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Al Ruscio

Updated on June 2, 2016
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I'm a fan of classic TV shows and films. My articles focus on the character actors and actress who usually played supporting roles.

Bio Stats

Born: 2 June 1924 (Salem, Massachusetts, USA)

Died: 12 November 2013 (Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Film and TV Appearances: 186+

Years Active: 1958 - 1968; 1975 - 2011

MacGyver (1985-1992)

as Paul Webber in the episode "Back from the Dead" (season 3)
as Paul Webber in the episode "Back from the Dead" (season 3)

Early Life

Alfred Ruscio was born in 1924 to parents who had an Italian heritage. During World War Two he served in the US Army Air Corps and fought in the Battle of D-Day.

After the war, he studied acting at Staley School of the Broken Word in Brookline, Massachusetts before moving to New York City. For two years he trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.

In 1954, he married actress Kate Williamson and in 1958 they moved to Los Angeles where Ruscio began his on-screen career.

Bonanza (1959-1973)

as Vaca in the episode "The Last Viking" (season 2)
as Vaca in the episode "The Last Viking" (season 2)

Film

Ruscio acted in very few films compared to his television appearances. The films he appeared in were Al Capone (1959); The Music Box Kid (1960); Deadline for Murder (1964); Fever Heat (1968); The Hunter (1980); Any Which Way You Can (1980); Deadly Force (1983); Jagged Edge (1985); Medium Rare (1987); Blood Red (1989); Romero (1989); Cage (1989); The Godfather: Part III (1990); Guilty by Suspicion (1991); Future Kick (1991); I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore (1992); The Silence of the Hams (1994); Showgirls (1995); Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995); The Phantom (1996); Complete Guide to Guys (2005); The Gift: At Risk (2007); Fragments (2008); and Goy (2011).

Diagnosis Murder (1993-2002)

as John Strega in the episode "Sister Michael Wants You" (season 1)
as John Strega in the episode "Sister Michael Wants You" (season 1)

Television

Made for Television movies and mini-series he appeared in were Martinelli, Outside Man (1977); Ruby and Oswald (1978); A Rumor of War (1980); The People vs. Jean Harris (1981); Farrell for the People (1982); Rocco's Star (1985); Home Free (1988); Lady Mobster (1988); War and Remembrance (1988); Stop at Nothing (1991); Dead Silence (1991); The Heroes of Desert Storm (1991); and The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon (1998).

The TV shows he had a regular role in were...

  • Shannon (1981-1982) as Paul Lokatelli (9 episodes)
  • Life Goes On (1989-1993) as Sal Giordano (10 episodes)
  • Joe's Life (1993) as Frank Ruscio

Some of the TV shows he guest starred on were U.S. Marshal; Gunsmoke; Sea Hunt; The Aquanauts; The Case of the Dangerous Robin; Peter Gunn; The Lawless Years; The Detectives; The Untouchables; 77 Sunset Strip; Baretta; The Invisible Man; The Rockford Files; Kojak; Starsky and Hutch; Lou Grant; Barney Miller; Falcon Crest; St. Elsewhere; Crazy Like a Fox; Hill Street Blues; Night Court; Scarecrow and Mrs. King; Cagney & Lacey; Santa Barbara; Hunter; Fired Up; The X-Files; Manhattan, AZ; First Monday; 7th Heaven; and Medium Rare.

Stage and Other Work

Throughout his acting career, Ruscio appeared in many stage plays and performed with many theatre companies. Some of the companies he worked for were...

  • New England Shakespeare Festival (during college)
  • North Shore Players (during college)

He performed in summer stock as well as a number of touring companies. Some of the stage plays he acted in were After the Fall; King Lear; The Merchant of Venice; Geniuses; A Hatful of Rain; The Country Girl; Arsenic and Old Lace; Heaven Can Wait; Tribute; The Geography of Luck; A View from the Bridge; and Don Juan in Hell.

In 1985 he won the LA Weekly Award for his role in Mizlansky/Zilinsky. He also won Drama-Logue Awards for his performances in They Knew What They Wanted and The Man in the Glass Booth.

In the 1960s, Ruscio took a break from acting to teach drama at various universities and colleges. He created the drama department at Midwestern College in Denison, Iowa where he taught for 5 years He also worked as the professor of acting at the University of Windsor in Canada and as Artistic Director of the Academy of Dramatic Art at Oakland (Michigan) University.

Every scene or action or speech has a ‘so therefore.’ It is the goal, the ultimate statement of the character. You should know the so therefore as you begin your scene.… The climax and the payoff is the ‘so therefore.’

— Al Ruscio

In later years, Ruscio served on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild and was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He continued to teach acting in colleges and ran many workshops. In 2012 he published his book on acting "So Therefore... A Practical Guide for Actors."

Al Ruscio died on 12 November 2013 after a long period of declining health. He was buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. His wife Kate Williamson died shortly after on 6 December 2013.

Ruscio and his wife had three daughters and one son.

So Therefore... A Practical Guide For Actors

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