Mark Russell Death, Obituary – Mark Russell, a political satirist who was known for delivering his wisecracks to the sounds of his piano on PBS programs for than 30 years, passed away today at his home in Washington, D.C. due to complications from prostate cancer. He was 90 years old. His wife, Alison Russell, was the one who broke the news of his passing to the Washington Post.
From 1975 to 2004, Russell was a mainstay on PBS, where his nonpartisan quips and peppy playing meshed with the softly cerebral tone of the network. He was known for donning a bow tie and appearing behind a piano that was typically draped in the American flag. Russell was a likeable TV personality whose topical remarks gave a family-friendly alternative during an era when George Carlin was saying seven bad words and Saturday Night Live was making pot jokes. His persona and manner were more reminiscent of Will Rogers than Lenny Bruce.
Lewis Black, another well-known comedian, paid tribute to Mark Russell by saying in a statement that “Mark Russell was an exceptionally talented satirist with a one-of-a-kind humorous voice.” “He possessed a razor-sharp wit. Which are phrases that I don’t typically use when describing a comedic performance.
“Mark Russell was a DC institution who did the hardest thing a comic can do…relentlessly and righteously ridicule his neighbors,” stated former host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart.
Russell was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and attended George Washington University in Washington, District of Columbia, for a short period of time. before beginning their service in the Marine Corps. In the early 1960s, he was already doing his song parodies as a permanent artist at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.
This helped him develop a profile for himself in the comedy world, which eventually led to a job with PBS in the decade that followed. He appeared on NBC’s Real People reality show from 1979 till 1984. In 1977, he was a regular on CBS’s summer replacement variety series The Starland Vocal Band Show.
In 2016, Russell made his last performance at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, which is located in the state of North Carolina.