BIOGRAPHY, general biography
Comments 63

Rathbone’s death

It’s the 46th anniverary of Basil Rathbone’s death today. I was wondering what we make of two slightly different versions of his final moments, both sourced to his wife Ouida. The first appears in Michael Druxman’s book Basil Rathbone, His Life and His Films (pp.103-5)

Mrs. Rathbone recalls the incidents of the next day: “Basil was very sad, as an old friend of his had died. We were in the living room of our apartment discussing it, when he suddenly said, ‘You know, I’m not afraid to die, but I just wish it didn’t have to be.’ We talked for a few more minutes and he seemed to cheer up a bit. Then, he went into his den, because he wanted to play a record he’d just purchased. About five minutes later, I went into the room to ask him something . . . and he was gone

The second appears on IMDB, written by someone who calls themselves “weetingygrumble@tyahoo.com” who allegedly knew Ouida in old age, after both Basil and her daughter were dead. Among other stories he/she has this to say about Basil’s last day.

“…on friday,july2lst he returned from a stroll to a nearby record store where he picked up a new classical music compilation, he was looking forward to listening to it but had first been listening to the news on radio, he seemed very sad when he joined ouida in the living room and said he was upset having just heard of the death of a friend on the radio(she never mentioned the name of the friend ) she said he grew very reflective and said ‘you know im not afraid to die but i just wish it didnt have to be” she said she tried to change the subject telling him we’re getting rather depressing here and he changed the subject telling her about his new record “we’ll have a nice dinner and listen to this beautiful music together tonight” ironically before he left the room he said ‘I hope we have another forty years together” and she laughed “where darling in heaven”? he muttered ‘maybe’ and blew her a kiss. he went to his study to do some writing and not ten minutes later ouida heard her daughter cry out ” mother come quickly something terrible has happened to daddy” he was sprawled across his desk dead he had evidently suffered a fatal heart attack and his beloved dog was near him with his head resting on basil’s foot as though he also felt the loss…”

The second is certainly a bit of an embellishment on the first, but I’m curious to know if it was Ouida’s embellishment or the imagination of the person posting the story? Did “weetingy” ever even talk to Ouida as an old woman or was he just a persuasive troll? We can’t tell, though I for one find his version of Ouida in old age fairly plausible, and I think he/she might really have known her. The impression he/she gives of Ouida sitting there, alone, consumed by equal parts self-pity and the need to impress (and lie about her age) sounds terribly and tragically authentic. No whisper of remorse. No suggestion that with the loss of both husband and child she sees the superficial folly of her old life. No suggestion that lopping ten years off her age is no longer important to her.

But whether or not Ouida told that story originally I’m not sure I believe it or either version of Basil’s death. They both play just a little too like the last reel of a movie, or one of Ouida’s unperformed and unperformable plays. And from what we know of her, I think we can be sure that if the true story of what happened that summer day hadn’t been so poetic and so tidy, Ouida would soon have re-invented it so that it was.

So I’m fairly sure in my own mind that we don’t actually know how Baz really died, we just know how Ouida wanted us to think he died.

Which, many would say was kind of appropriate in a grim and awful sort of way.

The image at the top is courtesy of A Basil Rathbone Tribute

Also thanks to Marcia Jessen for supplying the Druxman quote.

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63 Comments

  1. BASIL says

    I just listened to a song where all of the lyrics mean the opposite to everything. The song suddenly went:
    ” I don’t care about you, even though you’re still breathing ”

    …..
    …..
    That’s my Basil crush in a nutshell.

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  2. the countess says

    I woulndt call it a near death experince either.Still you have to admit he was a bit Psycic[sp?] Because for him to “know” when John died that IS Psyc[sp.?]. Runs in the family, Rember his Moms premenation about the boat,that saved them from drowning on the way home from S.A.! Well Sir Frank also had the same kinda premenation about a ship called the “Emperess of Irland”. and had the comon sence to listen to it. I belive almost everove IS gifted in this mannor some just are better intuned to it.

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  3. GRETCHEN says

    HEY, everybody! It’s July 29th, and THAT means—
    HIP-HIP-HOORAY!! IT’S MY B-DAY TODAY!!! πŸ™‚
    (Not that anyone cares…except ME.)

    FUN-FACT: Vincent Price’s Birthday (May 27th) and mine (July 29th) ALWAYS fall on the SAME day of the week…y’all go check-it-out on yer calendars, if’n ya don’t BELIEVE me! This year, they’re both on MONDAY! πŸ™‚

    (For some WEIRD reason, the time/date above is always ahead by SEVERAL hours, so it probably says it’s TOMORROW already……whatever.) 😦

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Gee, THANKS, Basil!! πŸ™‚

        ANOTHER FUN-FACT: Vincent Price and Christopher Lee were BOTH born on May 27th, and Peter Cushing on May 26th—all 3 of them used to go-out and celebrate their Birthdays together each year, and were SUPER good-buddies…YAY!

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        • BASIL says

          Aaw! (And there was Basil, sat sniffling in the corner, wanting to go out and celebrate, but alas, it was not his birthday. 😦 )

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  4. rosebette says

    I wouldn’t call it a “near death” experience, which occurs when the person actually loses consciousness and has some interruption of brain and heart function. Basil had an episode while making J.B. where he collapsed. He speaks of his experience at Mt. Carmel as being very peaceful and that beautiful music (probably classical or choral liturgical music) was piped in. As he listened to the music, he reflected, “One was given to remember one’s childhood — prayers by the bedside in the nursery with Mother and Daddy and Beatrice and John. And one prayed again as the, so many years ago; and those who had gone before came back for a fleeting moment and a reunion in blessed memory was consummated.” It’s clear Basil is fully conscious as he is having these thoughts and memories. Certainly, it’s the observation of someone who doesn’t see death as evil and who has a belief in some sort of afterlife.

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    • GRETCHEN says

      THANK-YOU for sharing this story, Rosebette…it was beautiful! πŸ™‚

      Basil’s stay in the hospital probably gave him a moment to pause and think about his own mortality…perhaps he was over-worked and exhausted, along with other stress going on in his life at that time, which may have led to his collapse. He NEEDED this rest, and it gave him time to relax and reflect—something he likely didn’t do very often, while in the midst of busily working-on or rehearsing for a play or film. God didn’t want him to fear death, but WELCOME it, when the time came…luckily for Basil (and us), this wasn’t yet that time!

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      • rosebette says

        The passage I shared is in his autobiography, toward the end of the chapter called J.B. B. definitely refers to several instances about connections with the afterlife and those who have passed in his autobiography. I’m on the fence about what “psychic” means, but I have met many people who feel a closeness to that world or who have some type of inner instinct about events that have happened or will happen. I’ve always felt skeptical about that sort of thing myself, but now that I’m getting older, I’m beginning to wonder about the validity of those experiences — maybe because I know more people who have died!

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  5. rosebette says

    I’ve seen pictures of Ouida in the later years when Basil was still alive. She was always a very well-groomed woman — I could see her as being attractive in her later years. Often, plump women age very well, and she had very good skin. After all, she wasn’t knocking herself out in high altitudes making crap pictures.

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  6. The Countess says

    I dont think we need to feel a great sadness about Basil going.He said he wasnt afraid to die. As the song says “Every body want to go to heaven,but nobody wanta go now”. Read the part in his book about the angel of death.I do belive he wrote that part! After all Weedy would have given the angel a flaming sword and huge white wings,would she not? Basil says his Mother..or someone he loved. I belive his death was just as Gretchen siad his “homecomeing”! Did Weedy embelish? Must we ask..realy..! I buy the dog part though.They had a house full of dogs.Dogs are verry senistive.But most of weedys story… well..AH YES I REMBER IT WELL!

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    • rosebette says

      Hi Countess, We missed you! Where’ve you been! I agree with you about Basil in some way being ready for death, especially if you read the parts in the autobiography about the “health scare” he had while making J.B. He didn’t make death seem unpleasant, but talked about meeting his parents and siblings (I think he even says “Mother and Daddy” which is rather sweet).

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Does this mean that Basil had a “near-death experience”? It sounds SO wonderful…I’d LOVE to hear more about this story! (I don’t own a copy of his autobiography.)

        I know he had a psychic-connection to his brother in WWI, when he had a “vision” which foresaw John’s death on the battlefield—then a few weeks later, he suddenly “knew” at the very same MOMENT John actually died, and began crying. So, he was probably “sensitive” to that kind of stuff, like me.

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    • Roberta says

      Welcome back Countess! I absolutely agree with you. I think there may have been an element of him being happy to go. One thing I do wonder about is how his life would have been if Ouida ha pre-deceased him. What if her suicide attempt had succeeded? What if she had died in around 1958 aged 72? Basil would have been 66, so by no means too old or over the hill. I wonder how he would have reacted and what he would have done.

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      • Fenella says

        I tend to think his affair was probably not serious. For all her faults he must have loved Ouida to decide to stay with her. I suspect he’d have been lost without her.

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      • the countess says

        Could someone emblish [please no purple prose Weedy style] on Weedys suicide atempt? i seem to have missed that juciey bit of info!

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    • Since the death was reported on the radio, it must have been someone famous. Vivian Leigh died on July 8, but surely that would have been reported earlier than July 21. I don’t know!

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Go to historyorb.com to find “famous deaths for the year 1967″…it shows EVERY single one (there’s a few HUNDRED)! On July 17th, an actor named “Cyril Ring” died at 74, and a former silent-screen actress named “Gertrude McCoy” died at 77—as WELL as the iconic jazz-musician and composer, John Coltrane, at only 40. Any one of these COULD have been the “friend” Basil had just heard-about losing on the radio, before his death.

        On July 18th the president of Brazil died, and on the 21st the president of South Africa died…I doubt either of these men had been the ONE mentioned…although, Basil WAS born in South Africa! (T-hee.) A baseball Hall-of-Famer and a Dutch poet also died on July 21st…probably NOT one of those, either…but, Basil DID love baseball and poetry! (Double T-hee.)

        If you click on the blue-highlighted date “Jul 21st”, it goes to a page of those who died on that date in HISTORY—perhaps even some of Baz’s OWN ancestors! He shares his death with a LOT of famous people……including HIMSELF!! πŸ™‚

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        • GRETCHEN says

          GRETCH-SLEUTH STRIKES AGAIN!! πŸ™‚

          I just did myself a BIT more investigating, and found-out some highly INTERESTING facts regarding the actor Cyril Ring (mentioned above)…

          He began his career in silent-films, and appeared in over 350 movies in small or un-credited parts in his lifetime. He was married to the actress Charlotte Greenwood, a famous stage and film star, who had worked with many notable performers in her career. His MUCH older sister (by 21 years) was Blanche Ring— a singer and actress who starred-in Broadway theatre productions and musicals, as well as in motion pictures. Her final stage-performance was in a play in 1938 with……Eva Le Gallienne (Basil’s ex-lover)! In later life, she married the memorable character-actor Charles Winninger, who appeared in multitudes of film-roles during his lifetime. He played the sheriff in “Destry Rides Again”—you know, THAT movie with Marlene Deitrich—remember the pic with her and Baz together looking SEXY, when she was on a “break” during the making of it?

          There’s NOT much mentioned about the life of actress Gertrude McCoy, except that she was in 131 silent-films from 1911-1926…that’s about IT…couldn’t find anything regarding her personal life—marriages, etc.

          I have a STRONG feeling now that Cyril Ring was most likely THE “friend” that Basil was mourning for, the day of his own death…just a HUNCH!

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Was Thomas Mitchell a friend of the Baz?Thought it might be him after reading Hollywood Hellfire Club.

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      • Harriet Rufus Brown says

        The funny thing is I also wondered if Vivien Leigh might have been You Know Who πŸ˜‰

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  7. Brad says

    If Ouida was as frigidly self-involved as she seems to have been then that might explain why she outlived everyone. People like that always seem to live long lives while those around them succumb to the worry and strain and guilt such people engender

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  8. Claude Rains says

    Slightly bewildered by the person describing Ouida as “still very attractive” in old age. Perhaps it was a typo and he meant to write “mad.” πŸ™‚

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  9. Ellen Foley says

    I suppose OR didn’t smoke any where near as much as BR.He probably could’ve gone anytime during the 1960s.Cyn “cirrhosis” prob due to complications of chronic illness,esp since My belief her anemia was of hemachromatosis and major build-up of iron levels,causing major organ damage.Sad,I don’t know if she was even 30 yrs-old.Hope his past 46 yrs have been peaceful,and all’s made right with Marion,Rodion and his parents and siblings.Never realized about measles in adults causing heart conditions.Great info!Always learning something new and interesting here.

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    • rosebette says

      Since the rare times we see Basil without a cigarette is in a very posed studio shot (and he sometimes has one in hand even then!)or if he’s in a costume picture (and there are even some with him in costume with a butt hanging out of his mouth!), I’d say it’s the coffin nails that done him in. He was lucky to make it to 75. Many of his peers were gone by 60-65.

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      • the countess says

        true but we need to rember that at that time the dammage that smokeing causes was not well known. Smokeing wasnt seen as smomething cool or something dangerous it was fairly normal,and i’d have to bet that well over 50% of the pop smoked from a young age.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Am reading NIV,The Authorized Biography Of David Niven,and hope Baz had more of a 2nd marriage that resulted in mostly happiness,unlike the Niven/Hjortis match made in heck.Neither was capable (the Nivens) of being faithful,but the wife was awful!Hope OR at least did go out of her way to show BR in no uncertain terms how much he meant to her,while he was alive,instead of spending like there was no tomorrow,and having to live in less than palatial digs after BR’s death.

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      • Ellen Foley says

        Also from NIV,doug Fairbanks,Jr knighted,even tho’ not English,but nothing for Baz,or Niven!IMHO,that’s unfair!

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    • I can see I need to clarify my POV here.

      When I said we don’t know how Basil died, I didn’t mean we don’t know his cause of death. I meant we don’t know the circumstances surrounding it. So please don’t let my loose choice of words start a forest fire of speculation! He died of a heart attack — but maybe not right after telling his wife he wanted to have another forty year with her and blowing her a little kiss as he made his final exit.

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  10. Irene Adler says

    I can’t help feeling that Basil’s death and Cynthia’s are tied up together somehow.Maybe Cynthia didn’t want to live without her father?

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  11. GRETCHEN says

    I didn’t mention that after JUST learning of his friend’s death, Basil began talking about the whole “death” thing with Ouida in the FIRST place, because he was beginning to feel closer to dying…older people lose friends, and also see themselves aging. His friend’s death just brought his deepest thoughts to the surface, and reminded him of his OWN upcoming demise—he probably didn’t expect it to be SO soon, however, since he had such happy plans for a peaceful evening at home, that day.

    You know……sometimes, I “wish it didn’t have to be”, TOO. 😦

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    • Elaine says

      Except I believe Neve’s point is that we can’t be sure any of that elegiac business about discussing death really happened as we only have Ouida’s word for it.

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  12. GRETCHEN says

    HAPPY “RE-BIRTH-DAY”, BAZ!! πŸ™‚
    (The day you were “re-born” into your new life with God—YAY!)

    Today’s the day you went “home”, 46 years ago…I miss you SOOOO much!!! 😦

    It’s STILL July 21st where I live, and almost midnight. So, I thought I’d add something here about a SPIRITUAL experience I had, regarding Basil’s death.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this site, I have this sort of GIFT-THING for “picking-up-on” stuff about dead people—both the ones stuck here on earth, as WELL as the ones who are “partying” in heaven. When I first read about Basil’s death online (in the late 1990s), I had a visual idea in my head of how it appeared to have happened, and the room in which it occurred. I took this seriously, because a LOT of the time, my “visions and/or feelings” turn-out to be CORRECT.

    Over the years, I’ve always “seen” the room where he died in the SAME way—there is a wall of books on the right side when you enter, and a large wooden writing-desk (facing into the room) in front of the bookshelf; there’s a couch against the same wall as the doorway, to the left; and if you turn to look back out the doorway from INSIDE the room, there is a living-room…and possibly a kitchen area. It was daytime, because the lights weren’t on…the room was lit with sunlight, but it was still somewhat dark; as if there were partly-closed blinds or curtains on the window (I never SAW the window, or the rest of the room). When I picture his “death-scenario”, I usually see Basil lying on his side on the carpeted-floor of this “study” or “den” room (between the desk and the couch), having quickly died there as he attempted to get help—possibly even calling-out Ouida’s name, when he fell. (Hopefully, his face was not all grimaced with fear or pain when she found him…that would totally CREEP-ME-OUT, if I was her!! Plus, it would’ve meant he’d suffered and was frightened, which I couldn’t BEAR.) Before he “dies”, I see him sitting either at his desk writing a letter, or on the couch resting because he didn’t feel well (for men, heart-attacks can create symptoms of slight-illness for several hours PRIOR to the attack itself, which most people choose to ignore). Upon my reading further details of his death recently, it now looks as though this COULD be as it happened. He might have been writing a letter, as the person’s above statement recalls, OR sitting on a sofa listening to his new record, as Ouida said…both possibilities are pretty-close to what I saw. Perhaps the room is, as well.

    He was a fairly STRONG and HEALTHY guy in his 70’s, and exercised regularly—playing golf and tennis, and fencing—therefore, the reason for his sudden-death seems puzzling, at first…but, there were SEVERAL factors that probably caused his heart-attack:

    Since the ’90s, I’ve always believed that a LARGE amount of STRESS played a major part in killing Basil. Being an aging actor, he felt less-attractive, unwanted, and most likely depressed…it was difficult for him to find decent work—work he could be PROUD of, and which fulfilled his need to perform. His daughter was ill, and probably still lived at home with her parents. On TOP of all this, he was married to someone who’s over-spending led him into terrible debt. These circumstances made him desperate to take-on ANY jobs he could get—allowing him to be regularly-exploited—just to pay the bills and eat. They included: lecturing at colleges around the country, doing magazine print-ads for various products, acting in commercials and cameo-appearances on TV, and being stuck in SUPER-LAME-O, degrading kiddie-movies. This “work” kept him VERY busy, and he grew EXHAUSTED from all the traveling and such which it entailed, with NO time for himself to relax. He’d smoked MOST of his life, so his heart and lungs were probably damaged by that, too. I also figured that since he died in New York City in late July, the extreme HEAT and humidity may have had something to do with it—I imagined him possibly taking a walk and returning home to an air-conditioned apartment, after being outside where it was at least 90-100 degrees…this sudden change in temperature can SHOCK a person’s body; especially when they aren’t young, or have health-issues.

    NEW stuff I’ve learned adds to these factors:

    I read recently that he’d been out buying a record before he died, which agrees with the old theory of mine about him coming-in from outside after taking a walk on a HOT day. I found-out that he’d had MEASLES when he was a soldier in WWI…this can cause permanent heart-damage to an adult who’s infected after the age of 20 (they didn’t have a childhood-vaccine for it back then). He’d also JUST learned of his friend’s death only moments before his OWN…this must have been quite a horrible SHOCK to his possibly already-weakened heart. He went to see his doctor (the day before), was very depressed, and then spoke to his wife about his “not being afraid to die”, just MINUTES prior to dying…I think it’s because he just “knew”…a person who’s near “that time” begins to “know”. He sort-of “hinted” at it, so as not to UPSET his wife by telling her straight-out that he was about to die at ANY time. (You know how SENSITIVE she was!) He probably visited the doctor because he wasn’t feeling well for quite a while, due to the altitude-sickness he’d acquired after working on his LAST film in the mountains in Mexico, a few months before. Perhaps the doctor had told him to prepare for his death, soon… it was probably too LATE for him to recover, and the illness’ effects on his internal organs were rapidly worsening. This AWFUL news would have explained his depression that day. (Altitude sickness can progress slowly—causing insomnia, rapid heart-rate, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, fatigue, confusion, fluid in the lungs, brain-swelling, and possible coma and DEATH.) The vision I’d had years ago, of him resting on the couch (just prior to dying) because he “didn’t feel well”, could ALSO have been because of this illness.

    So, basically…the physical and emotional STRESS of his lifestyle, family, and money troubles—accompanied by his MANY health-problems, most likely compounded over a LONG period of time; until his heart had finally just had ENOUGH, and it was over.

    How HORRID for precious Basil to suffer like that!! I WISH I could have held him and comforted him during his last moments of life…WAAAHHHHH!!! * tears of agony * 😦

    I can just SEE his brother John taking his hand and guiding him “home”…and then, they give each-other the BIGGEST…HUG…EVER!!!! * happiness * πŸ™‚

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    • Lemony Snicket says

      Last time this was discussed I believe someone went looking for his death certificate and couldn’t find a copy. An MI is very plausible. LIke I said I tend to agree with John Carradine that it was the altitude he had been working at that produced the blood clot that killed him (if that is what it was).

      Measles can cause damage to the heart, but I think we can rule that out in this case. The man who could perform those movie duels did no have a damaged heart by any kind of estimation!

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      • Ellen Foley says

        I wonder if his feeling sad was serious contemplation of doom,if he had pulm embolism,entirely possible before the actual event (my father died of one,and I remember how depressed he was just before it happened).Since seeing Carradine’s comments,I’ve wondered about the alt sickness angle.Sudden death like that,anyone can wonder about many things,incl poison,suicide.Don’t think that was in his nature,but people have a right to wonder and question without being seen as disrespectful.Everyone’s opinion is respected here.Wondering,on different more positive note,who is that pretty woman in photo w/Baz from ?Czarina?that was speculated if they were involved.

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Interesting to think OR could try to write a scenario ala Agatha Christie,poisoning loved ones.Maybe she should’ve when he had to take any old dreck to make ends meet.She wasn’t the Queen,so she should’ve contributed.When she had her Baz-less life,she certainly should.Hope she didn’t expect Rodion to help.

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      • The Countess says

        Did he have measels? When? I just wondered? It’s not odd almost everyone does.Well those of us who came along before the vacine that is.

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        • The Countess says

          Oh ekke dont answer I just fond it thats what I get for reading bottom to top Jezzze Louise! Wonder who the friend was. Important enought to be on the raido. Any other star share Basils homecomeing day? or day b4 perhaps.

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          • Ellen Foley says

            Hope you’ve been well,Countess.We’ve been missing you a lot!Welcome back.

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            • the countess says

              yhanks but I’m not REALY back. my computer is still not able to conect to the net so I have to post at public lib. so pots may be few and far between ,due to work schudle.

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    • Jehane says

      I too have a long history of “seeing” things about people’s lives and establishing a psychic connection with people I have never met or who have died. never with Basil alas. I believe when people make this contact it’s not random, it’s because they are bonded on some level. I believe you must have some form of connection with him in life, whether known or not. Or perhaps in a past life? Do you have any sense about that?

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      • GRETCHEN says

        OMG……YES I DO, jehane!!! πŸ™‚

        Since I was a TODDLER, I’ve always been VERY spiritually and emotionally-connected to Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price, for some strange reason—I also cared a lot about their GOOD-BUDDIES Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, John Carradine and Hans Conried—to name a few. (I was totally in LOVE with Fred Astaire and Vincent Price, and Basil, too!) However, I didn’t learn they were ALL close friends with each-other until I was an ADULT…I just really liked watching them in movies—a LOT! The fact that I was SO in-tune with these people as a GROUP in particular (even when I was a year old), meant I’d unconsciously picked-up on their ACTUAL closeness, somehow.

        Besides just feeling “attached” emotionally to Basil and Vincent, I also sometimes just “KNEW” stuff about the kind of people they were in life—their religious beliefs, moral values, things and places they liked, stuff they enjoyed doing for fun, and their sexual and sensual natures—which I could “read” from them…even on FILM. (I wrote in MORE detail about this in my previous comments on the “Baz and Me” page, on this site!) I eventually found-out these things were all TRUE—through books and online, several YEARS later.

        A SOMEWHAT “HAPPY” STORY:

        Just before Vincent Price died (in ’93), Basil’s soul (among others) “let me know” (telepathically) that he’d be dying SOON, of what they called a “terminal-illness”, and that I should pray for him and let him GO (since I wanted him to live longer). They “told” me that this was because he’d completed ALL that God had planned for him here as a person…MOST-IMPORTANTLY, “giving and receiving love”—by being a good friend, and fathering his children; as WELL as by sharing his gifts as an actor and artist with others, which in-turn brought goodness and positive-energy to the world. He died around 5 months later, of lung-cancer. The day they “told” me this MIGHT have been ON Vincent’s 82nd B-Day (May 27th), because he died on October 25th—almost EXACTLY 5 months later. At that time, I didn’t know when his birthday WAS, or anything about his kids or wives…I read all THAT stuff in ’96, when I bought a book about Vincent’s life and films. The day Vincent died, I “knew” he was gone—JUST MOMENTS before the TV news-anchor announced that he’d passed-away earlier that evening. I’ve NEVER stopped thanking Basil (and Vinnie’s other pals) for “warning” me of his approaching death…it’s as-if they wanted to “prepare” me for the loss of someone they knew was MY friend, too…even though I hadn’t ever MET him. That touches my heart and makes me cry EVERY time I think about it, ’cause they didn’t HAVE to do that for me. What AWESOME friends Vincent had—and I guess I HAVE, too! You guys TOTALLY ROCK!!! Thank-you soooooo MUCH! πŸ™‚

        Perhaps I’m intuitive when it comes to them in particular because I HAPPEN to be attracted to super-sweet, CUDDLY types of guys! I’ve also considered the possibility that I KNEW them (and was part of their close “circle” of friends) DURING their lives as actors in the 20th century, in a past-life as a performer or artist friend of theirs who’d died (prior to my birth in the ’70s). I “know” that Basil, Vincent, and many of their pals are home in HEAVEN now, and are NOT being re-born here anymore; they must be DONE with whatever they were meant to do in this world, or something. As a BABY and a kid, I thought and understood things like an ADULT…what you might call an “OLD-SOUL”. I’ve always been keen-on becoming a professional performing OR aesthetic artist, and I’m pretty-good at art, singing, and acting. All this stuff kind-of makes SENSE…I mean, I’ve been trying to figure-out WHY the heck I liked these guys SO darn much, since I was a KID…I thought maybe I was just WEIRD!! πŸ™‚

        In ANY case, I’ll find-out when I die and God finally CLUES me-in! Hey…I LOVE surprises!! (But, only the GOOD KIND!) πŸ™‚

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Thanks for sharing,that is so interesting,Gretchen,and it’s not weird,it’s a gift.

          Like

        • Basil says

          What I find really odd, is the fact I’ve imagined Basil sat in a room similar to the one you’ve described, only there’s a painting on the wall of some odd Victorian lady. :-/
          And I imagine a younger Basil sat there, too…

          Like

    • Roberta says

      Maybe even if he didn’t kill himself he was happy to die. I mean what kind of life was he living by then? He stayed with Ouida after this affair happened but was that by choice or necessity? Did she ever forgive him? Was she really the love of his life as everyone says and was the affair a mistake? I hope they reconciled but I agree with NeveR that we can’t just take Ouida’s cosy story on trust

      Like

    • Ellen Foley says

      I just hope if Cynthia found him it wasn’t too much for her.I remember running out to do an errand for my father,being in line,getting an urgent “get out of line,get home NOW” flash,ignoring it to take care of business,and getting home to find EMTs working on him,thus my suspicions which were ignored by the home health aide confirmed when I warned her “Something seems off,very depressed” then he had PE.Also,when my gran died thought it strange I kept calling to no avail,thinking maybe she fell.Sure enough,she fell,rushed to hosp,entertaining staff,then-BOOM!major MI,and she was gone before we were notified he was in ER.Premonitions can be scary,but they do warn us of what can be on the horizon.

      Like

  13. Margaret G says

    I have to agree that the “story” surrounding his death does sound a bit improbable and romanticized and given what we know about Ouida’s tendencies to fantasize, we can assume it may well not have been quite like that. I’ve been reading more of “weetingy”‘s comments and believe they bear reproducing:

    “i lived in new york at the time and grew up watching basil rathbone in those days the local tv station ran all the thirties and forties movies all the time. one day i searched the manhattan phone directory and there it was mrs basil rathbone 15 west 72nd st. i was only 19 and just called to say what a fan id been of her late husband,to my utter amazement not only was she receptive to my call but asked for my number my parents couldnt believe it when mrs basil rathbone called me two or three times thereafter and invited me for tea. this all started in december 1972 and she died just less then two years later the last time i spoke with her on the phone was 7/12/74 just before she went to roosevelt hospital where she died of a stroke the day after thanksgiving, although she always referred to herself as in her early seventies it was not until she died did i discover she was 88 at least 6 years older then basil id been led to believe he was at least ten years her senior. she was a brilliant woman who had been a screenwriter and even wrote some broadway shows. she spoke with a lilting british accent and was very alert but terribly lonely the first time id talked to her was right after her birthday and she said she wouldnt have even had a birthday but for cyril ritchard who had come to her apartment with some cake and wine.

    …she would often comment about being hard-up financially and being forced to move from her lavish apartment that shed shared with basil and their daughter,cynthia,into what she felt was a shabby little apartment. she told me her daughter had died less then two years after basil of cirrhosis of the liver and now the only living thing she had in her life was a little canary. I gathered from the way she described her past life of huge parties and frequent trips abroad that she had lived quite a bit beyond what basil was probably earning in those later years. we shared many conversations in which she even described his sudden death.

    …i was fortunate to keep a diary so i do have much of it written down. she was even in her 80’s a very attractive woman and dressed very fashionably but it was obvious that she was not in the best of health. she had a few girls in their twenties who were struggling actresses who would take turns for the little money she could pay doing errands for her. ive always wondered what became of the manuscript she had written on her life and basil’s she told me she had completed four hundred or more pages and also had a fantastic collection of photos never seen by the public but she was ill and had yet to find someone to edit it for her she died soon afterward,perhaps its in some library collection but im sure it would have made a great read.”

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  14. Kendrick says

    I think it was the way she described, I don’t think she would lie about anything so important.

    Like

    • Basil says

      I agree, she loved that Basil of hers heaps, hence the reason she tried to kill herself when Basil had an affair. She obviously loved him quite a lot…

      Like

  15. Levasseur Fan says

    Could he have killed himself? or was she nuts and did she poison him and their daughter? (ok the second is completely left field, ignore it!)

    Like

    • rosebette says

      I believe Basil had a heart attack, which is the stated official cause of death. Perhaps the events are as described in the Druxman bio, then embellished by Ouida. He had had a “scare” during the run of J.B. in the late 1950s, which may have been a heart attack or episode of some type. The awareness of his own death somehow doesn’t surprise me — I feel as if the thought was a constant companion for him, as a result of his war experience. People often have a prescient feeling or a sense of vague dread before a heart attack.

      Like

      • The Countess says

        Egads! I have to agree Alyssia. But what a plot it would make for Weedys next silent movie script.Now if we can just fit El Duchety into it..hummm.

        Like

        • GRETCHEN says

          Yeah…he wouldn’t have killed himself, ’cause he loved life TOO much; and Ouida wouldn’t THINK of ending the ONLY source of income their family had—how ELSE could she buy all those designer clothes??

          Like

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