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Who Is Bill Russell Wife? A Closer Look at the Late Icon’s Personal Life

The talks regarding Bill Russell’s wife were something that we were expecting after Netflix dropped the two-part documentary “Bill Russell: Legend.” Telling the story of the NBA will only feel right if the history of the icon Bill Russell is included. Bill Russell, a basketball legend who played for the Boston Celtics, was not only famous for his talent but also for his relationships with various wives throughout his life. Although he passed away at the age of 88 on July 31st, 2022, his legacy and career still make him an icon in the basketball world.

To truly delve into the history and achievements of Bill Russell would require more than one article. However, in this article, we will focus on providing insights into Bill Russell’s personal life, specifically his wives. Let’s take a closer look at each of his marriages and the women who played significant roles in his life.


Bill Russell, a pioneer in basketball, contributed to the dominance of the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s. His remarkable career and impact on the sport have piqued fans’ interest in his personal life, particularly his marital relationships.

1. Bill Russell’s Last Wife – Jeannie Russell

Jeannie Russell was Bill Russell’s wife at the time of his death. They got married on December 8th, 2018, and throughout their relationship, Bill often expressed his love for her publicly. This was Bill’s fourth marriage. The couple even dressed up as Bacon and Eggs for Halloween, showing their playful side. They were frequently seen together at NBA games, sitting courtside and enjoying the sport they both loved.

Jeannie Russell, apart from being Bill Russell’s wife, had a successful career as a professional golfer. She participated in the Canadian Women’s Tour in British Columbia and the Ontario tournament, securing respectable positions. Despite her own achievements, she always made sure to spend quality time with Bill, even baking a cake for him on his 85th birthday. The couple also showed support for the LGBTQ community, displaying their shared values.

2. Bill Russell’s Third Wife – Marilyn Nault

Marilyn Nault was Bill Russell’s third wife. They married in 1996, just two days after Russell’s birthday. Marilyn, born on January 15th, 1950, was sixteen years younger than Bill. As a jewelry salesperson, she had to adjust to the limelight that came with being married to a prominent figure like Bill Russell. Unfortunately, Marilyn Nault passed away from cancer, which deeply affected Bill.

Before her death, the NBA commissioner informed Marilyn Nault about the decision to name the Finals MVP award after Bill Russell, bringing her joy in a difficult time. Following her passing, Bill remained single and devoted his life to supporting various cancer charities.

3. Bill Russell’s Second Wife – Rose Swisher

Rose Swisher was Bill Russell’s second wife. After four years of separation from his first marriage, Bill surprised the public by marrying Rose. Born on June 28th, 1947, Rose was a former Miss USA contestant and a beauty queen. She achieved the second position in the 1967 Miss Washington pageant and later won the title of Miss Washington USA in 1968.

Rose Swisher represented the USA at the Miss Universe 1968 pageant and finished as the fourth runner-up. In 1977, she became Bill Russell’s wife. However, their marriage ended in separation in 1980.

4. Bill Russell’s First Wife – Rose Swisher

Bill Russell’s first wife was also Rose Swisher. They tied the knot on December 9th, 1956, and were college sweethearts. Rose provided unwavering support to Bill throughout his NBA success. The couple had three children together: Karen Russell, William Jr., and Jacob.

After almost two decades of marriage, they officially parted ways in 1973. Following their separation, Rose preferred to stay away from the limelight. Tragically, she passed away on September 11th, 2014, at the age of 78, a few years before Bill Russell’s death.


Bill Russell, with his exceptional basketball career, forever etched his name in NBA history. However, it is important to recognize and appreciate the personal aspects of his life, including his marriages. From Jeannie Russell, his last wife who stood by his side until his final moments, to Marilyn Nault, who faced cancer bravely, and Rose Swisher, who supported him through his early success, each of these women played a significant role in Bill Russell’s personal journey.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of Bill Russell’s life, we encourage you to watch the Netflix documentary released on February 8th, 2023. It delves deeper into the life of this iconic NBA figure.


1. How many wives did Bill Russell have? Bill Russell had four wives throughout his life: Rose Swisher (twice), Marilyn Nault, Rose Swisher (second time), and Jeannie Russell.

2. Who was Bill Russell’s last wife? Jeannie Russell was Bill Russell’s last wife. They married on December 8th, 2018, and remained together until Bill’s passing.

3. Did any of Bill Russell’s wives have notable careers? Yes, Jeannie Russell had a successful career as a professional golfer, participating in various tournaments. Rose Swisher, Bill’s second wife, was a former Miss USA contestant and beauty queen.

4. How did Marilyn Nault pass away? Marilyn Nault, Bill Russell’s third wife, passed away due to cancer. Her death had a profound impact on Bill Russell’s life.

5. How many children did Bill Russell have? Bill Russell had three children with his first wife, Rose Swisher: Karen Russell, William Jr., and Jacob.


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