LETTERS
Comments 71

Letter from Fitzroy Davis to Michael Druxman

Recently Michael B. Druxman, Basil’s distinguished biographer was kind enough to send me a scan of a letter he received in 1975, just after his book was published. It’s interesting for the bit of extra light it throws on The vexed question of Rathbone’s second wife, and perhaps for another reason. The writer of the letter was named Fitzroy Davis, and this also happens to be the name of the author of the novel Quicksilver, which has been discussed here from time to time and which apparently features BR as a closeted gay man, insinuated to be having some kind of affair with an older man easily identified as Jack Miltern. Is this the same Fitzroy Davis? It might be informative to find out. The whole letter can be seen below, but here is an extract of the most relevant part:

“I knew Mr Rathbone only slightly,but he did live near me in the Dakota, and I would sometimes chat with him when he was taking that old “cocktail spaniel” out for a walk. My personal feeling was that he was forced to work too hard to sustain the standard of living to which the nee Ida Berger was determined to remain accustomed. Blanche Yurka told me one time that she had said to Ouida, “if he does not stop going off on these strenuous lecture tours he is going to come back on a stretcher one day.” Even after his death when she knew how little money there was she still moved into another apartment house, a newer one, a few doors from the Dakota, which was quite beyond her means…”

Fitzroy Davis letter

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71 Comments

  1. Judy D. says

    Thanks so much, Marcia, for the OB Obit! Lots of more info we can track down, or try to (Brooklyn, yet!). I pulled up a 1974 calendar and found that she would have died Fri., November 29 (musta been overindulgence at the Thanksgiving dinner at the local shelter). Catholic or not, she ends up Episcopal (was that what Bazz was?)? She may have converted to Catholicism from a more likely Southern Protestantism at some point–its old-world mysticism would have suited her ditsy nature (I was brought up Catholic too, but among other factors, a horny priest I went to for counseling changed me to permanent agnostic). Look at the kind of people she managed–Atwill (child molester, orgy organizer), Nazimova (lesbian partner of gay Valentino and manager of Garden of Allah, and Valentino was hubby Fitzmaurice’s moneymaker). Certainly as open-minded as Bazz, and obviously not too uptight on the subject of sex so long as she didn’t have to participate. As to her mental state, I think a lot of people never get really greedy or obnoxious because they just never get the opportunity–they slog along from paycheck to paycheck and put up with the unloved spouse and missed opportunities and wait to die. (Watch “The Man Who Wasn’t There” as an example. Great movie.) Once she saw her way to making a good ($$/power) marriage (Fitzmaurice, if not before) then her natural instincts could develop more fully. Had she the looks, the youth, and a better personality, she may well have deserted Bazz for someone more successful as he started to fade. (YUCK.)
    As to rents in NYC, there was a great apt. shortage during the War, and rent control came in at some point where a person can live there for many years without the landlord being able to raise the rent to today’s rates. But I’m sure in the 1940s the good areas were very expensive. Apts. at Gracie Terrace, which I don’t know if it’s the same as BR’s Gracie building, were around $4 million by the 1970s or ’80s!!

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  2. Violet Beauregarde says

    I keep getting the response “sorry this comment cannot be posted” and had to try five times before I could post anything, is it happening to anyone else?

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    • cinegeek says

      It’s been happening to me for a few days and just happened a few seconds ago. This is an experiment

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  3. Ellen Foley says

    Amazing that a woman actually born down South to Southerners,telling everyone her story of being born somewhere in Europe,hooks a British Stage star,has him working practically til his dying day so she canlive the American Dream,or at least that of the rich and famous,too bad Robin Leach didn’t do a story on her.

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    • the countess says

      She was too early and he was to late. Tonight on “life styles of the rich and famous” we have Weedy Rathbone tune in tomorrow night when we do our exclusive on her husband Basil on “life styles of the broke and henpecked.”

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      • Ellen Foley says

        Too bad someone didn’t push her from the plane,in mid-air,while on the speaking tour,Night w/Baz,like the pic of him in sunglasses,even if he was a nervous flier.He should’ve been going to a sun kissed isle to rest and relax,not try to pay excessive bills to survive.Along the way she could decorate homes that people wouldn’t be caugh dead in.Or keep the claws even sharper.Can’t imagine touring with someone who prob recites ad nauseum how much they sacrificed for you during 41 yrs of marriage.Now,here,Basil,this is what I want you to say at next guest lecturing stop.No,yo can’t buy ciggies,I need another fur coat,and that divine hairdresser,Madame Jose to the stars.I never spent you into poorhouse,and you’re not henpecked,I resent the implication when all I ever did was sacrifice my career of telling people where to go and how soon,incl my hubby who wanted to go to the opposite Coast for his career.Like to know who was paying for Long Island home for her & Jack when she finally met Rathbone and everything was set in motion for “Love of the century”.No,my claws are not coming out.Just talking about she who must be obeyed.At least Mrs Rumpole was great character,as was Rumpy himself.

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  4. Dorm Sisters says

    Will you be posting more of the X interview soon?? Three of us in our dorm are addicts. We are dying here.

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    • BASIL says

      I think if this blog was a place and we were all waiting for more X, I’d probably be camping here πŸ˜„

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    • Violet Beauregarde says

      I’m glad I’m not alone!I’ve been refreshing the page every half hour!

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      • hee, I’ll probably post the next part tomorrow. I’m running around all over the place atm, but quieter day tomorrow, hopefully.

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    • Hot Chick says

      Me too! Even at work. And my boss is an Evil Troll who eats the brains of anyone he finds surfing the web on the clock

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    • I don’t see anything in the letter to suggest that Fitzroy Davis loved Ouida, or even liked her. I don’t see anything that suggests jealousy either. For the most part, It seems he’s stating facts: After Basil died, Ouida moved to an apartment she couldn’t afford. And he quotes what Blanche Yurka told him. The only opinion he stated was that Basil worked too hard to support his wife who was accustomed to luxury. Is that the comment that suggests jealousy to you? Or is there information about Fitzroy Davis in your diary?

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      • the countess says

        Hard to find ANYTHING about Davis but what little I did find said he was in 1935 tour of Romeo And Juliet ..Wasnt he gay? What little I found hinted at it. That letter hardly sounded like a man pineing with unrequited love for Weedy.

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Maybe unrequited love for Baz and/or Jack?Think he wrote whatever book out of spite,just my own take,sounds like sour grapes type personality.Maybe he wasn’t on the inside and took it out by writing nasty insinuations to humiliate those thinly disguised in his prose (Fitzy Davis,that is)That pic of Jack in Sun Pics he looks cool,maybe a little devious,but in fun way.Don’t see him as gay,either.Esp w/OR taking from the coffers.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Proof,or is this like every woman who did a line w/Baz was crazy statement?Or did she say so (OR) in one of her diaries

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Boy, that Alyssia sure likes makin’ UP stuff……even Ouida couldn’t invent stories THAT unbelievable to “explain-away” the facts like SHE does! πŸ˜‰

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  5. desdemona says

    Wow it’s uncanny the uniformity of people who remember Ouida. They all tell such similar stories. It seems harsh to say it and I don’t like to but she comes over as almost a monster. How could she just ignore the fact her hubby was working himself to death to keep her in the style she was accustomed to? Even after he passes on she is still trying to live the dream. I can’t understand it.

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    • GRETCHEN says

      Desdemona—

      Because she had “narcissistic personality-disorder”, Ouida was INCAPABLE of feeling the emotion known as “empathy”. This means she couldn’t understand that her negative, self-centered actions caused HARM to others; nor could she comprehend the PAIN and distress they were feeling because of it. She also felt she “needed” wealth, beauty, things, popularity, and adoration to believe she had value as a person.

      Narcissists cannot truly feel “love” for other human beings—they can only “care” for those who give them the high-lifestyle and praise they are constantly seeking, because of their insecurity and low self-esteem. If that person doesn’t meet ALL their demands, they are severely “punished” by the narcissist in retaliation…this includes: temper-tantrums, screaming and crying, physical assaults, suicide-attempts, public shame, threats, blackmail, etc.—until the person finally gives them what they want. Basically, a narcissist is an ADULT 2 YEAR-OLD. Something in their childhood—be it abuse, neglect, or being extremely spoiled—causes the person to cease mental-maturation. They become “dependent” on others for their happiness, rather than finding and creating it within themselves, and giving it BACK to others in return—in a word, LOVING.

      Ouida was what I call a “parasitic-human”. She fed off of others until they had NOTHING left to give her—then, moved-on to her next victim. Poor Basil was her last host…he didn’t stand a CHANCE! The stress of working to keep-up with her “needs” and “wants” exhausted him to the point of illness, and finally death. She was truly BLIND to her own cruelty, and thought of HERSELF as the “victim” when things went wrong because of her. Narcissists commonly choose people like him (self-deprecating, confused, emotionally-damaged, lost souls—called: “co-dependents”) as their “love-targets”. They know that these are the kind of people who will do ANYTHING for them out of love and “obligation”.

      Both Basil AND Ouida were some very mentally-ill people who needed a LOT of help that wasn’t available back then, like it is now. Even so, a narcissist RARELY receives treatment for their disorder, because they feel that “others” are responsible for ALL their problems. 😦

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    • the countess says

      Wonder who and how she paid for “the dream” when Basil shook of her chains and flew to Heaven?

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      • the countess says

        You know…the more I look into Weedys family history..The more I get puzzed.Devout Catholic? She went to a decidely non Catholic school..I cant find a mention of a Catholic Church in Searcy. Searcy at that time isnt New York.It’s a little counrty town.What we around here call a wide spot in the road.Her family seams from records normal,of course you cant get ‘in the kitchen’ by looking at records,but they seam to not have had any scandels I can find.She seams to have even had some Confederet soliders in her family.Nobody even shriking there duty to home and family there.Her bro even sined up for the draft in WWI.SO how and when did Miss Branch get so screwed up? Was it R.H.? the 1st hubby? Or was she as mean to him? The more I read about her and the family the more I wonder.She seams to have spent ALOT of time going to school,dosent she? Her family isnt rich,dont seam dirt poor.More middle class.Have you guys ever seen a movie…1950s movie “The Bad Seed”? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bad_Seed The more I read of her the more I keep thinking of Rhoda. PLEASE PLEASE dont think I’m saying her MOM was the dau of a serial killer. I’m NOT.Im NOT saying Weedy is a serial killer either! Or calling her one.[you can calm down now Alyssia] I’m JUST saying her personilty reminds me of Rhoda.

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Looked up that link to the school,and was surprised that not Catholic either,Episcopal is somewhat similar,we went to an Episc church once on vacation.Bad Seed def had creepy child,what a little selfish witch the girl was.And when she went after what she wanted,run for the hills!And you’re talking about behaviors,not saying Weeds WAS RHODA,so if our friend takes offence,what else is new?Everyone is trying to flesh out what made Baz who he was,and someone feels they have to defend someone who did whatever they wanted,and never thought of consequences,just “Gimme,gimme,gimme”.Doubt someone defending OR was even born before OR departed for her eternal reward.

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          • the countess says

            I emailed The Ark Toom for a copy of the Yearbook. She emailed me copys of the pics havent had time to time to digest what I have yet. Probly not 2night because I have to be at work at 8;30 am and have a prerformance 2morrow night. so wont get home untill around 1am or so. but wh\hen I get it sorted I’ll leet you all know.

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          • GRETCHEN says

            Actually, in “The Bad Seed”, Rhoda was a SOCIOPATH……Ouida was a NARCISSIST. There is a SLIGHT difference!

            A sociopath cannot feel love, OR empathy—therefore, they ALSO can’t feel “guilt” or “remorse”. These are the people who grow-up to be con-artists who launder money, and run “pyramid-schemes”. Or, if they are the “lazy” type of sociopaths, they’ll leech-off their parents (or anyone ELSE they can charm into taking “pity” on them), and NEVER keep a job for long. The MOST dangerous ones, however, are the VIOLENT sociopaths—they become “hit-men”, sadistic sexual-predators and serial-killers, and just plain-old “if you don’t give me what I WANT, or I feel you’ve CROSSED me somehow, or I just don’t happen to LIKE you for some reason, I’ll either DESTROY your life and/or career, or MURDER you” kind of people…like Rhoda.

            A narcissist is someone who can’t feel empathy, but CAN feel a form of “love”. They really BELIEVE that they love their pets, friends, lovers, or kids—BUT, they love them by “possessing” or “owning” them. They must be in control at ALL times…of everyone AND everything in their lives. They ALSO use manipulation to get the things they want, but are somewhat less volatile than sociopaths.

            Sociopaths are driven by pure GREED and GLUTTONY—they are like animals trying to survive, at ANY and ALL cost—anyone who “gets in their way”, is taken-out.

            Narcissists suffer from extremely LOW self-esteem; and feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and inferiority—always attempting to compensate for these feelings by putting-on a FACADE of wealth, power, fame, and beauty—to “impress” others into liking or loving them, because they don’t think they CAN be “liked” or “loved” as who they actually ARE.

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          • Ellen Foley says

            Just have to thank everyone for their terrific insight into the personalities of OR/BR,and think Baz would have found so much serenity lacking in his life here from all the positive thoughts,caring,concern for him & Cyn.How different things could have been if Baz hadn’t been her adoptive dad,think she was blessed in her short life.Maybe he just didn’t want to have any more of his own kids.Pic of them together when she was a teen that you had on this site,they both were at ease.Love the pic of her while he read “A Christmas Carol”>This would have been a very supportive place for BR to come for recharging his battery,esp after “folly” caused the couple to separate,and others to be caught in the middle (maybe that’s why she treated Willie Bruce as dirt and some of the other fun people not good enough for outside of the kitchen).

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        • the countess says

          Thanks Gretchen I’m not a Dr I just play one on tv..I was just saying she reminded me of the chachter of Rhoda in the movie.

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  6. Judy D. says

    I thought Fitzroy Davis was a pseudonym and that the characters in the book were combinations of actors to make it a bit more difficult to figure out who was boffing whom. Whatever, it caused a terrible stir, and if BR did go both ways that could be the prize ammo that OBie threatened him with should he press for a divorce. He certainly had gay and bi friends, if that means anything beyond taking people as one finds them. Didn’t someone somewhere write that he had an affair with some famous actress AND her husband–fits who I think Madame X is, but who sez I’m right. I would love to have a “rainbow” emblem on my car but do not want to be taken for gay, so I just say yay! every time another state passes a humane vote on the subject.
    The fabled Dakota!! Is BR one more ghost haunting those halls?

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    • Hmm..the name could be a coincidence of course and nothing to do with Quicksilver. Anyone have any info about Fitzroy Davis the author? Did he live in the Dakota? I was surprised to know BR did actually. Marcia is that true?

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      • All I know is that in the last years of his life BR and Ouida lived at 10 West 72nd Street in NYC. Is that building called “The Dakota”? I don’t know. I never heard of it.

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        • The Dakota is an NYC landmark. It’s on the corner of 72nd and CPW. Gothic looking and slightly creepy. Featured in a lot of movies. John Lennon was shot in the entrance way. I used to walk past it every time I got the subway uptown to my dad’s apartment on 73rd. Doubt it’s no. 10 as it’s right on the corner

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            • Hmmm, so did they live IN the Dakota or simply near it?

              When you think about the locations the Rathbones were living when they came back to NYC, it makes Ouida’s insatiable need for luxury painfully obvious. Carnegie Hill. Central Park West. Even if they didn’t actually live in the Dakota, almost all of CPW is pretty high status and expensive. Was it lower rent in the 40s-60s?

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                • Judy D. says

                  No, he says “near me IN the Dakota.” I do have to wonder, was Mr. Davis living there under his own name (if Fitzroy D. was an alias) and did BR have any idea who he was talking to–the writer of that scandalous book?? Probably BR had long forgotten the name. (I love the book myself.) Love the “nee Ida Berger.” Saw that name for her some years ago somewhere, IMBb or Wikipedia or something. And LOVE the “cocktail spaniel.” Something to do with that mysterious fall from the wall in Central Park? Certainly no liking for OB in that letter.
                  One of best creep movies ever, “Rosemary’s Baby,” takes place in a building understood to be the Dakota. Wow. Good place for OB to chalk circles and stars around BR as he innocently slept.

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                  • Loved that movie. When I was 15 I had my hair cut in a pixie cut and wanted to be as skinny as Mia Farrow. Hunted the vintage clothing stores for a tartan maxi skirt like the one she wears in one scene. πŸ™‚

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              • the countess says

                Reading the writeup posted above I doubt it was ever “low rent”.The Dakota is 1 west 72 st. From Google maps 10 seems to be nextdoor.I cant say from experince though. I rode past the Dakota on a city bus 1 time.Closest I ever got to it.

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                • I would take the A to Columbus Circle, walk up CPW every Saturday. After I knew B lived there I used to wonder which building and also vaguely wonder how he afforded it, never realizing he basically didn’t

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          • BASIL says

            Wait, you mean you live in New York?
            If I lived there I’d spend my entire time in Ferncliff talking to Basil and Ouida! xD

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            • Yup. I was born in PA but been in NY since I was a kid. Never been to Ferncliff though. You have to get your family to come over on a Basil tour πŸ™‚

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              • BASIL says

                My schools doing a tour of America next year but I have no idea where to sign up, I doubt if I go up to them and say:
                “Hey, can we go to Ferncliff cemetery to go and see my crush who died before my Dad was born?”
                They’d actually let me go. *Sigh* I just need to keep on dreaming I suppose.

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        • I may be mistaken about BR having lived at 10 West 72nd St. I don’t remember where I got that info, but here’s a letter that was written in May of 1967, and the return address is 135 Central Park West! BR died only 2 months later, so he must have still lived at that address.

          I wonder if the 10 West 72nd St. address is where Ouida moved after Baz died. Ouida’s obituary lists her address as 15 West 72nd St., which fits with what Fitzroy said about her moving to an apartment house a few doors from the Dakota. Perhaps “10” is just a mistake. Does anyone have any insight?

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    • Ouida’s circs? Yup she was basically destitute soon after BR died. Moving into a nice new apartment on the Upper West Side probably didn’t help with that

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      • BASIL says

        ….Ouida knew how to get money, but had no idea how to spend it, pretty much. (A little bit like me at comic con.)I mean look at all of those parties she threw…

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        • the countess says

          Comic con.? comic book convention? sounds cool. Went to a si-fi con once. WOW what fun.A magical week end for sure.But boy I didnt have nowhere near enough $$ for that thing.Basil stuff EVERYPLACE.If I’d had a dumptruck full of money I couldnt have bought it all.

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          • BASIL says

            It’s mainly anime and manga ( I’ll be cosplaying Hatsune Miku this year :3 )
            and there’s usually a few video games and steampunk things there. There’s usually a few celebrities there aswell.
            Pain in the butt about the Basil stuff, there’s a vintage-shop near where I live and one day about a year ago when I came home from school my Mum said she’d found some Basil cigarette cards there, but she didn’t buy them because they were too overpriced. I wasn’t a very happy bunny. (But it’s true, they were way too much for what they actually were and they were copies as well, and I would have to spend all my savings for comic con on them so…)
            I went into a junk-shop in Yorkshire a few months ago and I happened to find an original copy of ‘Who’s on screen 1939’ in there. I went into fangirl mode straight away and bought it once I knew Basil ( And Errol, and N.Bruce ) was in there.
            It cost me Β£3.00 when a few tiny copies of some cards would have cost heaps!

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      • desdemona says

        And Cynthia had passed away in 1969. So hard to picture what it would be like to lose your only child. You have to feel for her in her last years.

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