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 Knightin the series Knight Rider (1982–86).
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.
- Stephanie Klein (m. 1940; died 1950)
- Valentina Cortese (m. 1951; div. 1960)
- Diana Lotery (m. 1962)
Children Jackie Basehart
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 Ishmael in Moby Dick (1956), and in the drama Decision Before Dawn (1951). From 1964-68, 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 Wolperdocumentary about the Kennedy assassination, Four Days in November. In 1980, Basehart narrated the mini-series 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 he and Honor Blackman 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. In 1979, he appeared as a Russian diplomat with Peter Sellers in Being There.
One month before his death, Basehart narrated a poem during the extinguishing of the flame at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
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 had died eight days before Walter Pidgeon, his film counterpart in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
- Repeat Performance (1947) – William Williams
- Cry Wolf (1947) – James Demarest
- He Walked by Night (1948) – Roy Martin / Roy Morgan
- Roseanna McCoy (1949) – Mounts Hatfield
- Reign of Terror (1949) – Maximilian Robespierre
- Tension (1949) – Warren Quimby/Paul Sothern
- Outside the Wall (1950) – Larry Nelson
- Side Street (1950) – Bank Teller (uncredited)
- Fourteen Hours (1951) – Robert Cosick
- The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) – Alan Spender
- Fixed Bayonets! (1951) – Cpl. Denno
- Decision Before Dawn (1951) – Lt. Dick Rennick
- Titanic (1953) – George Healey
- The Stranger's Hand (1954) – Joe Hamstringer
- Angels of Darkness [it] (1953) – Bit Part (uncredited)
- The Good Die Young (1954) – Joe Halsey
- La Strada (1954) – The Fool
- Avanzi di galera (1954) – Dottor Stefano Luprandi
- Canyon Crossroads (1955) – Larry Kendall
- Le avventure di Cartouche (1955) – Jacques de Maudy
- Golden Vein (1955) – Ing. Stefano Manfredi
- Il bidone (1955; also known as The Swindle (US) and The Swindlers (UK)) – Picasso
- The Intimate Stranger (1956) – Reginald 'Reggie' Wilson
- The Extra Day (1956) – Joe Blake
- Moby Dick (1956) – Ishmael
- Los jueves, milagro (1957) – Martino
- Time Limit (1957) – Maj. Harry Cargill
- The Brothers Karamazov (1958) – Ivan Karamazov
- Love and Troubles (1958) – Paolo Martelli
- The Restless and the Damned (1959; also known as L'Ambitieuse) – George Rancourt
- Jons und Erdme (1959) – Wittkuhn, der Schmied
- Five Branded Women (1960) – Captain Eric Reinhardt
- Portrait in Black (1960) – Howard Mason
- For the Love of Mike (1960) – Father Francis Phelan
- Passport to China (1961; also known as Visa to Canton) – Don Benton
- Rawhide (1961) – Tod Stone
- Hitler (1962) – Adolf Hitler
- Savage Guns (1962) – Steve Fallon
- The Twilight Zone (episode: "Probe 7, Over and Out"; 1963) – Adam Cook
- Kings of the Sun (1963) – Ah Min
- Combat! (episode: "The Long Way Home"; 1963) – Capt. Steiner
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968) - Admiral Nelson (110 episodes)
- Battle of the Bulge (1965)
- The Satan Bug (1965) – Dr. Gregor Hoffman
- Un homme qui me plaît (1969; also known as A Man I Like and Love is a Funny Thing) – Acteur – cameo appearance
- Hans Brinker (1969) – Dr. Boekman
- Giotto (1969) – Narrator (voice)
- Sole Survivor (1970, TV) – Brig. Gen. Russell Hamner
- The Andersonville Trial (1970, TV) – Henry Wirz
- The Birdmen (1971, TV) – Schiller
- The Death of Me Yet (1971, TV) – Robert Barnes
- Assignment: Munich (1972, TV) – Maj. Barney Caldwell
- Chato's Land (1972) – Nye Buell
- Rage (1972) – Dr. Roy Caldwell
- Columbo: episode: "Dagger of the Mind" (1972, TV) – Nicholas Frame
- And Millions Will Die (1973) – Dr. Douglas Pruitt
- Time Travelers (1976, TV) – Dr. Joshua Henderson (1871)
- Little House on the Prairie (1976) – Mr. Applewood
- Mansion of the Doomed (1976; also known as Terror of Dr Chaney and Massacre Mansion) – Dr. Leonard Chaney
- 21 Hours at Munich (1976 TV film/Theatrically Released Overseas) - Chancelor Willy Brandt
- The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) – Sayer of the Law
- The Great Bank Hoax (1978) – Manny Benchly
- The Rebels (1979) – Duke of Kentland
- Being There (1979) – Vladimir Skrapinov
- Knight Rider (1982–1986, TV series) – Narrator – Opening Titles / Wilton Knight / Narrator (final appearance)
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