Nipsey Russell, who played the Tin Man alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in “The Wiz” as part of a decades-long career in stage, television and film, has died. He was 80.
The actor, who had been suffering from cancer, died Sunday afternoon at Lenox Hill Hospital, said his longtime manager Joseph Rapp.
Born in Atlanta, Russell launched his television career as Officer Anderson in the 1961 television series “Car 54, Where are You?” He also appeared in the 1994 film version.
He became a fixture on popular television game and talk shows, where he was welcomed for his poetic delivery that earned him the moniker the “poet laureate of television.” He also took his signature four-line poetry on the road for readings and performances.
Russell also appeared in the films “Nemo” in 1984, “Wildcats” in 1986 and “Posse” in 1993.
He settled in New York after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and serving as an Army captain in Europe during World War II, Rapp said.
Russell never married. “He always said, ’I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else,”’ Rapp said. “But he was a wonderful guy, very quiet, never bragged.”