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Richard Basehart
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    (August 31, 1914-September 17, 1984)
    Born in Zanesville, Ohio
    Birth name was John Richard Basehart
    Appeared in the films ‘He Walked by Night’ (1948), ‘Reign of Terror’ (1949), ‘Forbidden Hours’ (1951), ‘The House on Telegraph Hill’ (1951), ‘Decision Before Dawn’ (1951), ‘Titanic’ (1953), ‘La Strada’ (1954), ‘Moby Dick’ (1956), ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ (1958), ‘Hitler’ (1962), ‘Kings of the Sun’ (1963), ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ (1977), and ‘Being There’ (1979)
    Portrayed Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
    Narrated Knight Rider (and portrayed Wilton Knight in the pilot episode)
    He said, ‘I couldn’t be a straight leading man. You’ve got to be bigger and prettier than I am.’
    He named one of his dogs Harriman after his ‘Voyage’ role.
    He did voiceovers for commercials for Shell and for Chrysler’s LeBaron and New Yorker.
    Critic Bosley Crowther wrote about his performance as a Mayan high priest in ‘Kings of the Sun,’ ‘He looks exactly like the late Maria Ouspenskaya.’
    He said portraying Hitler was ‘the worst psychic ordeal of my life’: his blood pressure shot up, he lost his voice three times, he had terrible nightmares, and he lost twelve pounds.
    He spent much of his childhood in orphanages after his mother died of complications from childbirth.
    He said that he ‘avoided stereotyping, at the expense of not amassing an impressive bank account.’
    With his deep, distinctive voice, he was a popular narrator for movies and TV shows, such as David Wolper’s documentary about the JFK assassination ‘Four Days in November’ and Peter Arnett’s miniseries ‘Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War.’
    He and his third wife Diana founded an animal welfare charity, Actors and Others for Animals (1971).
    A month before his death, he read a poem during the extinguishing of the flame at the Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
    He was occasionally mentioned in Mystery Science Theater 3000 as an object of Gypsy’s obsession.

Credit: C. Fishel

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