October 04, 2005 at 07:04 PM EDT

Actor and comedian Nipsey Russell, who died of cancer on Sunday, scored his biggest roles playing the Tinman in the 1978 musical The Wiz, alongside Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, and as a police officer on the series Car 54 Where Are You?, but he sustained a decades-long career on stage and screen mostly by just being himself. Russell’s smart comic stylings, often presented in rhyme form, landed him regular appearances on The Tonight Show, Toast of the Town, The Dean Martin Show, The $50,000 Pyramid, and To Tell the Truth, among other series, and earned him the title ”poet laureate of television.” The Seattle Times printed one of the Russell’s verses today, to accompany its obituary of the comedian, and it bears repeating here:

The opposite of pro is con;
That fact is clearly seen;
If progress means move forward,
Then what does Congress mean?

addCredit(“Nipsey Russell: Tina Fineberg/AP”)

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