William Russell (American actor)

William Russell (April 12, 1884 – February 18, 1929), born William Francis Lerche, was an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He appeared in over two hundred 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.

William Russell
Russell in Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1916
William Francis Lerche

(1884-04-12)April 12, 1884
DiedFebruary 18, 1929(1929-02-18) (aged 44)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years activec.1892 to 1929
Charlotte Burton
(m. 1917; div. 1921)

Helen Ferguson
(m. 1925; his death 1929)

Early life and career

Born 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.

Motion pictures

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 in 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.[1]

William Russell died at age 44 from pneumonia at Hollywood Hospital in Los Angeles.[2] 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.

Selected filmography





  • Pride and the Man (1917)


  1. "Dan Cupid Bowls Over Film Husky. Film "Strong Man" Weds." Los Angeles Times. Jun. 22, 1925. p A 1.
  2. "Russell Rites To Be Saturday." Los Angeles Times. Feb. 19, 1929. p. A 1.
  3. "A Self-Made Man (1922)". IMDb. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
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