BASEHART has come a long way since the day, almost twenty years ago, when he left Zanesville to fulfill a boyhood ambition to become an actor.

He had tried reporting o the newspaper of which his father, the late Harry T. Basehart, was editor. He tried working briefly for a loan company. 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.

With the death of his father in 1938, he enrolled as a student actor at the famous Hedgerow Theater near Philadelphia, remaining there for five years and absorbing a knowledge of the theater and a basic acting skill that are equaled by few actors today.

LEAVING HEDGEROW to try for a place on the Broadway stage, he was given secondary roles in a number of plays including "Counter Attack," "Land of Fame," "Othello," "Hickory Stick" and "Ramshackle Inn."

The came his big break in the part of Lachlen, a dour Scotsman, in John Patrick's dramatic success, "The Hasty Heart."

This proved to be his springboard to Hollywood. Zanesville will not soon forget Basehart's triumphant return in May, 1947, when his first movie, "Repeat Performance," was given a home-town premiere. The picture was mediocre and his part was secondary--Louis Hayward and Jan Leslie were the stars--but Zanesville gave its native son a hero's welcome.

EAGLE-LION PICTURES went overboard for the premiere and flew a plane-load of columnists and movie writers in from New York and a half-dozen other cities. A newsman from Atlanta compared it favorably with that city's "Gone WIth The Wind" extravaganza.

Fron that day on, Basehart never lacked for movie roles. One of his first was "He Walked By Night," in which he was the star. Jack Webb, later of "Dragnet" fame, had a supporting role.

Basehart was married to the Italian movie star, Valentina Cortesa, after they appeared together in "The House on Telegraph Hill." With their six year old son, Jack, they visited Zanesville last year.

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