‘A remarkable figure’: Former UC Berkeley music librarian Ann Basart dies at 88

Kate Basart/Courtesy

Former UC Berkeley music reference librarian and well-known child star Ann Basart died Feb. 7 at the age of 88 due to complications from dementia.

Basart grew up in Southern California with her maternal grandparents, where she was a child actress who starred in about 40 movies under the name Ann E. Todd. Basart moved to Berkeley in 1950, and she obtained a master’s degree in library science and a Master of Arts from UC Berkeley, according to Basart’s daughter, Kate Basart. She was a campus music reference librarian for more than 20 years.

“She was a remarkable figure not only because she achieved things in a number of different areas,”  said John Roberts, emeritus head of the music library, who knew Basart when she was at UC Berkeley. “She really was an extraordinary individual and one of the most important figures in the history of the music library and Berkeley’s libraries in general. I will really miss her voice of leadership and inspiration.”

Basart was cheerful and optimistic, according to Charles Shere, an American composer and friend. Basart’s son, Nat Basart, said when he envisions his mother, he sees her smile, which he said he will miss the most.

Shere said music was a central part of Basart’s life. Her husband, Robert Basart, and her father were both were composers, and she had many friends in the music community. Basart won an award for lifetime achievement from the Music Library Association, according to Kate Basart.

“She and my dad had a very enviable friend circle,” Nat Basart said. “It’s wonderful that they were able to maintain such great friendships with so many people. I think it speaks to the type of people both of them were.”

Basart also started her own publishing company, Fallen Leaf Press, named after the family’s summer vacation spot, Fallen Leaf Lake. Shere said she continued to vitalize the community of composers and performers through her published music and books.

Shere said Basart considered her role in the 1939 movie “Intermezzo” a difficult role because she was required to play a piano piece incorrectly. He added that the scene had to be reshot multiple times because she would forget to make the mistake.

Kate Basart said her mother loved to read, especially science fiction and “Doctor Who.” She added that Basart had thousands of books in her home.

Basart is survived by her two children, Kate and Nat Basart, along with three grandchildren. According to Kate Basart, Basart’s husband died on the same day in 1993 after 42 years of marriage.

“She was really madly in love with my father,” Kate Basart said. “They died on the exact same day, and I like to think the TARDIS is somehow involved in that by creating a ‘Doctor Who’ time rift.”

Contact Maria Young at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maria_myoung.