Gail Russell (September 21, 1924 – August 26, 1961) was an American film and television actress.
She was born Elizabeth L. Russell to George and Gladys (Barnet) Russell in Chicago, Illinois, and then moved to the Los Angeles, California, area when she was a teenager. Her father was initially a musician but later worked for Lockheed Corporation. Before she ventured into acting, she had planned to be a commercial artist.
Russell's beauty brought her to the attention of Paramount Pictures in 1942, and she signed a long-term contract with that studio when she was 18. Although she was almost clinically shy and had no acting experience, Paramount had great expectations for her and employed an acting coach to work with her.
At the age of 19 she made her film debut in the 1943 film Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour. Russell appeared in several more films in the early and mid-1940s, the most notable being The Uninvited (1944) with Ray Milland and Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944), in which she co-starred with Diana Lynn. Russell later appeared in the more popular films Calcutta (1947) with Alan Ladd and the two with John Wayne, Angel and the Badman (1947) and Wake of the Red Witch (1948).
Later career and personal life
She continued working after 1947 and married actor Guy Madison in 1949, but by 1950 it was well known that she had become a victim of alcoholism, and so Paramount did not renew her contract. She had started drinking on the set of The Uninvited to ease her paralyzing stage fright and lack of confidence. Alcohol made a shambles of her career, appearance and personal life. In January 1954, in a court in Santa Monica, California, Russell pleaded guilty to a charge of drunkenness, receiving a $150 fine. The fine was in lieu of a jail sentence, with the provision that she not use intoxicants or attend night spots for two years. In the same court session, she received a continuance on a charge of driving while drunk.
She divorced Madison in 1954 and, after a five-year absence, returned to work in a co-starring role with Randolph Scott in the western Seven Men from Now (1956), produced by her friend Wayne, and had a substantial role in The Tattered Dress (1957).
On July 5, 1957, she was photographed by a Los Angeles Times photographer after she drove her convertible into the front of Jan's Coffee Shop at 8424 Beverly Boulevard. After failing a sobriety test, Russell was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
She appeared in two more films after that but was not able to control her addiction, and on August 26, 1961, Russell was found dead in her apartment in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, at the age of 36. She died from liver damage attributed to long-term alcohol abuse. She was also found to have been suffering from malnutrition at the time of her death. She was buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.
|1943||Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour||Virginia Lowry||Alternative title: Henry Gets Glamour|
|1944||Lady in the Dark||Barbara (at 17)|
|1944||The Uninvited||Stella Meredith|
|1944||Our Hearts Were Young and Gay||Cornelia Otis Skinner|
|1945||Salty O'Rourke||Barbara Brooks|
|1945||The Unseen||Elizabeth Howard|
|1946||Our Hearts Were Growing Up||Cornelia Otis Skinner|
|1946||The Bachelor's Daughters||Eileen||Alternative title: Bachelor Girls|
|1947||Angel and the Badman||Penelope Worth||Alternative title: Angel and the Outlaw|
|1948||Night Has a Thousand Eyes||Jean Courtland|
|1948||Wake of the Red Witch||Angelique Desaix|
|1949||Song of India||Princess Tara|
|1949||El Paso||Susan Jeffers|
|1949||The Great Dan Patch||Cissy Lathrop||Alternative title: Ride a Reckless Mile|
|1950||Captain China||Kim Mitchell|
|1950||The Lawless||Sunny Garcia||Alternative title: The Dividing Line|
|1951||Air Cadet||Janet Page||Alternative title: Jet Men of the Air|
|1956||TV: Studio 57||Episode: "Time, Tide and a Woman"|
|1956||Seven Men from Now||Annie Greer|
|1957||The Tattered Dress||Carol Morrow|
|1958||No Place to Land||Lynn Dillon||Alternative title: Man Mad|
|1960||TV: The Rebel||Cassandra||Episode: "Noblesse Oblige"|
|1960||TV: Manhunt||Mrs. Clarke||Episode: "Matinee Mobster"|
|1961||The Silent Call||Flore Brancato|
|1946||This Is Hollywood||The Bachelor's Daughters|