Aaron Russo

Aaron Russo (February 14, 1943 – August 24, 2007) was an American entertainment businessman, film producer and director, and political activist. He was best known for producing such movies as Trading Places, Wise Guys, and The Rose. Later in life, he created various Libertarian-leaning political documentaries including Mad as Hell and America: Freedom to Fascism. After a six-year battle with cancer, Russo died on August 24, 2007.

Aaron Russo
Aaron russo-cannes
Russo promoting his film America: Freedom to Fascism
BornFebruary 14, 1943
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 2007 (aged 64)
Los Angeles
Known forMusic manager, film producer, libertarian politician and activist

Early life

Aaron Russo was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1943 in a Jewish family. Growing up on Long Island, Russo worked for his family's undergarment business.

Entertainment career

In April 1968, Russo opened the nightclub Kinetic Playground 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, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Vanilla Fudge, Rotary Connection, and The Who.

In addition to owning his own nightclub, Russo managed several musical acts throughout the 1970s including The Manhattan Transfer and Bette Midler.[1]

Russo then moved into producing and directing movies, six of them receiving Academy Award nominations and two receiving Golden Globe Award nominations.[2] His final film would be America: Freedom to Fascism, a political documentary critical of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve System 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 (NAFTA), the federal government's War on Drugs, the concept of a National Identity Card, and government regulation of alternative medicine.[3]

In 1998, Russo took his political interests to a higher level, running for governor of the state of Nevada as a Republican. Placing second in the Republican primary with 26% of the vote to candidate Kenny Guinn, Russo later endorsed the Democratic nominee, then-Las Vegas mayor Jan Laverty Jones, who would eventually lose to Guinn. Russo was planning to run again for Nevada governor in 2002 as either an independent or Libertarian but was sidelined by cancer.

In January 2004, Russo declared his candidacy for the President of the United States initially as an independent but then as a Libertarian. At the Libertarian National Convention in May 2004, Russo received 258 votes to Michael Badnarik's 256 votes and Gary Nolan's 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 February 14, 2004, Russo gave his full endorsement to the Free State Project, saying in his letter, "I encourage my fellow Libertarians and all freedom-loving Americans to consider joining the Free State Project."[4]

In 2007, Russo created the political grassroots organization, Restore the Republic, 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".

Aaron Russo Gold Commemorative Memorial Piece
The Aaron Russo Gold Commemorative Memorial Piece.


On August 24, 2007, Russo died at the age of 64 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.[5]


  1. ^ Mahoney, John C. (November 1979). "Bette Midler in "The Rose"". Bette on the Boards. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2007.
  2. ^ "Aaron Russo". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  3. ^ "Vengeful investor and cheating wife testify in trial". Reuters.
  4. ^ "Aaron Russo endorses the Free State Project". Archived from the original on October 11, 2004. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  5. ^ Former Bette Midler manager and film producer dies at 64 The Associated Press. August 26, 2007.

External links

1998 Nevada gubernatorial election

The Nevada gubernatorial election of 1998 occurred on November 3, 1998. Incumbent Democratic governor Bob Miller was term-limited. Republican candidate Kenny Guinn defeated Democratic candidate Jan Laverty Jones to become Governor of Nevada.

2004 Libertarian National Convention

The 2004 Libertarian National Convention was held from May 28 to May 31, 2004 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The delegates at the convention, on behalf of the U.S. Libertarian Party, nominated Michael Badnarik for the presidency and Richard Campagna for the vice-presidency in the 2004 presidential election. The convention was televised nationally on C-SPAN.

Libertarians hold a National Convention every two years to vote on party bylaws, platform and resolutions and elect national party officers and a judicial committee. Every four years it nominates presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Coming Out (album)

Coming Out is the third album by The Manhattan Transfer, released August 19, 1976 on Atlantic Records.

On the advice of their manager Aaron Russo, the group downplayed the "nostalgic" tenor of their previous breakthrough album in favor of more contemporary songs. However, the throwback single "Chanson d'Amour" became a breakout single in Europe and hit the No. 1 spot in the United Kingdom for three weeks (as well as charting elsewhere in Europe).The song "Zindy Lou" featured Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner on drums, Dr. John on piano, and Doug Thorngren on percussion. The song "Poinciana (The Song of the Tree)" featured a solo by Michael Brecker.

Gary Nolan (radio host)

Gary P. Nolan (born 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American talk radio host and a former candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States.From 1994 to 1998, Nolan hosted USA Radio Daily on the USA Radio Network. From 1998 to 2002, he hosted Nolan at Night on 65 U.S. affiliates of the Radio America Network. He also served as the volunteer President of the conservative group CapitolWatch from 1997 through 1999. Nolan currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for DownsizeDC.org.At the end of 2002, he resigned from Nolan at Night to seek the Libertarian nomination for president, facing fellow candidates Michael Badnarik and Aaron Russo. Nolan had to resign from his radio show due to a law that prohibits candidates for office making an income while discussing their political views. Nolan pledged to run a practical campaign of reaching out to moderate voters and Republicans dissatisfied with the Bush presidency, particularly in his home swing state of Ohio. Nolan ran as an opponent of the United States Patriot Act, the income tax and foreign military bases, calling for bringing home American troops.For most of the campaign, Nolan led the field of candidates in primaries and state conventions. In a closely contested race, Nolan placed third and was eliminated following the second ballot at the May, 2004 Libertarian National Convention. Nolan then encouraged his delegates to support Badnarik, who won the nomination on the next ballot.

Gary Nolan hosted a radio show called The Drive with Gary Nolan in the afternoons on Columbia, Missouri, talk radio station KSSZ "The Eagle 93.9". In February 2010 he began hosting WXTL's "Big Talker" 105.9 in Syracuse, New York, between 4 and 7pm. Nolan left WXTL in April 2011 to return to KSSZ "The Eagle 93.9" to begin a nationally syndicated program.

Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy has been awarded annually since 1952 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

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 N. Clark Street (NW corner of Clark and Lawrence). The building was constructed in 1928 and at one time included a dance hall, entertainment center, and ice and roller skating rinks, all known as Rainbo Gardens.Russo was sued by the owners of the Electric Circus in New York City, and changed the club's name a few months after the Chicago club's opening, just prior to the performance of Nova Express and Little Boy Blues on August 9–11, 1968.The club became a driving force in the music business, hosting famous rock bands and musicians such as The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Byrds, Janis Joplin, Coven, The Mothers of Invention, The Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck Group, Eric Burdon, The Small Faces, MC5, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Buffy Saint Marie, Fleetwood Mac, Rotary Connection, Savoy Brown, Vanilla Fudge, Muddy Waters, and Jefferson Airplane.The interior of the venue was featured in the film Medium Cool (1969). The movie was filmed on location during the 1968 Democratic Convention and many members of the Playground crew were hired as extras.

Iron Butterfly, Poco, and King Crimson had been booked for a three-night gig at the Kinetic Playground on November 7, 8, and 9, 1969, but a small fire took place in the venue between acts at the November 7 performance. The remaining dates for this line-up were cancelled. The Kinetic Playground later reopened, without the elaborate light show of its earlier incarnation, in late December 1972, but closed in June 1973 due to neighbors' complaints about the behavior of concertgoers as well as code compliance issues. In 1975 it planned to reopen as the Emerald Isle Discothèque, but apparently never opened its doors again.The building was demolished for condominiums in 2003. There is no relationship between the 1968-69 Kinetic Playground and the venue by the same name that operated until 2011 at 1113 W. Lawrence in Chicago, not far from the original. Aaron Russo went on to become Bette Midler's manager.

Michael Badnarik 2004 presidential campaign

The 2004 presidential campaign of Michael Badnarik, software engineer and candidate for the Texas legislature in 2000 and 2002, began on February 17, 2003, three months after starting an exploratory committee on November 17, 2002. He spent over a year traveling the country, totaling over 25,000 miles prior to the 2004 Libertarian National Convention. On the second night (May 29th) of the Convention, he participated in a debate with the other Libertarian candidates, broadcast on C-SPAN. The next day, the nomination for the Party began, with a candidate needing over 50% of the 778 votes cast. On the first ballot, Badnarik finished 2nd with 256 votes to Aaron Russo (film producer turned political activist who had outspent him 3 to 1 the month before) by two votes, while finishing 10 votes above Gary Nolan (former talk radio host), with none of them having over 50%. On the 2nd ballot, Russo received 285 votes to Badnarik's 249, with Nolan at 244. Badnarik was endorsed by Nolan prior to the third round of voting between him and Russo. On the third ballot, he received 423 votes to Russo's 344, clinching the nomination with 54.37% of the votes cast. Richard Campagna (who had run for lieutenant governor of Iowa in 2002) was soon chosen as his running mate. After the victory, he stated, "If I can win the nomination, there's no reason I can't win this election."The ticket gained ballot access in 48 states and in the District of Columbia, with write-in access in New Hampshire.

Missing Pieces (film)

Missing Pieces is a 1992 comedy film directed and written by Leonard Stern. Eric Idle plays a former greeting-card writer whose possible inheritance causes him great distress.

Newton Thomas Sigel

Newton Thomas Sigel, A.S.C. (born August 1955) is an American cinematographer best known for his collaborations with director Bryan Singer on films like The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, and the X-Men film franchise.

Partners (1982 film)

Partners is a 1982 American gay-themed buddy comedy film directed by James Burrows and starring Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt as a mismatched pair of cops.

Rude Awakening (film)

Rude Awakening is a 1989 comedy film directed by David Greenwalt and Aaron Russo.

Ruso (disambiguation)

Ruso may refer to:

Ruso, North Dakota, city in McLean County, North Dakota, United States

Aaron ruso or Aaron Russo (1943–2007), American entertainment businessman, film producer and director, and political activist

Darko Ruso (born 1962), Serbian professional basketball coach

Ruso Flores or Andrés Flores (born 1990), Salvadoran footballer

Pamphila ruso, a butterfly in the family Hesperiidae

Teachers (film)

Teachers is a 1984 American satirical comedy-drama film written by W. R. McKinney, directed by Arthur Hiller, and starring Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, and Judd Hirsch. It was shot in Columbus, Ohio, mostly at the former Central High School.

The Bette Midler Show

The Bette Midler Show is an HBO video special of one of Bette Midler's tours entitled "The Depression Tour," shot at the Cleveland Music Hall during February 1976 and also issued on Midler's album Live at Last.

The show features many of Bette's popular songs, such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", "Friends", "In The Mood", "Hello In There", and "Lullaby of Broadway" As well as dazzling the audience with her spontaneous wit with her 'Wonderful Sophie Tucker Jokes' and her special 'The Vicki Eydie Show'.

The original HBO broadcast ran 134 minutes, including material from both of her Cleveland performances and a 5-minute intermission. When it was released on VHS, Betamax and CED Videodisc in 1984 by Embassy Home Video, it was severely shortened to 84-minutes. Performances of "Birds," "Shiver Me Timbers," the entire "Story of Nanette," a Harlettes-only musical number and countless jokes were removed.

The special has never officially been issued on DVD, but bootlegs are rampant and clips from both versions have surfaced on YouTube.

The Rose (film)

The Rose is a 1979 American 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. The film stars Bette Midler, Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Primus, and David Keith.The story is loosely based on the life of singer Janis Joplin. Originally titled Pearl, after Joplin's nickname, and the title of her last album, it was fictionalized after her family declined to allow the producers the rights to her story. It was written by Bill Kerby and Bo Goldman from a story by Bill Kerby, and directed by Mark Rydell.The Rose was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Bette Midler, in her screen debut), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Frederic Forrest), Best Film Editing and Best Sound.Midler performed the soundtrack album for the film, and the title track became one of her biggest hit singles.

Trading Places

Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis and 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. Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, and Jamie Lee Curtis also star. The storyline is often called a modern take on Mark Twain's classic 19th-century novel The Prince and the Pauper.

The film was written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod and was produced by Aaron Russo. It was released to theaters in North America on June 8, 1983, where it was distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film earned over $90 million during its theatrical run in the United States, finishing as the fourth highest earning film of the year and the second highest earning R-rated film of 1983.

Denholm Elliott and Jamie Lee Curtis won the awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively, at the 37th British Academy Film Awards. The film was nominated for several additional awards including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 41st Golden Globe Awards.

Wise Guys (1986 film)

Wise Guys is a 1986 black Mafia comedy film directed by Brian De Palma and produced by Aaron Russo from a screenplay written by George Gallo and Norman Steinberg. It stars Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo as two small-time mobsters from Newark, New Jersey, and features Harvey Keitel, Ray Sharkey, Lou Albano, Dan Hedaya, and Frank Vincent.

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