Rich Little was one of Canada’s and America’s greatest impersonator and impressionist to ever grace a stage….enjoying a professional career of entertaining folks with his incredible gift of voice and mannerism replication of literally a thousand different well known personalities from 1963 to the present….and since I have quite a bit of content footage of Rich Little….wherein I share lots of information on this extremely talented entertainer….I have decided to focus on Rich’s guest in his comedy special featured herewith….so, I will share some insights on Craig Russell….who was one of Canada’s all time female impersonators….as evidenced by this video herewith….but 1st, a little about Craig.
Russell Craig Eadie (January 10, 1948 – October 30, 1990) was better known by his stage name of Craig Russell….who was a Canadian female impersonator and actor….having been born in Toronto….who eventually became president of Mae West’s fan club as a teenager….which led to him briefly working and living in Los Angeles as her secretary. He returned to Toronto where he moved in with the writer Margaret Gibson….as he worked as a hairdresser while pursuing his career as a stage performer. By 1971, he was a regular performer in Toronto gay clubs and had a burgeoning international following after touring and performing in Las Vegas, Hollywood, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Sydney.
His impersonations included Carol Channing, Bette Davis, Mae West, Barbra Streisand, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Midler, Anita Bryant, Shirley Bassey, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. While performing, he always spoke and sang in the voices of the celebrities he was impersonating.
In 1977, Russell starred in the film Outrageous! which was based on a short story written by Gibson about their time as roommates. The film was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival….where Russell won the Silver Bear for Best Actor….and was also a Canadian Film Award nominee for Best Actor for this film. A decade later, in 1987, he starred in a sequel to Outrageous!, entitled Too Outrageous!.
Russell fathered a daughter, Susan Allison (“Allison”), who was born January 6, 1973 in Toronto….as he and his daughter developed a relationship in the years prior to his death….and although he publicly identified as gay rather than bisexual….Russell married his close friend Lori Jenkins in 1982….and remained married to Lori until his death in 1990 of a stroke related to complications from AIDS.
Craig Russell was a comedic entertainer with an incredible talent to impersonate women with talent that was almost larger than life….as evidenced by this video herewith….so, when you get to view Rich Little “doing his thing” and Craig Russell “doing her thing” in the same video….it almost makes this a must see video.