Robert (“Bob”) Mitchel Bassing, born in Rhode Island in 1925, lived with his novelist wife Eileen and her two sons in Ajijic between 1951 and 1954. The Bassings had previously been living and working in Hollywood, where Bob had been assistant story editor at Colombia Pictures. In Ajijic they started Lakeside Players (forerunner of Lakeside Little Theatre); its first production was the comedy You Can’t Take It With You, staged in the open patio of a small inn, La Playita, in Chapala in 1953. And Bob was active in civic affairs, mentioned in the 13 August 1953 issue of El Informador as one of only two foreigners on the “Junta de Mejoramiento Moral, Cívico y Material” of Ajijic, together with ‘Carlos Moor’ (= Charles Moore).
Bob Bassing wrote short stories, fiction screenplays, and worked on numerous television projects. As Michael Hargraves has pointed out, “Although none of his [Bob Bassing’s] published works uses Ajijic or the Lake Chapala area as a locale, he nonetheless was influenced by his being there.”
Prior to living in Ajijic, Bassing had worked as an outside reader for Columbia Pictures, and edited scripts for the TV series Studio One in Hollywood (1948). He began writing while living in Ajijic, and completed three short stories, all of which sold. The first was “Lullaby” published in Discovery, No. 2 (New York; Pocket Books, 1953), a magazine edited by Vance Bourjaily. Bourjaily had himself lived in Ajijic, albeit apparently briefly, during the summer of 1951. Bassing’s other two stories from this time were “The Trouble with Arabella,” published in Woman’s Home Companion, January 1955, and “Summer Evening,” published by Mademoiselle, May 1955.
Bassing later wrote several screenplays, including that for his wife’s novel Home Before Dark (1958), as well as more than 120 scripts for episodes of numerous TV series including Ford Television Theater (1954-1957), The Millionaire (1956), Harbor Command (1958), Assignment: Underwater (1960), National Velvet (1960), My Three Sons (1961) and Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1961). He also wrote or rewrote more than a dozen scripts for a TV series based on Dr. Hudson’s secret journal: The Denby story (Los Angeles: Authors Playhouse, 1955).
Bob Bassing was the basis for the minor character “Beau Blissing” in Willard Marsh‘s Ajijic-based novel Week with No Friday (1965). Marsh and his wife had earlier been used by Eileen Bassing for two minor characters in her own novel set in Ajijic, Where’s Annie?.
After Ajijic, the Bassings moved back to California, where Eileen Bassing passed away in 1977. Bob Bassing, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, still lives in Los Angeles. In 2016, he threatened to sue the Academy for its alleged age discrimination in changing his membership category from active (voting) to emeritus. The change was apparently part of the Academy’s efforts to (finally) become more inclusive.
My sincere thanks to Bob Bassing for clarifying, correcting and expanding on the original version of this profile, first published 20 October 2014.
- Eileen Bassing (1918-1977), author of “Home Before Dark” and “Where’s Annie?”
- “Where’s Annie?” a novel by Eileen Bassing, is set in Ajijic, Chapala, Mexico
Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village offer more details about the history of the literary and artistic community in Ajijic.
Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.
Tony Burton’s books include “Lake Chapala: A Postcard History” (2022), “Foreign Footprints in Ajijic” (2022), “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants” (2020), (available in translation as “Si Las Paredes Hablaran”), “Mexican Kaleidoscope” (2016), and “Lake Chapala Through the Ages” (2008).