Boy, you ought to see me open a bottle of beer.Born on this date in 1914 in Nova Scotia, Harold Russell, pictured at right with the two Oscars he won in 1947 for a single role, in Best Years of Our Lives. Though he was Canadian-born and raised, he was living in the US and working as a meatcutter when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941; he joined the Army the very next day. While making a training film in 1944, a defective fuse blew up and both hands had to be amputated. He used hooks thereafter, with a grace that, by all accounts, dispelled dubious onlookers' concerns.
--"Homer Parrish," as played by Harold Russell
Russell appeared in an Army documentary about rehabilitation, Diary of a Sergeant, while he was a student at Boston University. He was spotted by director William Wyler, and cast to play a disabled veteran in The Best Years of Our Lives. He won two Oscars for the role: one a "special" Oscar for "bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans," and one for Best Supporting Actor, as voted by the Academy. After the hubbub surrounding his Oscar wins, Russell returned to Boston University and finished a degree in business.
Russell published an autobiography, Victory in my Hands (1949). For many years he was National Commander of the American Veterans (AMVETS), and chaired the President's Commission on the Employment of the Handicapped.