Film director Ken Russell was born in Southampton in 1927. His family owned a footwear business, with shops in St Mary Street, Shirley Road and Eastleigh, but he chose not to follow his father into the family business. He was educated at Taunton’s School and then at Pangbourne Naval College in Berkshire. He served in both the merchant navy and the RAF, during which time he produced wartime shows and concerts. Later he spent short stints as an actor, a dancer and a photographer, after which he turned his attention to film. His short films Peepshow (1956) and Amelia and the Angel (1957) won him a reputation and admission to the BBC, where he made several documentaries. His Elgar brought him national attention and gave him the chance to direct his first feature film, French Dressing (1963), a seaside farce starring James Booth and Roy Kinnear. Many of his subsequent films, including The Devils and Lisztomania, were considered by some to be vulgar and tasteless, but his adaption of D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love (1969) and The Boyfriend (1971) were both well received. His rock musical Tommy (1974) was well suited to his extravagant style and was also acclaimed. He died in 2011.

Russell, Ken

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Further reading:
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p78-79. (HS/t)


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