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Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American actor. He started acting as a child in Hollywood films during the 1960s, and has continued appearing in a wide variety of films since, including Follow Me, Boys!, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, Silkwood, The Fox and the Hound, Dark Blue, Stargate, Backdraft, Tombstone, Vanilla Sky, Poseidon and Grindhouse: Death Proof.

Early life

Russell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, a descendant of William Russell and Martha Davies, who came to MA from England c. 1640 and settled in what is now Arlington, MA. He is the son of Louise Julia (née Crone), a dancer, and Bing Russell, a character actor known as Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza. Russell considers Rangeley, Mainemarker, to be his hometown. In the mid-sixties, Russell graduated from Thousand Oaks High Schoolmarker in Thousand Oaks, Californiamarker.


Russell began his career with an appearance as a child in the pilot of the ABC western television series Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins. His film career began at the age of eleven in an uncredited part as "Ugly Child" in Elvis Presley's It Happened at the World's Fair and two extra episodes, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the then defunct series Rin Tin Tin. On April 24, 1963, Russell guest starred in the ABC series Our Man Higgins, starring Stanley Holloway as an English butler in an American family. He appeared in 1963 as Peter Hall in the episode "Everybody Knows You Left Me" on the NBC medical drama about psychiatry The Eleventh Hour.

Later in 1963, he landed a big part for a juvenile actor: the lead role as the orphan Jaimie in the ABC Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963–1964). Based on a book by Robert Lewis Taylor, the series starred Dan O'Herlihy, John Maloney and the young Osmond Brothers. Charles Bronson became a semi-regular in the series. In 1964, he guest-starred in "Nemesis", an episode of the popular ABC series The Fugitive in which, as the son of police Lt. Phillip Gerard, he is unintentionally kidnapped by his father's quarry, Doctor Richard Kimble.

On February 6, 1965, Russell, not quite fourteen, played the role of Jungle Boy on an episode of CBS's Gilligan's Island. He guest starred on ABC's western The Legend of Jesse James. In 1967, he, Jay C. Flippen, and Tom Tryon appeared in the episode "Charade of Justice" of the NBC western series The Road West starring Barry Sullivan.

In a March 1966 episode of CBS's Lost in Space entitled "The Challenge", he played Quano, the son of a planetary ruler. The young actor was soon signed to a ten-year contract with the Walt Disney Company, where he became, according to Robert Osborne, the "studio's top star of the '70s." Russell starred in many Disney films, such as Follow Me, Boys!, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band with newcomer Goldie Hawn, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, and The Strongest Man in the World. He auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars but lost the role to Harrison Ford.

In the autumn of 1976, Russell appeared with Tim Matheson in the 15-episode NBC series The Quest, the story of two young men in the American West seeking the whereabouts of their sister, a captive of the Cheyenne.

Russell, like his father before him, had a baseball career. In the early 1970s, Russell played second base for the California Angels' (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Double-A minor league affiliate, the El Paso Sun Kings. During a play, he was hit in the shoulder by a player running to second base; the collision tore the rotator cuff in Russell's right/throwing shoulder. Before his injury, he was leading the Texas League in hitting, with a .563 batting average. The injury forced his retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.

In 1979, Russell was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special for the made-for-television film Elvis. This would be his first pairing with John Carpenter, the director of Halloween. Although Russell did not perform the singing vocals in the series - which were provided by country music artist Ronnie McDowell - he would later go on to provide the voice of Elvis Presley in the 1994 film Forrest Gump. Over the next decade, Russell would team with Carpenter several times, helping create some of his best-known roles, usually as anti-heroes, including the infamous Snake Plissken of Escape from New York and its sequel, Escape from L.A.. Among their collaborations was 1982's John Carpenter's The Thing, based upon the short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr., which had been interpreted on film before, albeit loosely, in 1951's The Thing from Another World. In 1986, the two made Big Trouble in Little China, a dark kung-fu comedy/action film in which Russell played a truck driver caught in an ancient Chinese war. While the film was a financial failure like The Thing, it has since gained a cult audience.

Elvis Presley has had a presence in his career. Aside from appearing as a child in one of Presley's films and giving a convincing portrayal of the singer in the 1979 television biopic, Russell starred as an Elvis impersonator involved in a Las Vegasmarker robbery in 3000 Miles to Graceland and provided the voice of Elvis for a scene in Forrest Gump.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for his performance opposite Meryl Streep in the 1984 film, Silkwood. His portrayal of U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in the film, Miracle, won the praise of critics. "In many ways," wrote Claudia Puig of USA Today, "Miracle belongs to Kurt Russell." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times wrote, "Russell does real acting here." Elvis Mitchell of the The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Russell's cagey and remote performance gives Miracle its few breezes of fresh, albeit methane-scented, air." (Mitchell's use of the word "remote" here is not a criticism of Russell's acting so much as a description of Russell's portrait of an emotionally reserved man.)

In 2006, Russell revealed that he was the director of Tombstone, not George P. Cosmatos, as credited. According to Russell, Cosmatos was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and was, in effect, a ghost director, much as he had been for Rambo: First Blood Part II. Russell said he promised Cosmatos he would keep it a secret as long as Cosmatos was alive; Cosmatos died in April 2005. Russell owns the rights to the masters and makes reference to possibly re-editing the film, as he was not originally involved in the editing.

Russell appeared as villain Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino's segment Death Proof of the film Grindhouse. After a remake of Escape from New York was announced, Russell was reportedly upset with the casting of Gerard Butler for his signature character, Snake Plissken, as he believed the character 'was quintessentially [...] American.'

Russell in 2005

Personal life

Russell married actress Season Hubley, whom he had met on the set of Elvis in 1979 and they had a son, Boston Russell, in 1980. In 1983, in the middle of his divorce from Hubley, Russell re-connected with Goldie Hawn on the set of the film Swing Shift and they have been in a relationship ever since. They had a son, Wyatt, in 1986. The couple filmed the comedy Overboard together in 1987. Hawn's son and daughter with Bill Hudson, actors Oliver and Kate Hudson, consider Russell to be their father. Russell is the uncle of former Major League Baseball player Matt Franco.

Russell is a prominent member of the Libertarian Party. He claims that he was often an outcast in Hollywoodmarker because of his libertarian views, so he and Hawn moved to an area outside Aspen, Coloradomarker where he has tried his hand at writing (he co-wrote the screenplay for Escape from L.A.). In February 2003, Russell and Hawn moved to Vancouvermarker, British Columbia, Canada, so that their son could play hockey. Russell is an FAA licensed private pilot holding single/multi-engine and instrument ratings.


Year Film Role Other notes
1962 Nick Barlow: My Biggest Headache Nick Barlow
1963 It Happened at the World's Fair Boy who kicks Mike uncredited
1964 Guns of Diablo Jamie McPheeters
1966 Follow Me, Boys! Whitey
1968 The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band Sidney Bower
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit Ronnie Gardner
1969 Guns in the Heather Rich
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Dexter Riley
1971 The Barefoot Executive Steven Post
Fools' Parade Johnny Jesus
1972 Now You See Him, Now You Don't Dexter Riley
1973 Charley and the Angel Ray Ferris
Superdad Bart
1975 The Strongest Man in the World Dexter Riley
The Deadly Tower Charles Whitman Made For TV Movie
1979 Elvis Elvis Presley Nominated - Emmy Award
1980 Used Carsmarker Rudolph "Rudy" Russo
1981 Escape from New York Snake Plissken
The Fox and the Hound Adult Copper voice
1982 The Thing R.J. MacReady
1983 Silkwood Drew Stephens Nominated - Golden Globe
1984 Swing Shift Mike "Lucky" Lockhart
Terror in the Aisles archival footage
1985 The Mean Season Malcolm Anderson
1986 Big Trouble in Little China Jack Burton
The Best of Times Reno Hightower
1987 Overboard Dean Proffitt
1988 Tequila Sunrise Det. Lt. Nicholas 'Nick' Frescia
1989 Winter People Wayland Jackson
Tango & Cash Gabriel "Gabe" Cash
1991 Backdraft Stephen 'Bull' McCaffrey / Dennis McCaffrey
1992 Unlawful Entry Michael Carr
Captain Ron Captain Ron
1993 Tombstone Wyatt Earp
1994 Stargate Col. Jonathan "Jack" O'Neil
Forrest Gump voice of Elvis uncredited
1996 Executive Decision Dr. David Grant
Escape from LA Snake Plissken also co-writer
1997 Breakdown Jeffrey "Jeff" Taylor
1998 Soldier Todd
2001 3000 Miles To Graceland Michael Zane
Vanilla Sky McCabe
2002 Interstate 60 Capt. Ives
2003 Dark Blue Eldon Perry
2004 Miracle Herb Brooks
2005 Sky High Steve Stronghold / The Commander
Dreamer Ben Crane
2006 Poseidon Robert Ramsey
2007 Grindhouse Stuntman Mike McKay segment "Death Proof"
Cutlass Dad
2010 War of The Freedom Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Pre-production


  1. Kirk Russell Biography (1951–2009). Film
  2. Horrigan, James V. "Escape from LA: Kurt Russell's Secret Life in Maine." Portland Magazine. 2007.
  3. Introduction by Robert Osborne to the TCM premiere of The Barefoot Executive, 13 April 2007.
  4. Beck, Henry Cabot. "The "Western" Godfather." True West Magazine. October 2006.
  5. "IGN: Kurt Blasts Escape Remake." 22 March 2007.
  6. News Russell Enraged with New Snake Plissken. 25 March 2007.

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