You might not know Russell Campbell, but chances are you’ve seen his “vision” appear in thousands of movies, television shows and commercials. Although Campbell has worked on a number of blockbusters and Oscar-nominated films, he surprisingly has a limited number of IMDb entries. He isn’t a movie specials effects magician, a studio head or agent. Rather, this humble 48-year-old Detroit native is the owner of Old Focals, a vintage eyewear retail shop he runs out of a converted garage in Pasadena, Calif.
For more than 20 years, Campbell has also left his eyewear mark on thousands of actors in Hollywood. He has provided time period style specs for movies including JFK, Forrest Gump, Catch Me If You Can, J. Edgar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the remake of Ocean’s Eleven, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He has also worked on the television shows, Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, and That ‘70s Show, among others.
In fact, Campbell has worked on so many productions over the years he literally has lost count of all the titles he’s been a part of. One thing Campbell would never lose sight of is where each of the thousands of different pairs of glasses sits in white boxes inside his storage facilities. Each box is meticulously labeled and contains hundreds of pairs. It is here that Campbell fills orders for prop masters, directors and actors looking to get the right look and feel for their productions.
Campbell first started buying glasses in his early 20s – after he had a dream about a man wearing a cool pair of sunglasses. Campbell complimented the man’s glasses to which he replied, “Oh, these old focals?,” before giving them to him. From then on, Campbell would comb garage sales, the Salvation Army and other thrift shops for old glasses. Of the glasses that weren’t in mint condition, Campbell would fix their hinges using pieces from the same time period, polish them up and bring them back to life. He also obtained new old stock from optical shops – most of which were happy to let go at reasonable prices.