Russell honed comedic tastes at The Varsity

Q: Wasn’t Nipsey Russell, the comedian who was in a lot of shows, from Atlanta? Didn’t he used to work at The Varsity as a carhop?

—Eddie Webster, Douglasville

A: Have you ever said something that unintentionally rhymed?

If we did that growing up, we’d quickly add: “I’m a poet and didn’t know it.”

Well, Russell was a poet. And he knew it.

His knack for rhyming was one of his many gifts and later became his signature as his comedic and acting career grew into numerous TV appearances and roles.

Russell, whose real first name was Julius, died in 2005.

He was from Atlanta and was a carhop at The Varsity, where his carhop No. 46 is retired, a restaurant spokeswoman said.

His career went from playing clubs in New York to spots on TV shows, including “The Tonight Show.” Russell had a role on “Car 54, Where Are You?” in the early 1960s and later became a popular guest on many variety and game shows, including “Match Game,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Hollywood Squares.”

There was even an appearance on “The Love Boat” in 1980.

Russell was the Tin Man in “The Wiz,” which also starred Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, and I remember him in “Wildcats,” a 1986 flick where Goldie Hawn plays a high school football coach.

There are several tributes to Russell on YouTube if you want to check him out in his rhyme prime.

Q: You sometimes answer questions about the origins of county and city names around the state. The city of Palmetto, south of Atlanta, has an interesting name. How did it come to be known as that?

A: I'm always curious about how Georgia's counties and cities earned their names.

I’ve found many have been named for famous folks — war heroes, politicians or businessmen — or a person of local importance, such as a town’s first postmaster, store owner or railroad exec.

And originally, Palmetto fell into this category.

It was called Johnson’s Store (for a postmaster) from 1833 until 1847, according to the city’s website.

That’s when a unit of soldiers from South Carolina passed through there on its way to fight in the Mexican War.

“They said the community reminded them of their state, the Palmetto State,” the website states, so the town was renamed Palmetto.

Palmetto, which is at the southern end of Fulton County, was incorporated in 1853.