She played career women to a farethewell, and undertook at least two of the most memorable screen adaptations ever of smash Broadway musicals.
Catherine Rosalind Russell, the product of a large, prosperous and devoutly Catholic Connecticut family, logged more than 55 credits over a nearly 40-year career by the time she died in 1976 at age 69. She always felt her career took second place to her family, but (luckily for us) her family was not larger (she mothered one son) than the public demand for her services.
Russell is perhaps not the best-remembered Hollywood star of classic period, but she was undoubtedly a very big star in her time both in Hollywood, the Broadway stage and on tv. It’s certainly worth knowing more about her, and that’s the purpose of our quiz today.
We were inspired here by a rambling , fascinating Russell interview in author Mike Steen’s Hollywood Speaks: An Oral History, published in 1974. Questions today and answers tomorrow.
1) Question: 1934’s Evelyn Prentice was Russell’s first Hollywood movie, but which film made her a star? a) China Seas; b) The Women; c) His Girl Friday; or d) Sister Kenny.
2) Question: Of all the actors Russell worked with, which one of the following did she like the most? a) Cary Grant; b) Ronald Colman; c) Clark Gable; or d) Errol Flynn?
3) Question: Cary Grant introduced Russell to agent-producer Frederick Brisson, her one and only husband. a) True; or b) False.
4) Question: Russell was NOT the first choice of director Howard Hawks for the leading female role in His Girl Friday, the classic comedy she made with Cary Grant. Who was? a) Ginger Rogers; b) Rita Hayworth; c) Lucille Ball; or d) Carole Lombard.
5) Question: Which classic stage play was the basis of the comedy, His Girl Friday? a) Tartuffe; b) The Front Page; c) A Midsummer Night’s Dream; or d) The Importance of Being Earnest.
6) Question: For a long time, Russell was Hollywood’s go-to actress for career-women roles. But just how many such roles did she play in the movies? a) 23; b) 10; c) 15; or d) nine.
7) Question: Russell’s Broadway star turn in the 1953 musical Wonderful Town — with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green — was based on one of the actress’ earlier films. Which one? a) My Sister Eileen; b) It Had To Happen; c) They Met in Bombay; or d) Roughly Speaking.
8) Question: Which one of the following star actresses did Russell regard as her chief professional rival? a) Bette Davis; b) Mae West; b) Carole Lombard; or d) Joan Crawford.
9) Question: Russell starred in the 1956 Broadway musical, Auntie Mame, and then did it as a hit movie two years later. Another actress-comedienne took the journey with her, appearing in both editions. Who? a) Hermione Gingold; b) Peggy Cass; c) Thelma Ritter; or d) Martha Raye.
10) Question: Russell always regarded herself primarily as a character actress. a) True; or b) False.