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Michael B. Druxman talks to us about his new play

Today the Baz is talking to Michael B.Druxman, author of Basil Rathbone, His Life & His Films, about his new one-person play Rathbone.

TB: Michael, can you tell me why you decide to revisit BR at this time?

DRUXMAN: A major influence was your website, THE BAZ, Your research and the comments from some of your readers intrigued me. A lot of information posted was not available to me when I wrote my book almost 40 years ago. (We didn’t have the Internet then.) That prompted me to do some research on my own.

I had no intention of writing a new formal biography of Rathbone, but I thought that he might be a good subject for THE HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS, the series of one-person stage plays I began writing almost 30 years ago. RATHBONE is the 10th in that collection, but the 9th one-person play. NELSON (Eddy) AND JEANETTE (MacDonald) is, of necessity, a two-person play.

TB: And has your overall impression of BR changed at all since you wrote the book?

DRUXMAN: My overall impression of both Basil and Ouida has pretty much remained the same. The new information I’ve learned from you website, my own research and from interviews with all three of the Rathbone grandchildren has simply enforced that impression.

TB:Can you tell me how much of the play is based directly on known events? The conversations with his granddaughter for example – is it true he asked her not to visit him in LA because he was ashamed of the film he was making at the time?

DRUXMAN: While much of the play is based on known events, I have employed dramatic license in the recreation of the scenes (e.g. the dialogue). When a particular fact was not known, I’ve used my playwright’s prerogative to make an educated guess. That’s the advantage of writing a play rather than a formal biography. For example, the scenes in which Basil “questions” Ouida’s background are totally my creation…based on facts that have come to light during the past few years. How much he really did/did not know about her true origins, I don’t know.

According to the granddaughter, a conversation similar to the one presented did take place. However, to simplify the play, I have “combined” the two granddaughters. In other words, it was, in fact, one granddaughter who visited Basil backstage when he was doing JB., and another who came to the apartment for tea.

Purists might object to such an alteration, but when you are writing a dramatic piece, one has to make choices. The goal is to present the essence of what occurred, as well as an overall honest portrait of the character(s).

TB:  Your portrait of Ouida isn’t quite the conventional image of her as a controlling dragon, is it? In fact you show her as quite helpless and needy and that a sense of duty binds Basil to her as much as anything. It’s that aspect of your play I like best. Where did that image originate?

DRUXMAN: Controlling dragons, ultimately, get slain. A needy person can pull their partner down with them.

My image of Ouida and her relationship with Basil is a culmination of my research gathered from different places…and my writer’s sense of the human psyche.

You’ll also recall that, when I researched my original book, I did two lengthy phone interviews with Ouida.

When I wrote this play…as well as the other plays THE HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS collection, I didn’t really have a formal outline, nor did I say to myself that I am going to present Ouida as a “needy” person. Yes, I had an image of her in my head, but I never actually defined it. I just wrote “to it”.

When I actually start writing any of these plays, I know my “framing situation,” how I want to end my first act and what the climatic moment of the play is going to be, Beyond that, I like to write “by the seat of my pants”. It’s perhaps the main reason I enjoy writing because I never really know where the characters are going to take me.

TB: Ok, I think we’ll take a few questions posted by readers. Roberta asks: “Why such focus on the end of Basil’s career? He cuts such a tragic figure from that perspective. And why did he let this awful woman do these thing to him?”

DRUXMAN: The end of his career is the framing story, which allows me (as the playwright) and the character of Rathbone to look back at his entire life. The older one gets, the more insight one has into oneself.

The fact is that he was a sad, tragic figure during his last years; forced to take virtually every lousy job that came him way in order to pay the bills. The play explores how/why he got there.

Why did he let “this awful woman” do bad things to him?

The man “sold his soul to the Devil”. Ouida helped him to become a star and by the time he realized what kind of person she was and how she was negatively affecting his life, it was too late. In most instances, it was easier to acquiesce to her demands (e.g. letting her throw parties, turning his back on his son and grandchildren) than to fight her. As long as he could escape into his work, he was willing to let her have her way.

TB: MC asks: “That section about Ouida having to go to a hugely expensive private hospital, is that true?”

DRUXMAN: I don’t know if it was a “hugely expensive private hospital,” but she did detest the hospital’s food and did order her meals in from 21.

TB:Cinegeek asks: “Why a one person play? It seems so hard to make such a thing dramatic”

DRUXMAN: I enjoy working in the format. Nine of the ten plays in THE HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS collection are one-person monologues.

And, a one-person play certainly can be “dramatic”. It allows the character to be in conflict with his inner self.

TB:Levasseur Girl asks: “I have a question – does Michael think Ouida loved her husband?”

DRUXMAN: What’s “love”? Love is different for different people. In her own way, I’m sure she did love Basil and was devoted to him.

TB: Balakireff asks: “Is Michael intending to re-issue his biography as well?”

DRUXMAN: BASIL RATHBONE: His Life and His Films was reissued in December of 2011 and is still available.

TB: And on that note, I think we’ll close, having already taken up too much of your time. Thank, Michael, and good luck with the play!

You can buy Rathbone at Amazon.Com in Kindle and paperback editions.

115 Comments

  1. Edible says

    It should be a two errr….hander. Errol and Baz going at it in Errol’s dressing room like Bret says. :)

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  2. roesbette says

    I didn’t buy the letter, just looked at it online! I would never buy something from an online site, other than Amazon. However, some of the other items the seller had, such as evening bags and one paper with Basil’s signature cut off from something else, made me wonder…

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      • roesbette says

        They looked like beaded evening bags. It looks as if the seller has also posted a couple more letters, which have sold. One was by Ouida about her love her Basil and their life together, written on their 24th wedding anniversary. I couldn’t read much of it because the type was very light, even on the zoom.

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      • I persisted I tryed many things and yes I found her! But I cant magnify the letters at all. so i downloaded the pics as is and tried every possible setting in my photo editing program..including chaneing the colour. still mostly unreadable.My thoughts on it.Not a computer forgery, Yes it is typed on a typewrighter..have used many.Might be a corona.The font is dif then my big old royal.When I used embosse setting i can clearly see the indentions on the paper .2. SHE NEEDED A NEW RIBBON shezze.3 I wish she’dwould have handwriten it. .

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        • Sorry cut off. I looked through the entire list of things the lady sold over the past year..I found i think it was 2 photos of Basil listed.But nothanks to ebay and there new only visable uptill 90days system none of them were seeable.drats. so I clicked on the buyers hopeing they were only in it for the moolla and reposted the pics for sale..nope..no luck must have been fans after all. But holy moly did you see the jewerly she was selling.? And mink stoles.I could imagen it comeing from Ouida. But I think if any of it HAD come from ouida the seller would have let everone know about it hopeing to bring more money…The one think gives me an idea the seller might realy be a relate of ouidas in the sellers location Ouidas family lived there. aft. Arkanas.And in the case of at least one neice looks like up till she died.

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  3. roesbette says

    Actually, I tried that, but the site just took me to other items it had to sell. Of course, I was very disappointed.

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    • Sounds a bit like a scam artist to me.Hope she/he didnt soak you. Also hope you left LOTS of negtive feedback. and rember, As a Christian I will say that…there is a higher power..and an acounting. Some people will get theres in Gods own good time. Well as John Lenon said.”instant karmas gona get ya.”

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  4. roesbette says

    There was a letter on one of the auction sites from Ouida specifically referencing her having to leave Cynthia on her own and see Basil after his sudden illness during JB, and she states that it’s a heart attack. Unfortunately, the letter just sold, and I can’t download it to see it more closely. I also believe his death notice said that he had had an earlier heart attack. (Perhaps Marcia could confirm?) My belief is that the illness he had during JB was indeed a first heart attack, although he never states this explicitly in his autobiography.

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    • Lemony Snicket says

      The trouble is ‘heart attack’ in layman’s parlance was a very broad term until comparatively recently. Myocardial Infarction was still not really in the collective awareness until the late sixties, and the words ‘heart attack’ could mean anything from an episode of fainting through palpitations to full blown MI. Most times ‘heart attack’ is used by lay people pre 1970 it’s obvious they don’t mean an MI at all. I don’t we can take Ouida’s words to indicate BR had a MI while performing JB, and I feel pretty sure he did not as his symptoms as described sound very atypical for such a thing. No pain is reported and pain is almost universal in MI. It sounds more like a possible TIA (mild stroke), or simply exhaustion and dehydration. If he had no further episodes for the next eight or nine years I’d favor the latter as a diagnosis.

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    • Rosebette ,once in a while the sold itams will stay up for a certin lenth of time ..theres a line that reads something like..view orignal listing..see if thats still up and click on that.Shot in the dark but you might hit something.

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      • Judy D. says

        And sometimes if you can catch the seller’s name and email them they will share the info with you.

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      • Judy D. says

        There’s also a chance that the purchaser is a member of our clan and will share it with us! Cross fingers!

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    • I believe someone did download it. The person selling the letters seems to be a relative of Ouida’s and actually promised to let us have copies of all her BR-related material before she sold it, but then didn’t – which was awful thoughtful of her :)

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  5. Judy D. says

    Well!! Maybe now TCM will take “Tower of London” out of mothballs and run it a few times. Wonder if we could get them to insert a mention that BR is now apparently a proven descendent. The facial bones look like a pretty good match. You’re impressive once again, Bazz.

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    • Um a proven decencent of Richard? How On Earth could he be? Richard had 3 “known” kids. A dau. Kat. who died Sp. A son John.who died Sp. and Edward by his wife Ann. Eddy died way to young to have any kids he was like 6.So the best he could decend from would be another member of the family Edward his bro has many decendents,including myself. Also Clarence,I belive the man they did the dna testing on decends from Richard sister Ann. Richards Mom Cecily Neville has many bros and sisters and he could decend from the Neville family..I think about 1/2 the american early setlers decended from some branch or other of the Neville family. Basil is a decendent of Edward 3rd.by his mom he says in his book. Have’nt proven that yet,but I am working on it.He may well decend from royalty from Edgars side through the Gregs.But that is also Edward3rd.

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      • BR isn’t a descendant of Richard III. I think the poster was talking about the guy who is a living descendant of Richard’s sister, and whose DNA was used to identify the bones. The fact they really are Richard’s bones is kind of amazing!

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        • Forgive me I misunderstood the passage.I reread it and I see there is a period I missed before.Sorry.I shall now humbly grovel away like Edmund Black Adder. Realy sorry.

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          • Don’t feel bad! I understood the comment the same way that you did, and wondered “What is she saying? Basil descended from Richard III?” We would all do well to read through our comments before clicking on “Post Comment” to ensure that our messages are clear and won’t be misunderstood.

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            • It would be easyer if at about the half way point in my posts I wasnt trying to type what I cant read myself.There is a point when my e-mail addy, my name, and the words http, in 3 long boxes hide what I am typeing from my view. And I have no clue how to make them go away.So at times it’s like typeing and not being able to go back and look at what I have said.If any one can tell me how to make those boxes go ayaw I would be gratefull.oh and begining this sentnce I cant read my opost at all so it would be the 8th sentnce down the trouble beginins.

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      • Judy D. says

        Oh! Thanks for sorting me out. Long time since I read BR’s book, so I got it all wrong. Still, he’s a prince in my eyes (of darkness, anyway).

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  6. Donna says

    Another couple that springs to mind is Basil and Sybil Fawlty, except the dynamic is wrong because Basil is incompetent and Sybil is really good at getting things done, and with the Rathbones I get the impression it was more the other way round, Bail shielded Ouida from her own lack of talent and her unrealistic ideas about herself.

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  7. Ok once again apoliging for my keyboard.So that should have read Well I have no way to watch chanel 4..but as of last night, I found on a austrailn..go on from there ..

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  8. Tower Of London is my fave Basil movie. But then I’m a devoted Ricardian anyhow.Basil’s is the only portrail I have seen of Richard that dosent turn him into a hammy goofball. And that includes Vincent Prices,dreadfuul version. Judy you might be interested to know I met Vincet Price 2 times. He was a kind, warm, funny, wonderfull, man. Oh and just every bit as handsome in person..no… more.

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    • Judy D. says

      And I always thought Price was a bit light in the loafers. Not that it matters. He was so much fun in this movie, and in others. Nice that you got to meet at least one of the cast of characters featured here. Baz liked him enough to help his son, something about artwork I think. “Tower” seems to be very much underrated. Not enough swordplay for the masses, I guess. But guess BR didn’t like it much either.

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      • TOL and Son Of Frank shot about same time and some sets used on both.TCM said Baz had his chair turned away from Rodion in execution scene.Thought it funny when he warns Forbes to watch Richard,and the coin given to Boris to make a clean job of it.Hardly think an uncaring father would react like that.Think the Gandhi towel pic may have been around then,9/30/39.Yes,I really looked and memorized that pic,even saw the scar from AORH on his foot.Marlene’s garb a little different,showing more leg than usual,thought he’d walked her out after a tryst,not that I’d blame either,him with a dragon at home,son gone to war,career on upswing.He was human,and dragon-slaying is tough work.Sorry,couldn’t resist OR allusion

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    • Roberta says

      There’s a TV shown on tonight (UK) about the bones they found in Leicester and which may be Richard III. I’m a devoted Ricardian too! I even have his White Boar symbol on my key ring :)

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      • I was reading about that yesterday, will def check out the show (Channel 4), but I am kinda skeptical they have actually found Richard. Apparently the skull shows evidence of a bad head wound, and the spine is twisted, which is weird because I thought Thomas More made up the story of him being crook-backed.

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        • Judy D. says

          Overheard on the radio this a.m.–think they said they have verified, or provisionally, by matching DNA with a living descendant (so let’s see if that turns out to be a relative of Bazz!).

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        • embechtel says

          Confirmation of DNA on facebook Basil Rathbone Society page.I think Basil’s portrayel was closer than Olivier”s.I also read a book that claims the battle may not even have been in Bosworth Field.

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        • Well I have no way austrlian tv station on the net.They have decided it is Richard. The skeleton shows a were badyly twisted backbone.due to scolios[sp?]They were PDQ in pointing out this does not make him a humpback nor does he have a deformed arm. but he might have carried one shoulder higher then the other. I think Basils portraily with one higher shoulder, but not the silly crouching drooling foot dragging Oliveer version, is more in tune.. Pitty Basil thought not as good of his performance as we do.Of course to defend Vincent[Yes I will he was so sweet} He was only portraying What Old Shakespeer wroprote. And as many before me have pointed out.You dont get far in Tydor England by wrighting disparaging plays about Tydor grandpas. Judy Vinny’s loafers were not a bit light.None of those vibes EVER came over to me,not in manerisum,speach or touch.

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          • embechtel says

            Very true.They only performed what was written.I belive the Oxfordians are right.I think the true author was Robert DeVere.He based his characters in Richard on his in-laws the Cecils.Richard was Robert whose back was deformed and arm from being dropped as an infant.There is a book titled Shake=Speare By Another Name.The author really makes a good sensible case.
            There is also a book about Vincent Price written by his daughter .She addresses the gay rumor and prsents the one situation with a close friend but does not think they had any sexual encounters and why.Its been along time since i read it but,i think he was also married 3-4 times.

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            • That is an interesting theroy about Robert Cecile.I had never heared that one. He does fit the description dosent he.I read Marys book..or part of it..Sad when you consider how evertime I ever heard him talk of Victoria[when did she start going by Mary anyhow?] he spoke with such love & pride of his dau.The book she wrote made me mad and I dont waste my time reading stuff that makes me unhappy,so I never finished it.Yes 3 marriages.1. is I think the actress who played Liz Woodvile in Tower Of London. Thats barretts mon. 2.Mary Grant,shes Marys mom # Coral Brown.No kids.As I understand it neither kid likesd Coral.there

              .

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            • Madge's Cat says

              But Oxford died before the last Shakespeare plays were written, and all his surviving writing in his own name is very mediocre and show nothing of Shakespeare’s genius. I don’t think Oxford was Shakespeare, but Marlowe may have been :)

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              • embechtel says

                The book i mentioned takes this and alot of other things into account.You might want to read it if you are interested.:)

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  9. OH Judy…Why did you have to say Hyacinth Bucket..”It’s Booquet”,I’m still laughing.I’m entirley too tickeled by that. I shall never see them in any other way now thanks to you.”mind the cow Richard”..”The cow is in the feild”…”I’m minding the cow”..How I luv that show. Still I have more seen her as Mrs Slocum.As to BBC yes he def could play almost any lead on there.I often watch there coustume dramas and sub. him in my mind for verious chacters.Check out “Barchester Chronicals.”Nigel Hawthorne is doing Basil to the life.He could do Obida Slope too. Many 1950 english movies VBasil could have sub. for Micheal Wilding.

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    • Judy D. says

      And PBS and BBC would have gotten themselves a genuine toff in the bargain! I loved him in “Tower of London,” hairdo and all, and the scene with the wine vats was priceless, even without knowing what happened after the cameras stopped. Yes, Hyacinth was a piece of work who made life hell for her poor neighbors. Could watch those shows forever. Say, imagine Bazz in the role as Pope in…oh, darn, hit a blank…the one who marries and screws around and has such great power and sexiness…. And ooo, Michael Wilding. Or playing against one of my faves, Michael Caine. I yi yi.

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    • Have dealt with a few Mrs Booquets,and as much as I love Mrs Slocum,I hope he wasn’t her Mr Humphries (love his character!).Have to check out when “Seance” is around,now that I’ve heard about it.Something to do on a cold New England day.

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      • Judy D. says

        It took me years to find a copy of “Seance,” so good luck to you. Why TCM doesn’t play it I dunno–or maybe it does at odd times. The actress was Oscar-nominated, or won the thing, but still the movie is elusive. I got mine on eBay a few years ago, but you can try Amazon et al. It’s very atmospheric and worth a shot.

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    • roesbette says

      If Ouida was Hyacinth and Basil Richard, I think Hyacinth would have some problems fending off the the neighbor ladies who would be trying to make off with her husband.

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    • Jenny says

      There should be a thread on Parts he Should Have Played! I could fill a notebook with my own ideas. Totally get the subbing thing. I do it in The Sea Hawk, Rebecca, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (he was first choice for Frollo), The Bridge on the river Kwai (Alec Guinness is great, but Basil would have been terrific), The Browning Version – the list is endless, and recently I watched the movie version of The Swan, and had a great time picturing Basil saying Louis Jourdan’s lines! I’m a total addict for that.

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      • Have you seen the movie version of The Czarina? ‘Catherine the Great’ (1934] with Doug Fairbanks in Basils roll as Peter? It’s great,for subbing Basil back into his own roll as Doug seem to be copying Basil the whole way through it.Elsabeth Bergner plays Cat. with an accent so thick you can barley understand her,and struting around like a peacock in dreses that look like they were made 3 sizes to big for her.

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  10. Judy D. says

    Hopefully Rosebette can find some of Ouida’s letters to BR in the Boston U. files–they were once part of the material that the Gravesend Books lady purchased from the estate or whatever; she did comment in her catalog that one letter was defining enough to make her despise Ouida.
    Arkansas–good place to be from if you could run a still–only kidding, Southern fans–anyone able to check one of those websites that deals in old newspapers? Maybe her family (or she herself) made some headline news back then. She didn’t get to be what she was without a little help from family circumstances.
    Druxman’s play (or should I say Druxman/Contessa) offers a frightening vista of life as an acto. We could maybe say, “get a real job,” but where can an actor untrained for anything else go. Cook cheeseburgers somewhere?? There is a recent cable documentary about bit actors, with a title something like “who is that guy,” about how they live from assignment to assignment, and one said he has to work at least enough in a year to be able to stay in the union (if he can pay his dues), and he said that something like 90% of the actors in the union on any given day are not working.
    I think Baz was a victim of his date of birth: had he been born later, he could have made a decent career in the Brit movie business (Ealing Studios, J. Arthur Rank) starting in the 1960s, when studios began to recover from the war, or in the recent past he could have made a great career in the many Brit dramas and comedies played on PBS. He could even have done Jeremy Britt’s role in “Sherlock Holmes,” o irony of ironies! And the theater would also have been an option, because the public is now more educated, there’s lots of money around for theater tickets, and a great variety of material. (Speaking of PBS, watch the great “Keeping Up Appearances” and think of BR and Ouida!! A case history!!) At the very least, he would have had honest movie/TV contracts that guaranteed residuals and income from merchandise!
    I think BR was mistaken about Holmes–the character itself was perfect for him, and if only someone could have pointed out how that series attracted a probably full theater of folks who were sick of terrifying war news and needed and enjoyed his and Watson’s heroics and humor.
    As to Ouida/BR, I read once that a surprising number of actors/actresses had no date on a Sat. night back in those days. With what we know about actresses, maybe he figured the devil he knew…she at least was a buttress against some other banshee taking over his life.
    I can’t help feeling disappointed that he was apparently just too nice a guy to assert himself as a man and as a professional and make his own decisions. But we can’t know what type of people his daughter and son developed into; what is the other side of that alienation? All I can see, after the Druxman play, is a man staring down a corridor of some triumphs and some failures, and seeing nothing for the future but the imperative of paying bills at any cost to his pride. How extremely sad.

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    • Rosebette says

      The BU archives had 8 boxes of material, and I was able to go through 6 of them. I found a couple of typewritten transcripts of Ouida’s plays and only one letter from her, a handwritten note apologizing for note being able to attend a performance of J.B. because she felt unwell. I haven’t really been through the Hollywood boxes thoroughly because I was more interested in his early life and theater experience. I am planning to return the archives later this month.

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      • Judy D. says

        It’s possible that the Gravesend woman sold a lot of the Rathbone materials in her catalog before the remainder got to BU. But if I were her I would have photocopied any letters and kept them with the remainder. Good luck in your search! Ooh, one of my cats is whining in her sleep. Must be the angry ghost of Ouida!

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          • Judy D. says

            Ha, ha! I think it’s probably slightly more probable that my tapping on (and swearing at) the keyboard was disturbing her sun-drenched sleep. Now Basil himself (I mean Basil the cat) has taken over.
            Speaking of Hyacinth Boooquet, there’s another excellent example of a manipulative woman in the classic Brit movie “Seance on a Wet Afternoon.” The same sort of sympathetic, accommodating husband. By the way, Clive Smith, our Richard Boooooquet, said his character probably enjoyed the excitement she brought to his life with all her crazy mismanipulations.

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            • Oh wow – Seance on a Wet Afternoon! Terrific film. Richard Attenborough is fantastic. But now you mention it, the dynamic is very Ouida! – Deluded woman driving her husband to humor her at greater and greater cost. I think it was guilt that made BR humor Ouida. Survivor guilt, having lived through the war, and he said so many time that Ouida had rescued him, saved his life, I suspect he felt he had never repaid that properly.

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              • Judy D. says

                Wonder what the personalities of his mother and sister were. Maybe he was set up from childhood to react to that sort of person. And what exactly did Ouida see in him, on stage, that made her want to marry him (while still married to George). In “Seance” the book, the child is a little boy, and he dies while being held captive (if I remember correctly). And here we have Attenborough (agree, fantastic) bravely following through the various highly dangerous steps of her plan, but yet not being strong enough to confront her, stop her, or call in the police at some point. Now she goes to the mental hospital and he goes to jail.
                I really do think that Aldous Huxley character is based on him–the hungry, reckless, lost young man, like so many others, after the war or just being of that dangerous age just past childhood, when anything is possible except earning a decent living.

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  11. Hector says

    Thank you for a very interesting interview. I’m a long time movie buff and I have read a lot of biographies and think Basil’s life was way more interesting than the average movie star. I can only name Leslie Howard who seems to have been as complex and intelligent of a character.

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  12. Was Jack Miltern around when this behavior went on?Interesting that he accompanied Baz to England in getting his divorce.Always thought of Jack as Ouida’s bodyguard,or sole fan.Maybe made sure Baz came back to America.Was she afraid she’d have to go back to Arkansa,and what is wrong with Arkansas as a home once the baby boom started anyway?Or even after the Dust Bowl?Can’t see why any H’wooders should deny where they grew up,it makes them more admirable for their accomplishments.My dad was an immigrant and became a lawyer,and always imagine him as Atticus Finch-like.

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    • Yea, all the lieing about her family. Did she think she was raised by wolves or something? Most actors are well at least were then, born someplace beside Hollyweird.Take Clark Gable he was from Cadiz Oh…it’s small.Theres nothing shamefull in being from the south and def. nothing shamefull about being from a small town. And what of haveing her neice to come stay? Wasnt she afraid she’d “spill the beans” so to speak? Why was she invited at all? Was she hopeing to become an actress?Was Ouida gonna creat her next big star? Dosent it seem odd to anyone else that she basicly lies her family out of exstince…then turns around and has her neice come to stay?Was she telling the whole Born on the train from /or/ was it to Madride to the Russian dipolomats wife.Before she met Basil? Or did she dream it up so she could have an exotic background too? My hubby was born in S.A. but NOW I was born…get the pic? Basil decends from royalty BUT MY dad is a Russian diplomat..by the time she was done telling he was probly a lost Romnov Tasr.

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    • Claude Rains says

      The Miltern thing is very strange. That really awful book that fictionalises the Cornell tour implies that Miltern was B’s lover, but for once I don’t agree with that, simply because of what Martin Kosleck reported of her jealousy, and from the obvious signs of her insecurity. I simply can’t picture Ouida being ok with her husband screwing Miltern in his flat over the garage while she did flower arranging or something.

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    • glenys says

      “Narcissists demand adulation and respect from their partner. They have a belief in their absolute uniqueness and as such they want to be the only important thing to the person they “love”. Even if they have had children Narcissists often expect their partners to choose them above their offspring. They can be extremely competitive with their children who they see as challengers for their partner’s attention.” – wow!

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  13. Denise says

    http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/relationships-with-borderline-narcissistic-personality-women/

    What it’s like to be in a relationship with a narcissistic Personality Woman. Can’t say about the threats and stuff because I don’t have that insight, but the “isolating from friends and family” sure strikes a chord.

    1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat and your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.

    2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.

    3) Constant criticism. She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.

    4) Control freak. She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.

    5) Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. One moment she’s kind and loving; the next she’s flipping out on you. She becomes so vicious, you wonder if she’s the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.

    6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them, are ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.

    7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she puts down your point of view and/or denies things she says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she usually behaves herself around other people.

    8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in her highly distorted version of reality. Her accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing her and holding her back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.

    9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.

    10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set her off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.

    11) What goes up, must come down. She places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.

    12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give her what she wants, she changes her expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.

    13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. She insists she really does love you. She can’t live without you. She promises to change. She promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.

    When that doesn’t work, she blames you and anything and anyone else she can think of, never once taking responsibility for her own behaviors. She may even resort to threats. She threatens that you’ll never see the kids again. Or she threatens to bad mouth you to your friends and family.

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    • Claude Rains says

      Anyone notice this one in particular: I suppose you could read quite large parts of his autobiography as just that kind of excuse-making

      9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.

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    • Alyssia says

      This is disgraceful to maline a woman who can’t defend herself like this. Ouid was not an insane person with narcissm, she was a completely wonderful, sane, warm and loving person. How could she have lacked empathy when everything she did was for others?

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        • I’m sorry Alyssia. I didnt mean to sound like a witch. But you keep posting about how Ouida is the most wonderfull person that ever walked the face of the earth. Totaly disregarding how we have proven how she lied about so many things.You said “everything she did was for others” The only one ever that fits that discripton is Christ. I for one am not about to join the Ouida for sainthood party.

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    • Anita says

      That is a very good fit indeed. By the looks if that Ouida was textbook. That opens up a lot of stuff, no? Questions just pour forth.

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    • Kendrick says

      I can see some areas of similarity, that is true, but did Ouida lack emotional warmth or empathy? Could she have fooled Basil into believing different if she had? I am bothered at the thought if I am honest. I have always seen their marriage as so happy and totally committed and absolutely believed all the public statements. I find it very hard to believe now they were all untrue/

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    • cinegeek says

      Ouida the Narcissitic Personality Disordered Person is a different thing from Ouida the usual Hollywood narcissist. NPD is a real issue and the person with it is almost as hard to deal with as the Psychopath. If she was NPD then it was a serious deal for those in her family. And I have to admit there is a good case for seeing her that way. It might even make a whole lot of sense about why Basil handled her the way he did and why she didn’t seem to have any conscience about running up all those debts. Wow. There has to be a movie in this

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    • Margaret G says

      It could be a bit like her but also a bit like a lot of needy women. I’m not sure we can diagnose her at this distance

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  14. Umm please someone refresh my swisscheezzze memmory. What was Ouida in the hospital for?[besides carry out from 21,that is.] Oh and let me humbly say, if any thing i posted on this blog,no matter how small has helped Mr Druxman in anyway…well..you can’t begin to know how pleased it makes me.Nor could he ever begin to imagin how wonderfull I think his book on Basil is.Thank you,so much…is my check in the mail?

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  15. Margaret G says

    Druxman said:
    “The man “sold his soul to the Devil”. Ouida helped him to become a star and by the time he realized what kind of person she was and how she was negatively affecting his life, it was too late.”

    I don’t wholly agree with this analysis, as I am far from sure Ouida did make him a star. I am aware Basil said it or implied it, but Neve has produced a lot of evidence to show he was willing to lie about her in order to massage her ego. He lied about the amazing career she gave up in order to “manage” him, so maybe he also lied about the extent she was influential on his career in a good way. If he was signed to MCA would he have needed Ouida to negotiate his contracts? And if she was a better agent than Jules Stein then why did her agency last so short a time? I just smell a rat here, does anyone else? I can see a situation in which Ouida believes she is “helping ” him but is actually making thing worse, jut as in the situation with The Heiress. The huge puzzle is why did he let her get away with all this nonsense?

    Druxman said:
    “In most instances, it was easier to acquiesce to her demands (e.g. letting her throw parties, turning his back on his son and grandchildren) than to fight her. As long as he could escape into his work, he was willing to let her have her way.”

    I see what you say, but I think there is a piece of the puzzle missing. After reading the articles here i can’t see his behavior simply as being passive. It wasn’t easier to let her bankrupt him than to just leave her, and by the time he left Hollywood in 1946 there was not much work to escape into. And allowing a woman to cut you off from your grandchildren is a very big deal. So I don’t think “it was easier” is enough to explain this.

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    • Can’t see turning his back on his own family as being good for anyone by OR.He should’ve continued his earlier 1930’s career in H’wood with occ stage work.George Sanders teased him “thought yo were dead” because he got a lot of Baz-oriented roles in BR’s absence.Should have listened between the lines,maybe everyone thought him as good as dead after leaving H’wood,or maybe even cracked.Maybe he tried to wise OR to the fact he could leave her,too.She should’ve seen a psychotherapist about her “needyness”,more like mind control or brainwashing.Again,I say a lot of good insight here from everyone on this site!Did the house for Caroline and Rodion happen in 1938?

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      • I think the house-building thing would have been either late thirties or early forties. I tend to agree Ouida should have seen a therapist. The more we discover, the stranger she appears.

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    • Georgiana says

      I too smell a rat about the entire Ouida relationship. Something never seemed to fit from the time I read his autobiography, which just seemed so odd and forced on the subject of his marriage and had none of the spontaniety if the other parts, like someone was keeping things back or painting a too careful picture.

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  16. Having been the last President of Basil Rathbone’s fan club and having worked with him in a pilot film at 20th called Warbirds based on his excellent film “Dawn Patrol” let me share with you a few of what I hope are insights on Basil Rathbone. First of all I would like to have you read the seven letters I received from him that are posted on Marcia Jessen’s site. I think those an the anecdotes there, are revealing and poignant.

    I think the worse decision Basil made was not to continue the ‘Sherlock Holmes” films and radio shows when they were still at the top. He left a lot of people hanging on that one including his friend Nigel Bruce. This was a time when he could have asked for more money and could have had an influence on making the series better. I think Basil was un-realistic in his assessment about his being type cast and that everyone would forget his other work. I approached him on this subject on the set. I asked him if he knew that “Sherlock Holmes” had introduced people like myself to him and made me a fan who went on to love his other work. He replied with an “Hmmm” and changed the subject. I helped cue him with his lines. I wonder what Ouida had to do with this decision.

    Well, we all know what happened. He had a hit on Broadway with “The Heiress” and that was about it. He never attained stardom again. In fact he went back to a flop play as “Sherlock Holmes” written by Ouida. He did Sherlock Holmes for anyone who would pay him including “The Milton Burl Show.” and commercials and printed ads. He worked himself literally to death on lecture tours. And finished with “Hillbilly’s In a Haunted House”.

    I wonder if this is covered in Druxman’s play. I know… I should buy it but in the meantime I wonder.

    There is a lot of material on Basil Rathbone in my book “ACTING In The Motion Picture BUSINESS” http://www.davidmacklin.com

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    • Ulrika says

      Yes, why DID he quite Hollywood like that in 1946? I have never understood it. He just seems to have cut and run without warning. Was it just his ego getting the best of his judgement? Was he thinking he was too good for Sherlock Holmes?

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    • Hot Chick says

      I have never got why he ran away from Holmes in 1946 and then was playing Holmes whenever anyone asked him, in all kinds of crap. It makes no sense at all to me.

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      • roesbette says

        I believe that he left Holmes to pursue a career in the theater, and his performance in “The Heiress” was a great triumph, resulting in his winning the Tony Award. He also appeared in “Julius” Caesar, Huxley’s “The Gioconda Smile” , and “Jane.” This is through about 1952. If you know Basil’s biography well, theater was his first love, and apparently where his true gifts shone. I’ve been looking at the archives of his collection at the BU Library, and the plays and his performance were all well-reviewed. Things began to take a downward turn in 1953 with the production of “Sherlock Holmes,” which was a failure. As you know, theater also doesn’t pay as well as film, and undertaking a production that fails, like “Sherlock Holmes” can be a costly venture.

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    • Helen Morrisson says

      I would recommend buying it David! As Michael say it uses some of the marvellous information Neve has been posting here, and is well worth a read.

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  17. Judy D. says

    Well, I just got the play today and there isn’t much new. It does supply a timeline, which my head was lacking. I do know a few perfectly nice guys who have acquiesced to similarly needy or demanding women; it’s sad that he was the sort of man who was too gentlemanly to walk out and at least get to communicate with his own family (and friends). Guess some guys are just too nice, or he had much more than his share of actors’ neuroses and misgivings. I think the type of characterization he gave Holmes was what he should have been allowed to pursue in better movies and he would have continued his success in that way. Swashbuckling is fine for kids’ movies, but imagine him instead of the marvelous Peck as father/defender in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” for instance. Or in some of Bogie’s roles. Grrr. (Hope he really did poke Errol with his foil, as Druxman wrote.)

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    • Hector says

      I believe he was actually a first choice for the lead in The Two Mrs Carrolls – which is definitely not a Bogie role at all, no clue why he was in it.

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    • Anita says

      Oh my, I would actually commit a minor felony to have seen Basil play the father in To Kill a Mockingbird!

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      • Didn’t sound like Flynn got the reaction he was looking for when Baz laughed off his retort about something like a male casting couch and his jeer at Baz’s “proclivity”.Doesn’t make him gay or bi,just a H’wood survivor.I still think he got tired of the gimmea __ for a prime role,the competitiveness,wanting to go back to theater,they have them in LA too,Baz!There is a lot more to his leaving than is known.Maybe his temperment,maybe putting his desires on hold,but he definitely could’ve accomplished so much more with the right backing.Definitely,on a sidebar,could see Baz in The Unguarded Hour in Henry Daniell’s role,and being better,he and Nigel in Strictly Dishonorable as Lewis Stone & Paul Lukas roles,to name a few.Thanks for your patience as I ramble.And hopefully,don’t make more typos!

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    • Errol did mention it in “Beams End” when he said he thought Basil was trying to kill him..I sincery belive he was kidding about the killing part but not about the other.

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  18. Considering how many fair to poor scripts he was offered toward the end of his career,I’d think he’d be delighted any old way to see his granddaughter.Maybe he should’ve just spoke on the phone every day.Hope she didn’t have a feeling of rejection.Hope OR was on the other coast when he did that movie.Can’t see him not giving out if OR was too pushy,no matter how duty-bound.My father didn’t take much from my disabled mother when she constantly manipulated.

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  19. AnnaPindurka says

    It’s wonderful to see Basil’s name as one of the titles in a series called The Hollywood LEGENDS, among all those other illustrious names. Very happy.

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