Basil Rathbone was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1892, but 3 years later, his family was forced to flee South Africa because his father was accused by the Boers of being a British spy. The Rathbones escaped to England, where Basil and his two younger siblings, Beatrice…more
According to Hollywood legend, Rathbone dropped dead outside a doctor's office after having undergone a physical for insurance purposes so he could appear in a movie. In reality, Rathbone died at his home.
Rathbone and his wife were both avid dog lovers.
Rathbone was a good friend of radio comedian Fred Allen and appeared on Allen's radio show several times.
Rathbone thought much of television was mediocrity but he did enjoy appearing in Hallmark Hall of Fame TV productions which he felt were usually of higher quality.
In April of 1963 Rathbone gave a dramatic reading at the White House.
Rathbone had to keep working up to the end of his life even though he was in his 70's because his wife was a spendthrift and they were continuously short of money.
Rathbone eventually got tired of playing Sherlock Holmes and came to detest the role.
Rathbone volunteered to serve in the British military again when World War II broke out in 1939 but was rejected because of his age.
Rathbone's son from his first marriage was an actor who appeared in two films with his father: The Dawn Patrol and Tower of London.
Rathbone and his wife, Ouida, frequently threw lavish parties at their Hollywood home.
Sugar Ray Robinson was Rathbone's favorite boxer.
Rathbone enjoyed watching baseball and playing golf.
Rathbone and his second wife, Ouida, shared a love of boxing.
Despite living in the United States for most of his last 40 years, Rathbone remained a British subject.
Rathbone's younger brother, John, was killed during World War I.
Rathbone's schoolmates at the Repton School nicknamed him Ratters.
Rathbone has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for movies at 6549 Hollywood Boulevard, a second for radio at 6300 Hollywood Boulevard, and a third for television at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard.
Rathbone won a Tony Award in 1948 for Best Actor for his role as Dr. Austin Sloper in the original Broadway production of The Heiress. His role in the movie version of the play went to Ralph Richardson.
Rathbone was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor: once in 1936 for Romeo and Juliet and again in 1938 for If I Were King. Both years he lost out to Walter Brennan.
Rathbone and his wife left Hollywood in 1946 when his movie and radio contracts expired. They moved to New York and resided there the rest of their lives.
Before playing Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone played another famous detective, Philo Vance, in the 1929 movie The Bishop Murder Case.
Rathbone is buried in Ferncliffe Cemetary in Hartsdale, New York. Other famous persons buried there include Joan Crawford and Malcolm X.
Though he was an expert fencer, Rathbone never won a swordfight on-screen.
Bela Lugosi and Rathbone appeared in three movies together: Son of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, and The Black Sleep.
Rathbone appeared as Sherlock Holmes in 13 movies.
His autobiography: In and Out of Character was published in 1962
Rathbone: When you become the character you portray it's the end of your career as an actor.
Rathbone: (about fencing with Errol Flynn on-screen) I could have killed him anytime I wanted to.
Rathbone: As one grows older one becomes more critical of oneself and less of other people.
Rathbone: Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of the heart.