Russell Simpson (actor)

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Russell Simpson
Russell Simpson in The Grapes of Wrath trailer.jpg
Simpson in The Grapes of Wrath.
Born (1880-06-17)June 17, 1880
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died December 12, 1959(1959-12-12) (aged 79)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Years active 1914–1959
Spouse(s) Gertrude Aller (1910–1959) (his death)
Children Russell Jr.
Roberta (b. 1918)

Russell McCaskill Simpson (June 17, 1880 – December 12, 1959) was an American character actor.

Early life[edit]

Russell Simpson was born on June 17, 1880 in Danville, California.[1] He attended grammar school in the Danville District in Contra Costa County, California; he graduated on July 2, 1892.[2] At age 18, Simpson prospected for gold in Alaska. He began taking acting classes in Seattle, Washington.[3] He was married to Gertrude Alter from New York City on January 19, 1910. [4]


By 1909, he had gone into the theatre.[citation needed] He appeared in at least two plays on Broadway between 1909 and 1912,[5] and made his motion picture debut in Cecil B. DeMille's 1914 original film version of The Virginian in a bit part.[6] By 1923, when the film was remade, Simpson had progressed to playing the lead villain.[7]:487

Throughout his career, Simpson worked for 12 years in road shows, stock companies, and on Broadway.[8] Simpson didn't usually perform lead roles, but he did star in many movies throughout the silent movie era. He did perform a lead role as the grandfather in Out of the Dust (1920).[7]:317

Lionel Belmore, Laurette Taylor & Russell Simpson in Peg o' My Heart

Simpson is best known for his work in the films of John Ford[9]:69,184 and, in particular, for his portrayal of Pa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath in 1940.[10] He was known for his "grizzled old man" appearances.[11] Gaunt, lanky, and rustic-sounding, Simpson was a familiar character actor for almost forty-five years,[citation needed] particularly as a member of the John Ford Stock Company.[9]:183 He worked up to 1959, the year of his death. His final film was The Horse Soldiers, his tenth film for Ford.[citation needed] Simpson was the president of the Overseas Phonograph Accessories Corporation.[12] He died on December 12, 1959 in Woodland Hills, California.[1] Simpson had appeared in over 500 movies throughout his life.[3]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ellenberger, Allan R. (May 2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 70. ISBN 9780786409839. 
  2. ^ "Diploma" (July 2, 1892) [Print]. Russell Simpson Papers, Box: 1. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
  3. ^ a b "Finding Aid for the Russell Simpson Papers, 1917-1942". Prepared for the Charles E. Young Research Library, Los Angeles, California. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  4. ^ "License" (19 Jan 1910) [Print]. Russell Simpson Papers, Box: 1. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
  5. ^ "Russell Simpson Theatre Credits". Broadway World. wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Green, Paul (November 2009). A History of Television's The Virginian, 1962-1971. McFarland. p. 15. ISBN 9780786446803. Retrieved 18 July 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Langman, Larry (October 1992). A Guide to Silent Westerns: (Bibliographies and Indexes in the Performing Arts). Greenwood. ISBN 9780313278587. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Scrapbook" [Print]. Russell Simpson Papers, Box: 1. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
  9. ^ a b Harty Jr., John P. (September 2016). The Cinematic Challenge: Filming Colonial America: Volume 1: The Golden Age, 1930-1950. Langdon Street Press. ISBN 9781635051469. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "The Grapes of Wrath". TCM. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  11. ^ Liebman, Roy (August 2010). Vitaphone Films: A Catalogue of the Features and Shorts. McFarland. p. 384. ISBN 9780786446971. Retrieved 18 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "The Theatres: "Out of The Dust" Eagle Next Sunday". Hamilton Evening Journal. 15 Jan 1925. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 

External links[edit]