skip navigation
Harold Russell

Harold Russell

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Inside Moves DVD Featuring an Oscar-nominated performance from Diana Scarwid, this touching... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Harold John Russell Died: January 29, 2002
Born: January 14, 1914 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Sydney, Nova Scotia, CA Profession: actor, writer, meat cutter, businessman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Harold Russell only had a major role in one film, but it assured his place in cinema history. He was born in Nova Scotia and raised in Boston, MA. Losing both hands to a grenade explosion in World War II, Russell later appeared in the military-produced educational film "Diary of a Sergeant", although someone else provided the voiceover narration. After seeing that film and noting an All-American ease and likability in the non-actor, William Wyler cast Russell as the quiet hometown boy Homer Parrish in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946). The drama about war veterans returning home won seven Oscars, including Russell's for Best Supporting Actor. He also received a special award from the Academy "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans".While he had a three-picture contract with Samuel Goldwyn, there were few other film opportunities awaiting Russell despite his awards. Returning to Massachusetts, he enrolled at Boston University and later published an autobiography, "Victory in My Hands", in 1949. While pursuing a career in business, Russell continued to work over much of the next four decades serving on presidential commissions and lobbying for disabled veterans and the physically...

Harold Russell only had a major role in one film, but it assured his place in cinema history. He was born in Nova Scotia and raised in Boston, MA. Losing both hands to a grenade explosion in World War II, Russell later appeared in the military-produced educational film "Diary of a Sergeant", although someone else provided the voiceover narration. After seeing that film and noting an All-American ease and likability in the non-actor, William Wyler cast Russell as the quiet hometown boy Homer Parrish in "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946). The drama about war veterans returning home won seven Oscars, including Russell's for Best Supporting Actor. He also received a special award from the Academy "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans".

While he had a three-picture contract with Samuel Goldwyn, there were few other film opportunities awaiting Russell despite his awards. Returning to Massachusetts, he enrolled at Boston University and later published an autobiography, "Victory in My Hands", in 1949. While pursuing a career in business, Russell continued to work over much of the next four decades serving on presidential commissions and lobbying for disabled veterans and the physically challenged. He made a return to features as card-playing barfly in "Inside Moves" (1980) and undertook the role of a disabled World War II veteran in George Hickenlooper's "Dogtown" (1997). In 1992, Russell caused a minor stir in Hollywood by offering his Oscar at auction in an effort to pay medical costs incurred by his wife's illness. The statue was sold for $60,000, with the bulk ($50,000) going to the performer.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Dogtown (1997) Blessed William
2.
 Inside Moves (1980) Wings
3.
 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Homer Parrish
4.
 Goldwyn (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, area
:
After graduating from high school, worked as a meat cutter for a local supermarket
:
Served in WWII as a paratrooper and instructor in explosives
1944:
Lost both hands in a stateside explosives accident while preparing blasting caps on June 6 (D-Day)
:
Appeared in "Diary of a Sergeant", an educational film made by the US military for handicapped veterans; although he portrayed the titular sergeant, another person's voice was used in the narration
:
Signed to a four picture deal by Samuel Goldwyn
1946:
Film acting debut, "The Best Years of Our Lives"; received Oscar as Best Supporting Actor as well as an honorary award ; cast in role after director William Wyler viewed "Diary of a Sergeant"
1949:
Published autobiography "Victory in My Hands"
:
Worked as a lobbyist for disabled veterans and the physically challenged
1980:
Made one-shot return to film acting in "Inside Moves"
1992:
Made headlines when he became the first living actor to auction off his Academy Award to pay for medical bills for his first wife who was suffering from heart failure
1997:
Third film role in "Dogtown"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Boston University: Boston , Massachusetts -
Rindge Technical High School: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1933

Notes

Russell holds the distinction of being the only actor to receive two Academy Awards for the same role.

"My life is a series of things that just happen." --Harold Russell to The Boston Globe, July 31, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Rita Russell. Died in 1978.
wife:
Betty Russell. Survived him.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Adele Russell. Mother, Rita Russell; survived him.
son:
Gerald Russell. Mother, Rita Russell; survived him.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Victory in My Hands"

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute