August 19, 2009

Game Show Net Honors Nipsey Russell Beginning Oct. 10

TV/Film Actor and Comedian Russell Passes at 80
Cabler GSN to Air Russell's Classic Match Game Moments

Updated: October 6, 2005

Actor-Comedian Nipsey Russell

Santa Monica, CA/New York, NYGSN, the Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media-owned game show network, will air week-long Match Game tribute to beloved actor and comedian Nipsey Russell, who passed away this week in New York.

The tribute begins this Monday, Oct. 10 on GSN from 3:30-4:00 p.m. ET/PT. (Check your local cable/satellite listings.) GSN has uncovered some of Russell's classic moments from the mid-1970s as a panelist on the Gene Rayburn-hosted show, and will feature the segments each day of the week.

Nipsey Russell, a television variety and game show staple for decades on such memorable programs as The Dean Martin Show and Hollywood Squares, died Sunday at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital.  Russell, 80, had been battling cancer.

The comedian's warm wit and impromptu four-line poems made Russell a favorite on The Match Game, The $50,000 Pyramid, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and many more.  As a result, he became one of the first African-American regulars on such national programs. He later became one of the first African-American game show hosts with NBC’s Your Number’s Up in 1985.  CNN recalled this classic Russell four-liner:

The opposite of pro is con
That fact is clearly seen
If progress means move forward
Then what does Congress mean?

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Russell graduated from the University of Cincinnatti and fought in World War II as a U.S. Army captain. He later headed for New York, and landed his first television role in 1961as as Officer Anderson on the series Car 54, Where Are You?, a role which he later reprised the 1994 film.

Nipsey Russell inspired many laughs as a regular on popular game shows (pictured here on The Match Game).

Russell's career achievements spanned film as well, turning in a critically acclaimed performance as the "Tin Man" in the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz.  He also appeared in Nemo, Wildcats, and played the role of Snopes in the Mario Van Peeple's 1993 western Posse.  The comedian continued a long road career with major club engagements and poetry readings.

His longtime manager Joseph Rapp said Russell has no immediate survivors and never married.  Rapp told CNN that Russell would say "I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else?"

"But he was a wonderful guy," Rapp said.

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