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Russell Birdwell
Birth: Oct. 17, 1903
Coleman
Coleman County
Texas, USA
Death: Dec. 15, 1977
Oxnard
Ventura County
California, USA

Motion-Picture Publicist. He won almost legendary status as one of Hollywood's most flamboyant press agents. Birdwell launched his first big publicity stunt in 1927, when he hired an actress to dress in widow's garb and place flowers at the tomb of Rudolph Valentino on the first anniversary of his death. An anonymous "Woman in Black" then took it upon herself to turn this one-time gimmick into an annual event that lasted several decades. Birdwell's greatest success was his three-year promotional campaign for "Gone With the Wind" (1939), which pressured Clark Gable into accepting the role of Rhett Butler and included a nationwide search for an actress to play Scarlett O'Hara. For "The Outlaw" (1943) he scandalized Tinseltown by focusing the public's attention on star Jane Russell's breasts, flouting the Production Code's ban on cleavage with ads that screamed, "Here are two good reasons to see 'The Outlaw'!" He even had skywriters emblazon the Southern California skies with two huge circles---with two dots in the center. The Texas-born Birdwell was a newspaper reporter working the Hollywood beat before breaking into show business around 1925. He directed the films "Street Corners" (1929), "Masquerade" (1929), "Fying Devils" (1933), "The Come On" (1956), and "The Girl in the Kremlin" (1957), wrote the screenplay for "Jim Thorpe--All-American" (1951), and penned an autobiography, "I Ring Doorbells" (1937), that was filmed in 1946. But publicity was his true forte. Although he has such clients as Carole Lombard, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Kate Smith, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, he preferred to work on individual films as a freelancer. One of his last assignments was for John Wayne's "The Alamo" (1960), which caused controversy over actor Chill Wills' shameless huckstering for an Oscar. By the late 1960s Birdwell's career had wound down and he paid for space in Variety to write a regular column, which mostly featured anecdotes about his glory days in Hollywood. He died of a stroke. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Russell J. Birdwell (1876 - 1916)
  Lela Mitcham Birdwell (1883 - 1971)
 
 Spouse:
  Mabel Condon Birdwell (1906 - 1965)*
 
 Children:
  Russell Birdwell (1924 - 1946)*
  Joan Maria Birdwell Rice (1931 - 1975)*
 
 Siblings:
  Russell Birdwell (1903 - 1977)
  Dorothy C. Birdwell (1909 - 1930)*
  Tomasita Birdwell Meyer (1916 - 1965)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Holy Cross Cemetery
Culver City
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Section D, Lot 215
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Sep 22, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11796682
Russell Birdwell
Added by: Anthony S
 
Russell Birdwell
Added by: Caleb Remus
 
Russell Birdwell
Cemetery Photo
Added by: James Seidelman
 
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- Cindy
 Added: Oct. 17, 2014
Because We Never Knew Each Other, I Came To Visit You Today Russell, May You Rest In Eternal Peace.
- Robert David Miller
 Added: Sep. 13, 2014

- la vita eterna
 Added: Jun. 30, 2014
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Current ranking for this person: (4.1 after 25 votes)
 

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