Rosalind Russell was a stage and film actress best known for her performances in classic films such as His Girl Friday and Gypsy. Although the actress worked hard and stayed positive, she suffered a number of health issues that made life a struggle. Rosalind persevered to her final days despite these health troubles. And survived in life by her loving husband and son. Join Facts Verse as Rosalind Russell’s son reveals details about her personal life.
Rosalind Russell was born on June 4, 1907, in the city of Waterbury, Connecticut. Perhaps due to the fact that her family was Irish Catholic, Rosalind found herself the middle child of several siblings. Rosalind’s parents had seven children altogether, with Rosalind placed right in the middle. The young girl liked to refer to herself as the ham in her family sandwich. And loved making her siblings laugh.
The Russell family was a wealthy and happy one. And Rosalind always liked to recall in her adult years how her parents would take her and her siblings on fun excursions such as horseback rides, country fairs, and skating trips when they were growing up. Rosalind’s father was both the director of a bank and a practicing lawyer. And giving him plenty of money to provide for his seven children. Rosalind’s easygoing childhood gave her plenty of time to goof around. And it was during these times that the young woman practiced making her six siblings laugh. By the time that she came of age, Rosalind had gotten the idea that she wanted to become a performer in some professional capacity.
For advanced schooling, Rosalind attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City before eventually graduating and trying her hand on the city’s theater scene. The burgeoning star first appeared on the scene towards the end of the 1920s. In the year 1930, she made her official Broadway debut in the Garrick Gaieties. As Rosalind’s success on the New York City stage began to increase, so too did her opportunities elsewhere. Rosalind started catching the eye of Hollywood producers early on in her stage career. And was finally swept up by fledgling studio Universal Pictures in 1934, marking her arrival in Hollywood.
Rosalind Russell was excited for the opportunity to come to Hollywood. Even though Universal Pictures wasn’t a very big deal in the industry at the time period. Sadly, the studio didn’t end up finding much to do with the actress. According to the late Rosalind, most of her time with the studio spent reading as a stand-in with men auditioning for roles alongside other actresses. The struggling actress began to think that she was never going to make it in Hollywood. However, she wasn’t quite ready to give up on her dream!
Without letting her handlers at Universal Pictures know, Rosalind went to screen test in secret with the much more prominent studio MGM. Given her innate talent, Rosalind’s screen test with MGM went incredibly well! The actress subsequently offered a contract with the studio. But found herself at an impasse thanks to her contract with Universal Pictures. Intent on finding her way to MGM, Rosalind decided she’d find a way to get out of her earlier contract.
Rosalind Russell came up with a fairly ingenious scheme for getting out of her contract with Universal Pictures. And it involved giving herself a decidedly unattractive makeover just before going into a meeting with the studio’s head. Rosalind did herself up to look much more ugly than she really was. And the studio head let her go without question when she brought up the fact that she dissatisfied with her contract. Having successfully pulled one over on the executive, the beautiful actress free to go to MGM!
According to both fans and Rosalind herself, the actress did the majority of her best work while she was working with MGM. The actress recalled how impressed she was when she first showed up at the studio. And which was one of the preeminent production companies in the industry at the time. One of the things that impressed Rosalind the most was that the studio’s biggest movie stars had entourages following them around carrying personal portable toilets. While Rosalind would never quite grow to be one of the studio’s biggest stars herself. She would become a sturdy player in the production company’s arsenal.
Despite the success that Rosalind was finding professionally, she would soon become plagued with personal troubles. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
According to the late Rosalind Russell herself, the main reason that she never grew to be quite as big of a star as she arguably deserved to be was because she wasn’t willing to play studio politics. While other stars were canoodling with studio executives in an effort to get big parts. Rosalind was content playing cards with crewmembers. She also preferred to keep her private life out of the tabloids as much as possible. And meaning that potentially attention-grabbing celebrity romances with such stars as Jimmy Stewart were out of bounds when it came to PR stories involving Rosalind.
Despite the fact that Rosalind found herself rather unwilling to play ball when it came to rising through the ranks at MGM. Her talent and work ethic still made her a reliable player at the studio during her time there. She seen as a reliable replacement when bigger star Myrna Loy wasn’t prepared to take on a role. And she often found herself cast in films alongside the likes of such female stars as Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow, often as romantic competition. Though Rosalind often poised as competition for Jean Harlow on the screen. The two carried on an incredibly amicable relationship in real life. When Jean Harlow went on to die at the tragically young age of only 26. It further illustrated to Rosalind that Hollywood superstardom wasn’t for her.
According to the late Rosalind Russell, she spent a lot of time during the final years of Jean Harlow’s life going to bars and trying to rescue the star from her increasing life of squalor. Sadly, Rosalind’s efforts didn’t end up proving too effective. Besides Jean Harlow, another star that Rosalind ended up becoming pretty close with around the time was Frank Sinatra, who took kindly to both Rosalind and her husband. Rosalind and her husband, who was a producer by the name of Fredrick Brisson. And spent a lot of time vacationing at Frank Sinatra’s guest house together during their lives.
Rosalind Russell met husband Fredrick Brisson while she was filming the motion picture His Girl Friday with star Cary Grant in 1939. Frederick Brisson was staying with Cary as a house guest. And Cary agreed to set the producer up with his female costar. When she invited out to dinner, Rosalind initially thought that she was going on a date with Cary Grant. When she got to the restaurant and realized that she being set up with another man. She was initially hesitant to pursue a relationship with Frederick.
Despite the fact that Rosalind Russell initially hesitant to pursue a romantic relationship with Fredrick Brisson the producer remained adamant in his pursuits and the actress eventually won over. The two ended up trying the knot in 1941. And would remain together until Rosalind’s death over three decades later, in 1976. A year after their official union, the two welcomed a son by the name of Lance.
The release of His Girl Friday in 1940 proved to be the start of the most successful period of Rosalind’s career. The actress enjoyed an immense amount of success on the screen over the course of the ensuing decade. And continued working successful in following decades leading up to her death. However, the actress’s career success during the 1940s came with a dark side. As Rosalind became overwhelmed during this period and suffered from a nervous breakdown. The nervous breakdown exacerbated by factors unrelated to Rosalind’s Hollywood career. And including postpartum depression after the birth of her son Lance and husband Freddie leaving for a time to serve in World War II.
While Rosalind Russell wasn’t having the easiest time mentally during the 1940s. She pushed through her nervous breakdown and came out the other end. One of the things that helped her keep her sanity during the time period was taking son Lance out to Dodgers games. Although Rosalind managed to persevere through her nervous breakdown during the 1940s. That sadly wouldn’t be the last of the actress’s many personal struggles that she forced to deal with during the latter half of her life. In the 1960s, Rosalind diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to undergo two mastectomies over the course of the decade, with one occurring in 1965 and the other occurring in 1969.
In addition to breast cancer, Rosalind also began suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. When it came time for her to begin writing the memoir Life is a Banquet. Rosalind eschewed any mention of rheumatoid arthritis in exchange for focusing purely on her struggles with breast cancer. When asked why she did so, the late star claimed that one illness was more than enough for a single book. Rosalind spent her final days editing the memoir, which was released in 1977. Rosalind herself passed away in 1976, and was survived by her husband and son. Lance is still alive today, and loves reminiscing about good times with his mom and her fighting spirit. Meanwhile, the arthritis research center at San Francisco’s University of California is named after her.
Although Rosalind Russell never became quite as big of a star as some more well-known actresses from the time period. She did plenty of great work and stands as a rare beacon of positivity in Hollywood’s history. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Rosalind Russell pretended to be ugly in order to fake her way out of her first Hollywood contract. And that the arthritis research center at San Francisco’s University of California is named after her? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!