Joseph Ruskin


Veteran union activist Joseph Ruskin was honored posthumously with the 2014 Patrick Quinn Award for Distinguished Service to Actors presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation. Ruskin, an Equity member since 1952, served on the AEA Council from 1979 until his death on December 28, 2013, at the age of 89. Presented in Los Angeles, the award was accepted by his wife, Barbara Ruskin, at the Equity Council meeting on, July 15, 2014.


“He was enormously grateful to be an actor,” she said.


Joseph Ruskin began his Equity service in l964 on the Western Advisory Board (now the Western Regional Board) for which he later was elected chairman. In ’76, he was elected to the first of several terms as the Western Regional Vice President.  


“I believe that all of us who stand for office in this union must be ready to commit our time and resources to Equity and to organizations and governmental committees that are dedicated to goals compatible with those of Equity,” he had said.


To this end, he also was on the board of the California Confederation of the Arts and the California Theatre Council. Ruskin continued as the Western Regional Vice President until 1991 when he was elected to AEA’s Council.


Ruskin served on scores of Western committees, including House Affairs, Ethnic Minorities, Election Procedures, Legislative, Constitutional Review, Membership Education, Hollywood Area Theatre and LORT and served as a deputy under many Equity contracts. He also assisted with formulating Equity’s National Representation Plan, which became effective in 1992 and helped to decentralize the union.


In 2003, Ruskin received the Lucy Jordan Recognition Award presented by the Western Regional Stage Managers’ Committee. The award is intended to go to an individual from the Western Region who goes “above and beyond the call of duty” in his or her relationship with the membership of Equity. An equal opportunity volunteer, he also had served on the SAG and AFTRA Boards. 


Although he had more than 120 television credits and appeared in 25 films, Ruskin began and ended his career on stage. His first professional appearances were at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Rochester’s Arena Stage. His last performance was in The Crucible as a member of the Antaeus Company of Los Angeles.


At the ceremony, Barbara Ruskin repeated a comment her husband had written in a note, saying:


“My life has been driven by two forces: my need to act and an overwhelming concern for fairness.” 


She concluded her remarks by saying, “it was these dual drives that motivated the work he did on behalf of his fellow actors. He felt immensely lucky to be able to have a life as one of you.”

AEA’s Western Regional Director, Ralph Remington and Doug Carfrae, Western Regional Vice President, presenting Joseph Ruskin’s wife, Barbara, and their daughter with the 2014 Patrick Quinn Award.