CLGA Digital Collections

CLGA's Digital Collections

Explore highlights from the CLGA’s collections of personal and organizational papers, artefacts, ephemera and more!

Craig Russell (1948-1990)



Dublin Core


Craig Russell (1948-1990)


Craig Russell, Canadian female impersonator, stage actor and entertainer, writer and movie star, was born in Toronto. At 13, Mr. Russell formed the Mae West International Fan Club and by 15, he made the first of several trips to California to work for West while perfecting his impersonations of her. A high school dropout, he worked as a professional hairdresser while performing his female impersonations at gay clubs in Toronto. Others in his repertoire included Miss Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand.

He performed in both North American and European circuits gathering many fans. The loosely, autobiographical film, Outrageous, in 1977 provided Russell a vehicle for his impersonations making him an international star and winning a Silver Bear Award for Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival in 1978. In the 1970s and 1980s, Russell toured extensively and returned to Toronto in 1982 to film Too Outrageous!

Craig Russell lived a tumultuous life complicated with mental illness, alcoholism and AIDS; but, his stage and screen persona served as a role model to female impersonators and drag queens around the world. (2001 Induction Statement)

Travesti, comédien, artiste de la scène, écrivain, vedette de cinéma et fondateur (à 13 ans) du Mae West International Fan Club


James Huctwith


Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives




Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: 27 x 35 cm (W x H)




James Huctwith , “Craig Russell (1948-1990),” CLGA Digital Collections, accessed June 20, 2018,