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Nipsey Russell
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    (October 13, 1924-October 2, 2005)
    Nicknamed the Poet Laureate of Television
    Portrayed Tinman in 'The Wiz (1978)'
    Also acted in 'Nemo (1984),' 'Wildcats (1986),' 'Posse (1993)' and 'Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)'
    TV series include 'Car 54, Where Are You?' (1961-62), 'ABC's Nightlife' (1965), 'Barefoot in the Park' (1970), 'The Dean Martin Show' (1972-73), 'The Dean Martin Comedy World' (1974) and 'Juvenile Jury' (1983)
    Died of stomach cancer at age 80
    His mother named him Nipsey just because she 'liked the way the name sounded.'
    All his TV series were for stints of two years or less.
    Though he was the first African-American to host a TV game show, 'Jackpot' (in 1984), he only did the pilot episode.
    Asked why he never married, he quoted, 'I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else?'
    He served as an U.S. Army captain in Europe during World War II.
    He was an accomplished singer and dancer.
    He was the first African-American to become a panelist on a network game show, joining ABC's 'Missing Links' (1964).
    He got most of his exposure in TV as a 'professional game show panelist,' appearing in 'What's My Line?,' 'To Tell the Truth,' 'Match Game,' 'Password Plus,' 'The $10,000 Pyramid' and 'Hollywood Squares.'
    While some black stand-up comedians resort to vulgarity in their act, Pauline Kael wrote in The New Yorker, 'He understands that the roles are vaudeville-comedian turns. ... [and] shows here that all his years of playing the inoffensive black entertainer in front of white audiences haven't softened him as a performer; he has the true pro's integrity of style.'
    Famed quote from the 'Poet Laureate of Television:'
    'Pro and con are opposites, that fact is clearly seen. If progress means to move forward, then what does congress mean?'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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