MEMORIES OF RICHARD BASEHART
This is a story that Terry Becker, the actor who played Sharkey, told Tim Colliver concerning a boat ride that he and Richard Basehart took.
We worked very closely even off stage. I found him to be a very wonderful kind of marvelous person. He liked to go on boats and I used to get seasick. I mean I used to get seasick on the set if they ran the water too long. So he said, "Look, why don't we go and see if you can take it." We get on a boat and we go out on a Sunday. He said it would be marvelous to break the routine. My girlfriend at the time made sandwiches. His wife made sandwiches. We brought food and drink on the boat and so forth and we went out and it is terrific and I drove the boat and I am going like crazy. He is yelling and screaming that I am going to break the boat apart. Ok we get back and I say that was a terrific experience. He says, "Listen, what we do is buy the boat." I say, "Hey I don't want to buy the boat." He replies, "I will make a down payment and we will get a boat and we will pay it off." I say, "I don't know. Let's go out once more. What are we going to do on a boat? Basehart says, "Well, we will fish." Because Victory Jory had given us every fishing line that you can well imagine because we went and helped him open his sports store. "Well, okay." So we get the food again the next weekend and we go out in this boat and we drop anchor off Manhattan beach and he throws his line over and I am about ready to throw my line over when I see the horizon moving. And I take a look at that and it is rocking back and forth and I don't even get to throw the line over and I get sick. I am so sick. and here he is he is out to enjoy himself. I never knew how much you would like to die at any point in life. I really wanted to die. I didn't want to get back to anyplace. Just kill me here. And well, he got pissed. He brought up his line and he had to pick up the anchor himself and he is grunting and groaning and cussing and we got back and I threw myself on the dock and that was the end of that whole experience. So here we are the admiral and the chief and the chief can't take the water.
I was the one-- that-- Basehart was kind of a reclusive fellow and I said come on get your ass out of your dressing room. People come here to see you they want to be part of the fantasy. Let's entertain people when they come on the set. Let's have fun. This is a great time I told Basehart and Hedison. When ever we do anything lets make "no" sound like a "yes" and "yes" sound like a "no" and never change a line. So he sees the rocks. I say, "Sir, the rocks are moving." He replies, "Oh come on" "No the rocks are moving." He turns around and he says, "The rocks are moving." Should have been a camp. Allen came down. "This is not a comedy!"
He was a fine actor.
These are comments from Del Monroe (who played Kowalski) as told to Tim Colliver about Richard Basehart.
Richard got disenchanted because when he originally signed, Allen told him we would be involved in political situatons all over the world and the Seaview would take them to these places and that is what interested him.
He was a fine actor. I would always get close when he had lines to listen. I was there everyday to watch him work. A very professional highly polished actor, a credit to his profession and the reason why the show lasted as long as it did.
He was a wonderful human being, kind and generous, a real nice human being. When my daughter was born he and his wife gave a silk dress to my daughter. That was a nice gesture. He was a cerebral type person. He read during breaks. I would attempt to do some thing in a scene and I would look over at him and he would look at me and say, "I wouldn't Del."
One time the horn would go off and Basehart would hear it and he would kind of put down his book and casually walk on the set and of course David would jump up from his chair and walk onto the set. One time there was this friction , not really friction, but it was kind of intense off the set and David was already on the set waiting and Basehart kind of saunters in and there was that kind of deadly silence. David said, " You may be a better actor, but I am more punctional." That sort of broke everything up.
This is what Pat Culliton, an extra, had to say about Richard Basehart.
Over the 4 years I got to know him pretty well, and one day I brought in a beautiful color 8x10 of him in Moby Dick and asked him to sign it. And his son was on the set, his son Jack, and Jack admired the picture and I gave it to him and Richard realized I was a good guy.
A bit later when he was preparing to play Cyrano De Bergerac he was practicing fencing a lot and he used to practice a little bit on me. He was much better than me. In spite of the fact he was more than twice my age and much smaller than I was he beat me every time. He was gorgeous.
The last day I was in the country before I went to Vietnam, Richard took me to a friendly saloon and we had a lunch and drank about 9 martinis. And he said to be sure and call him as soon as I got home and I did. Then I had a guest shot on a pilot called the Time Travelers and Richard was the guest star. Richard and I were sitting on our canvas chairs. It was kind of a wonderful thing.
I was excited to hear his voice at the Olympics.
Richard could memorize 5 pages of dialog with a little effort. He could rattle it off. David would write some on his hands, little cue words to get him through. David did a thing with a cane like Fred Astaire.
This is in response to the rumor that he had a drinking problem.
NO! Maybe into the 3rd season and Richard had worked 2 and a half seasons of 15 hour days. They weren't scheduling him in any humane way. I don't know how old he was, but whatever, the point is, they had a real star on their hands. The had a consumate actor. For some unaccountable reason he began going to the Hillcrest hotel where we celebrated my departure to Vietnam, having lunch with a few drinks. About the 5th time he came back, perfectly able to work, but a little tight, a little surly, finally, they just decided, ok, now lets start scheduling Richard as if he was a star of a hit series. So they didn't call him at 6:30 or 7 every morning. They didn't keep him until 7 at night. They began to treat him with more consideration. Richard Basehart was a wonderful man and a thorough pro and there was never a moment when he could not work, but in his own quiet way he showed them he was tired and unhappy.
In Richard's case he didn't yell, he kind of retreated and won. It was not a matter of weeks or months or a season, this was a few days. I worked with a bunch of actors of his generation who sipped, sipped and sipped all day and he never did that.
Actors actors, men's mens and they sat around at lunch and drank. He also had a problem with an ulcer. He was at one time very sick. He was losing a lot of blood and they were transfusing him and this was before he had my goodbye Patrick lunch. So I said, "I thought the ulcer cured the drinking." He said, "UN, uh, the drinking cured the ulcer."
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