b. Jan 14, 1908, Philadelphia, PA, USA. d. Sept. 2, 1934, Hollywood, CA, USA.
Russ began his career as a violinist playing background music on the Silent movie sets. In 1928, he got a job in the Gus Arnheim Orchestra. Both Bing Crosby and Russ Columbo worked in the Gus Arnheim Orch., - Bing was a vocalist, - Russ was a violinist. Also in 1928, Russ made his movie debut with the Arnheim orchestra. He recorded his own records starting in 1931. He cut his last record on August 31, 1934, just two days before his tragic, accidental death.
For a short while Russ led a good dance band that had a few jazz-oriented sidemen, such as Gene Krupa. Russ' singing voice was quite unique and he became the darling of the ladies. His fame might well have surpassed Bing's had he lived. He is remembered today only for his crooning, not for his fiddle playing or his band.
Columbo was on the road to becoming a motion picture star when, in 1934, a fatal accident cut short his career. Russ was visiting a friend who used a set of ancient dueling pistols as paper-weights. Thinking the guns to be unloaded, his friend struck a match against one of the pistols while lighting a cigarette. When the gun fired, the bullet ricocheted off a desk striking Russ Columbo in the head.
During his brief, spectacular four year career - 1931-34 - Columbo appeared in three films and had a hand in writing several songs. Virtually all of Russ' recordings became some of the most popular songs of the early 1930's. Among his best-known recordings are:
1931 "Prisoner of Love"
1931 "You Call It Madness", his theme song.
1931 "Sweet and Lovely"
and others include:
"All of Me"
"You're My Everything"
On August 31, 1934, just two days before his death, he recorded:
"I See Two Lovers"