44 Facts About Basil Rathbone


Philip St John Basil Rathbone MC was a South African-born English actor.


Basil Rathbone 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.


Basil Rathbone received a Tony Award in 1948 as Best Actor in a Play.


Basil Rathbone was nominated for two Academy Awards and was honoured with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South African Republic, to British parents.


Basil Rathbone's mother, Anna Barbara, was a violinist, and his father, Edgar Philip Rathbone, was a mining engineer and scion of the Liverpool Rathbone family.


Basil Rathbone had two older half-brothers, Harold and Horace, as well as two younger siblings, Beatrice and John.


The Rathbones fled to Britain when Basil was three years old after his father was accused by the Boers of being a spy following the Jameson Raid.


Basil Rathbone attended Repton School in Derbyshire from 1906 to 1910, where he excelled at sports and was given the nickname "Ratters" by schoolmates.


On 22 April 1911, Basil 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.


Basil Rathbone was twice the British Army Fencing Champion, a skill that served him well in movies and allowed him to even teach actors Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power swordsmanship.


In 2012 two letters Basil Rathbone wrote to his family while serving on the Western Front were published.


Basil Rathbone 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.


Basil Rathbone 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.


Basil 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.


Basil Rathbone began to travel and appeared at the Cort Theatre, New York, in October 1923 in a production of Molnar's play The Swan opposite Eva Le Gallienne, which made him a star on Broadway.


Basil Rathbone toured in the United States in 1925, appearing in San Francisco in May and the Lyceum Theatre, New York, in October.


Basil Rathbone was in the US again in 1927 and 1930 and again in 1931, when he appeared on stage with Ethel Barrymore.


Basil Rathbone continued his stage career in Britain, returning late in 1934 to the US, where he appeared with Katharine Cornell in several plays.


Basil 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.


Basil Rathbone commenced his film career in Hollywood in 1921 in silent movies and appeared in 1923's The School for Scandal, and in The Masked Bride, plus a few other silents.


Basil Rathbone portrayed detective Philo Vance in the 1930 film The Bishop Murder Case, based on the best selling novel.


Basil Rathbone appeared in several early horror films: Tower of London, as Richard III, and Son of Frankenstein, portraying the dedicated surgeon Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, son of the monster's creator, and, in 1949, was the narrator for the segment "The Wind in the Willows" in the Disney animated feature, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad.


Basil Rathbone was admired for his athletic swordsmanship.


Basil Rathbone 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.


Basil Rathbone was involved in noteworthy sword fights in Tower of London, The Mark of Zorro, and The Court Jester.


Basil Rathbone earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performances as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and as King Louis XI in If I Were King, a truly remarkable, comedic performance as the wily king.


Basil Rathbone is most widely recognised for his many portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.


Basil Rathbone appeared in the radio series as long as the film series was active, but after the films lapsed in 1946, Basil Rathbone ceded his radio part to Tom Conway.


In later years, Basil 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.


Basil Rathbone brought Holmes to the stage in a play written by his wife Ouida.


Basil Rathbone appeared frequently on TV game shows and has appeared in major films, including the Humphrey Bogart comedy We're No Angels and John Ford's political drama The Last Hurrah.


Basil Rathbone is known for his spoken word recordings, including his interpretation of Clement C Moore's "The Night Before Christmas".


In four Caedmon albums, Basil Rathbone revisited his characterization of Sherlock Holmes.


Basil Rathbone made many other recordings, including Oliver Twist, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.


Basil Rathbone recited poetry and Shakespeare, accented by reminiscences from his life and career.


Price and Basil Rathbone appeared together, along with Boris Karloff, in Tower of London and The Comedy of Terrors.


In 1965, Belmont Books issued the anthology Basil Rathbone Selects Strange Tales, a collection of horror stories by Poe, Hawthorne, Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Dickens, Allston Collins, Le Fanu, and Wilkie Collins.


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.


Basil Rathbone was a first cousin once-removed of the British campaigning independent MP Eleanor Rathbone.


Basil Rathbone was the cousin of actor Frank Benson, to whom he bore a strong resemblance.


Basil Rathbone was a devout Episcopalian and a member of the Episcopal Actors Guild.


Basil Rathbone died suddenly of a heart attack in New York City on 21 July 1967 at the age of 75.


Basil Rathbone's body was interred in a crypt in the Shrine of Memories Mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.