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Basil Rathbone

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone (June 13, 1892 – July 21, 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. His most famous role was that of Sherlock Holmes in fourteen Hollywood films made between 1939 and 1946. His later career included roles on Broadway, as well as film and television work. He was also nominated for two Academy Awards and was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


David Copperfield (1936)

Captain Blood (1936)


Basil is 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.

He was twice the British Army Fencing Champ, a skill that would serve him well in movies and allow him to teach Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power the art of swordsmanship.

Basil 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.

Legend has it that Basil was Margaret Mitchell's first choice to play Rhett Butler in the film version of her novel, Gone with the Wind. He actively campaigned for the role, but to no avail.

Despite his film success, Basil always insisted that he wished to be remembered for his stage career. He said his favorite role was that of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

Basil won a Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance as Dr. Austin Sloper in the original production of The Heiress.

He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for films, one for radio, and one for television.

Basil was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar twice and lost to the same actor, Walter Brennan, both times.

During his long stage career, Basil played every major male character from Shakespeare's plays.

Perhaps best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes, Basil played the super sleuth in 14 films and more than 200 radio plays. His voice was also used to portray Sherlock Holmes in other cartoons, such as The Great Mouse Detective.

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