Classic Movie Hub (CMH)

Job Actor
Years active 1911-67
Known for Suave cold-hearted villains, morally ambiguous characters; Sherlock Holmes
Top Roles Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Count Sigurd 'Sig' von Aschenhausen, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, Pontius Pilate
Top GenresDrama, Comedy, Mystery, Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Film Adaptation
Top TopicsBook-Based, Detectives, England
Top Collaborators (Director), (Producer), (Director), (Producer)
Shares birthday with Ben Johnson, Lois Weber, Jean Adair  see more..

Basil Rathbone Overview:

Legendary character actor, Basil Rathbone, was born Philip St. John Basil Rathbone on Jun 13, 1892 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Rathbone appeared in over 120 film and TV roles. His best known films include David Copperfield, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Tower of London, The Mark of Zorro, Anna Karenina and The Hound of the Baskervilles (the first of 14 film appearances as master detective, Sherlock Holmes). Rathbone died at the age of 75 on Jul 21, 1967 in New York City, NY and was laid to rest in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, Westchester County, NY.


Already a veteran stage actor in both London and on Broadway, Basil Rathbone made his film debut in 1921 in the silent film The Fruitful Vine. He went on to appear in over 120 film and TV roles, frequently portraying suave, cold-hearted villains. Some of his most memorable roles were as Murdstone in David Copperfield, Levasseur in Captain Blood, Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood, and as Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles and 13 other films.

(Source: article by Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub).



Although Rathbone was nominated for two Oscars, he never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1936Best Supporting ActorRomeo and Juliet (1936)TybaltNominated
1938Best Supporting ActorIf I Were King (1938)Louis XINominated

He was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Radio, Motion Pictures and Television.

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Basil Rathbone Quotes:

Sherlock Holmes: Not your child, Watson!

Sherlock Holmes: This is a most unique case. Instead of too few we have too many clues and too many suspects. The main pattern of the puzzle seems to be forming, but the pieces don't fit in.
Dr. John H. Watson: Muddy waters, eh, Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes: Too muddy. As if someone were constantly stirring them up.
Dr. John H. Watson: Why should they stir them up?
Sherlock Holmes: To confuse me. There's intelligence behind this business, Watson. Cold, calculating, ruthless intelligence.

Sherlock Holmes: I'm sorry, Watson. The pleasures of the chase are no longer for me. I'm through with crime forever.

read more quotes from Basil Rathbone...

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Best Supporting Actor Oscar 1936

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Basil Rathbone on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Basil Rathbone Facts
He never renounced his British citizenship and was a lifelong member of the Conservative party.

Fought in the British army during World War I, and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery under fire.

Was so frequently typecast as a villain that he literally jumped at the first few opportunities he ever got to play Sherlock Holmes because "for once, I got to beat the bad guy instead of play him." Indeed, he played the legendary heroic detective more than any other character in his career. By 1946, however, he had become so sick of the role that he quit his Sherlock Holmes film series and temporarily returned to the Broadway stage. Over the course of his career he had played the super sleuth in 16 films and over 200 radio plays.

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