Basil Rathbone

Last updated

Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone in Tovarich trailer.jpg
From the trailer for the film Tovarich (1937)
Philip St. John Basil Rathbone

(1892-06-13)13 June 1892
Died21 July 1967(1967-07-21) (aged 75)
New York City, U.S.
Resting place Ferncliff Cemetery Shrine of Memories, Hartsdale, New York, U.S.
Years active1911–1967
Spouse(s)Ethel Marian Foreman (1914–1926; divorced)
Ouida Bergère (1926–1967; his death)
Relatives Sir Frank Benson (cousin)

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone MC (13 June 1892 – 21 July 1967) was an English actor. He rose to prominence in the United Kingdom as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in more than 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films.


Rathbone frequently portrayed suave villains or morally ambiguous characters, such as Mr. Murdstone in David Copperfield (1935), Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1936) and Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). His most famous role was that of Sherlock Holmes in fourteen Hollywood films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series. His later career included roles on Broadway, as well as self-ironic film and television work. He received a Tony Award in 1948 as Best Actor in a Play. He was also nominated for two Academy Awards and was honoured with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Early life

Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, [1] to British parents. His mother, Anna Barbara (née George), was a violinist, and his father, Edgar Philip Rathbone, was a mining engineer and scion of the Liverpool Rathbone family. He had two older half-brothers, Harold and Horace, as well as two younger siblings, Beatrice and John. Basil was the great-grandson of the noted Victorian philanthropist, William Rathbone V, and thus a descendant of William Rathbone II. The Rathbones fled to Britain when Basil was three years old when his father was accused by the Boers of being a spy after the Jameson Raid. He was a distant cousin of Brevet Colonel Henry Rathbone, who was present at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and was seriously wounded trying to stop John Wilkes Booth.

Rathbone attended Repton School in Derbyshire from 1906 to 1910, where he excelled at sports and was given the nickname "Ratters" by schoolmates. Thereafter, he was briefly employed as an insurance clerk by the Liverpool and Globe Insurance Companies, [2] to appease his father's wish for him to have a conventional career. [3]

On 22 April 1911, Rathbone made his first appearance on stage at the Theatre Royal, Ipswich, Suffolk, as Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew , with his cousin Sir Frank Benson's No. 2 Company, under the direction of Henry Herbert. In October 1912, he went to the United States with Benson's company, playing such parts as Paris in Romeo and Juliet , Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor , and Silvius in As You Like It . Returning to Britain, he made his first appearance in London at the Savoy Theatre on 9 July 1914, as Finch in The Sin of David. That December, he appeared at the Shaftesbury Theatre as the Dauphin in Henry V . During 1915, he toured with Benson and appeared with him at London's Court Theatre in December as Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream .

Military service

During the First World War, Rathbone was called up in 1915 via the Derby Scheme into the British Army as a private with the London Scottish Regiment, joining a regiment that also included his future professional acting contemporaries Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall and Ronald Colman at different points through the conflict. After basic training with the London Scots in early 1916 he received a commission as a lieutenant in the 2/10th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment (Liverpool Scottish), where he served as an intelligence officer and attained the rank of captain. Rathbone was twice the British Army Fencing Champ, a skill that would serve him well in movies and allow him to even teach actors Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power the finer art of swordsmanship. Rathbone's younger brother John was killed in action on 4 June 1918. [4] In 2012 two letters Rathbone wrote to his family while serving on the Western Front were published. One reveals the anguish and anger he felt following the death of his brother, John:

I want to tell him to mind his place. I think of his ridiculous belief that everything would always be well, his ever-hopeful smile, and I want to cuff him for a little fool. He had no business to let it happen and it maddens me that I shall never be able to tell him so, or change it or bring him back. I can’t think of him without being consumed with anger at him for being dead and beyond anything I can do to him.

— 26 July 1918 [5]

Following his brother's death, Rathbone appears to have become unconcerned about the dangers of serving at the front. Author Richard Van Emden in Famous 1914–18 speculates that his extreme bravery may have been a form of guilt or need for vengeance. [6] He persuaded his superiors to allow him to scout enemy positions during daylight rather than at night, as was the usual practice to minimise the chance of detection. [7] Rathbone wore a special camouflage suit that resembled a tree with a wreath of freshly plucked foliage on his head with burnt cork applied to his hands and face. [8] As a result of these highly dangerous daylight reconnaissance missions in September 1918, he was awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous daring and resource on patrol". [9]


Rathbone as Robert Browning in Katharine Cornell's 1933-1934 touring production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street Rathbone-Barretts-of-Wimpole-Street.jpg
Rathbone as Robert Browning in Katharine Cornell's 1933–1934 touring production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street

During the Summer Festival of 1919, he appeared at Stratford-upon-Avon with the New Shakespeare Company playing Romeo, Cassius, Ferdinand in The Tempest and Florizel in The Winter's Tale ; in October he was at London's Queen's Theatre as the aide de camp in Napoleon, and in February 1920 he was at the Savoy Theatre in the title role in Peter Ibbetson with huge success.

During the 1920s, Rathbone appeared regularly in Shakespearean and other roles on the British stage. He began to travel and appeared at the Cort Theatre, New York, in October 1923 in a production of The Swan opposite Eva Le Gallienne, which made him a star on Broadway. He toured in the United States in 1925, appearing in San Francisco in May and the Lyceum Theatre, New York, in October. He was in the US again in 1927 and 1930 and again in 1931, when he appeared on stage with Ethel Barrymore. He continued his stage career in Britain, returning late in 1934 to the US, where he appeared with Katharine Cornell in several plays.

Rathbone was once arrested in 1926 along with every other member of the cast of The Captive , a play in which his character's wife left him for another woman. Though the charges were eventually dropped, Rathbone was very angry about the censorship because he believed that homosexuality needed to be brought into the open. [10] [11]

With John Barrymore and Leslie Howard in Romeo and Juliet, 1936 Romeo and Juliet lobby card 2.jpg
With John Barrymore and Leslie Howard in Romeo and Juliet, 1936

He commenced his film career in 1921 in silent movies and appeared in 1923's "School for Scandal", later appearing in The Masked Bride , appeared in a few silent films, and played the detective Philo Vance in the 1930 film The Bishop Murder Case , based on the best selling novel. In the film there is a coincidental reference to Sherlock Holmes. Like George Sanders and Vincent Price after him, Rathbone made a name for himself in the 1930s by playing suave villains in costume dramas and swashbucklers, including David Copperfield (1935) as the abusive stepfather Mr. Murdstone; Anna Karenina (1935) as her distant husband, Karenin; The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) as Pontius Pilate; Captain Blood (1935); A Tale of Two Cities (1935), as the Marquis St. Evremonde; The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) playing his best-remembered villain, Sir Guy of Gisbourne; The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938); and The Mark of Zorro (1940) as Captain Esteban Pasquale. He also appeared in several early horror films: Tower of London (1939), as Richard III, and Son of Frankenstein (1939), portraying the dedicated surgeon Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, son of the monster's creator, and, in 1949, was also the narrator for the segment "The Wind in the Willows" in the Disney animated feature, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad .

He was admired for his athletic cinema swordsmanship (he listed fencing among his favourite recreations). He fought and lost to Errol Flynn in a duel on the beach in Captain Blood and in an elaborate fight sequence in The Adventures of Robin Hood. He was also involved in noteworthy sword fights in Tower of London, The Mark of Zorro, and The Court Jester (1956). Despite his real life skill, Rathbone won only twice on screen, against John Barrymore in Romeo and Juliet (1936) and against Eugene Pallette in The Mark of Zorro (1940). Rathbone earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performances as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1936) and as King Louis XI in If I Were King (1938), a truly remarkable, comedic performance as the wily king. In The Dawn Patrol (1938), he played one of his few heroic roles in the 1930s, as a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) squadron commander brought to the brink of a nervous breakdown by the strain and guilt of sending his battle-weary pilots off to near-certain death in the skies of 1915 France. Errol Flynn, Rathbone's perennial foe, starred in the film as his successor when Rathbone's character was promoted.

According to Hollywood legend, Rathbone was Margaret Mitchell's first choice to play Rhett Butler in the film version of her novel Gone with the Wind . The reliability of this story may be suspect, however, as on another occasion Mitchell chose Groucho Marx for the role, apparently in jest. Rathbone actively campaigned for the role, however, but to no avail.[ citation needed ]

Despite his film success, Rathbone always insisted that he wished to be remembered for his stage career. He said that his favourite role was that of Romeo.[ citation needed ]

The Sherlock Holmes films

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes.jpeg
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Rathbone is most widely recognised for his many portrayals of Sherlock Holmes. In a radio interview Rathbone recalled that Twentieth Century-Fox producer and director Gene Markey, lunching with producer-director-actor Gregory Ratoff and 20th Century-Fox mogul Daryl Zanuck at Lucey's Restaurant in Hollywood, proposed a film version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles . When asked who could possibly play Holmes, Markey incredulously replied, "Who?! Basil Rathbone!" The film was so successful that Fox produced a sequel which appeared later in 1939. Interest in Holmes cooled at Fox, but Universal Pictures picked up the character, and twelve feature films were made between 1941 and 1944 for release until 1947, all of which co-starred Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson.

The first two films, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (both produced by Fox in 1939), were set in the late Victorian times of the original stories. The later instalments, produced by Universal, beginning with Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), were set in contemporary times, with the first three having World War II-related plots.

Concurrent with the films, Rathbone and Bruce reprised their film roles in a radio series, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes , which began in October 1939. Rathbone appeared in the radio series as long as the film series was active, but after the films lapsed in 1946, Rathbone ceded his radio part to Tom Conway. Conway and Bruce carried on with the series for two seasons, until both dropped out in July 1947.

The many Holmes sequels typecast Rathbone, and he was unable to shake himself completely free from the shadow of the Great Detective despite appearing in other film roles. Resenting the typecasting, Rathbone refused to renew his contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and returned to Broadway. In later years, however, Rathbone willingly made the Holmes association, as in a TV sketch with Milton Berle in the early 1950s, in which he donned the deerstalker cap and Inverness cape. In the 1960s, dressed as Holmes, he appeared in a series of TV commercials for Getz Exterminators ("Getz gets 'em, since 1888!'").

Rathbone also brought Holmes to the stage in a play written by his wife Ouida. Thomas Gomez, who had appeared as a Nazi ringleader in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror , played the villainous Professor Moriarty. Nigel Bruce was slated to portray Dr Watson once more but became too ill and the part was played by character actor Jack Raine. Bruce's absence depressed Rathbone, particularly after Bruce died on 8 October 1953, while the play was in rehearsals. The play ran for only three performances.

Later career

In the 1950s, Rathbone appeared in two spoofs of his earlier swashbuckling villains: Casanova's Big Night (1954) opposite Bob Hope and The Court Jester (1956) with Danny Kaye. He appeared frequently on TV game shows and continued to appear in major films, including the Humphrey Bogart comedy We're No Angels (1955) and John Ford's political drama The Last Hurrah (1958).

Rathbone also appeared on Broadway numerous times. In 1948, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance as the unyielding Dr. Austin Sloper in the original production of The Heiress, which featured Wendy Hiller as his timid, spinster daughter. He also received accolades for his performance in Archibald Macleish's J.B. , a modernisation of the Biblical trials of Job.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, he continued to appear in several dignified anthology programmes on television. To support his second wife's lavish tastes, he appeared as a panelist on the television game show The Name's the Same (in 1954), and he also took roles in cheap film thrillers of far lesser quality, such as The Black Sleep (1956), Queen of Blood (1966), The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966, wherein the character ' Eric Von Zipper' played by Harvey Lembeck jokes, "That guy looks like Sherlock Holmes"), Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967, also featuring Lon Chaney Jr and John Carradine), and his last film, a low budget, Mexican horror film called Autopsy of a Ghost (1968).

He is also known for his spoken word recordings, including his interpretation of Clement C. Moore's "The Night Before Christmas". Rathbone's readings of the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe are collected together with readings by Vincent Price in Caedmon Audio's The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection on CD.

In four Caedmon albums Rathbone revisited his characterization of Sherlock Holmes. The first, "The Speckled Band" (Caedmon Records TC 1172, recorded in 1963), is a straight narration of the tale. In the rest he changes his voice for each character, including an rendition of Nigel Bruce for Dr Watson. [12]

Rathbone also made many other recordings, of everything from a dramatised version of Oliver Twist to a recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (with Leopold Stokowski conducting) to a dramatised version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol . [12]

On television he appeared in two musical versions of Dickens's A Christmas Carol: one in 1954, in which he played Marley's Ghost opposite Fredric March's Scrooge, and the original 1956 live action version of The Stingiest Man In Town , in which he starred as a singing Ebenezer Scrooge.

In the 1960s, he also toured with a one-man show titled (like his autobiography) In and Out of Character. In this show, he recited poetry and Shakespeare as well as giving reminiscences from his life and career (e.g., the humorous, "I could have killed Errol Flynn any time I wanted to!"). As an encore, he recited "221B" a poem written by writer-critic Vincent Starrett, one of the preeminent members of the Baker Street Irregulars whom Rathbone held in high regard.

Vincent Price and Rathbone appeared together, along with Boris Karloff, in Tower of London (1939) and The Comedy of Terrors (1963). The latter was the only film to feature the "Big Four" of American International Pictures' horror films: Price, Rathbone, Karloff and Peter Lorre. Rathbone also appeared with Price in the final segment of Roger Corman's 1962 anthology film Tales of Terror , a loose dramatisation of Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar".

In 1965 Belmont Books issued the anthology Basil Rathbone Selects Strange Tales, a collection of classic horror stories by Poe, Hawthorne, Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Dickens, Allston Collins, Le Fanu, and Wilkie Collins. The volume features a cover portrait of Rathbone; however, the back cover's legend "Produced by Lyle Kenyon Engel" indicates the anthology was probably not edited by Rathbone himself. Canadian editor and book packager Engel packaged shows and magazines for other horror film stars including Boris Karloff. [13]

Basil Rathbone has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for films, at 6549 Hollywood Boulevard; one for radio, at 6300 Hollywood Boulevard; and one for television, at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Personal life

Photograph of Frank Benson as Petruchio, from a 1911 performance of The Taming of the Shrew Frank Robert Benson as Petruchio.jpg
Photograph of Frank Benson as Petruchio, from a 1911 performance of The Taming of the Shrew

Rathbone married actress Ethel Marion Foreman (1887–1976) in 1914. They had one son, Rodion Rathbone (1915–1996), who had a brief Hollywood career under the name John Rodion. The couple divorced in 1926. In the same year, he married writer Ouida Bergère; the couple adopted a daughter, Cynthia Rathbone (1939–1969). Their own baby had died some 11 years previously. The American actor Jackson Rathbone is a distant relation. [14] Basil Rathbone was a first cousin once-removed of the British campaigning independent MP Eleanor Rathbone. He was the cousin of the eminent actor Frank Benson, to whom he bore a strong resemblance. [15]

During Rathbone's Hollywood career, Ouida Rathbone, who was also her husband's business manager, developed a reputation for hosting elaborate and expensive parties in their home, with many prominent and influential people on the guest lists. This trend inspired a joke in The Ghost Breakers (1940), a film in which Rathbone does not appear: During a tremendous thunderstorm in New York City, Bob Hope observes that "Basil Rathbone must be throwing a party". Actress Mrs Patrick Campbell described Rathbone as "two profiles pasted together". [16] As cited in the same autobiography, Mrs Campbell would later refer to him as "a folded umbrella taking elocution lessons". [17]

He was a devout Episcopalian and a member of the Episcopal Actors Guild. [18]


Rathbone died suddenly of a heart attack in New York City on 21 July 1967 at the age of 75. His body was interred in a crypt in the Shrine of Memories Mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. [19]


1921 Innocent Amadis de Jocelyn
The Fruitful Vine Don Cesare Carelli
1923 The School for Scandal Joseph Surface
The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots Undetermined roleUncredited
1924 Trouping with Ellen Tony WinterslipLost film
1925 The Masked Bride AntoineLost film
1926 The Great Deception RizzioLost film
1929 The Last of Mrs. Cheyney Lord Arthur Dilling
1930 The Bishop Murder Case Philo Vance
This Mad World Paul Parisot
A Notorious Affair Paul Gherardi
The Flirting Widow Colonel John "Johnny" Vaughn-Smith
The Lady of Scandal Edward, Duke of Warrington
The Lady Surrenders Carl Vandry
Sin Takes a Holiday Reginald "Reggie" Durant
1932 A Woman Commands Capt. Alex Pastitsch
After the Ball Jack Harrowby
1933 One Precious Year Derek Nagel
Loyalties Ferdinand de Levis
1935 David Copperfield Mr. Murdstone
Anna Karenina Karenin
The Last Days of Pompeii Pontius Pilate
A Feather in Her Hat Captain Randolph Courtney
Kind Lady Henry Abbott
A Tale of Two Cities Marquis St. Evremonde
Captain Blood Levasseur
1936 Private Number Thomas Wroxton
Romeo and Juliet Tybalt - Nephew to Lady Capulet Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Garden of Allah Count Ferdinand Anteoni
1937 Love from a Stranger Gerald Lovell
Confession Michael Michailow, aka Michael Koslov
Make a Wish Johnny Selden
Tovarich Commissar Dimitri Gorotchenko
1938 The Adventures of Marco Polo Ahmed
The Adventures of Robin Hood Sir Guy of Gisbourne
If I Were King King Louis XI Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Dawn Patrol Major Brand
1939 Son of Frankenstein Baron Wolf von Frankenstein
The Hound of the Baskervilles Sherlock Holmes
The Sun Never Sets Clive Randolph
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes
Rio Paul Reynard
Tower of London Richard - Duke of Gloucester
1940 Rhythm on the River Oliver Courtney
The Mark of Zorro Captain Esteban Pasquale
1941 The Mad Doctor Dr. George SebastianAccording to IMDb, it was released on 9 November 1940, in Mexico.
The Black Cat Montague Hartley
International Lady Reggie Oliver
Paris Calling Andre Benoit
1942 Fingers at the Window Cesar Ferrari, alias Dr. H. Santelle
Crossroads Henri Sarrou
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Sherlock Holmes
1943 Sherlock Holmes in Washington Sherlock Holmes
Above Suspicion Sig von Aschenhausen
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death Sherlock Holmes
Crazy House Sherlock HolmesCameo appearance
The Spider Woman Sherlock Holmes
Bathing Beauty George Adams
The Pearl of Death Sherlock Holmes
The Scarlet Claw Sherlock Holmes
Frenchman's Creek Lord Rockingham
1945 The House of Fear Sherlock Holmes
The Woman in Green Sherlock Holmes
Pursuit to Algiers Sherlock Holmes
1946 Terror by Night Sherlock Holmes
Heartbeat Professor Aristide
Dressed to Kill Sherlock Holmes
1949 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Narratorsegment "The Wind in the Willows"
1953Season's GreetingsTV movie
1954 Casanova's Big Night Lucio / Narrator
A Christmas Carol Jacob Marley.A Shower of Stars episode
1955 We're No Angels Andre Trochard
Svengali and the BlondeSvengaliTV movie
The Court Jester Sir Ravenhurst
1956 The Black Sleep Sir Joel Cadman
The Stingiest Man in Town Ebeneezer Scrooge.An Alcoa Hour episode [20]
1957The LarkChief InquisitorTV movie
1958Hans Brinker and the Silver SkatesDr. BoekmanTV movie
The Last Hurrah Norman Cass, Sr.
1961Victoria Regina Benjamin Disraeli Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie adaptation of Laurence Housman's play Victoria Regina
The Black CatVoicesA short
Mystic Prophecies and NostradamusNarrator
1962 The Magic Sword Lodac
Ponzio Pilato Caiaphas
Tales of Terror Carmichaelsegment "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar"
Two Before Zero (aka Red Hell)Narrator
1963 The Comedy of Terrors John F. Black, Esq.
1965 Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet Prof. Hartman, Lunar 7
Dr. Rock and Mr. Roll
1966 Queen of Blood Dr. Farraday
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini Reginald Ripper
1967 Hillbillys in a Haunted House Gregorfinal film released during his lifetime
1968Autopsia de un fantasmaCanuto Perezfinal film role, released posthumously
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Sherlock Holmesarchive sound, released posthumously

Radio appearances

1937 Lux Radio Theatre Captain Blood [21]
1939–1946 The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
1943 Lux Radio Theatre The Phantom Of The Opera
1949 Tales of Fatima
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air Oliver Twist [22]
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Winslow Boy [23]

See also

Related Research Articles

Jeremy Brett English actor

Peter Jeremy William Huggins, known professionally as Jeremy Brett, was an English actor. He played fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in all 41 episodes. His career spanned from stage, to television and film, to Shakespeare and musical theatre. He also played the smitten Freddy Eynsford-Hill in the 1964 Warner Bros. production of My Fair Lady.

<i>Romeo and Juliet</i> (1936 film) 1936 film by George Cukor

Romeo and Juliet is a 1936 American film adapted from the play by William Shakespeare, directed by George Cukor from a screenplay by Talbot Jennings. The film stars Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet, and the supporting cast features John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, and Andy Devine.

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is an old-time radio show which aired in the USA from 1939 to 1950. The series was based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Some of the surviving episode recordings may be found online, in various audio quality condition.

Nigel Bruce British actor

William Nigel Ernle Bruce was a British character actor on stage and screen. He was best known for his portrayal of Dr. Watson in a series of films and in the radio series The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Bruce is also remembered for his roles in the Alfred Hitchcock films Rebecca and Suspicion.

Henry Daniell English actor

Charles Henry Pywell Daniell was a mid-20th century English actor who had a long career on stage and in cinema. He came to prominence for his portrayal of many villainous roles in several films including The Great Dictator, The Philadelphia Story and The Sea Hawk. Daniell was given few opportunities to play sympathetic or 'good guy' roles; one such exception was a memorable supporting role as Franz Liszt in the biographical film of Robert and Clara Schumann, Song of Love (1947). His name is sometimes spelled "Daniel".

The stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were very popular as adaptations for the stage, and later film, and still later television. The four-volumes of the Universal Sherlock Holmes (1995) compiled by Ronald B. De Waal lists over 25,000 Holmes-related productions and products. They include the original writings, "together with the translations of these tales into sixty-three languages, plus Braille and shorthand, the writings about the Writings or higher criticism, writings about Sherlockians and their societies, memorials and memorabilia, games, puzzles and quizzes, phonograph records, audio and video tapes, compact discs, laser discs, ballets, films, musicals, operettas, oratorios, plays, radio and television programs, parodies and pastiches, children's books, cartoons, comics, and a multitude of other items — from advertisements to wine — that have accumulated throughout the world on the two most famous characters in literature."

E. E. Clive Welsh actor and director

Edward Erskholme Clive was a Welsh stage actor and director who had a prolific acting career in Britain and America. He also played numerous supporting roles in Hollywood movies between 1933 and his death.

George Zucco English actor

George Zucco was a British character actor who appeared in plays and 96 films, mostly American-made, during a career spanning over two decades, from the 1920s to 1951. In his films, he often played a suave villain, a member of nobility, or a mad doctor.

Arthur Wontner

Arthur Wontner was a British actor best known for playing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes in five films from 1931 to 1937.

<i>The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes</i> (film) 1939 film by Alfred L. Werker

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a 1939 mystery-adventure film released by Twentieth Century Fox and starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Ida Lupino. It is a pastiche featuring the characters of the Sherlock Holmes series of books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The film credits the 1899 play, Sherlock Holmes by William Gillette as the source material for the movie script, though there is little resemblance in the plots.

<i>Sherlock Holmes</i> (1954 TV series)

Sherlock Holmes was a detective television series syndicated in the autumn of 1954, based on the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. The 39 half-hour mostly original stories were produced by Sheldon Reynolds and filmed in France by Guild Films, starring Ronald Howard as Holmes and H. Marion Crawford as Watson. Archie Duncan appeared in many episodes as Inspector Lestrade. Richard Larke, billed as Kenneth Richards, played Sgt. Wilkins in about fifteen episodes. The series' associate producer, Nicole Milinaire, was one of the first women to attain a senior production role in a television series.

<i>The Woman in Green</i> 1945 American film directed by Roy William Neill

The Woman in Green is a 1945 American film, the eleventh of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films based on the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Directed by Roy William Neill, it stars Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, with Hillary Brooke as the woman of the title and Henry Daniell as Professor Moriarty. The film follows an original premise with material taken from "The Final Problem" (1893) and "The Adventure of the Empty House" (1903).

Sherlock Holmes (1939 film series) Film series starring Basil Rathbone (1939-1946)

A series of fourteen films based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories was released between 1939 and 1946; the British actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce played Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. The first two films in the series were produced by 20th Century Fox and released in 1939. The studio stopped making the films after these, but Universal Studios acquired the rights from the Doyle estate and produced a further twelve films.

<i>Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon</i> 1943 film by Roy William Neill

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942) is the fourth in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of 14 Sherlock Holmes films which updated the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the then present day. The film is credited as an adaptation of Conan Doyle's 1903 short story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," though the only element from the source material is the dancing men code. Rather, it is a spy film taking place on the background of the then ongoing Second World War with an original premise. The film concerns the kidnapping of a Swiss scientist by their nemesis Professor Moriarty, to steal a new bomb sight and sell it to Nazi Germany. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have to crack a secret code in order to save the country.

<i>Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror</i> 1942 film by John Rawlins

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror is the third film in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes movies and the first to be produced by Universal Pictures. Made in 1942, the film combines elements of the 1917 Arthur Conan Doyle story "His Last Bow", to which it is credited as an adaptation, and loosely parallels the real-life activities of Lord Haw-haw.

<i>Sherlock Holmes in Washington</i> 1943 film by Roy William Neill

Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) is the fifth film in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes movies. The plot is an original story not based on any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes tales.

<i>Pursuit to Algiers</i> 1945 film by Roy William Neill

Pursuit to Algiers (1945) is the twelfth entry in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes film series of fourteen. The film takes some characters and events from the 1911 story "The Adventure of the Red Circle". Elements in the story pay homage to an otherwise unrecorded affair mentioned by Dr. Watson at the beginning of the 1903 story "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", notably the steamship Friesland. Off-camera, Watson also recounts to his audience another unrecorded affair mentioned in the 1924 story "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire", that of the Giant Rat of Sumatra, "a story for which the world is not yet prepared".

Mrs. Hudson is a fictional character in the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. She is the landlady of 221B Baker Street, the London residence in which Sherlock Holmes lives.

Morton Lowry was a British actor. He is best known for his film roles as John Stapleton in The Hound of The Baskervilles (1939) and for his role as Mr. Jonas in How Green was My Valley (1941). He also appeared in other films including Pursuit to Algiers and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

<i>Sherlock Holmes</i> (play)

Sherlock Holmes is a four-act play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, based on Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes. After three previews it premiered on Broadway November 6, 1899, at the Garrick Theatre in New York City.


  1. "South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers, 1801-2004," database with images, FamilySearch (  : 16 August 2019), Philip St John Basil Rathbone, 26 March 1894; citing Baptism, Transvaal, South Africa, p. , William Cullen Library, Wits University, Johannesburg.
  2. "England and Wales Census, 1911," database, FamilySearch (  : 8 May 2019), Basil Philip St John Rathbone in household of Colin Forsyth Burn, Stoke Newington, London, England, United Kingdom; from "1911 England and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (  : n.d.); citing PRO RG 14, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.
  3. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  4. "Famous 1914-18," Richard Van Emden, 2010, p. 132
  5. "Basil Rathbone, Master of Stage and Screen: The Great War". Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  6. Famous 1914–18, Richard Van Emden, 2010, p. 134
  7. A 1957 interview with Basil Rathbone talking about WWI on YouTube
  8. In and Out of Character, Basil Rathbone, 1962, p. 2
  9. "No. 30997". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 November 1918. p. 13166.
  10. "The New York Times: Reaction to 'The Captive', 1926-1927 - OutHistory". 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  11. "Basil Rathbone, Master of Stage and Screen: Biography". Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  12. 1 2 "Recordings made by Basil Rathbone". Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  13. "Authors : Engel, Lyle Kenyon : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia".
  14. Millar, John (8 August 2010). "Jackson Rathbone profile, detailing blood relationship to Basil Rathbone". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  15. "Basil Rathbone, Master of Stage and Screen: Biography". Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  16. Basil Rathbone, In and Out of Character (New York: Doubleday, 1962).
  17. Rathbone, Basil (1989). In and Out of Character. Limelight Editions. p. 92. ISBN   9780879101190.
  19. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 38744-38745). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition
  20. DVD of program
  21. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. Vol. 39 no. 2. Spring 2013. pp. 32–39.
  22. Kirby, Walter (24 February 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved 28 May 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  23. Kirby, Walter (23 November 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved 16 June 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg

Further reading