Richard Basehart in the Voyage episode Timebomb, computer painted. Watch out--that ear will fall off!

Voyage to the Bottom
of the Sea
Richard Basehart as
Admiral Harriman Nelson

A light in the darkness...

     Based on reports of his family and friends and from interviews and magazine articles, it's apparent that Richard Basehart didn't like Irwin Allen and he didn't like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Likewise, he didn't particularly like Nelson as written, because the Admiral's character was paper-thin.  By all accounts, the only reason he took the role was because he needed money due to a recent and very trying divorce.  But regardless of his own feelings about the show and his role in it, Basehart, trapped by his own unique talent and impelled by the directive of his own standards, breathed life into a shell and created the Admiral named Harriman Nelson.   TV Guide cover photo, June 1965
This is a cleaned-up copy of the fine TV Guide cover-photo featuring Richard Basehart and David Hedison which appeared in 1965.  Inside, a story focusing on Basehart, the man and the actor.  If you would like a free copy of this interesting article/interview, email me here .

     Particularly in season one, Voyage had good scriptwriting and very decent dialogue.  And from that dialogue, a ghost of the character of a man was implicit.  It was into that ghost that Richard Basehart breathed the flesh.  It poured out through his eyes and was manifest in his every intense movement and gesture and announced via his authoritative yet compassionate voice.

    Admiral Nelson became a man of conviction and substance because Basehart made him that way.  There is little else that can be said.  The proof and demonstration is in the viewing.  For many, it was during the Fall of 1964 that they first took a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and discovered Richard Basehart's talent, charisma and humanity.

---Mike Bailey

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 Nelson at plotting table.

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     . . . . Outside, the world lay bathed in mercury light from a full moon hanging low on the horizon. Where the sea was not black, it shone with silvery motion; in spite of the brilliant moon, the sky blazed with thousands of visible stars and the iridescent meandering band of the Milky Way. It was unseasonably warm (another El Nino), and Admiral Harriman Nelson and Captain Lee Crane stood on Seaview's bridge, thoroughly comfortable in light jackets. The Admiral quietly focused inward in anticipation of his one real vice. He ran his fingers through his brownish-red hair and down the back of his neck. He opened his eyes after brief meditation and flipped back the cover of a Zippo lighter, struck it, and touched the flame to the tobacco end of a Marlboro filter.
    Nelson passionately treasured these moments. His younger sister had badgered him for years to knock of his "one bad habit" as she put it. He had grudgingly cut down to just a few cigarettes a day, then to just one before scheduled dives and upon mission's completion, knowing full well the discipline was for his own good. And anyway, the rareness of the occasions made them more special.

----Excepted from The Nemesis Syndrome

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Richard Basehart
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Richard Basehart
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