Russell's career began onstage after attending the School of International Ballet in London on scholarship. Among his credits are touring with Ny Norsk Ballet, appearing in a tour of Annie Get Your Gun, and ultimately a period with the Garrick Players in 1951.
Russell received an Oscar nomination for his film version of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, which starred Alan Bates, Glenda Jackson, and Oliver Reed.
His many other film credits include his adaptation of Sandy Wilson's musical The Boyfriend, with Tommy Tune and Twiggy, The Devils, The Music Lovers, Altered States, Tommy, Gothic, and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
He is survived by his wife, actress LIsi Tribble and five children.