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Joseph Ruskin: Celebrated ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ Actor Dies At 89

Thu, January 2, 2014 10:29am EDT by Shaunna Murphy 2 Comments
Joseph Ruskin dead

Joseph Ruskin, a film and television icon who starred in everything from ‘The Twilight Zone’ to ‘Prizzi’s Honor,’ died on Dec. 28 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 89 years old.

Joseph Ruskin, 89, undoubtedly lived a long and celebrated life. By the time the actor passed from natural causes on Dec. 28, he had starred in 25 films and 124 television shows. Read all about the actor’s life below.

Joseph Ruskin Dies At 89

Joseph was a well-known character actor back in his day. SAG-AFTRA — of which Joseph was a longtime officer — released a statement celebrating the actor’s life.

“Joe Ruskin was the epitome of the actor who takes care of all the other actors while keeping one foot firmly planted on the stage or the set,” said National President Ken Howard. “He gave so much for so long it’s hard to believe he’s gone. But he lived to see the merger to which he devoted so much of his time in the 1980s, and we can be glad for that.”

Joseph was also a World War II vet, having served as a radarman on the 7th Fleet destroyer escort USS Raymond. He fought in the Battle off Samar Island in the Philippines in 1944 — a battle in which a thousand Americans lost their lives. This marked the final defeat of the Japanese Navy in WWII.

Per his IMDB page, Joseph is one of only 4 actors or actresses to have starred in both the original 1966 Star Trek and then in one of the spin offs. However, he is best known for films like The Magnificent Seven, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Prizzi’s Honor, as well as multiple appearances on classic shows including The Untouchables, Gunsmoke, and Mission: Impossible. He also voiced Kanamit in the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” which was one of three appearances he made on the show. He later worked on Hill Street Blues, St Elsewhere, and ER, and landed his final television appearance on Bones in 2006.

Joseph is survived by his wife Barbara Greene Ruskin, his daughter Alicia Ruskin, and multiple step and grandchildren.

What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Did you see any of Joseph’s films or television shows?

— Shaunna Murphy

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