Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

David Hedison interview, 2005

David Hedison, 2004.

David Hedison
           In early 2005, John and Diane Kachmar were kind enough to help me connect with David Hedison.  I had long wanted to ask a few specific questions about his experiences on stage and his memories of working on Voyage.  I had trepidation's going in, not wanting to pose the same questions asked a hundred times before, or at least not wanting to pose them in the same way.  The interview, conducted via email in one pass, did not facilitate back and forth interaction, but I was pleased to get David's responses.  The interview begins with a few thoughts on acting and theater and then moves on to the Voyage years.  Thanks, John and Diane, and certainly, thank you very much, David Hedison.

---Michael Bailey

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    Mike: Did you work directly with Lee Strasberg at The Actor's Studio and if so, what do you remember about the man?
    David: I did one scene for Lee at the Actorsí Studio ---- "Franny and Zooey" with Rosemary Murphy (1953).  At the studio I did several other scenes when the other teachers were moderating ---- Estelle Parsons, Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, etc., etc.  As a teacher I thought Lee was marvelous ---- but I preferred
Sandy Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in NY.

    Mike: Do you still use Strasberg's training?
    David: I work from the inside out, which is the way most actors at the studio work.  The method to me is just preparing and then performing in the most truthful and honest way possible.  As the French would say: Mettez-vous dans de la peau de la bette. (Get yourself within the skin of the animal.)

    Mike: What work have you done where you felt you most honestly delivered the goods to your audience (chugging on all cylinders) . . . and why?
    David: I remember a performance as MacDuff in "MacBeth" ---- circa 1953 with Louisa Horan as Lady MacBeth.  Hot stuff.

    Mike: Film acting seems so different from the stage (a cold camera staring at you rather than a living, breathing audience) . . . is there any comparison in the way you prepare the work?  Is the "charge" you get out of the performance different because the medium is different?
    David: The real "charge" comes when you are working in the Theatre ---- with a different audience every night.  In film ---- you might be happy with one scene ---- but so often you discover itís not even in the final cut.  Cíest la vie! [Thatís life!]

    Mike: Is there any particular film (of yours) that you can view today and feel like, yeahóthat performance was right on?  Why?
    David: In film?  Iím afraid not. I wish.  But I donít think so.

    Mike: What was your favorite stage role?
    David: The role of George in "Chapter Two" by Neil Simon.

    Mike: Voyage's first season (black and white) shows were the best, dramatically.  Gritty episodes like "Submarine Sunk Here" and "The Fear Makers" hold up well today.  If you remember these shows, did you have any sense that these episodes were good back when you were making them?
    David: I never thought much of any of the Voyage episodes when I was filming them.  The excitement came when I would work with some of the directors like Leonard Horn, Sutton Roley, Jerry Hopper. And of course there was always Basehart to keep me from getting depressed.


The very able director, Sutton Roley
       The versatile Sutton Roley

    Mike: Have you changed your attitude on the Voyage shows after seeing them again years later? Were there any that you liked better on a second viewing?
    David: Iíve seen a few episodes over the years, and I have to admit that I was very proud over much of what I saw.  The chemistry between Crane and the Admiral was perfect.  And the ensemble work with Dowdell, Becker, Monroe and Hunt and everyone else was joyous.  I realize now that those four years (Ď64-68) have been one of the major highlights of my life.

    Mike: What in your opinion was the worst Voyage episode ever made?
    David: Fossil Men.

Alfred from photo shoot stemmng from Voyage Phantom appearance.
      The talented Alfred Ryder

    Mike: One of your favorite episodes is  Return of the Phantom . Sutton Roley directed both Phantom shows and he pulled out all the stops with creative set-ups and directorial tricks.  Do you recall any of this?  Was it fun doing those shows?
    David : It was great fun working on "The Phantom" with Sutton.  When I heard Irwin Allen was doing a "Return of..." I was overjoyed.   Alfred Ryder   was such a fine actor.  At one time, I started working on a German accent for the part.  But the--when the time came, I discovered that Alfred's accent was quite different from mine--although quite unique and interesting.  I watched his work constantly, studied that accent of his while watching the dailies and did my damndest to grab onto his sound.  I think I succeeded.

    Mike: What is the single most vivid memory you have of doing Voyage?  I don't necessarily mean of acting on the show, or a favorite story.  Just curious.
    David: The single most vivid memory was the realization of how lucky I was to be working with my now friend, Richard Basehart. He taught me so much, and I will never forget him.  I was very much the extrovert at the time.  Richard ---- the opposite ---- shy and very much a loner.  Itís amazing how I am getting to be more like him!  What can I say?  I miss him a lot.

    Mike:   Did Richard Basehart know how loved and appreciated he was by his many fans?
    David: Iím sure he did.  But it never showed.  I remember asking him one time when he went to bed.  His answer was 9 P.M. "What?" -- I screamed.  "Youíve got to be kidding!"  You see, in those days I hit the sack around 2 AM and would report for work ----- fresh as a daisy ---- at 7 A.M.  Those were the days! Mike ---- just ask me today what time I go to bed. I would be totally embarrassed with my answer. Not quite 9 P.M.
But close. Very close. You canít go home again!

    David Hedison
    Beverly Hills
    February 7, 2005

Richard Basehart and David Hedison clown around on the set.
David Hedison and good friend Richard Basehart.

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