New York - As the world struggles to deal with the losses to two great 1960s funnymen - Bob Denver and Don Adams - death has mercilessly struck again, this time claiming Nipsey Russell at age 80. Perhaps best known for his versified responses on popular game shows during the 1970s, Russell was viewed by many as televisions "poet laureate". He was also well known for his contributions to twentieth century philosophy.
Reached at his home in Nebraska, U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser had nothing but praise of Russell's unique doggerels. "Nipsey was a man who could instantly rhyme-a-fy on virtually any topic. His work on "Match Game" and "To Tell The Truth" is yet to be replicated and it is hard to imagine how it might be. I'll be honest," continued Kooser, "Russell was a huge inspiration for me - I only wish I'd had the opportunity to collaborate with him more."
While the nation's poetry community mourns, others were more sanguine. Fred Gywnn, who stared with Russell in the 1961 hit "Car 54 Where Are You?" was pleased to hear the news. "Oh boy," said Gwynn from the great beyond, "it's going to be terrific to have Nipsey up here, we're going to have such fun!"
Aside from "Car 54" and the game shows listed above, Russell also appeared in "The Wiz" in 1978, "Nemo" in 1984, "Wildcats" in 1986, "Posse" in 1993 and in the film version of "Car 54" in 1994.
Beyond his role as an entertainer, many may recall Russell's work as a philosopher, logician and social critic. Working with G.E. Moore, Russell is considered by many to have been one of the founders of analytic philosophy; and along with Kurt Gödel he is counted as one of the twentieth century's two greatest logicians.
While his career in entertainment was loved by all, his life as a philosopher was not without controversy. He was dismissed from both Trinity College, Cambridge and City College, New York. In 1949 Russell was awarded with the Order of Merit and with the Nobel Prize for Literature the following year.