Last week on January 24, 2011 the world lost a good man. Most people knew him as Chief White Eagle but his real name was Basil F. Heath. Born on the Iroquois Indian Grand River Reservation in Canada on March 18, 1917, Heath eventually settled in the United States. His beautiful soul left his human body in Rochester, Indiana.
Before becoming involved in movies, television, and radio Mr. Heath served in WWII and also was an iron worker and welder. His agility in walking on steel beams high in the air eventually got him some stunt work in the movies and then that lead to actual roles. He was known to often quip, “My good friend John Wayne killed me seven times on the screen.”
It seems that Mr. Heath, Chief White Eagle, was a man with a great sense of humor. It was reported once that when visiting a group of young children at a school he was asked, “Where did the Indians come from?” Chief White Eagle pondered the question for just a moment and replied, “Cleveland.”
His movie credits include: Northwest Passage (1939), She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Red River, Niagara, How The West Was Won, and Stage Coach. He also hosted a long running TV show for children in Chicago called “The Totem Club”.
From everything that I read about Basil F. Heath, Chief White Eagle he sounds like a man who was bigger than life. He was so involved in the communities that he lived in and was known by Presidents and Royalty. It sounds like he lived a good life while on his journey of the Good Red Road and influenced many people while he was here for 93 years.
My condolences to his loving family and may you rest in Peace with the Ancestors, Chief White Cloud. The world was a better place because you shared it with us.
~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related