Friday, April 23, 2010

Craig Russell- A Drag Legend,Leaves me Speechless



Craig Russell was a Canadian female impersonator and drag known by the stage name of Craig Russell. And the Mistress considers him one of many drag legends. His impersonations were right on, better than most I have ever seen, and in most cases uncanny, including Carol Channing, Bette Davis, Mae West, Barbra Streisand, Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Midler, Anita Bryant, Shirley Bassey, Peggy Lee and Judy Garland. No easy task, with so many to do. While performing, he always spoke and sang in the voices of the celebrities he was impersonating. As a teenager, Craig Russell became president of Mae West's fan club and he briefly worked and lived in Los Angeles as her secretary. He returned to Toronto where he moved in with the writer Margaret Gibson. 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. One of his most famous impersonations was his jabs at homophobic Anita Bryant. This clip is hilarious! And uncanny!



In 1977, Russell starred in the film Outrageous!, based on a short story written by Gibson about their time as roommates. A decade later, in 1987, he starred in the sequel to Outrageous!, appropriately titled Too Outrageous! Russell's friend Stephen Jon Postal and his wife, Guia Dino Postal based a character, Kevin on his teen age life in their book, Of Margaret and Madness.He fathered a daughter, Susan Allison, who was born January 6, 1973 in Toronto. Father and daughter developed a relationship in the years prior to his death. Although he publicly identified as gay rather than bisexual, Russell married his close friend Lori Jenkins in 1982. Russell remained married to Lori until his death in 1990 of a stroke related to complications from AIDS. He was cremated and buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Port Perry. This though is my favorite clip of him impersonating mother and daughter, Judy and Liza. Just genuis how he transforms from Judy into Liza right their on stage! What a talent and legend. I hope your entertaining in the sky sister!

11 comments:

  1. Wow! How amazing is he??? Thanks for sharing this. His voice is very well done on the impersations.

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  2. Wow. I've never heard of this Queen before - but she was AMAZING.

    xoxoxoxo

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  3. A great post! He does do a mean Anita Bryant doesn't he!

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  4. What a wonderful post with the clips Mistress! I read a book about him once and he is probably the best impersnator to date. It said he could impersonate more women right on than any other.

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  5. I don't believe I have ever heard of him but very intresting. Great clips also. What a loss he is gone.

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  6. Now that is a Grande Dame! Very nice post girl!

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  7. Your blog amazes me! I am getting caught up on all your intrests! But this is a perfect tribute to such a wonderful and talented queen. I loved his impressions. You should come see a show soon!

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  8. Wow! Thanks for sharing these clips. Girl, I have missed your blog!! I hope you are well- I love your posts and have been too nuts to drop by as often as I should to comment. big hug to you and BT.

    smack

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  9. Now that's a entertaining performer right there.

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  10. Craig Russel would be so happy to know he is still being enjoyed! I met him several times in P-town during some shows. What a sweet,kind and talented man. You have done good with this sweet post Mistress!

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  11. Thank you for your heartfelt tribute page to legendary Craig Russell. I have been researching the life and times of Mae West, and as any diehard fan knows, Craig impressed Mae by starting the Mae West Fan Club in Toronto and eventually being asked by her to come and stay at her Santa Monica Beach House and be her secretary for a period of time.
    I have uncovered a lot of hilarious stories about Craig's time with West and I hope to have my manuscript entitled "In Search Of Mae West" published in the not too near future.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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