This blog is dedicated to the preservation, investigation and all things related to European films and personnel involved with the Western genre. Tom B.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Happy 85th Birthday Tony Russel
Born Antonio Pietro Russon on November 23, 1925, Kenosha, Wisconsin he would participate in plays at St. James parochial school and Kenosha High School. When World War II statted Tony joined the Army Air Corps and became a pilot. After graduation he attended the University of Wisconsin he majored in languages with a minor in drama. He then joined the Pasadena Playhouse and graduated in 1952. His first film was with Vince Edwards in "Hiawatha" (1952). He tried out for the lead in Walt Disney’s new TV series "Zorro" but lost out to Guy Williams. Because of his athletic abilities he was given several roles in the series episodes. He would then appear in "War is Hell" (1962). Leopoldo Savona saw him in this film and offered him the lead in "The Last Charge" (1962). Tony stayed in Italy and starred in such films as "The Secret Seven" (1963) "Sword of Damascus" and Revolt of the Seven" both in 1964. Tony says Sergio Leone offered him the lead in "Fistful of Dollars" but like many others he turned it down. He would continue to make films in Italy for several more years and organized a dubbing production company called ELDA (English Language Dubbers Association) and unionized the actors. He standardized the practice of having one actor dub a stars voice so the actor always sounded the same in his films. Tony told me in an interview he was the English voice of Fernando Sancho in several films. Asked if he was the rumored English voice of Franco Nero in "Django" he emphatically denied that he was. Tony did appear in one Euro-western "Behind the Mask of Zorro" (1965). Returning to the U.S.A. in 1967 he found work on TV and films but turned to dinner theater. Tony is the father of actor Del Russel and now lives in Las Vegas with his wife where the couple play golf several times a week and appear at film conventions from time to time. Today we celebrate Tony Russel’s 85th birthday.
Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1946 I have a BA degree in American History from Cal St. Northridge. I've been researching the American West and western films since the early 1980s and visiting filming sites in Spain and the U.S.A. Elected a member of the Spaghetti Western Hall of Fame 2010.