‘Seinfeld’ Actor Al Ruscio Dead at 89

'Seinfeld' Actor Al Ruscio Dead at 89

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Ruscio's decades-long career also included roles in “The Godfather: Part II” and “Life Goes On”

Actor Al Ruscio, whose lengthy resume included roles  on “Seinfeld,” “Santa Barbara,” “7th Heaven” and many other series, died Tuesday, Ruscio's longtime manager Judy Fox told TheWrap on Thursday. He was 89.

Ruscio died in the arms of his daughter Elizabeth at his home.

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A World War II veteran who fought at D-Day, Ruscio was born in Salem, Mass., and trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse School for the Theater in New York City before heading out to Los Angeles in the 1950s.

Early roles included Rod Steiger's 1958 film “Al Capone,” “Gunsmoke” and “77 Sunset Strip.”

During his lengthy career as a character actor, Ruscio appeared numerous times on series such as “Barney Miller,” “The Rockford Files,” “Lou Grant” and “Hill Street Blues.” From 1989 to 1993, Ruscio played the warm, opera-loving grandfather on “Life Goes On.”

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On “Seinfeld,” Ruscio played a diner manager who drew suspicion from Elaine for only hiring big-breasted waitresses — who, as it turned out at episode's end, were his daughters.

On the film side, Ruscio appeared in numerous titles, including “The Godfather: Part II,” “Jagged Edge” and “Showgirls.”

A proud stage actor, Ruscio's live productions included “After the Fall,” “King Lear” and “The Merchant of Venice,” and a tour with Steve McQueen in “A Hatful of Rain.”

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Fox managed Ruscio and his family members — his daughter Elizabeth and wife Kate Williamson also took up acting — and remembers Ruscio as “a treasure…remarkable human being, passionate family man, loyal friend, patriotic American, World War II vet and brilliant actor.”

“He will be sorely missed … but never forgotten,” Fox added.

An author, Ruscio penned four books of poetry. His written works also included 2012's “So Therefore…,” a book that offered lessons both about acting and life.

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Ruscio also taught acting at a number of schools, including Cal Arts and UC Santa Barbara, and had recently taught Bing Crosby's grandson.

Ruscio is survived by his wife, thespian Kate Williamson; daughter Elizabeth, actress and poet; son Michael, a director and editor; daughter Nina, a set designer; and daughter Maria, a teacher. Ruscio is also survived by five grandchildren.

A private funeral service will take place Monday.

  • roboslater

    When I auditioned to study acting under Jeff Corey in 1978, it was Al Ruscio who took over for Jeff when Jeff got busy with film work, and that turned out to be a lot. Al became my teacher: he was exacting, so knowledgable, supportive and such a gentleman. He knew all the classics and the intricacies of the business. He focused on developing your acting chops and not story-telling. I didn't end up staying in acting but it was Al from whom I learned to respect it. Rest in Peace, Al.

  • Willie Alma Finnie

    I considered it a badge of honor to have received an “A” from him on my 1st play written as a Freshman in Drama 101 @ Midwestern College in 1969. Proud to have been a student of his. RIP Mr. Ruscio.

    Willie A. Jones

  • Larry Rampulla

    Al Ruscio had one of those Doc “Moonlight”
    Graham careers, no midnight escapades or back alley shenanigans, just a good
    solid performer, a backbone of the community. No Tweets, no fusses no ruses
    stirred by publicists paving the way to the moon. His star on the Boulevard is
    that he didn't lose his soul to get one. He showed up for work like the rest of
    us and in a career of stellar performances worked shoulder to shoulder with many
    of the better known actors and actresses of the last sixty (60) years.

    At Midwestern College it was our good fortune to know
    Mr. Ruscio as a professor, actor and friend. More than forty years have passed
    since the college closed, but whenever he appeared on television or in a movie
    his students spoke with pride in knowing him. He led an award winning drama department
    and was an uncle and mentor to us all.

    We came to know him in an era when television sets wore rabbit
    ears, were black and white and not nearly so portable. Our families and friends
    learned about him and what he meant to us. This fine man and his legacy will
    dwell in that special part of our hearts where he will be loved and missed.

    Rest in peace dear friend.

    • EDWARD E BUTLER

      I AM PROUD TO HAVE KNOWN AL RUSCIO! ONE HELL OF A MAN!

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    Sad time for all of us