Richard Basehart

Richard Basehart
Eugene Robert Richee / Warner Brothers


Richard Basehart
Film: South side of the 6200 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born John Richard Basehart on Aug. 31, 1914 in Zanesville, OH
Died Sept. 17, 1984 of multiple strokes in Los Angeles, CA

Richard Basehart's resonant voice and distinguished bearing took him through a long and successful stage, film and television acting career.

He was perhaps most widely recognized by the public as Adm. Harriman Nelson, commander of the fictional glass-nosed atomic submarine Seaview in the science-fiction television series, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," which ran on ABC from 1964 to 1968.

Basehart had an ability to keep working. His more than 30 films included "Fourteen Hours" (1951), "Decision Before Dawn" (1951), "Moby Dick" (1956), "The Brothers Karamazov" (1958), "Hitler" (1962) and "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1977).

He occasionally returned to the stage, appearing in such dramas as "Counter Attack," "Land of Fame," and "Othello." In 1969, he played the lead in Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" at the Mark Taper in Los Angeles.

In addition to "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," Basehart was in the short-lived 1978 series, "W.E.B.," about a television network. He appeared in many dramatic presentations on television, dating back to the "Playhouse 90" days.

In 1983, he narrated the Public Broadcast Service presentation, "Vietnam: A Television History." His voice also was used for the PBS show, "The Andersonville Trials."

Basehart made his Broadway debut in 1938, finally making his mark as the Scot in "The Hasty Heart," which brought him the 1945 New York Drama Critics Award.

He came to Hollywood and appeared with Barbara Stanwyck and Errol Flynn in "Cry Wolf." Basehart played Stanwyck's husband, a mental asylum escapee who was trying to kill her.

It was his third film, "He Walked by Night," that really brought Basehart to the attention of the public as a killer who escaped through storm drains. In one memorable scene, he was shown operating upon himself to remove a bullet from his ribs. The agony he exhibited stirred the public.

The actor seemed surprised later to discover that his sudden fame was prompted by his portrayal of psychotics. Of the self-surgery scene, he said, "It's much more difficult to read one comedy line well."

Basehart's second wife was Italian actress Valentina Cortesa. Basehart and Cortesa starred together in the 1951 film "The House on Telegraph Hill."

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