Willy Russell

Screenwriter, Composer, Singer
It has been said that before one can become a worthy writer, one should have "life experience. " If that be so, Willy Russell did what it takes to become a writer. Not unlike the character of Rita (nee Susan) in ... Read more »
Born: 08/23/1947 in Lancashire, England, GB

Filmography

Writer (5)

Dancin' Thru the Dark 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shirley Valentine 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shirley Valentine 1989 (Movie)

("Shirley Valentine") (Play as Source Material)

Educating Rita 1983 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Educating Rita 1983 (Movie)

("Educating Rita") (Play as Source Material)
Music (4)

Dancin' Thru the Dark 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

Dancin' Thru the Dark 1990 (Movie)

songs("Town Tonight" "So Many People" "Shoeshine" "Dancin' Thru the Dark" "Once in a Lifetime") (Song)

Shirley Valentine 1989 (Movie)

(Music)

Mr. Love 1986 (Movie)

(Music)
Actor (1)

Dancin' Thru the Dark 1990 (Movie)

Sourface (Actor)

Biography

It has been said that before one can become a worthy writer, one should have "life experience. " If that be so, Willy Russell did what it takes to become a writer. Not unlike the character of Rita (nee Susan) in "Educating Rita," his hit comedy play which became a film, Russell came from decidedly "working class" roots. His father and mother sold fish-and-chips, and Russell left school at age 15 becoming a ladies' hairdresser (as "Rita" was) and warehouse laborer. Although he was also performing and composing folk music with a group called the Kirbytown Three, it was not until 1969 that Russell began to attend college. He had his first play, "Keep Your Eyes Down" produced in Liverpool in 1971 while he was still a student. Upon receiving an education degree in 1973, he taught school. But the theatre still had an allure, and Russell had several other plays produced in Liverpool until his Beatles send-up, "John, Paul, George, Ringo...and Bert" was moved from Liverpool to the West End of London in 1974 and won the London Theatre Critics Award. Russell left teaching school behind and became the writer-in-residence at C.F. Mott College of Education in Liverpool and then at Manchester Polytechnic.

Relationships

Parent

Daughter
has two

Son

Ann Seagroatt

Wife
married in 1969

EDUCATION

Childwall College of Further Education

1969 - 1970

St Katherine's College of Higher Education

1973
Certificate of Education

Milestones

1989

Had second Broadway hit, "Shirley Valentine"; also wrote screenplay

1983

Wrote first screenplay, an adaptation of "Educating Rita"

1981

Named associate director, then honorary director of Liverpool Playhouse

1980

Won international success with "Educating Rita"

1976

Named writer-in-residence, C.F. Mott College of Education, Liverpool

1974

Had first play produced in London, "John, Paul, George, Ringo...and Bert"; also had first song published, "I Will Be Your Love"

1970

Wrote first produced play, "Keep Your Eyes Down"

1965

Performed with Kirbytown Three, a folksinging group; also composed songs for the trio

1963

Worked as hairdresser

Served as fellow in creative writing at Manchester Polytechnics

Worked as a teacher

Worked as laborer at a warehouse

Bonus Trivia

.

In 1983, Russell was awarded an Honorary M.A. degree from the Open University program in recognition of his work as a playwright. The Open University program is the one through which both Russell and his fictional alter-ego, Rita, earned their undergraduate degrees.

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