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William Russell (American actor)

William Russell (silent film actor)
Personal information
Birth nameWilliam F. Lerche
Birth dateApril 12, 1884
Place of birthNew York City, New York, USA
Date of deathFebruary 18, 1929(age 44)
Death placeLos Angeles, California, USA
SpouseCharlotte Burton (1917-1921) (divorce)
Helen Ferguson (1925-1929) (his death)

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William Russell (April 12, 1884 - February 18, 1929) was an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He appeared in over 200 silent era motion pictures between 1910 and 1929, directing five of them in 1916 and producing two through his own production company in 1918 and 1925.

Born William F. Lerche in the Bronx borough of New York City, Russell began his acting career on the stage when he was eight-years-old. He appeared with such notables as Ethel Barrymore, Chauncey Olcott, Blanche Bates, Maude Adams and others.

His career came to a stop at age 16, however, when he became an invalid. Through rigorous physical therapy, he became well again six years later. He then became an amateur boxing champion.

Russell began his screen career in New York with the Biograph Company, where he worked for nine months before signing with the Thanhouser Company. He was also part of the company of players for the American Film Manufacturing Company and their Flying "A" Studios at Santa Barbara.

In 1917, he and actress Charlotte Burton were married. They divorced in 1921. He and actress Helen Ferguson were married on June 21, 1925, at the Wilshire Boulevard Congregational Church, after a six year romance.

William Russell died at age 44 from pneumonia at Hollywood Hospital in Los Angeles. He is entombed in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Love, at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale. His brother, director Albert Russell, died two weeks later from pneumonia.

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