John Russell (actor)

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John Russell
John Russell Dan Troop Lawman 1959.JPG
Russell as Dan Troop in Lawman, 1959
John Lawrence Russell

(1921-01-03)January 3, 1921
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJanuary 19, 1991(1991-01-19) (aged 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeLos Angeles National Cemetery
Years active1939-1988
Renata Titus
(m. 1943; div. 1965)

Lavergne Warner Pearson
(m. 1970; div. 1971)

John Lawrence Russell (January 3, 1921 – January 19, 1991) was an American motion picture film and television actor, most noted for his starring role as Marshal Dan Troop in the ABC western television series Lawman from 1958 to 1962.[1][2] and his lead role as international adventurer Tim Kelly in the syndicated TV series Soldiers of Fortune from 1955-1957.

Early life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles, California to insurance company executive John Henry Russell and his wife, the former Amy Requa, John Lawrence Russell was the eldest of three children.[3] He attended the University of California, Los Angeles as a student athlete.

Following the start of World War II, he joined the United States Marine Corps, though he was initially rejected because of his height (6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)).[4] He was commissioned as second lieutenant on November 11, 1942, and was assigned to the 6th Marine Regiment. His division was sent to Guadalcanal, where he served as an assistant intelligence officer. He contracted malaria and returned home with a medical discharge.[5]

Acting career[edit]

Russell was contracted to 20th Century Fox in 1945 and made his first film appearance that year, as a guard in A Royal Scandal. (Russell is not the John "Johnny" Russell who appeared as one of the children in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, despite many sources crediting that film as his debut.) He played several supporting roles and later was signed with Republic Pictures. He primarily played secondary roles, often in western films, including William A. Wellman's 1948 Yellow Sky, but in 1952 starred opposite Judy Canova in Oklahoma Annie.

In 1955, Russell was given the lead role in a television drama series called Soldiers of Fortune.[1] The half-hour syndicated adventure show placed him and his sidekick, played by Chick Chandler, in a dangerous jungle setting. While the show proved popular with young boys, it did not draw enough adult viewers to its prime slot and was canceled in 1957. That same year, he made an appearance as a corrupt agricultural magnate in Untamed Youth. In 1958, Russell played Matt Reardon, a gunslinger befriended by Cheyenne Bodie in "The Empty Gun" episode of the ABC/Warner Bros. western series, Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker.

Russell and Peggie Castle in Lawman (1959)
Russell and Castle in Lawman (1962)

In 1958, Russell was cast in his best-known role: Marshal Dan Troop, the lead character in Lawman, an ABC/WB hit western series that ran for four years. Co-starring with Peter Brown, who played Deputy Johnny McKay, and Peggie Castle as Birdcage Saloon owner Lily Merrill, Russell portrayed a US frontier peace officer mentoring his younger compatriot. At the same time that Lawman premiered, Russell played an outlaw, along with Edd Byrnes and Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., in the 1958 season premiere episode "Ring of Sand" of Sugarfoot, another ABC/WB western, with Will Hutchins in the title role.

Russell appeared in other motion pictures for Warner Bros., notably as a Sioux chieftain in Yellowstone Kelly, as well as the Howard Hawks 1959 western Rio Bravo, which starred John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan.

In 1959, Russell guest-starred in an episode of NBC's adventure series Northwest Passage, a fictionalized account of the exploits of Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War. In 1969, Russell appeared in five episodes of It Takes a Thief, starring Robert Wagner: "Guess Who's Coming To Rio?" (January 9, 1969), "Saturday Night In Venice" (September 25, 1969), "The Blue, Blue Danube" (October 30, 1969), "Payoff In The Piazza" (November 13, 1969) and "A Friend In Deed" (November 27, 1969).

Throughout the 1960s to the 1980s, he returned to secondary roles, appearing in more than 20 films, including several A.C. Lyles westerns and three films directed by his friend Clint Eastwood, most notably as Marshal Stockburn, the chief villain in Eastwood's 1985 film Pale Rider.

Russell appeared in the second season of the Filmation children's science-fiction series Jason of Star Command. He played Commander Stone, a blue-skinned alien from Alpha Centauri. He replaced James Doohan, who had played the commander in the previous season, but left to start working on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.


Russell died of complications from emphysema in 1991,[1] sixteen days after his 70th birthday, and was interred in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, a former U.S. Veterans Administration cemetery in Los Angeles.

According to NNDB, he married twice.[6] He married Renata Titus in 1943. They had three children, and divorced in 1965. He married again in 1970, but was divorced the following year.

Complete filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "'Lawman' John Russell Dies At 70". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. January 31, 1991.
  2. ^ Obituary Variety, February 4, 1991.
  3. ^ United States Census 1940; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00406; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 60-315
  4. ^ Hollywood Stars and Their Service in the Marine Corps
  5. ^ p.180 Wise, James E. & Rehill, Anne Collier Stars in the Corps: Movie Actors in the United States Marines 1999 Naval Institute Press
  6. ^ "John Russell". NNDB.
  7. ^

External links[edit]