Kurt Russell is the biggest star in the history of Western cinema. His career spanned nearly 70 years and he appeared in over 200 movies. Most of us know him from his starring role as “Grizzly Adams” in the 1966 film Big Trouble in Little China, which has recently been revived in a theatrical re-release.
The character of “Grizzly Adams” was originally created for the popular TV series “Land of the Lost.” It originally aired in the United States from 1968-1972 and was then revived for a reboot in the form of a feature film in 2006. As one of the most recognizable Hollywood personalities of all time, it’s only natural that people would want to know more about his personal life and his interests outside of acting.
Kurt Russell was born in 1931 and raised in Sherman Oaks, California. He is widely known for his philanthropic work and environmental advocacy. In 2003 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute and received the AFI Life Achievement Award and the International Airplay Film & Video Award at the 20th International Film Festival in Paris, France.
In 1960 he married Annabel Leigh (his co-star in the film Big Trouble in Little China) and the couple have four children: Tracey, Trent, Tristan, and Trey. His family ties aren’t the only reason he’s been involved with the environment either; Russell was also deeply affected by the ecological themes presented in the films he starred in. As early as 1967 he was advocating for a more eco-friendly approach to film production and he publicly opposed the Vietnam War. His support for the United States’ Civil Rights Movement and anti-war activism made him a target for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and he received death threats during the height of the counterculture era.
Kurt Russell isn’t just a celebrity; he’s also a successful businessman. In addition to his acting career, he’s starred in several major motion pictures as a producer or financier. His first producing role was on the critically acclaimed TV show “Firesignal.” In 1960 he founded the production company Big Bear Productions and went on to produce dozens of documentaries and major motion pictures. In 1989, he founded the production company Icon Productions and served as its president. The company has since produced several films, including The Rookie, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Little Woman, Lucky Man.
Currently, he is the co-owner of the basketball team the Brooklyn Nets and serves as its vice-president. Through his company Oceanic, he also has a minority share in the Canadian hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks. He is also the co-owner of the Utah Jazz and has a controlling share in the Portland Trail Blazers. Additionally, he is the major contributor to the Los Angeles Dodgers, along with his wife and fellow actor, Shirley MacLauchlan. Together they are the largest individual donors in the team’s history and have helped to raise more than $1.5 million for charity through game day tickets and team members’ donations.
It’s no secret that celebrities are some of the biggest gamblers in Hollywood. One of the most significant cases was the cheating scandal that embroiled Kirk Douglas and Robert Taylor. Douglas, who was married to Irene Rich and served as the vice-president of the Screen Actors Guild, had an affair with Taylor’s wife, which led to their divorces. In 1960 Douglas was implicated in one of the biggest scandalous affairs in Hollywood history when it was revealed that he had wagered more than $100,000 on a single hand of cards. Although he was not charged with a crime, it became a cause for divorce proceedings.
As for Kurt Russell, he’s had his share of brushes with the law. In 1965 he was arrested for marijuana possession and given a misdemeanor citation. In 1985 he was charged with assault for allegedly pushing a man in a barroom fight. He was also named in a gambling charge and later that same year he pled guilty to that crime. He was fined $5,000 and given a year’s probation.
Russell doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson though and in 2014 he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. He was released without having to post bail and no further action was taken. At least in the public eye, it seems that Russell has finally learned his lesson and has changed his ways. He is now a steadfast supporter of Women’s Rights and has partnered with several organizations to raise awareness about the dangers of domestic violence. In addition to publicly stating his support for reproductive rights, he’s donated money to Planned Parenthood and other prominent organizations that work to eliminate violence against women. Hopefully, this will be the last time that we hear about this particular facet of his life.
Kurt Russell is probably best known for his work on the big screen; however, he has also made a significant and lasting impression through his work off-screen as well. One of the most well-known examples is his unrivalled ability to transform himself physically for different roles. In addition to his usual five-foot-10-inch, 140-pound physique, he gained 40 pounds for the part of Genghis Khan in 1942 and lost 110 pounds for his role as an office worker in the 1970s. His ability to transform his body into different shapes and sizes has led to numerous rumors and stories, which helped to fuel his legend.
Additionally, Russell’s style has not always been considered conventional. Early on he broke with the Hollywood norm and decided to forgo makeup artiststo ensure that his true persona was preserved for the camera. He also refused to wear costumes and often went unclothed for major roles. In fact, he once commented that “a good story is one that doesn’t need to be illustrated.”
The late-night host Jimmy Kimmel even jokingly referred to Russell as the “world’s greatest practical joker.” Perhaps even more impressively, his ability to play many different characters has made him one of the most sought-after actors of all time. Aside from his impressive feats in the acting world, he’s also had an influential voice in the world of film music. In the early 1960s he collaborated with Italian composer and conductor, Ennio Morricone, on the score for two of his movies: 1961’s Battle Zone and 1962’s The Manchurian Candidate. Since then he’s gone on to collaborate with several other prominent composers and conductors, including J.S. Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. He has also performed the theme song for the popular TV show, The Simpsons, and he recently composed the score for the film, The Man Who Lived Next Door. In general, his work is marked by its classical influences and his extensive vocal work has earned him the nickname, “the singing cowboy.”
As Hollywood star and producer, Kurt Russell will always be famous. He will continue to be celebrated for his work in both film and television and a massive net worth that places him at the very top of the industry. But in addition to his many on-screen accomplishments, he’s also had a profound impact off-screen as well. His humanitarian work has earned him a spot on Vanity Fair’s prestigious list of the most iconic celebrities.