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, Levasseur, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes
Top GenresDrama, Comedy, Mystery, Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Film Adaptation
Top TopicsBook-Based, Detectives, England
Top Collaborators (Director), , ,
Shares birthday with Lois Weber, Ben Johnson, ralph edwards  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: This man pervades Europe like a plague, yet no one has heard of him. That's what puts him on the pinnacle in the records of crime. In his whole diabolical career, the police have never been able to pin anything on him. And yet, if there be a crime without a motive, I'll show you Giles Conover! If I could free society of this sinister creature, I should feel my own career had reached it's summit.

Don Diego Vega: [as Esteban repeatedly stabs a piece of fruit with a knife at the dinner table] Captain, you seem to regard that fruit as an enemy.
Captain Esteban Pasquale: A rival!

Doctor Watson: Holmes, the girl waiting. What an extraordinary thing.
Sherlock Holmes: Elementary, my dear Watson.
Doctor Watson: No, no, no. It's an amazing deduction. How on earth did you arrive at it?
Sherlock Holmes: Barham told me.

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Thu. 15 Nov. 09:30 PM EST

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Also a Gemini

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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.

Interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, USA.

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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