Jerry Russell, an accomplished local actor and founder of Fort Worth’s Stage West theater, died peacefully in his sleep overnight. He was surrounded by family including his daughter, state Sen. Wendy Davis. He was 77.
Sen. Davis, D-Fort Worth, recently postponed an announcement about whether she plans to run for governor in 2014 due to her father’s illness.
Russell entered the hospital for a surgical procedure last week, but developed complications following a bout of pneumonia.
Russell founded Stage West, one of Fort Worth’s most acclaimed theater companies, in 1979 out of his European-style sandwich shop. It grew exponentially over the years, doubling its audience with each show in its first year alone, eventually becoming a go-to place for edgy modern productions. Along with regulars including Jim Covault and Dana Schultes, Russell also was one of the regular performers the Stage West, turning in many memorable performances while also directing many of the shows, but it wasn’t just there that he found success. Russell performed in many area theaters, often at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas (memorably in On Golden Pond and Visiting Mr. Green).
He passed away leaving a legacy of memorable performances and tremendous artistic integrity. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.