Voyage Set Visits

October 1966 -1968


By Anna Hreha

Vice President of the David Hedison Fan Club, 1964-1983


The following are some excerpts from an article Anna wrote for the late Barbara Waggener and the Hedison Fan Club Journal in the mid 1970’s.


Anna writes:

[Here are] my memories from two memorable visits to the “Voyage” set.  [The first] was in the fall of 1966 and the fall of 1967 (October both times I think).  We used to go down to Los Angeles every other year and sometimes every year.  I must admit it's nice to go down when it's sunshine and warm as ours turns crispy in October.  [Anna lived in Seattle].

First time we met David (we being my husband, Val and I) was in October 1966 on the set of "Voyage."  Bridget Price, who handled David’s mail at that time, had arranged that we should meet him.  And David called to welcome us shortly after our arrival (who minds being woke up at eight good morning if its David -- not me!) In Los Angeles and it was arranged that we would visit with him the following Friday on the set but then he called on Friday morning to ask if we could change it to Tuesday, which was fine with us.  So we did meet David that following Tuesday.  And what a lovely host! I asked him if Del Monroe was on the set (I had corresponded with Del) and David brought him around to meet us.   With David working much of the time -- but coming to talk with us between reversals and shooting -- Del talked to us.  I brought my cameras and David said it was okay to take pictures on the set (20th Century Fox was one of the few studios that allowed cameras to brought into the studio) and I have some lovely ones to help me remember the occasion.  We stayed almost noon -- we had a very enjoyable two hours on the set.  And it is very enjoyable to be shown the various sets used on the show.

In October 1967 it was off to Los Angeles -- this time I went down without my husband (I got more vacation from work than he did and Val very graciously let me fly off without him -- I stayed with a friend from St. Louis and we had a ball).  And one of the highlights again was a visit to the “Voyage” set to see David at work.  He had been the star of that particular episode (that is the largest part) but when we finally got there, his work was almost completed on that particular episode.  We did see the shooting of one scene.  But this gave us an hour or more of David’s time and we had a marvelous time chatting -- he was making arrangements with his stand-in for a cast party that night.  It seemed that he and Richard Basehart would alternate [hosting] a party at the end of each episode.

We had lots of times to talk about a variety of subjects in his dressing room.  We also took scads of pictures -- both inside the sound stage and outside.  Looking at these pictures I had to smile -- David has a marvelous sense of humor. It's a wonder I could take any decent pictures because we got to laughing at his humor.  He was such a willing subject -- it was much appreciated.  These pictures were all used in Barbara's club publications for David at that time. Besides he always looks good in every picture -- sort of disgusting to us non-photogenic types.

  Actor Lew Gallo (who is a producer nowadays) stopped by and I can tell you David and Lew came up with some of the oldest jokes you've ever heard but they so obviously enjoyed telling them and were having a ball that it was a very infectious type of humor.  But anyone like David, who reads my favorite magazines -- Saturday Review – is all right.  Saw it lying there in his dressing room.

I was sorry to see “Voyage” end -- though it was obvious that it was difficult, with good scripts character-wise - I'd known David didn't care for the monster type villains and neither did I. I think every actor after a few years of a series likes to spread his or her wings and go on to other things -- whether it is feature films, stage or another series.  I can only hope that a good television series will come David's way again soon -- we get to see so much more of his work that way.


Margo McDonnell's visit to the set, 1967
Photos courtesy of Margo McDonnell.

More of Margo's photos available at Mike's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Zone

Set Visit: Spring of 1968

Fox Publicity Department

Their day in invariably begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Hollywood studios, but despite the demands of a weekly TV series actors David Hedison and Richard Basehart devote much of their spare time to seeking intellectual values. 
They arrive at the studio in Century City in the Mercedes cars.  Richard Basehart’s is a 1964 off-white model; David Hedison's is a 1958, of a green paler than cream de menthe with cream in it.  What they are coming to are their jobs at 20th Century Fox Studios, where they play the leading roles in “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”
Basehart is Admiral Harriman Nelson and Hedison is Captain Lee Crane on board the science-fiction fantasy submarine, the Seaview (atomic powered of course).
The chief and his chief aide-de-camp get to the studio at 7:30 A.M. for their makeup, which takes half an hour.  They get in the U.S. Navy-type uniforms they keep on for the rest of working day.  When they go out to lunch, either separately or together, they keep on the uniform.
Restaurant diners, in the West Los Angeles area, have grown used to two men with brown-orange skins darker than even the California sun could bronze them, showing up in the elegant eating places in the vicinity of the studio, scripts in hand, for an hour’s leisurely dining.
Richard’s favorite luncheon spot is the Portofino room at the Beverly Hillcrest hotel, a minute’s walk away from 20th.  David goes along with him because he invariably follows Richard’s lead.
Occasionally the men have lunch in their dressing rooms.  Both dressing rooms are on the small side, carpeted in red for David, in green for Richard.  Each quarters contains a bed- couch, a desk and a visitor’s chair.  David tends towards plaids – Richard’s is filled with books.  He reads a number of books a week.  Anything from Dickens to Dostoyevsky will do.
Basehart has been the Admiral of the underwater craft for four years now.  "I like being part of the successful venture," he says.  Four years on one series places him among the list of long-time regulars.
Hedison, a bachelor, lives all alone on a mountaintop, on a Beverly Hill.  His home is one of "those up-and-down things," he says.  Hedison has an artistic touch, which he exercises on his house.  He likes bright colors, simple, sturdy male furniture and sliding glass windows.  "I can see everywhere," he says.  If there's no haze in the air, that is.  But his views are spectacular, and at night from his hilltop, Los Angeles glitters and gleams like a jeweler’s shop window.
When the series stops filming for the summer vacation, Hedison will go off to Europe with a friend to make a movie in Italy [Kemek].  He admits to Basehart’s acting influence.  "I feel I learned a lot about acting from him," he says.  "I like to study my scripts with him to get his feelings about them."
Although a bachelor, and a good-looking at that, he has his choice of ladies to court, his life, like Basehart’s is based on what he calls "intellectual values."
"He just doesn't belong to that swinging bunch," says a female friend of his.  She means that the Hollywood go-go group is not David's taste.
"Most my friends are in the profession," says David.  "But not necessarily actors.  I'm interested in the writing, directing, producing side of the industry."
And everybody on the set admires David.  "If we could pick an actor who's always cooperative and always a gentleman, it would be David," said one studio executive woman on the show.
On the set, both men, when they are not turning on hearty dramatic charm for the cameras, often laugh and joke with each other.  "They josh each other, to no end," says the same woman executive. 
"One time, when they had finished film a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of episode, David had Richard's picture taken in his Mr. Hyde make up without Richard knowing about it. When he got the photo back, David put the head on the cover of a local TV magazine and rushed into Richard’s dressing room to show him.  I heard howls of laughter coming from Richard’s room." 
Good thing they get along -- they have to spend all that time together at the bottom of the sea.