Providing home enthusiasts nationwide with award-winning programming, Russell Morash has been called the father of “how-to” and “know-how” television. As the founder of This Old House in 1979, he introduced the premier home improvement television series to America and continues to inspire a legion of homeowners who never knew they could do it themselves.
“Who could have imagined that the home improvement television idea would develop into an entire industry,” says Russ. “But given the fact that a person’s home is likely his or her most valuable asset, it may explain why so many viewers still depend on This Old House.”
Russ, whose forebears were carpenters and shipwrights, conceived the idea of This Old House in 1976 while remodeling his own home. The first 13-week This Old House series, featuring the renovation of a Victorian home in the Dorchester area of Boston, set a new ratings record for WGBH when it was broadcast locally in 1979. The series aired nationally on PBS the following season and quickly became a perennial favorite.
Prior to tackling home renovation, in 1963 Russ teamed up with a budding cookbook author with an unmistakable accent and a marvelous sense of humor to create The French Chef with Julia Child. For the next 30 years Russ and Julia created a number of cooking classics for television, which continue to represent the gold standard of that genre.
In 1975, Russ teamed with Jim Crockett to begin Crockett’s Victory Garden, later The Victory Garden, a televised gardening adventure which continued for 30 years until Russ hung up his trowel in 2003. From 1989 through 2009, he also served as executive producer and director of The New Yankee Workshop, which featured the craftsmanship of host Norm Abram.
Along the way, Russ has accumulated 14 national Emmy Awards, including 11 for “Outstanding Director of a Service Show.” And in 2014, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Russ a Lifetime Achievement Emmy for his many contributions. In 2018, he was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Russ is a “fellow” of the National Association of Garden Writers and has been honored with the prestigious George Robert White Medal for 2005 by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, Russ trained as a theater director at Boston University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1957. He joined the WGBH staff that same year, and in 1958, was made a producer/director.
Russ lives with his wife, Marian, formerly known as The Victory Garden’s “Chef Marian,” in an 1851 farmhouse they restored 30 years ago and plan to tackle again when they find the time.