Aaron Russo

Aaron Russo

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Aaron Russo was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 entertainment businessman, movie producer
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

 and director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, and political activist
Activism
Activism consists of intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing...

. He was best-known for producing such blockbuster movies as Trading Places
Trading Places
Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film, of the satire genre, directed by John Landis, starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. It tells the story of an upper class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet...

, Wise Guys
Wise Guys (film)
Wise Guys is a 1986 feature film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo. A comedy revolving around two small-time mobsters from Newark, New Jersey, it also features Harvey Keitel, Lou Albano, Dan Hedaya, and Frank Vincent....

, and The Rose
The Rose (film)
The Rose is a 1979 American musical drama film which tells the story of a self-destructive 1960s rock star who struggles to cope with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager...

. Later in life, he created various Libertarian-leaning
Libertarian
Libertarian may refer to:*A proponent of libertarianism, a political philosophy that upholds individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action*A member of a libertarian political party; including:**Libertarian Party...

 political documentaries including Mad as Hell and America: Freedom to Fascism. After a six-year battle with bladder cancer
Bladder cancer
Bladder cancer is any of several types of malignant growths of the urinary bladder. It is a disease in which abnormal cells multiply without control in the bladder. The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine; it is located in the pelvis...

, Russo died on August 24, 2007.

Early life


Aaron Russo was born in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, in 1943. Growing up on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, Russo worked for his family's undergarment business.

Entertainment career


In April of 1968, Russo opened the nightclub Kinetic Playground
Kinetic Playground
The Kinetic Playground was a short-lived nightclub located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.The club was opened on April 3, 1968 as the Electric Theater by Aaron Russo and was located at 4812 North Clark Street...

 in Chicago, Illinois, originally naming it the Electric Theater. He booked numerous prominent rock groups and musicians at the club such as The Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

, Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly is a US psychedelic rock band best known for the 1968 hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".Their heyday was the late 1960s, but the band has been reincarnated with various members. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is the 31st best-selling album in the world, selling more than 25 million copies.-History:The...

, Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. A pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, Jefferson Airplane was the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream commercial and critical success....

, Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin
Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer, songwriter, painter, dancer and music arranger. She rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist with her backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band...

, Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

, Rotary Connection
Rotary Connection
Rotary Connection was an American psychedelic soul band, formed in Chicago in 1966. The highly experimental band was the idea of Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. Marshall was the director behind a start-up label, Cadet Concept Records, and wanted to focus on music outside...

, and The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

.

In addition to owning his own nightclub, Russo managed several musical acts throughout the 1970s including The Manhattan Transfer
The Manhattan Transfer
The Manhattan Transfer is an American vocal music group. There have been two manifestations of the group, with Tim Hauser being the only person to be part of both...

 and Bette Midler
Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an American singer, actress, and comedian, also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M. She became famous as a cabaret and concert headliner, and went on to star in successful and acclaimed films such as The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches, and For The Boys...

.

Russo then moved into producing and directing movies, six of them receiving Academy Award nominations and two receiving Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign...

 nominations. His final film would be America: Freedom to Fascism, a political documentary critical of the Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 and the Federal Reserve System
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

 and warning about the coming of the New World Order.

Political career


Russo became involved in political issues in the early-1990s when he produced and starred in the documentary entitled Mad As Hell in which he criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA), the federal government's War on Drugs
War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade...

, the concept of a National Identity Card, and government regulation of alternative medicine
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

.

In 1998, Russo took his political interests to a higher level, running for governor of the state of Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 as a Republican. Placing second in the Republican primary with 26% of the vote to candidate Kenny Guinn
Kenny Guinn
Kenneth Carroll "Kenny" Guinn was an American businessman, educator and politician. He was the 27th Governor of Nevada from 1999 to 2007. He was a member of the Republican Party and a former member of the Democratic Party....

, Russo later endorsed the Democratic nominee, then-Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

 mayor Jan Laverty Jones
Jan Laverty Jones
Jan Laverty Jones is an American businesswoman and politician. She was mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada from 1991 to 1999 and the first woman to serve as mayor of Las Vegas. Jones is a member of the Democratic Party.-Biography:...

, who would eventually lose to Republican nominee Kenny Guinn
Kenny Guinn
Kenneth Carroll "Kenny" Guinn was an American businessman, educator and politician. He was the 27th Governor of Nevada from 1999 to 2007. He was a member of the Republican Party and a former member of the Democratic Party....

. Russo was planning to run again for Nevada governor in 2002 as either an independent
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

 or Libertarian but was sidelined by cancer.

In January of 2004, Russo declared his candidacy for the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 initially as an independent but then as a Libertarian. At the Libertarian National Convention in May of 2004, Russo received 258 votes to Michael Badnarik's
Michael Badnarik
Michael J. Badnarik is an American software engineer, political figure, and former radio talk show host. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 elections, and placed fourth in the race, behind independent candidate Ralph Nader...

 256 votes and Gary Nolan's
Gary Nolan (radio host)
Gary Nolan is an American talk radio host and a former candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States....

 246 votes, short of the majority required to receive the presidential nomination. Russo would eventually lose the nomination on the convention's third and final ballot to Badnarik by a vote of 423-344.

On January 14, 2007, Russo announced his full support for US Congressman
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Ron Paul's
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 candidacy
Ron Paul presidential campaign, 2008
Ron Paul was a Republican Party primary candidate in the 2008 United States presidential election.Initial opinion polls during the first three quarters of 2007 showed Ron Paul consistently receiving support from 3% or less of those polled...

 for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Later in 2007, Russo created the political grassroots organization, Restore the Republic (restoretherepublic.com), to fulfill the political ambitions laid out in his final movie documentary, America: Freedom to Fascism. Regarding the organization, Russo said his goal was to "try and get the word out to the public about what's happening to America -- and give them an opportunity to try to change things".

Death


On August 24, 2007, Russo died at the age of 64 of bladder cancer
Bladder cancer
Bladder cancer is any of several types of malignant growths of the urinary bladder. It is a disease in which abnormal cells multiply without control in the bladder. The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine; it is located in the pelvis...

 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Originally established as Kaspare Cohn Hospital in 1902, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is a non-profit, tertiary 958-bed hospital and multi-specialty academic health science centre located in Los Angeles, California, US. Part of the Cedars-Sinai Health System, the hospital employs a staff of over...

 in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

.

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