Of Russian descent, American actor Basil Ruysdael was a successful opera singer in the 'teens and twenties. Firmly based in New York, Ruysdael made his first screen appearance in the Marx Brothers Astoria-filmed The Cocoanuts (1929). His portrayal of Detective Hennessy in this film was ordinary enough, save for his hilarious vocal rendition of "Tale of a Shirt," an elaborate parody of "The Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen. Ruysdael remained in Manhattan for nearly two decades after Cocoanuts, working on the stage, in radio, and in the occasional film short. He moved to California in 1949, showing up in no fewer than six films during his first year in Hollywood. Active until his death in 1960, Ruysdael was invariably cast as orotund authority figures: military officers, judges, governors, college deans. During the early 1950s, Basil Ruysdael was the radio and TV spokesperson for Lucky Strike cigarettes, imparting in pear-shaped tones the vital message "L.S.M.F.T....Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco."