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Actor Richard Basehart dead at 70

HOLLYWOOD -- Actor Richard Basehart, who narrated the movie 'Moby Dick' and the poem that accompanied the dousing of the flame at the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics has died following a series of strokes. He was 70.

Basehart, who also starred as Admiral Nelson in the 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' TV series, died Monday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, attorney Bruce Stiglitz announced Tuesda.

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Basehart suffered his first stroke the morning after the actor, known for his strong, resonant voice, read the closing Olympic poem, which included the line 'When the end comes, the loss of flame brings darkness.'

He was hospitalized since then except for one period of several hours at home, and was in a coma for several days before he died.

In 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,' one of television's most popular science fiction series in the 1960s, Basehart commanded the officers and crewof the Seaview, a glass-nosed atomic submarine that roamed the seas fighting human and alien villains.

He also appeared in the 'W.E.B.' TV series, a primetime soap opera set behind the scenes of a major network.

Among the best known of his 30 movies were 'Cry Wolf,' 'Moby Dick,' 'He Walked By Night,' 'Titanic,' 'The Brothers Karamazov,' 'The Good Die Young' and 'La Strada.'

He also played the title role in the movie 'Hitler' in 1963, narrated the acclaimed PBS play, 'The Andersonville Trials,' and appeared in many commericals.

Basehart began his acting career at the Hedgerow Theater in Moylan, Pa., and got his start on Broadway in 'The Hasty Heart' in the 1940s.

Born in Zanesville, Ohio, he worked as a reporter for the Times-Signal, which his father, an unnsuccessful actor, edited.

Basehart is survived by his wife, Diana, and three children, Gayla, 15, Jenna, 20, and John Anthony, 33.

Services were scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Westwood Village Mortuary Chapel. Instead of flowers, the family asked that donations be sent to Actors and Others for Animals, which was founded by Basehart and his wife.

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