TIDBITS ABOUT RICHARD BASEHART
Despite reports of him being 5'9" or 5'10" His driver's license, though, says 5'8".
His parents had to hide the fact they got married. They didn't tell anyone until after they were married.
They supported themselves by getting singing jobs. The Wetherald family, especially, was against the marriage.
Born 703 Lenox Avenue. Which is still there. There are pictures in the pictures section under odds and ends.
Mother died in 1920. Father died in 1938.
He had a seizure as a child. They never could figure out what caused it.
His father, who was stagestruck at an early age and, during his youth, was a traveling minstrel man and singer
After his mother died he lived at St. Vincent's Orphanage in Columbus for a while. After that he lived with his aunt on Linden Avenue. Then in an apartment on North 5th Street over Inlan store with his father
and siblings. Went to St. Thomas High School which is now Rosecrans High School. They still have his high school grades.
Richard Basehart had 3 brothers, Harry, Hubert and Robert T. (who died at the age of 9 months in a hospital where he was living when an epidemic hit the hospital), and one sister Elizabeth
Was very short and was constantly getting beat up in the orphanage. His brother, Hubert, once hit a kid
in the head with a brick for beating Basehart.
Fingers were slightly misshapen due to a teeter totter accident as a kid.
Started acting at the age of 13 with his first performance at the Weller Theatre in Zanesville.
One of RB's first reporting job was a particularly bloody murder case which
compared favorably for gruesomeness with some of the deeds RB has been
required to perpetuate on the screen.
Discovered a scandal when working for his father's newspaper as a reporter. Punched a detective in the face and lost his job.
His next job as a collector went bad because he didn't have the heart to put
the squeeze on poor people and some of the people he had to deal with were
rough tough characters.
He was a member of a survey crew. And he took a fling at politics as a ward heeler during the lusty four-year period
when his uncle, the late William P. Wetherald, was mayor of Zanesville.
He worked at a war plant in Pennsylvania near Hedgerow Theatre and also
during that time worked as a carpenter building sets for the theatre
RB was virtually frightened into becoming an actor. He was excessively
squeamish about brutality.
He worked on a survey crew as a "Rod" man. A tunnel was blasted one
day and two muckes were sent into it to clear away debris ahead of the
suveyors. An unexploded charge of dynamite went off as the muckers entered
the tunnel, maiming them horribly. Richard was sent into the tunnel to
bring out the bodies. When he finished the gruesome task, he quit his job. It was after this job, which was in Pennsylvania, near the Hedgerow theatre,
that he started his acting career.
He married Stephanie Klein, a costume designer, in 1940. She died in 1950 of a brain tumor.
When his wife, Stephanie, died, he took an axe and cut a tree down and also came away with poison ivy and a sprained ankle.
Richard didn't serve in WWII. I've heard that he was exempted from service
(whatever the official name for that is) because of a turned in foot.(NOTE:
I have recently found a different reason for his 4-F status) It wasn't exactly a club foot
but it was enough to keep him out of the war. I believe both his brothers
served though. During the war, if I can remember correctly, he was in NY
trying to break onto Broadway while Stephanie worked in a factory supporting
both the war effort and her husband. I read that somewhere not too long ago
but I can't remember where.
Lee Sabinson got Basehart the part for Hasty Heart by telling the producer,
Bretaigne Windust, that Basehart was a Scot, which of course he wasn't. Richard Basehart had
studied the dielect previously so he pulled it off.
Had the dubious distinction of starring in the greatest number of consecutive flops on Broadway -- 5.
He was scared stiff doing the scenes on the ledge during 14 hours. That is where he felt he honed his
ability to project emotions by only using his facial expressions.
He had to overcome a fear of horses and learned to ride for roles.
During Moby Dick he jumped 17 feet off the schooner and broke his right foot
in 3 places.
During the filming of Moby Dick he invited children in the village to come and play with Jack
who was visiting him on the set.
He wanted to have a private projection room where he would show nothing but
When he lived in Italy, he flew 6500 miles to work. (Distance from Rome to Hollywood).
He preferred reading biographies and the classics.
While driving to the location shooting of "for The Love Of Mike , he was
stopped by the police for going through a red light. Upon reaching the car
the cop asked RB what he had on the radio. "La Traviata" he replied, "I
guess that's why I missed the stop." "Ah" said the gendarme, "that's one of
my favorites...happens to the best of us. Move on...if you had rock 'n roll
on I'd have given you a ticket."
He once calculated he stayed in 52 hotels during a 2 year stint.
His role as Hitler, according to him was, "The worst psychic ordeal of my
life". His blood pressure went up, he lost his voice 3 times, his temper
became explosive, he had nightmares regularly, some too horrible to relate
and he lost 12 lbs.
Had a dog named Skipper. Another dog was named Harriman after his role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.
Didn't like Ronald Reagan nor Lex Barker
He had claustrophopia.
He got viral pneumonia while filming during the freezing snow scenes in
Fixed Bayonets. During the filming of Fixed Bayonets the makeup man had to
apply beards to all the actors---except for RB, Gene Evans and Michael
O'Shea. They grew their own.
RB played a priest 4 times, Titanic, Il Bidone, For The Love of Mike and an
episode of Streets of San Francisco
He played a German soldier 6 times
Land of Fame,
5 Branded Women,
"He made 11 pictures in Italy France and Spain. He supposedly also learned the languages."
(Have to ask Jack about that.I am sure he learned Italian to a certain extent, but Spanish and French??)
Said he learned humility from "Repeat Performance" and friend Gregory Peck.
Favorite cigarette was Marlboros. He also liked a particular type of cigar that
he could only get from Cuba. Was not happy when Castro took over. He couldn't get his favorite cigars any more.
Cars-Ford Thunderbird, Mercury convertible, Mercedes, Sky Blue Cadillac (which was totalled in the accident they had in the 50's) Lincoln, 64 Mustang .
Favorite food-steak tartare. Also liked Fettucini Alfredo
Favorite drink--vodka martini or vodka with a twist of lemon. Also liked Jack Daniels.
Enjoyed the ocean, swimming, singing, painting, reading, doodling, boxing, golf, cooking. Did some woodworking.
Was not on the set when the Beatles came to visit during the filming of a Voyage To the Bottom of The Sea episode. When he came
in the next day he was upset that he had missed them.
From a restaurant owner talking about actors and what they eat.
When his career was still new, Richard Basehart pulled a new one when he passed up the steaks and chops and asked for a baked bean
"Got a soft spot in my heart for beans," he told the goggle-eyed waiter. "That's all I ever ate in my lean acting days. But I just starred in a hit movie. Now I can afford the bread, too."
I also found out a few weeks ago that he did not wear glasses, contacts, etc.
There is a funny story about his hair. Debbie and I had asked about growing a beard and Diana just said
it was a disaster when he tried growing one. Well, we thought that meant he was unable to grow a decent beard.
In the past, somone had brought up on, I think, the Tribute To Dick list the comment that his hair seemed darker in
the first two color seasons and the thought was that they might have made him dye it so I asked Diana. She said
that no, he never dyed his hair. It must have been the lighting. She paused and then continued. "Except that time
when he had to grow a beard for several roles" ( in the 70's Time Travelers, Hans Brinker, Being There, MacBeth, etc).
She said he grew his beard in for the roles, and it came in bright red. Everyone thought is was hilarious and he
wasn't too happy. That is when he had to dye his hair.
Richard Basehart has the record for starring in the most movies, shows, etc with an ! ie Flood! Combat! And Millions Die!
He once ran away from home for two weeks when he was 12.