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Russ Meyer

1922 – 2004

Russell Albion Meyer was born in San Leandro, California, on 21 March 1922, the son of Lydia Lucinda and William Arthur Meyer, an Oakland police officer.

His parents divorced soon after he was born, and when he was 14 years old, his mother pawned her wedding ring in order to buy him an 8mm film camera.

He served during World War II as a US Army combat cameraman for the 166th Signal Photo Company, ultimately attaining the rank of staff sergeant.


On his return to civilian life, he was unable to secure cinematography work in Hollywood due to a lack of industry connections so he made industrial films, freelanced as a still photographer for mainstream films (including Giant), and became a well-known glamour photographer.

As the director of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966), Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970) and Supervixens (1975), Meyer couldn’t have been more clear about his obsession: top-heavy actresses. His films were considered pornographic in their time but contained little graphic sex, with their focus on violence and large-busted women.

Altogether he produced, directed, financed, wrote, edited and shot at least 23 films, including his debut The Immoral Mr Teas (1959) and the 1968 film, Vixen, whose success earned him notice from major studios.

In later years, his movies were discussed in classes at Yale and Harvard and purchased by such respectable institutions as the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Meyer died on 18 September 2004 at his home in the Hollywood Hills, aged 82. He had suffered from dementia and died of complications of pneumonia.