Born on June 4th in Waterbury, Connecticut in anywhere from 1908 to 1912 (Who knows?!), Rosalind Russell was destined to be an actress. Her parents named her for the S.S. Rosalind, a ship on which they had recently taken a vacation. The middle child and second girl among seven children, she liked to think of herself as the "ham in the sandwich." [Clara, James, John, Rosalind, George, Mary Jane, and Josephine] Even today, Rosalind had what seems like an ideal childhood with loving parents and close knit siblings. A devout Irish Catholic, she attended parochial schools throughout her childhood and always remained close to her faith.
A real tomboy, Roz broke several bones in her tall lanky body. Even as an adult, she remained athletic and moderately competitive.
Her father, James Russell, was a noted lawyer and her mother had been a teacher for a few years prior to starting a family. When Rosalind was nineteen, her father died leaving her mother to finish raising her family alone. His will was odd in that it stipulated that all the children would recieve financial support as long as they were attending school. But as soon as they graduated, they wouldn't get one red cent until after they had worked three years. Not anxious to ever really work, one of Roz's younger sisters would continue to take classes in just about anything for as long as she could. Once, when Roz asked her what she was then studying, her sister answered, "Smiling." Always ready with a witty remark, Roz retorted "So, do you think you'll get your degree?"
Although Rosalind knew early on that she wanted to act, she also knew that her mother didn't think much of the profession. Actors, then as now, were considered sordid. Especially the women. So she bent the truth a bit by telling her that she wanted to study at the Academy of Dramatic Arts to become a drama teacher. This was fine with Clara McKnight Russell as teaching had always been a noble profession.
Back to Home