Bast, William 1931- (William Edwin Bast)

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Bast, William 1931- (William Edwin Bast)


Born April 3, 1931, in Milwaukee, WI; son of Gilbert Bast and Bernice Fleischman. Education: Attended the University of Wisconsin, 1947-48, and University of California at Los Angeles, 1948-51. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Languages, cooking, travel.


E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, producer. Paramount Television, Los Angeles, CA, writer, producer, 1974-75; The Jozak Co., Los Angeles, writer, producer, 1976-77; Norman Rosemont Productions, writer, 1977; United Artists/Allied Artists, Los Angeles, writer, 1977; Channing, Debin, Locke Productions, Los Angeles, writer, producer, 1980-81; Hill/Mandelker Productions, Los Angeles, writer, producer, executive consultant, 1981-82; London Films, Ltd., writer, producer, executive consultant, 1982-83; Columbia Pictures Television, Los Angeles, writer, executive consultant, 1983-84, writer, producer, 1987-88; Aaron Spelling Productions, Inc., Los Angeles, writer, producer, 1985; Bast/Huson Productions, Los Angeles, writer, executive producer, 1987-88; Von Zerneck-Sertner Productions, Sherman Oaks, CA, writer, producer, 1989-91.


Writers Guild of America, Caucus Producers, Writers, and Directors, Mystery Writers of America, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.


Edgar Award for The Legend of Lizzie Borden, 1976; Christopher Award for The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1982; Writers Guild Award, for The First Olympics, Athens 1896, 1984; and a People's Choice Award, 1986, for The Colbys television series.


James Dean: A Biography (also see below), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1956.

Surviving James Dean, Barricade Books (Fort Lee, NJ), 2006.


"The Myth Makers," "Tiger at the Gates" (adapted from the play of the same title by Jean Girardoux), ITV Play of the Week, 1958-60.

"Horatio Bottomley, M.P.," On Trial, 1960.

"Blood Money," Acapulco, 1961.

"But Linda Only Smiled," Ben Casey, 1961.

The Test, 1961.

"The Clown," National Velvet, 1962.

"Moonstone," The Outer Limits, 1964.

"Bow to a Master," The Rogues, 1965.

"One of the Family," The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, 1965.

"Whatever Lola Wants," "The Owl and the Eye," Honey West, 1965.

"All the Scared Rabbits," The Fugitive, 1965.

"Home Is a Nameless Place," "Blaze of Glory," The Long Hot Summer, 1965.

"The Case of the Fatal Fortune," "The Case of the Impetuous Imp," "The Case of the Silent Six," "The Case of the Crafty Kidnapper," Perry Mason, 1965-66.

"Drop by Drop," "Target: Eva," "All That Lia Ever Wanted," The Man Who Never Was, 1966.

Danger Has Two Faces, 1967.

"Just for the Record," "Entombed," Combat!, 1967.

"Boa Constrictor," Thirty-Minute Theatre, 1967.

Hammerhead (feature film adapted from the novel of the same title by James Mayo), 1968.

The Valley of Gwangi (feature film), 1969.

"The Scorpio Drop," "The Suzie Simone Caper," It Takes a Thief, 1970.

"The Girl in Chair Nine," "‘A’ Is for Annie," The Mod Squad, 1970.

"Cry of the Cat," Ghost Story (also released as Circle of Fear), 1972.

"The Actress," The Waltons, 1973.

"The Ma Gantry Gang," The Manhunter, 1974.

"Anybody Can Build a Bomb," "A Hawaiian Nightmare," Hawaii Five-O, 1974.

"The Musician," "The Engagement," Apple's Way, 1974.

The Legend of Lizzie Borden, 1974.

James Dean: Portrait of a Friend (also released as The Legend, adapted from Bast's novel James Dean: A Biography), 1976.

The Man in the Iron Mask (adapted from the novel of the same title by Alexandre Dumas père), 1977.

The Betsy (feature film adapted from the novel of the same title by Harold Robbins), 1978.

The Star Maker, 1981.

Mistress of Paradise, 1981.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (adapted from the novel of the same title by Baroness Emmuska Orczy), 1982.

"Formula for Revenge," "Dye Job," "Big Mouth," "The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon," Tucker's Witch, 1982-83.

The Master of Ballantrae (adapted from the novel of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson), 1984.

The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (also released as The First Modern Olympics), 1984.

"Crossroads," "The Wedding," "The Outcast," "My Father' House," "Burden of Proof," "The Trial," "Fallon's Choice," "The Pact," "Thursday's Child," "The Turning Point," "The Letter," "Fallen Idol," "The Reunion," "A House Divided," "Shadow of the Past," "Moment of Truth," "Conspiracy of Silence," "The Celebration," The Colbys (also released as Dynasty II: The Colbys), 1985-87.

Pursuit (also released as Twist of Fate; adapted from the novel of the same title by Robert L. Fish), 1989.

The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake, 1990.

Secrets (adapted from the novel of the same title by Danielle Steel), 1992.

Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare, 1995.

The Fury Within, 1998.

Power and Beauty, 2002.

Also writer for additional television series, including The Law and Mr. Jones, 1960, Dr. Kildare, 1961, Bus Stop, 1961, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1963, The Survivors, 1969, and The Hamptons, 1983.


William Bast grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and began his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin prior to transferring to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). It was at UCLA that he met his friend and roommate, James Dean, while the man was still a young, unknown, aspiring actor. Upon graduating, Dean encouraged Bast to follow him to New York City, and so Bast decided to give up his job working as an usher for CBS studios and headed east to meet Dean. The two roomed together in New York once again as they set out to jump start their careers. In less than a year, Bast was writing television scripts and began to work his way up through the television pecking order, soon returning to Los Angeles, again with Dean, so that he could work in Hollywood where more and more television programs were being developed. Although the return to California meant that Bast's career seemed to move more slowly in comparison to Dean's meteoric rise, it was Dean's sudden death that ultimately proved a boost to Bast's opportunities. Shortly after his friend's fatal accident, Bast was approached and asked to write about his friendship with the young actor. Bast's book James Dean: A Biography was published in 1956. The book instantly put him in the spotlight, but Bast was uncomfortable with this type of fame, and determined to leave Los Angeles until things quieted down. He flew to Europe, spending time in Paris and then London, and wrote the script for The Myth Makers, a film for British television that was inspired in part by the iconic status Dean seemed to achieve through his death. Bast continued to write for television, producing several scripts for British productions before returning to the United States and American television. His contributions to television include teleplays for numerous series, including The Colbys, Mod Squad, and The Fugitive, as well as feature-length productions such as The Legend of Lizzie Borden. He also adapted his biography of Dean for television, with James Dean:Portrait of a Friend. Surviving James Dean, published in 2006, included certain segments that were not included in his earlier book, among them some highly personal details about their relationship. Heather McCormack, in a review for Library Journal, commented: "Certainly, other memoirs are more artfully written, but you close the book glad at having read someone with integrity." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised the work, concluding: "This simple, heartfelt book records Bast's coming out and the long-term impact Dean had on his life."

Bast told CA that he first became interested in writing when he was offered a job on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) television series The Aldrich Family. When asked to describe his writing process, Bast stated: "I write a solid outline first, then let my imagination and instincts improve the story as I write the draft." The most surprising thing he has learned as a writer is that he "took to it so readily and found it less daunting" than he had anticipated. His favorite book of his own is Surviving James Dean because he "was able to be frank and forthright." Bast stated, "I would like to feel I have dispelled errors and misrepresentations in other books dealing with my relationship with Dean."



Bast, William, Surviving James Dean, Barricade Books (Fort Lee, NJ), 2006.


California Bookwatch, July, 2006, review of Surviving James Dean.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Heather McCormack, review of Surviving James Dean, p. 74.

Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2006, review of Surviving James Dean, p. 151.


Internet Movie Database, (October 31, 2007), author filmography.

William Bast Home Page, (October 31, 2007).