Russell was raised in Atlanta , where he began performing as a child in a singing and dancing troupe. He served in the army as a medic during World War II and later returned to college to finish a degree in English at the University of Cincinnati in After touring comedy clubs in the Midwest, Russell moved to New York, where he attracted attention for his nightclub comedy performances. He cultivated a persona distinct from those of other comedians of the s, eschewing the increasing vulgarity then popular in favour of sharply observed social commentary and elaborate wordplay. As the burgeoning civil rights movement gathered strength in the s, Russell more frequently incorporated material about racism into his onstage commentary. In he became the first African American to join a network game show as a regular panelist when he began appearing on Missing Links.
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Nipsey Russell in Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Russell is best known today for his appearances as a guest panelist on game shows from the s through the s, especially Match Game , Password , Hollywood Squares , To Tell the Truth and Pyramid. His appearances were distinguished in part by the short, humorous poems he would recite during the broadcast. These lyrics became so closely associated with Russell that Dick Clark, Bill Cullen, Betty White, and others regularly referred to him as "the poet laureate of television. He was also a frequent guest on the long-running "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" series. Rusell was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He went to Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta and attended the University of Cincinnati for a single semester in He got his start in the s as a carhop at the Atlanta drive-in The Varsity, where he increased the tips he earned by making customers laugh.
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Nipsey Russell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in He got his start in Rock and Roll Review and other music revues in the s. Russell also appeared on many small shows in the s as an always unique personality who would liven up almost any program.