Comments 35

Handwriting comparison

I don’t have much faith that it will resolve anything, but here as requested is a side-by-side comparison of the “X letter” with one known to be from Rathbone. The “control” letter was written to Mary Manners Sandmann (why did I say Manners? Who the hell is Mary Manners? :roll:)in October 1942. The X letter (allegedly) was written around December 1941, so they are pretty close in date.

The full size file is quite big – around 2000px wide, so feel free to download it and blow it up and generally analyze the shit out of it. And if any of you know any document examiners prepared to work for no fee, please pass it on to them. We’d love to hear what they have to say πŸ™‚


  1. Ellen Foley says

    I know it’s not my business,but that tentative meeting between Baz and Eva that no one knows if it wound up happening,,my belief is that he was going to talk to Eva of marital arrangement with Ouida and what state of Eva/Baz affair would suit him.She,Eva,had reason for calling him “my Basil” and IMHO,it would’ve continued,although not on same intensity.Hope expressed all was trying to convey,like stated prev by others Eva & X were much better suited to Baz.The why I’m a happy man IMHO was bunk-just for publicity,maybe studio trying to squealch a rumored affair?Almost can evoke scene in the NYC Apartment when he was prob listening to last record he ever bought (photo in his den?)


  2. Fervent Researcher says

    I’m quite objective here I think as I have no ax to grind one way or the other but the writing looks very similar to me, and the whole way the letter is laid out, the width of the left hand margin, plus the way it wavers in and out look very similar. And as the other poster said, I don’t see any motive for faking both this and the interview(s) with Mme X. Because it would have to be both or none, and that seems so much effort for no reward.


  3. Marnie says

    I can see they might be different. I do agree with Rebekah that we should take him at his word. The letters and the interview could easily be faked and it’s the only evidence there is that he and Ouida were any less than blissfully happy or that he ever betrrayed her or slept with other women at all after meeting her. So I am disinclined to think it is genuine.


    • I’ve been a fan of Rathbone’s for well over 40 years…did all my research back in the pre-internet days, so I did not have access to a lot of what I’m seeing on this and the other BR website. I would like to think that he and Ouida’s marriage was “blissfully happy”…but from everything I’ve come across…I don’t believe it was. There are too many contemporary comments on how strange she was, he intimated in his autobiography that not everything was perfectly happy between them…I read a comment…please don’t ask me where, I don’t remember and I don’t have time right now to track it down…about someone coming upon Basil practically in tears over Ouida’s extravagence and how it was breaking him financially. I’m sorry…there’s just too much evidence out there…if you have the time and inclination to track it down…that there were deep problems in that marriage.

      You could ask why he stayed with her if he was so unhappy…thing is…I’ve known a lot of married couples who “survived” 40, 50 or more years of being unhappily married…my own parents among them. There’s myriad reasons that people stay married, even though bystanders think…and often rightfully so…that they would be happier apart. I don’t have a reason.


    • I acknowledge that the letters and interview COULD have been faked. I don’t think it’s likely (and certainly would not have been easy), but it’s possible. Have you considered that it’s also possible that Ouida wrote parts of “In and Out of Character”? Or at least edited it to make their marriage seem blissfully happy? So when you are taking Basil at his word, can you be sure that it really IS his word?


    • Elaine Drury says

      BR was having an affair with Eva Le Gallienne a year after he met Ouida and while their “romance” was supposed to be in its passionate beginning. That didn’t get into his autobiography either. Neither did his illegitimate child, Ouida’s bankruptcy or the way she went on to bankrupt Basil too. Does this mean none of those things really happened?


      • Margaret G says

        Does anyone else see tentative parallels between his relationships with X and Eva Le Galllienne? Both were seemingly very articulate, clever and creative women, who seem to have been much better suited to him and (in X’s case anyway) made him much happier than Ouida. It seems as if Eva may have wanted to sustain at least a professional and possibly a romantic relationship with Basil, but he rejected what was seemingly a great connection and wonderful artistic fulfilment in favor of Ouida and unhappiness and career death. Is it possible he rejected X for the same self-destructive reason?


    • Newt says

      I agree with KMC. I came from a similar place being a fan of Basil’s from the 1970’s when his Sherlock films were shown on TV. I read his biography at that time and didn’t think much about what was not there or was remaining unsaid, but a soon as I started reading the articles on here and on his website I started seeing all the strange aspects I had never thought about. Like he and Ouida never look like a couple in love in any photos. Like no one ever says so far as I know how happy they were together or how good she was for him. It’s like there is a silence agreed upon in everyone who knew them to not say anything because they can’t say anything good.
      And don’t get me started on his autobiography! As soon as you stop and think it makes no sense. It’s unreal.


      • GRETCHEN says

        That’s RIGHT, Newt! πŸ™‚

        In ALL their pics together (especially on their WEDDING day), they BOTH appear to be quite “uncomfortable” around one-another. Basil stands or sits stiffly like a STATUE beside Ouida, with his arms either straight down by his sides, or folded AWAY from her direction (unless FORCED to do otherwise, for a “posed” pic), and NEVER a happy smile on either one’s face—more like a GRIMACE!! He looks as though he’s thinking to himself: “Can I GO now? Do we HAVE to be so CLOSE to each other? Is it OVER, yet??”……and, for THAT matter, so does SHE!

        It’s not that he was REPULSED by her—he just knew she didn’t WANT him in “that” way, and it hurt him…a man likes to make LOVE to his woman, and feel that love being reciprocated. Who’d enjoy sleeping with someone who was “turned-off” (or even BORED) by sex?

        In photos of Basil with ANY OTHER woman besides Ouida—he’s more engaged; laughing, smiling, having FUN, and physically close-to and touching/holding the person in a caring way. I don’t think it’s JUST because he was necessarily “attracted” to these women, but more-so because he’s ENJOYING their company. Ouida WASN’T FUN…can you imagine HER being mischievous, or even PLAYFUL?? She was SO concerned with her appearance (both physically AND socially), she’d probably become embarrassed or UPSET if he tried to tickle or be silly with her in front of anyone, and may have thought of these things as “childish” and “immature” behavior.

        Well, couples who are in LOVE with each other have FUN……they PLAY, they goof-around, they giggle, they wrestle on the ground like little kids—until it leads to something MORE. Sexual love is a form of “play” for ADULTS. If a person denies this to their lover, it can cause feelings of REJECTION…even INADEQUACY—as a human being, NOT just as a lover. A healthy sex-life gives a person pride, inner-peace, and WHOLENESS. It saddens me to think that Basil wasn’t “allowed” to have this with his OWN wife! 😦


    • the countess says

      I havent made up my mind about X yet.Truly. And the 2 letters do resemble each other.With dif that could be xplaned away by any of the reasons everonr mentioned. But if you want what I consider a great “clue” as to the blissfull happyness of his and Weedys marriage follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHFf6rxDbBs it’s not long 6min at best, the film quailty is horrid, wish we could see the whole thing, perhaps what i was looking for him to sayexpecting him to say, is just cut off. But altho he talks about happy Hollywierd marriages when he is given the chance on national TV..he never says the thing you EXPECT him to.I waited and waited the logical thing he would have/should have said, he dosent say. He has the perfect chance to say it. but it’s not there.He NEVER says Weedy and he are/were happy.He says that 98% of the people in the Hollyweird comunity have happy marriages and kids but NOT my wife and I… oh and off topic he thinks ..like the Stones “The kids are alright”..wonder if he would feel the same way about kids today.?


      • Absolutely Countess. It’s as if something stops him from being able to go that far. He does his best to imply it or let people think it, but he can’t say it.


  4. GRETCHEN says

    There’s a touch of shaky “nervousness” to Basil’s handwriting in the letter to “X”—and, for GOOD reason…you can just IMAGINE all the stress he was going through, at that time! 😦

    The other letter is written less hurried; in a “calmer” mood…and, with a MUCH tidier (and somewhat more “elegant”) appearance.

    Of course, the way one writes to a LOVER, as opposed-to the way one writes to an ACQUAINTANCE, will be quite different when it comes to the “cadence” and “tone” of the writing—which changes—based-upon WHAT is being written about, and to WHOM. Other than this, I can EASILY tell that Basil definitely wrote the letter to “X”.


    Both letters have the SAME “slant” to the handwriting, as well as similar spacing between words and paragraphs.

    I’ve mentioned this before—Basil had a consistent habit of connecting several words together into “ONE” word.

    If you look at how he dots his lower-case “i’s” (FAR above the words, or sometimes over the WRONG letter of the words), and how his lower-case “j’s” look like a straight line with a dot on top (“..jumping..” in the first letter, and “..just..” in the second), they match IDENTICALLY.

    Note how the upper-case “I’s” in the first letter (where it says: “I can’t..”), and in the second (where it says: “I too..”) are EXACTLY alike in their form and execution.

    He also writes his “&” signs, and “—” (dashes) the SAME way, in both.

    The light and heavy pressure he uses on the paper (with a fountain-pen), when studied, seems to be VERY faithful to each letter, as well.

    Check-out the lower-case “g’s” and “y’s” at the ends of words; and even the “m’s”, “t’s”, and “e’s” in the middle of words…you’ll see that the qualities remain TRUE.

    And lastly, the upper-case “D” in the first letter (“Don’t..”), and in the second (“Dear..”) are QUITE similar, too.

    (There are probably MANY more things—but, YOU get the general idea!) πŸ˜‰

    The letters from Basil to “X” HAVE to be authentic……I mean, WHY would “X” have gone to ALL the trouble of writing and sending HERSELF “fake” letters from Basil (in his OWN, unmistakable handwriting), knowing that only SHE would ever see OR read them, several DECADES prior to her death—WAY before others’ “knowledge” of them??

    Well, the answer is pretty SIMPLE: they WERE from Basil!!


    Who ELSE would be writing to her about the aftermath of Ouida “finding-out” about their affair—as well as all the little EXTRA added-stuff—like getting his kid some water after “sneaking-in” late at night, his “searching for sharp-objects all around the house” with the servant after the “suicide” attempt, and his telling “X” to take “care” of herself and “eat/sleep”?

    C’mon, now……she COULDN’T have just “invented” all that DETAIL on her OWN!


    • Roberta says

      I wholeheartedly agree. The writing looks like the same hand, but the author is stressed and writing fast. I could believe his hands were shaking or he was as Marcia says a little the worse for drink.


    • I totally agree, Gretchen. You are dead on about BR using @ instead of the word “and” as well as using long dashes in his letters. This comparison letter is one of the letters to Mary Sandmann we discussed in the last go around on this subject, and I scoured through a number of them at the time. As Hollywood Collector says above, somebody would have to have been enticed by some big bucks to forge this letter to X and to have been pretty stupid not to sign it “Basil” instead of just “B”. And what could possibly have been the motivation for such a forgery assuming X was the one asking for it? I certainly can’t imagine OR commissioning it.
      BTW, welcome back. I missed you.


    • Hot Chick says

      Exactly! If the letters were forged then the interview would have to be forged too. And that’s just…wtf? How could that be? This master forger can not only simulate Basil’s handwriting he can create brilliant natural dialogue, and tons of it too, and then he just passes it all off to someone for free???


      • GRETCHEN says

        Awww………people LIKE me!! πŸ™‚

        It sure is GREAT finally finding a place where I can talk about my love for Basil, and not be thought of as a “whacko” (for ONCE)!!


        • Ellen Foley says

          Gretchen,we prob are all considered odd by those who know nothing of classics,as in movies/tv shows/plays because everyone can’t be bothered to think it thru (what is presented on film-too busy waiting for the zingers,or bathroom humor).We really missed your insight while you were away.Hard to believe how many mysteries about Baz have been cleared up in the 1+ year of this blog.I agree,his hand could’ve been shaking,when she OR clawed him,she prob looked like she was going to kill him,not just rip his face off!No wonder sharp instrumnts had to be collected.A doc must’ve been called to the manor to give her a sedative,hopefully not a quack selling snake oil.Not trying to sound insensitive to OR,but there was an agreement between partners ok’ing sex outside marriage,and prob plenty of other couples had same.Wonder if she had that agreement with Fitzy and that’s why they went their separate ways (or is itseparate coasts)


      • Here’s the thing…I”m going to play Devil’s advocate here…I’m a pretty good writer and I have a vivid imagination; if I wanted to, I could, in all probability, come up with something close to what we’re seeing with X. But…why would I? What would be the point? Let’s get real here…besides us, Sherlockians, old movie buffs and film historians, who nowadays would know who Rathbone was? There’s no money in it…no estate…he doesn’t have the cachet of Gable or Stewart or Bogart…I just can’t think of one logical, practical or even vaguely reasonable reason to have faked this. Why go through the effort of doing this with with no discernible reward in sight?


        • Yes that has always been my feeling too. This is a niche thing. Most mainstreamers my generation don’t even know who Paul Newman was, never mind Rathbone, Karloff, Rains, Dietrich (or even Gable). Like you I see no motivation.


  5. I’m posting this on behalf of Countess who is having problems getting her comments to go through. She has quite brilliantly found what looks like Ouida’s year book


    Scroll down the page and you’ll find two names mentioned “Eula Branch” and “Runie Branch”. It seems pretty likely one of these (presumably Eula) is Our Girl and that she did attend Searcy Female Institute for a time. It would be great to dig a bit more there I am thinking.

    Countess has also found the Branch family grave in Arkansas

    This entry could well be a younger bro of Ouida’s who died in infancy..

    The parents look to be the same, so I am thinking this is likely a sibling.

    Thanks to Countess for this fantastic research.


    • rosebette says

      Nice work Countess! I couldn’t find a yearbook picture, though. That would be interesting.


      • the countess says

        boy hope this works A pic is mentioned but the poster goes on to say they didnt post it but says the location of the orig. its a local[to Sercy] lib. I’m gonna try to contact them and see if they will photo copy pics for me.fingers crossed everyone. oh and it MIGHT clear up the Eulla/ Enice thingie..It might also give us a look at miss weedy at a young age.Putting her family togather isnt any dif then putting anyone elses togather.it is hit and miss at times.


  6. Hollywood Collector says

    I’m a collector and seller of Hollywood memorabilia and a longtime lurker on your site. Just my two cents but I’ve come across a lot of forgeries in my line of work and I want to make a couple points. 1: I don’t think a would-be forger would write “B”. He/she would write “Basil”. The signature would be the easiest part to forge and anyone in this line of business would know that without it the item is severly devalued to the point of being unsellable as a genuine Rathbone letter. People pay for verifiable signatures. 2 Forging a whole handwritten page would be almost impossible to do consistently and take a long time. Maybe someone would do it but only if there was unusually big bucks going. But the kicker is that forging a whole page and leaving off the signature would just result in your work being wasted. It would be nuts to do that. I can’t see anyone doing that. IMO. Most forgers take the opposite route and add a sig to a document that dosn’t have one. Writing out a whole doc in fake handwriting and leaving off the sig is something I have never seen done in 30 years. LikeI said just my two cents


  7. Looks about the same to me. The Madame “X” letter may have been written a bit faster and with more emotion. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are little differences in the way I write all the time, so I can’t judge something based on a few minor inconsistencies.


    • I agree. My handwriting varies depending on what I’m writing. Am I making an effort to be legible, or am I hastily scribbling a shopping list for myself? That’s why we need experts to examine such documents. The handwriting in these two letters looks like the same handwriting to me, although the Madame X letter appears sloppier, as though BR was writing in haste, or perhaps he had been drinking.


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