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Harold Russell

Harold Russell

Annual award presented by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities is called the Harold Russell Medal.

As well as his Best Supporting Actor Oscar, he received an honorary Oscar for being an inspiration for disabled war veterans throughout the U.S., making him the first (and only) actor to receive two Oscars for the same role.

Director William Wyler told Russell after The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) wrapped, "There aren't that many parts for a guy with no hands. You should go back to college, get your degree." Russell followed the advice, got a business degree from Boston University and became an ardent advocate for the disabled.

First wife Rita was his childhood sweetheart.

Had one of the least prolific careers of any Oscar winner, starring in only four films over a span of fifty years.



He became so adept with the hooks that replaced his hands, he would joke he could do anything with them except pick up a dinner check.

In 1964 he was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as chairman of the President's Committee on Hiring the Handicapped.

In August 1992, Russell sold his supporting-actor Oscar, saying he needed the money to pay his wife's medical bills and other expenses. An anonymous buyer paid $60,500, including a 10 percent commission for the auctioneer.

Interred at Lakeview Cemetery, Wayland, MA.

Served three terms as the National Commander of the AMVETS. As National Commander, he wrote an 11 April 1951 letter to President Harry S. Truman supporting his decision to relieve General Douglas MacArthur of his supreme command: "The issue is whether the ultimate civil authority of the United States can tolerate actions in contempt of constitutional lines of authority. Any lessening of civil power over military power must inevitably lead away from democracy."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tried to keep him from selling his award, and offered to loan him money, but he turned them down. (Several Oscars have since been auctioned off posthumously, but the Academy now makes all recipients sign an agreement forbidding them from selling their Oscars.)

Two children: Adele and Gerald

Volunteered the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.


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