THEATER CRITICS ACCLAIM ZANESVILLE'S DICK BASEHART

By Clair Stebbins Dispatch Staff Writer

Whatever they wrote about the play or movie in which he appeared, theatre critics have almost invariably had a kind word for the performance of Richard Basehart, Zanesville-born actor who spent four of his boyhood years in a Columbus orphanage.

Just ten days ago, for instance, a play with Basehart in the starring role opened at the Belasco Theater in New York. Its title: "The Day the Money Stopped." Its author: Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson.

The critics called it "far from stimulating" and "something less than a sensation" but the references to Basehart's acting were uniformly complimentary. Typical was the appraisal of John McLain of the Journal American who described the actor as "extremely persuasive and droll in his impersonation of the ne'er-do-well and he is herewith welcomed back to Broadway."

BROOKS ATKINSON wrote in The New York Times that "Richard Basehart pours a lot of skill, variety and animation into a character that is basically inert."

On the very day that the play was opening at the Belasco, a motion picture in which Basehart has a substantial role was having its premiere a few blocks away at Radio City Music Hall. It was the film version of Dostoyevsky's novel, "The Brothers Karamozov," which opens Thursday at the Ohio Theater in Columbus.

With Yul Brynner starred as Dmitri Karamozov, Basehart plays the role of Ivan, one of his brothers.

MEANWHILE, "The Day the Money Stopped" has in truth, met that unfortunate day.

Basehart and others of the cast are sad, "I thought it was very funny," said the star. "So did the audiences; people laughed almost continuously."

Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt was there. "She was delighted," said Basehart. "so was Katherine Cornell."

But the critics thought it was not good theater fare and, in the face of their unanimous veto, it folded.

"Next time someone gives me a script to read," the actor quipped, "I'll tell them to send it to the critics first. Save me a lot of time."

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Copyright --October 20, 2000 Stephanie Kellerman and the Basehart Family