There's a saying that only the good die young. Maybe that's why Roz didn't stay with us as long as she should have. Before she left here, she suffered intense pain with rheumatoid arthritis which had, at that time, no known therapy. Prior to that, Roz also battled thyroid problems and cancer, with one masectomy in 1960 and another in 1965. But she never let her illnesses get her down and spent much of her time fundraising for those maladies that she had and many that she didn't. It's hard to see her beautiful face misshapen by the steroid injections that she had to take to tolerate the pain that she openly admitted she felt on a constant basis. Eventually, the cancer, in remission for many years, would return and finally, on November 28, 1976, she would be able to fight it no longer.
The following is a prayer that Roz wrote, probably during her illness.
If you only want to remember her better days, stop here and go no further. But if you want to fully realize what a strong and spiritual though totally human being she was, scroll down.
This is probably one of the last portraits Miss Russell sat for. Already, her face had become puffy from the cortisone injections. In her autobiography ["Life Is A Banquet" - published posthumously in 1977], she commented that the steroids caused her to feel like she was being slowly poisoned.
Roz often jokingly called herself Miss Chipmunk Cheeks for this is indeed what the steroids did to her face. But here, with actress Polly Bergen, her eyes still sparkled, never dimmed by the diseases that ravaged her body but not her spirit.