NEW YORK (AP) – Nipsey Russell, who played the Tin Man alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in “The Wiz,” as part of a decades-long career in stage, television and film, has died.

The actor, who had been suffering from cancer, died Sunday afternoon at Lenox Hill Hospital, said his longtime manager Joseph Rapp.

Rapp put Russell’s age in his early 80s, but couldn’t be more specific since his birth certificate was missing.

Born in Atlanta, Russell launched his television career as Officer Anderson, in the 1961 television series, “Car 54, Where are You?” He also appeared in the 1994 film version. Appearances on other shows including “What’s My Line” and “The Dean Martin Show” followed.

Russell also became a fixture on television game and talk shoes from Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” to “Hollywood Squares,” where he was welcomed for his poetic delivery that earned him the moniker, “Poet Laureate of Television.” He also took his signature four-line poetry on the road for readings.

Russell also appeared in the films “Nemo” in 1984, “Wildcats” in 1986, and “Posse” in 1993.

Russell never married. “He always said, ‘I have trouble living with myself, how could I live with anyone else,”‘ Rapp said. “But he was a wonderful guy, very quiet, never bragged.”


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