To date, 46 years after his death there is still no full length biography of Basil Rathbone. The Biography Project is working towards achieving one.
How it began
As soon as you start a website about anyone or anything people begin writing to you and sending you things. Since I’ve been running this blog I’ve been getting emails and comments sent in, and a fairly significant minority of these have been bringing to light some facet of the Baz’s life, of which I was not previously aware.
Some of the pieces of information coming in are tiny, others (one or two) have been quite huge in their potential impact on Basil’s life and work; some have been things that were hidden away in personal papers or family recollections, some have been published in books but yet somehow not assimilated into the “official” Rathbone biography you’ll find on Wikipedia and the IMDB – and indeed in Basil’s own elegantly allusive, poetically selective “autobiography.” Looking at some of this stuff, it occurred to me that they’re pieces of a life that have become detached from the memory of the man they belong to and just sort of float, waiting to be rediscovered. If someone doesn’t record them, keep them somewhere they risk being lost forever before any biographer gets to do his/her work.
So, Marcia Jessen from basilathbone.net, and I formulated the the Basil Rathbone Biography Project as way of trying to catch the fragments of scattered life story and glue them together again. We are not – at this stage – planning to write a biography ourselves, but we aim to at very least keep a record in one place so that when a biographer – or a film historian or researcher or whatever – comes to do his/her work – this resource will be there to help them.
What is it?
At present it’s a large and ever-growing collection of newspaper clippings, book extracts, letters, personal memories, and much else. We are always on the look out for more and welcome any contributions or assistance. Below I’ll list the areas we are particularly interested in or where information seems hard to find. If anyone can help us find more information on these topics, or on any other aspect of Rathbone’s life, please get in touch!
There’s a FAQ on basilrathbone.net that might help answer any questions this hasn’t covered (there are probably several). This is just a start, but we hope it will build.
If you’d like to help out by linking to this page then feel free to download the banner at the top of this post.
Areas of current interest:
Almost nothing is known about Cynthia. We are looking for people who may have known her as a child or as an adult. She worked, at least for a while, at Hockaday Advertizing Agency in NYC. Does anyone remember her from that time? Does anyone have information on the nature of hr tragic illness and early death?
We are keen to get additional information on Rathbone’s connection with this lady. Anyone who can help us please get in touch.
“Lost” or hard to find films we would like to locate:
THE MASKED BRIDE (1925). Officially designated a lost film.
THIS MAD WORLD (1930)
AFTER THE BALL (1933)
ONE PRECIOUS YEAR (1933)