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.


  1. Hi Tom,
    Do you know which movies Tony dubbed Fernando Sancho?
    Whoever dubbed him in Arizona Colt and A Pistol for Ringo, for me, got the real feel and dark humour of those characters.
    There is another voice actor on 'Django Shoots First' which I felt wasn't suitable for Fernando's character!

  2. Sorry Adrian I don't. One of my most frustrating situations is trying to find who dubbed European actors in English There were several studios in Italy and one in New York City that dubbed European films in the '60s and '70s. Problem there are no websites on English language dubbers. There's sites for Italian, French, German and Spanish dubbing but nothing on English. IMDb sometimes shows this information but not on most of the European films released in the U.S.