Craig Russell (Canadian actor)

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Craig Russell
Born Russell Craig Eadie
(1948-01-10)January 10, 1948
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died October 30, 1990(1990-10-30) (aged 42)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cause of death AIDS-related stroke
Resting place Pine Grove Cemetery
Occupation Female impersonator, actor
Spouse(s) Lori Jenkins (m. 1982–1990)

Russell Craig Eadie (January 10, 1948 – October 30, 1990), better known by his stage name Craig Russell, was a Canadian female impersonator and actor.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Toronto,[1] 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 entertainer. By 1971, he was a regular performer in Toronto gay clubs and had a burgeoning international following. He toured Las Vegas, Hollywood, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Sydney.

His celebrity 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.

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,[2] and Russell was a Canadian Film Award nominee for Best Actor in 1977.

A decade later, in 1987, he starred in a sequel to Outrageous!, entitled Too Outrageous!.

Personal life and death[edit]

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.

Russell remained married to Lori until his death in 1990 of a stroke related to complications from AIDS. He was cremated and buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Port Perry.

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.

The character, Kevin in the novel, Of Margaret and Madness: A Novel Inspired By True Events by his friend Stephen Jon Postal and Postal's wife Guia Dino Postal, ISBN 978-1-4343-6229-2 (hc), ISBN 978-1-4343-3275-2 (sc) is based on Russell's young life in Toronto.

A play entitled Margaret and Craig, written by David Solomon, based on the writing of both Russell and 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 Russell and Jeni Verdon as Gibson.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Craig Russell, Actor And Widely Known Female Impersonator, Was Mae West Fan". The Seattle Times. November 3, 1990. 
  2. ^ "Berlinale 1978: Prize Winners". imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 

External links[edit]