MS Research Project: Music on one man’s ears
By Susan Johnson
Rockford-born Ron Husmann’s golden brass baritone voice charmed music audiences starting in 1959. A graduate of Northwestern University, he made his Broadway debut in Fiorello later in 1959. In 1960, he was cast in Tenderloin, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and winning the Theater World Award for his performance. Other credits include All-American, Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, On the Town, Irene and Can-Can.
Husmann made his film debut in 1965 with Love Has Many Faces, but most of his screen
credits have been on television. He has appeared in daytime soaps such as General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, as well as Dr. Kildare, Land of the Giants, Get Smart, The F.B.I., Archie Bunker’s Place, Cheers and the 1972 telecast of Once Upon a Mattress with Carol Burnett. He also appeared with Buddy Hackett in the revival of You Bet Your Life in 1980.
Three of the songs he sang were Gigi and Thank Heaven for Little Girls from Gigi and Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon. He is also the author, narrator and co-producer of the 10-hour video series Broadway! A History of the Musical.
His voice could be heard from Broadway to Hollywood for decades, until he was stricken with multiple sclerosis in 1982. Ron’s MS
the nerves that lead to the vocal chords that control his singing. Now, he is no longer able to grace us with his beautiful voice.
But all that could change this fall. Ron Hussmann and others will head to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to participate in a clinical study that uses physical therapy coupled with nerve stimulation to reverse the effects of MS. The research has already helped MS patients regain balance and motor function, helping many to once again walk and climb stairs. Other patients have reported improvement in vision and hearing. The research team will now determine if it can bring back Husmann’s golden voice of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
This clinical research is sponsored by Partnership for Cures-Rockford, Ill. Chapter, which raises funds for this and other disease research that can touch patients’ lives in two years or less.
But more important than a singing career, I would sing to promote the research that gave me back any of the quality of life that MS has stolen from all of us!
Husmann and others are currently working with Partnership for Cures-Rockford Chapter to ensure that sufficient funds will be available to treat the rest of the subjects in this clinical trial so that soon, this treatment can be made available to all MS patients.
Interview with Ron Husmann
The Rock River Times spoke with Ron Husmann by phone recently.
TRRT: How did you happen to hear about Partnership for Cures?
A graduate of East High School ahead of me, in 1956, Stu Brandes, who had MShe is a retired professor at the University of Wisconsin. He had taken part in an initial study, and he got some relief from MS symptoms. He thought about me and sent me some information, and I thought, Wow! I want to be a part of thisanything that would give me some relief and get my voice back. It was a lot of things. MS is basically your electric system shutting down, so no signal, such as to hold out your hand, goes from your brain to any part of your body. You can lose your eyesight and your ability to walk. Your muscles atrophy. All the stimulus that comes from your brainif you short-circuit a nerve running through your spinal column, the signal never gets where it should go. The signal doesn’t get from your brain to your hand or your foot or your bladder or one eye, or you lose your voice. It wasn’t until two years later that other things happened. It is difficult to diagnoseit took many years. Your immune system starts attacking your own bodythe myelin sheath that goes around every nerve.
TRRT: What are the benefits of participating in this clinical study?
It can help all kinds of peoplenot just MS patientsAlzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain trauma, anything involving the brainall these things. They think that in the future, this will be a good thing for solving some of the problems, lessening the symptoms of this disease.
For more information, or if you would like to help by donating to the cause and get a copy of a CD where Husmann’s singing is recorded, go to http://www.4cures.org/home/ron_husmann.
From the September 9-15, 2009 issue
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