Nipsey Robbed On Deathbed?

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(Nipsey Russell, right, robbed while dying?)

This is a sad story.

“While Nipsey Russell lay dying from cancer in Lenox Hill Hospital, he was being robbed by people whom he had trusted for more than 30 years,� claims his companion of 23 years, Robbi Robinson, of the beloved comedian, who died of cancer on October 2, 2005.
A police report sets forth the details of Robinson’s complaint. A police investigation, which has already led to one arrest, has been launched into items stolen from his apartment in a midtown residential hotel, where he had lived for more than three decades.

Robinson had moved into the hospital with Russell for the final days of his life. She first became suspicious of foul play a few weeks before Russell’s death, when she says his manager, Joe Rapp, stopped taking her phone calls. At that time Russell, dubbed the "The Poet Laureate of Television" for his unique poetic comedy, suggested to her that Rapp was furious at having been left out of his will, she asserts. She said that Russell told her that in his opinion his manager already owed him a considerable amount of money, specifying the amount.

Only two people besides Russell and she had keys to his apartment, Robinson claimed. On entering the apartment after his death she knew right away that there had been a robbery. A file that Russell told her, “if anything should happen to me, make sure you put your hands on this first,� was missing. That file contained a copy of his will, a list of personal financial instructions, tens of thousands of dollars in bearer bonds, the deed to Robinson’s apartment, which he had purchased for her across from him on 57th Street, and other valuable items.

Also missing were personal letters from luminaries such as Wayne Newton, Langston Hughes, Red Skelton; artistic works, including a radio series, tapes of such jazz greats as Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald and tapes of Juvenile Jury, a TV series he had written, produced and starred in for BET; as well as other valuables. 

Robinson filed charges with police, presenting evidence to substantiate her claims. Missing cameras were found in the possession of a former Russell employee, Peggy Chane, who was arrested in May. Others close to the comedian are under suspicion regarding other missing items. Contrary to reports at the time of his death that he was nonsocial and isolated, Russell and Robinson enjoyed a very active social life with their many friends, among whom were doctors, lawyers, judges, as well as other show business friends and admirers.

Much fun was had by all when the comedian acted as emcee and exchanged banter and poetic commentaries with Robinson between musical numbers at her New York appearances. These nights were reminiscent of their international touring act, “Music and Merriment,� in which Robinson opened with music and Russell concluded with his comedic poetry.

Russell appeared on television on “Laugh-In,� “The Dean Martin Show,� “To Tell the Truth,� and “The Tonight Show;� on Broadway in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Hello Dolly;" and in films, such as "Car 54, Where Are You?� and "The Wiz."

Robinson is hopeful that with the help of God and the cooperation of good people that the stolen items will be recovered. She is planning to publish a book of original poems left to her by Russell and believes it will be the capstone of his artistic legacy. Robinson and some of his dearest friends are organizing an October tribute to the legendary comedian at the Friars Club.

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