Please pardon our dust. Our team is hard at work standardizing and improving our database content. If you need assistance, please contact us.
Anna Russell was a world-famous comedienne, singer and writer. Born in Ontario, Canada, she made New Hope her home in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her acting debut came in 1957 at the Bucks County Playhouse in the world premiere of Half in Earnest, a musical comedy by Vivian Ellis, based on Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. She returned to the Playhouse several times during her varied career, which included writing a non-fiction work called The Power of Being a Positive Stinker, performing in a variety of television programs, and starring in several one-woman shows on Broadway. On Broadway she co-starred with Molly Picon in One Way Pendulum (1961) and alongside Liza Minnelli in Flora, the Red Menace (1965). Russell was also an accomplished cellist, pianist, and singer, who received her musical training at the Royal College of Music in England. Her album, Anna Russell Sings, lasted eight weeks on the best-seller lists, and she performed for Queen Elizabeth at the Toronto Symphony with the New York City Opera Company. She was a composer as well, writing an opera libretta, L'Astutzie Feminili. Russell was also known for her musical parodies and spoofs on operas, musical history and elitism in culture.
Photograph by Jack Rosen, 1970s. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Studied music and opera in London, England at the Royal College of Music
Teachers and Influences
Colleagues Dame Sybil Thorndike and Peter Shickele
Teacher and mentor Ralph Vaugh-Williams
Connection to Bucks County
Russell made her theater debut in 1957 at the Bucks County Playhouse in the premiere of Half in Earnest, a musical comedy by Vivian Ellis. She also appeared there in Lillian Hellman's play, The Children's Hour, in 1958. She returned to the Playhouse in 1965 to star in a new musical called Quality Street, produced by Walter Perner.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Odette Myrtil, Mike Ellis
The Power of Being a Positive Stinker
Major Theatre Performance
One Woman Show, 1952
Anna Russell and Her Little Show, 1953
One Way Pendulum, 1961
Flora, the Red Menace, 1965
Major Television Performances
The Fred Waring Show, CBS, 1952-1953
The Toast of the Town, CBS
The Gary Moore Show, CBS
Kraft Television Theater, NBC
Big Hit Records
Anna Russell Sings
Major Musical Performances
Toronto Symphony and the New York City Opera Company, who performed for Queen Elizabeth
Lyrics and Music
Wrote opera libretta for the Clarion Orchestral Society, L'Astutzie Feminili by Cimarosa. Composed Lady Audley's Secret based on a book by Ellen Terry.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Honorary Member, Music Faculty, Aspen Institute
Chosen as a featured artist for the National Federation of Music Clubs convention
Anna Russell Sings was a bestseller for eight weeks.
Anna Russell at Bucks County Playhouse
Click on any image to open it full size with captions.