Russell worked the nightclub circuit with Milton Berle and Norm Crosby. He parlayed his comic act to TV playing Happy the Clown, whose moniker was changed to Colonel Clown in New Haven, Conn., in the 1950s.
Russell served in WWII and later made giving back an integral part of his life; he established a local chapter of American Red Magen David for Israel and led 51 tours to Israel.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Josi, four sons and a daughter.
Donations may be sent in his name to American Friends of Magen David Odom at afmda.org.