Basil Ruysdael (born Basil Spaulding Millspaugh, July 24, 1878 – October 10, 1960) was an American actor and opera singer.
Basil Spaulding Millspaugh
July 24, 1878
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||October 10, 1960 (aged 82)|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
(m. 1915; div. 1923)
(m. 1925; div. 1944)
(m. 19??; his death 1960)
|Parent(s)||Dr. and Mrs. Charles Millspaugh|
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, as Basil Spaulding Millspaugh, Ruysdael was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Millspaugh. He graduated from Waverly High School and attended Cornell University from 1898-99 as a special student in mechanical engineering and sang with the Cornell University Glee Club. He sang secondary roles in the German repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as a bass-baritone from 1910 to 1918, appearing with such popular opera stars as Leo Skezak and Geraldine Farrar.
Early in his career, Ruysdael appeared on the New York stage. His Broadway credits include Enchanted Isle (1927), The Cocoanuts (1925), Topsy and Eva (1924), and Robin Hood (1912).
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Ruysdael was also a prolific character actor in films. He is probably best known to modern audiences as Detective Hennessey in the first Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts, a role he created in the stage play. He also appeared in Pinky, The File on Thelma Jordon, Colorado Territory, Broken Arrow, People Will Talk, Carrie, The Violent Men, Blackboard Jungle, The Last Hurrah and The Horse Soldiers.
In 1955, Ruysdael played General Andrew Jackson in miniseries Davy Crockett. Ruysdael was cast as Joseph in "The Policeman's Gun", a 1958 episode of Official Detective. In his final television role he appeared on Perry Mason as Henry W. Dameron in the 1959 episode, "The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma". His last on-screen role was in The Story of Ruth in 1960. His last film role was One Hundred and One Dalmatians, in which he provided a voice characterization; the film itself was released one year after his death.
Ruysdael narrated the NBC Blue Network series Stones of History which was broadcast in 1934 and 1935. He was the announcer on a syndicated programme for Rexall in 1939 before becoming the commercial spokesman for DuPont on Cavalcade of America on the NBC Blue Network in 1940. By 1941, he was a pitch-man for Lucky Strike cigarettes, which sponsored several shows including Your Hit Parade, Information Please and The Jack Benny Show. He appeared, transcribed, on the latter show from October 1, 1944 to November 28, 1948 and gave his name near the end of the final commercial. Ruysdael was also the announcer on a 1944 summer replacement show, Mother and Dad, starring Parker Fennelly on CBS, and The Radio Reader's Digest in 1946 on CBS.
Ruysdael died on October 10, 1960, at the age of 82, of complications following surgery in a hospital in Hollywood, California. He was survived by his widow, Kathleen, who was his third wife. He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska.
- The Cocoanuts (1929) - Hennessy
- Colorado Territory (1949) - Dave Rickard
- Come to the Stable (1949) - The Bishop
- Task Force (1949) - Admiral at Annapolis (uncredited)
- Pinky (1949) - Judge Walker
- The Doctor and the Girl (1949) - Dr. Francis I. Garard
- The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) - Judge Jonathan David Hancock
- One Way Street (1950) - Father Moreno
- Broken Arrow (1950) - Gen. Oliver Howard
- High Lonesome (1950) - 'Horse' Davis, Ranch Owner
- Gambling House (1951) - Judge Ravinek
- The Scarf (1951) - Cyrus Barrington
- Raton Pass (1951) - Pierre Challon
- My Forbidden Past (1951) - Dean Cazzley
- Half Angel (1951) - Dr. Jackson
- People Will Talk (1951) - Dean Lyman Brockwell
- Boots Malone (1952) - Preacher Cole
- Carrie (1952) - Mr. Fitzgerald
- Prince Valiant (1954) - Old Viking (uncredited)
- The Shanghai Story (1954) - Rev. Hollingsworth
- Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) - Gen. / President Andrew Jackson (archive footage)
- The Violent Men (1955) - Tex Hinkleman
- Blackboard Jungle (1955) - Prof. A.R. Kraal
- Pearl of the South Pacific (1955) - Tuan Michael
- Diane (1956) - Chamberlain
- Jubal (1956) - Shem Hoktor
- These Wilder Years (1956) - Judge
- Official Detective "The Policeman's Gun" (1958) - Joseph
- The Last Hurrah (1958) - Bishop Gardner
- The Horse Soldiers (1959) - Commandant
- The Story of Ruth (1960) - Shammah
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) - Truck Driver (voice) (final film role)
- "Pupil of Former Waverly Singer Is Now Famous". The Evening Times. Pennsylvania, Sayre. August 29, 1930. p. 6. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Waverly Singer Wants to Change His Name". Star-Gazette. New York, Elmira. February 18, 1915. p. 15. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Basil Ruysdael". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on August 22, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.