Auction Results

Harold Russell Academy Award Winner signed in person card autograph- extremely rare (DEC)

This card has been signed by deceased Academy Award winner - Harold Russell.

Harold John Russell (January 14, 1914 - January 29, 2002) was a Canadian-American World War II veteran who became one of only two non-professional actors to win an Academy Award for acting (the other being Haing S. Ngor). Russell also holds the unique honor of being the only person to receive two Academy Awards for the same role.

Harold Russell was born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada and moved to Massachusetts with his family in 1933. In 1941, he was so profoundly affected by the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor that he enlisted in the Army on the following day, December 8.

While an Army instructor, and training with the U.S. 13th Airborne Division stateside in 1944, a defective fuse detonated an explosive he was handling while making a training film. As a result, he lost both hands and was given two hooks to serve as hands. After his recovery, and while attending Boston University as a full-time student, Russell was featured in an Army film called Diary of a Sergeant about rehabilitating war veterans.

When film director William Wyler saw the film on Russell, he cast him in The Best Years of Our Lives with Fredric March and Dana Andrews. Russell played the role of Homer Parrish, a sailor who lost both hands during the war.

For his role as Parrish, Russell won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1947. Earlier in the ceremony, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for "bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." The special award had been created because the Board of Governors very much wanted to salute Russell, a non-professional actor, but assumed he had little chance for a competitive win. It was the only time in Oscar history that the Academy has awarded two Oscars for the same performance.

Upon completion of the film, Wyler told Russell to return to school since there "weren't many roles for actors without hands." Russell returned to Boston University and graduated with a business degree in 1949.

Russell authored two autobiographies, Victory in My Hands (1949) and The Best Years of My Life (1981).

 

Authentication

JSA Authentication

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