Photo Credit; Rose Eichenbaum

Russ’ career as an actor, dancer, choreographer, director and artist has spanned nearly eight decades. Born Dec. 30, 1934 into a show business family, Russ has performed in every kind of venue, from small playhouses to Madison Square Garden. His roots began in the heyday of Hollywood; he was discovered by Lloyd Bridges who gave 10 year old Russ his first part in a play, Stone Jungle. This launched Russ into an extensive career in motion pictures, television and theatre.

Russ’ first motion picture credit came in 1948, when he played a supporting role in The Boy with Green Hair. Cecil B DeMille saw a special quality in Russ and cast him as young King Saul in the epic, Samson and Delilah. Many films followed, including Father of the Bride, and Father’s Little Dividend in which he portrayed Elizabeth Taylor’s brother. The title role in The Kid from Cleveland was next, but it was his dynamic performance in Warner Brothers’ Retreat Hell! that won him a long-term contract with MGM Studios. While there, Russ starred in the classic musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, bringing him world-wide fame for his dancing and acting. He also starred opposite Debbie Reynolds in Hit the Deck. His musicality, championship tumbling and cat-like agility, blending with his strong dramatic skills, made Russ ‘MGM’s Most Popular Young Star’. Russ’ career skyrocketed with an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the critically acclaimed film, Peyton Place. He also received a Golden Globe Award for ‘Most Promising Newcomer’. From there, Russ was offered starring roles in some of the hottest films in Hollywood, including tom thumb, Don’t Go Near the Water, High School Confidential, The Longships, and The Haunting. Most notably, Russ starred in West Side Story in his iconic role as ‘Riff’, the leader of the Jets.

In 1964, seeking a deeper means of self-expression, Russ’ creative focus shifted from the performing arts to the fine arts. His unique work in collage and assemblage brought him recognition in numerous gallery exhibitions and museums, including the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His art and poetry can be found in numerous international art publications.
Russ continued his first love of the performing arts when he starred in such theatre works as Cabaret, Follies, The Music Man, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, George M. and Bye Bye Birdie, starring opposite Chita Rivera.

In the early eighties, Russ co-starred, co-wrote and choreographed the rock-noir movie, Human Highway. This was a collaborative effort with long-time friends, Neil Young, Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper. Russ again joined Neil Young in the 2003 – 2004 Greendale Tour as director and choreographer, as well as playing the role of ‘Captain John Green’.

Russ started his television credits with dancing on the Ed Sullivan Show and he continued with guest-starring roles in various shows, including Gunsmoke, Babylon 5, Quantum Leap, and Nash Bridges. But he is most remembered for his performance as ‘Dr. Jacoby’ in the landmark television series Twin Peaks. He later reprised this role as the transformed and irascible Dr. Amp in David Lynch’s final series – Twin Peaks-the Return.

Russ has mentored and managed his daughter Amber Tamblyn’s career. She starred in the title role of the CBS series Joan of Arcadia. Russ played the recurring role of the ‘Dog Walker/God’ in this hit series.

In 2024, Russ completed a twenty-four year writing project – his memoir, “Dancing on the Edge.“.