John Richard Basehart (August 31, 1914 – September 17, 1984) was an American actor. He starred as Admiral Harriman Nelson in the television science-fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964–68). He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the pilot episode of the TV series Knight Rider (1982), and provided the narration that was heard during the opening credits throughout the entire series.
John Richard Basehart
August 31, 1914
Zanesville, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||September 17, 1984 (aged 70)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Burial place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
(m. 1940; died 1950)
(m. 1951; div. 1960)
|Children||3, including Jackie|
Basehart was equally active in cinema, receiving National Board of Review Awards for his performances in Fourteen Hours (1951) and Moby Dick (1956). He was further nominated for a BAFTA Award for his role in Time Limit (1957), the directorial debut of Karl Malden.
One of his most notable film roles was the acrobat and clown known as "the Fool" in the acclaimed Italian film La Strada (1954), directed by Federico Fellini. He also appeared as the killer in the film noir classic He Walked by Night (1948), as a psychotic member of the Hatfield clan in Roseanna McCoy (1949), as a timid husband in Tension (1950), as Ishmael in Moby Dick (1956), in the drama Decision Before Dawn (1951), and as Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov (1958). He portrayed a high priest in Kings of the Sun (1963). From 1964 to 1968, Basehart played the lead role, Admiral Harriman Nelson, on Irwin Allen's first foray into science-fiction television, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
Basehart narrated a wide range of television and movie projects. In 1964, he narrated the David Wolper documentary about the Kennedy assassination, Four Days in November. In 1980, Basehart narrated the miniseries written by Peter Arnett called Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War that covered Vietnam and its battles from the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945, to the final American embassy evacuation on April 30, 1975.
Basehart appeared in the pilot episode of the television series Knight Rider as billionaire Wilton Knight. He is the narrator at the beginning of the show's credits. He accepted the lead role in the 1962 film Hitler. He appeared in "Probe 7, Over and Out", an episode of The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O, and as Hannibal Applewood, an abusive schoolteacher in Little House on the Prairie in 1976. In 1972, Basehart appeared in the Columbo episode "Dagger of the Mind", in which Honor Blackman and he played a husband-and-wife theatrical team who accidentally kill Sir Roger Haversham, the producer of their rendition of Macbeth.
Basehart played a supporting role as a doctor in the feature film Rage (1972), a theatrical feature starring and directed by George C. Scott. Basehart made a few TV movies, including Sole Survivor (1970) and The Birdmen (1971). Both were based on true stories during World War II. Also in the 1970s, he co-starred in Chato's Land (1972) and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977). In 1979, he appeared as a Russian diplomat with Peter Sellers in Being There.
Basehart was born in Zanesville, Ohio, the son of Mae (née Wetherald) and Harry T. Basehart. He was married three times. After the death of his first wife Stephanie Klein, he married Italian Academy Award-nominated actress Valentina Cortese, with whom he had one son, actor Jackie Basehart; the couple divorced in 1960. In 1962, he married his third wife, Diana Lotery, with whom he had two children and remained married until his death in 1984.
Basehart died in Los Angeles on September 17, 1984, following a series of strokes. He was 70 years old. His body was cremated, and the ashes interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He died eight days before Walter Pidgeon, his film counterpart in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
|1947||Repeat Performance||William Williams|
|1947||Cry Wolf||James Demarest|
|1948||He Walked by Night||Roy Martin / Roy Morgan|
|1949||Roseanna McCoy||Mounts Hatfield|
|1949||Reign of Terror||Maximilian Robespierre|
|1950||Tension||Warren Quimby / Paul Sothern|
|1950||Outside the Wall||Larry Nelson|
|1950||Side Street||Bank Teller||Uncredited|
|1951||Fourteen Hours||Robert Cosick|
|1951||The House on Telegraph Hill||Alan Spender|
|1951||Fixed Bayonets!||Cpl. Denno|
|1951||Decision Before Dawn||Lt. Dick Rennick|
|1954||The Stranger's Hand||Joe Hamstringer|
|1954||Angels of Darkness||Bit Part||Uncredited|
|1954||The Good Die Young||Joe Halsey|
|1954||La Strada||The Fool|
|1954||Avanzi di galera||Dottor Stefano Luprandi|
|1955||Canyon Crossroads||Larry Kendall|
|1955||Le avventure di Cartouche||Il conte Jacques de Maudy|
|1955||Golden Vein||Ing. Stefano Manfredi|
|1955||Il bidone||Raul detto Picasso|
|1956||The Extra Day||Joe Blake|
|1956||The Intimate Stranger||Reginald 'Reggie' Wilson|
|1957||Miracles of Thursday||Martino|
|1957||Time Limit||Maj. Harry Cargill|
|1958||The Brothers Karamazov||Ivan Karamazov|
|1958||Love and Troubles||Paolo Martelli|
|1959||The Restless and the Damned||George Rancourt|
|1959||Jons und Erdme||Wittkuhn, der Schmied|
|1960||Five Branded Women||Capt. Eric Reinhardt|
|1960||Portrait in Black||Howard Mason|
|1960||For the Love of Mike||Father Francis Phelan|
|1961||Passport to China||Don Benton|
|1962||Savage Guns||Steve Fallon|
|1963||Kings of the Sun||Ah Min|
|1965||The Satan Bug||Dr. Gregor Hoffman|
|1969||Love Is a Funny Thing||Acteur - cameo appearance|
|1972||Chato's Land||Nye Buell|
|1972||Rage||Dr. Roy Caldwell|
|1976||Mansion of the Doomed||Dr. Leonard Chaney|
|1977||The Island of Dr. Moreau||Sayer of the Law|
|1978||The Great Bank Hoax||Manny Benchly|
|1979||Being There||Vladimir Skrapinov|
|1957||Studio One||Matt Donovan||2 episodes|
|1957–1960||Playhouse 90||Martin Lambert / David Connelly / Lionel Amblin / Himself - Host||4 episodes|
|1958||Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre||David Manning||Episode: "Medal for Valor"|
|1960||DuPont Show of the Month||Dr. George Ferguson||Episode: "Men in White"|
|1960||Shangri-La||Hugh Conway||Television film|
|1961||The Play of the Week||Stranger||Episode: "He Who Gets Slapped"|
|1961||The Light That Failed||Dick Heldar||Television film|
|1961||Rawhide||Tod Stone||Episode: "The Black Sheep"|
|1962||The Paradine Case||Anthony Keane||Television film|
|1962||Theatre '62||Anthony Keane||Episode: "The Paradine Case"|
|1962||The DuPont Show of the Week||Narrator||Episode: "D-Day"|
|1962||Naked City||Lester Bergson||Episode: "Dust Devil on a Quiet Street"|
|1962–1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Miles Crawford / Phillip Townsend||2 episodes|
|1963||Route 66||Julian Roebuck||Episode: "You Can't Pick Cotton in Tahiti"|
|1963||The Dick Powell Theatre||Judge Zachary||Episode: "The Judge"|
|1963||Combat!||Capt. Steiner||2 episodes|
|1963||Ben Casey||Mark Cassidy||Episode: "Light Up the Dark Corners"|
|1963||Arrest and Trial||Alexander Stafford||Episode: "Inquest Into a Bleeding Heart"|
|1963||The Twilight Zone||Adam Cook||Episode: "Probe 7, Over and Out"|
|1964–1968||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Admiral Harriman Nelson||108 episodes|
|1965||Lost in Space||Shakespeare-Reading Tape Recorder Voice||Episode: "The Derelict"|
|1968||The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich||Narrator||Documentary|
|1969||Hans Brinker||Dr. Boekman||Television film|
|1970||Sole Survivor||Brig. Gen. Russell Hamner||Television film|
|1970||The Andersonville Trial||Henry Wirz||Television film|
|1970||Ironside||Noel Seymour||Episode: "Noel's Gonna Fly"|
|1970||Dan August||Prof. Theodore Rye||Episode: "Quadrangle for Death"|
|1971||Gunsmoke||Captain Aron Sligo||Episode: "Captain Sligo"|
|1971||City Beneath the Sea||the President||Television film|
|1971||They've Killed President Lincoln!||Host / Narrator||Television film|
|1971||The Birdmen||Schiller||Television film|
|1971||The Death of Me Yet||Robert Barnes||Television film|
|1972||Assignment: Munich||Maj. Barney Caldwell||Television film|
|1972||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Dr. Stephen McLayne||Episode: "Is This Operation Necessary?"|
|1972||The Bounty Man||Angus Keough||Television film|
|1972||Columbo||Nicholas Frame||Episode: "Dagger of the Mind"|
|1973||Hawaii Five-O||Murdock||Episode: "The Odd Lot Caper"|
|1973||And Millions Will Die||Dr. Douglas Pruitt||Television film|
|1973||Maneater||Carl Brenner||Television film|
|1974||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Reece Sutton / Professor Andrew Kirkcastle||2 episodes|
|1974||The First Woman President||Woodrow Wilson||Television film|
|1975||Judgment: The Court Martial of Lieutenant William Calley||George Latimer||Television film|
|1975||The American Parade||Lambdin Milligan||Episode: "The Case Against Milligan"|
|1975||Medical Story||Dr. Charles Galpin||Episode: "The God Syndrome"|
|1975||Joe Forrester||Al Morgan||Episode: "No Probable Cause"|
|1975||Valley Forge||Gen. George Washington||Television film|
|1976||The Streets of San Francisco||Bishop Tim Farrow||Episode: "Requiem for Murder"|
|1976||Little House on the Prairie||Hannibal Applewood||Episode: "Troublemaker"|
|1976||Time Travelers||Dr. Joshua Henderson||Television film|
|1976||21 Hours at Munich||Chancellor Willy Brandt||Television film|
|1976||Flood!||John Cutler||Television film|
|1977||Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model?||Elliott Osborn||Television film|
|1978||How the West Was Won||Colonel Flint||3 episodes|
|1978||Once Upon a Classic||King Arthur||Episode: "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"|
|1978||The Critical List||Matt Kinsella||Television film|
|1978||W.E.B.||Gus Dunlap||5 episodes|
|1979||The Rebels||Duke of Kentland||Television miniseries|
|1979||Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Johtan||Episode: "Tower of Babel"|
|1979||The Christmas Songs||Television film|
|1980||Marilyn: The Untold Story||Johnny Hyde||Television film|
|1981||Vegas||J. Terrance Wainwright||Episode: "Set Up"|
|1981||Masada||Narrator, Modern Day Scene||Television miniseries|
|1981||The Love Boat||Stan Ellis||Episode: "Chef's Special/Beginning Anew/Kleinschmidt"|
|1981||Mr. Merlin||Herbert Montrose||Episode: "A Moment in Camelot"|
|1982–1986||Knight Rider||Narrator (voice) / Wilton Knight||Episode: "Knight of the Phoenix: Part 1"[a]|
|1983||Tales of the Unexpected||Slade||Episode: "The Turn of the Tide"|
|1983||The Crowded Life||Narrator||Television film|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|1951||National Board of Review Awards||Best Actor||Fourteen Hours||Won|||
|1956||Best Supporting Actor||Moby Dick|||
|1958||BAFTA Awards||Best Foreign Actor||Time Limit||Nominated|||
|1960||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Motion Pictures||-||Inducted|||
- as Wilton Knight
- as Narrator
- Weiler, A.h. (July 17, 1956). "Screen: A Truthful Italian Journey; 'La Strada' Is Tender, Realistic Parable". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Krebs, Albin (September 19, 1984). "Richard Basehart, Stage And Screen Star, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "'Four Days in November,' Documentary on Assassination". The New York Times. October 8, 1964. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "Television and Vietnam". The New York Times. August 16, 1987. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Nuthall, Paul (August 31, 2014). "Remembering Richard Basehart". Knight Rider Archives. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Rubin, Steve (November 29, 2017). "November 29 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1963 premiere of 'Probe 7, Over and Out'". Syfy Wire. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Sabin, Roger; Wilson, Ronald; Speidel, Linda; Faucette, Brian; Bethell, Ben (2015). Cop Shows: A Critical History of Police Dramas on Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-7864-4819-7.
- Litsky, Frank (August 13, 1984). "A STRIKING CLOSING CEREMONY". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "Actor Richard Basehart dead at 70". United Press International. September 19, 1984. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "Richard Basehart Biography (1914-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Wiseman, Andreas (July 10, 2019). "Valentina Cortese Dies: Italian Actress, Oscar-Nominated For François Truffaut's 'Day For Night', Was 96". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Bergan, Ronald; Lane, John Francis (July 10, 2019). "Valentina Cortese obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- Vils, Ursula (September 22, 1986). "Artist Diana Basehart Back at Work on Her Pet Projects". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
- "Archives: 1951 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "Archives: 1956 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "BAFTA Awards Search: Richard Basehart". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Richard Basehart". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 14, 2017.