Neil Oliver “Bing” Russell was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1926. He married dancer Louise Julia Crone in 1946 and the couple had four children: Jill, Jody, Kurt and Jami. Russell began acting while attending Dartmouth College. After graduating he played professional baseball until an injury forced him from the game. So, in the early 1950s he moved to Los Angeles and began his professional acting career. Though perhaps best known for his recurring role as Deputy Clem Foster on Bonanza, Russell played many other characters throughout his career in hundreds of television shows and motion pictures. He worked with the legendary John Ford on many of the director’s classic Western films and appeared in virtually every Western TV series produced during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1979, Russell portrayed Vernon Presley in the made-for-television movie Elvis – The Movie, in which his son, Kurt, played Elvis. In addition to acting, Russell owned the Portland Mavericks who, from 1973 – 1977, were the only independent team in minor league baseball. Russell died in 2003, but his legacy lives on through his loved ones and his contribution to Western television and film.
Hall of Great Western Performers
Inducted in 2021