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, Pontius Pilate, Levasseur, Sherlock Holmes
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.

BlogHub Articles:

in Summer Stock

By Neve on May 18, 2022 From The Baz

Sea Cliff Summer Theatre, Long Island... Read full article

A Year in the Life of ? 1940

By Neve on Nov 18, 2021 From The Baz

Rathbone standing on the garden steps outside his Bel Air home... Read full article

The Violent Deaths of

By Neve on May 16, 2021 From The Baz

Don Diego finishes off Capitan Esteban Pasquale in The Mark of Zorro (1940)... Read full article

THE BLOGATHON: Tower of London, 1939

on Jun 13, 2020 From Caftan Woman

Pale Writer is hosting The Suave Swordsman: Blogathon on June 13th and 14th. Click HERE to read about the actor's exciting life and career. Thank you, Gabriela. Richard III plays a dangerous game of thrones in Tower of London, 1939 from Universal Studios. The historical epic wa... Read full article

A 1914 Letter from

By Neve on May 5, 2020 From The Baz

, a member of F.R. Benson’s Shakespeare Company, in 1913 or 1914... Read full article

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Basil Rathbone Quotes:

Sherlock Holmes: Brooklyn? Well, I knew a most charming man who lived there once. Uh he's now a resident in Sing Sing Prison.

Sherlock Holmes: My dear Nikolas, perhaps you don't realize that it's tea that has made the British Empire and Dr. Watson what they are today.

Sherlock Holmes: I assure you that Dr. Watson is the very soul of discretion.

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
Won Broadway's 1948 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for his performance as Dr. Sloper in the original Broadway production of "The Heiress". The award was shared with Henry Fonda for "Mister Roberts" and Paul Kelly for "Command Decision."

Son, with Foreman, actor John Rodion.

He is considered the greatest swordsman in Hollywood history, superior even to on-screen foes Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power. However, because he was so frequently cast as the villain, he won only two on-screen duels in his career - as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1936), for which he earned an Oscar nomination, and as Captain Esteban Pascuale against the friar (Eugene Pallette), who was so outclassed by "the Capitan" he was harmlessly disarmed in a matter of seconds, in The Mark of Zorro (1940). His last, filmed when the actor was 63, was with Danny Kaye in The Court Jester (1956). It is considered by some the best sword fight ever filmed.

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