DCS: nipsey russell

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Julius “Nipsey” Russell was born in Atlanta, although it’s not very clear exactly when. Various sources claim various dates between 1918 and 1925. He served as a medic in World War II, returning home in 1945. He got a job as a carhop at the famed Varsity, a wildly popular hot dog stand that takes up two city blocks and is recognized as the largest fast-food drive-in in the world. While at the Varsity, he honed his comedic skills. He found the more he made the customers laugh, the bigger his tips were.

Nipsey soon joined up with vaudeville comedian Mantan Moreland, replacing Moreland longtime straight man. The pair became famous for the oft-performed “interruption routine,” in which they would engage in a conversation, interrupting each other and never completing a sentence. It was a well-received vaudeville staple and led to appearances on TV variety shows. Nipsey caught the attention of a casting director for the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? and he was cast as “Officer Dave Anderson” in 15 episodes. His popularity led to more guest appearances, including a stint opening for singer Sergio Franchi in Las Vegas. Eventually, Nipsey landed a co-starring role in the sitcom Barefoot in the Park. Nipsey was a fixture on 70s television, frequently seen on Laugh-In, The Dean Martin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and an array of game shows. He was the first African-American performer to be featured as a regular panelist on a game show. On shows like The Match Game and What’s My Line?, he delighted audiences with his off-the-cuff humorous poems — which became his trademark. On his appearances of To Tell the Truth, while always jovial, he exhibited an unusually articulate and deductive line of questioning. He even hosted a revival of the game show Juvenile Jury for BET in the middle 80s.

In 1978, Nipsey was cast in the film version of the popular Tony Award-winning musical The Wiz. As “The Tin Man,” Nipsey displayed his dancing prowess, a talent heretofore unknown to fans. Later, he reprised his role as “Dave Anderson” in the big screen adaption of Car 54, Where Are You? Nipsey gained popularity with a new generation, thanks to numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He even returned to game shows in 2003, as a panelist on a new version of the venerable Hollywood Squares. He passed away in 2005, possibly at the age of 87.



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