Russell William Thaw
|Was||Aviator Pilot Aircraft pilot Actor|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Military|
|Birth||25 October 1910, Berlin, Margraviate of Brandenburg|
|Death||6 May 1984, Santa Barbara, USA (aged 73 years)|
Russell William Thaw (October 25, 1910 – May 6, 1984) was a child actor and pilot. He was the only child of the model and actress Evelyn Nesbit.
Born in Berlin, Germany, Thaw was the only child of the famous model and actress Evelyn Nesbit. Legally, and possibly also biologically, he was the son of his mother's highly wealthy but mentally unstable and occasionally violent first husband Harry Kendall Thaw, whose two trials for murder had been highly sensationalized in the press. Harry Thaw had shot and killed Nesbit's former lover and alleged rapist, the celebrated architect Stanford White, at Madison Square Garden in 1906 in front of hundreds of witnesses, but was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity in 1908.
Russell Thaw was treated indifferently by Harry Kendall Thaw, who never accepted Russell as his son. Russell was born four years into a period of about seven years of Thaw's confinement in jails and mental institutions that followed his killing of White. Nesbit testified that Russell was Harry's son and had been conceived during her conjugal visits to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he had been given extensive visitation privileges, freedom of movement, and privacy, and she said that no one who saw the boy could really doubt that Thaw was his father; however, she eventually gave up trying to prove Thaw's paternity. Nesbit said of the matter, "A working girl could not fight the Thaw millions."
As a child, Thaw appeared with his mother in at least six films of the silent film era: Threads of Destiny (1914), Redemption (1917), Her Mistake (1918), The Woman Who Gave (1918), I Want to Forget (1918), and The Hidden Woman (1922). However, all copies of the films have since been lost to history.
Career as a pilot
Thaw was the chief pilot for the Guggenheim family and participated in air races and adventure excursions under their sponsorship.
He participated in two of the cross-country Bendix trophy races, which were instituted in 1931 and held annually to promote and encourage the achievements of U.S. aviation. Flying the Gee Bee Model R-2 with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, he withdrew from the 1933 race. Flying a Northrop Gamma with a Wright Cyclone engine, he came in third in the 1935 race from Los Angeles to Cleveland, ahead of Amelia Earhart in fifth place.
On December 10, 1935, he crashed in Atlanta, Georgia, after leaving from Caldwell, New Jersey, during an attempt to rescue the polar explorer Lincoln Ellsworth.
He also served as a pilot in World War II.
He worked as a test pilot for the Douglas Aircraft Company, including for the Douglas F3D Skyknight, the Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster and the XF4D-1 Skyray. He was the first person to fly the Douglas XF3D-1 (on March 23, 1948, at Douglas' El Segundo facility).
On July 17, 1936, he married Katherine Emily Roberts, a Beverly Hills debutante and a graduate of Radcliffe College. After their wedding, they moved to White Plains, New York. They separated on March 15, 1939. Katherine Thaw sued her husband for cruelty and "refusal to live with her". Their divorce was finalized on July 8, 1941, with Katherine Thaw stating that her husband had separated from her because he said he could not support them both.
Thaw married again in 1943 and had three children: sons Michael William Thaw, Russell Hall Thaw, and a daughter, Theresa Nesbit Thaw.
Thaw died in Santa Barbara, California, on May 6, 1984.