.

Musical performances[edit]

TV shows[edit]


  1. ^ Obituaries in the Performing Arts - Harris M. Lentz - 1998 Page 197 "BOB RUSSELL .. He was 90. Russell was born in Passaic, New Jersey, on January 1, 1908. He began his career on Broadway, singing in musical choruses. He served as the host of the Bob Russell Miss America pageant from 1940 until his replacement by ..."
  2. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service - Volume 29 - 1998 Page 163 "Having created the elaborate ensemble production numbers that became a pageant staple, he later spent six years as host of Miss Universe, five with Miss World and 12 with Miss Canada."
  3. ^ Armando Riverol Live from Atlantic City: The History of the Miss America Pageant ... 1992 - Page 52 To begin the affair, host Bob Russell appeared on stage and sang his original composition, "By the Wishing Well."25 While Russell sang, each of the contestants holding American Beauty Roses took an introductory bow from the stage.
  4. ^ Feminist television criticism: a reader - Charlotte Brunsdon, Lynn Spigel - 2007 Page 327-"STAND UP AND BE COUNTED (5/28/56 to 9/6/57, CBS) Host: Bob Russell Contestants were home viewers selected by letter. As they sat with Bob Russell behind the wooden railing of a "front porch," they explained a personal dilemma to a ...
Preceded by
Miss America host
Succeeded by
Bert Parks