Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Russell went to Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta and attended the University of Cincinnati for one semester in 1943. He served as a medic in the United States Army during World War II, enlisting as a private on June 27, 1941, and returning from Europe in 1945 as a second lieutenant. He got his start in the 1940s as a carhop at the Atlanta drive-in The Varsity, where he increased the tips he earned by making customers laugh. He was discovered after he began performing in nightclubs in the 1950s. He subsequently made many “party albums,” which were essentially compilations of his stand-up routines.
Julius “Nipsey” Russell -September 15, 1918 – October 2, 2005