Diana Basehart has always loved animals. In 1971, she and husband, actor Richard Basehart, co-founded Actors and Others for Animals. After his death in 1984, she founded the Richard Basehart Fund to help the elderly afford to keep their pets.
Her latest “pet” project is the Diana Basehart Foundation, which provides support for the elderly and others on limited incomes to keep their beloved companion animals by providing assistance with veterinary care, training and food.
Basehart, along with co-founders Lynne Shaw and Toni Frohoff, conceived of the foundation about six months ago, after seeing that this resource was lacking in the community.
Shaw is an animal advocate and television producer who spends several days each week volunteering at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, where her specialty is care and placement of dogs. Frohoff, founder of the local nonprofit Protect Our Dolphins, is an animal behavioral biologist and the author of two books.
Last Saturday, about 130 people gathered at the Montecito home of Penny Bianchi for the foundation’s first fundraising event. Bianchi’s gracious home was cozy and inviting, and the refreshments included Dog Hill Vineyard wines, generously donated by co-owner Jason Millar. Nancy Koppelman co-hosted the event.
Basehart, a former actress and model, native Englishwoman and also an artist, spoke briefly to the crowd. A short film was shown, made by advisory board co-chairs Tipper Gore and Bill Allen, highlighting some of the people and their pets who have already been assisted by the foundation and utilizing many of Gore’s still photos. Her love for animals and dedication to working with the homeless, along with her friendship with Basehart, fuel her passion for the new foundation.
Sarah Gore Lee, Gore’s daughter, was there to represent her, as one of her mother’s beautiful framed black and white nature photographs went on the auction block. Another framed photo, by Allen, former editor of National Geographic, was auctioned as well. Also included in the live auction was a pet portrait by Miriam Slater.
A silent auction offered lavish gift baskets, and Lissa Liggett Perfumes sold its Mackensie’s Miracle Organic Dog Shampoo, with all proceeds benefiting the new nonprofit.
The event raised about $20,000 for the foundation.
Click here for more information about the nonprofit organization and how to help.
— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.