Gallery, PHOTOS
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Favorite Candid Photos of Basil Rathbone

In honor of Basil’s birthday this year, I’m sharing some of my favorite candid photos of him. Candid photos are interesting because they show him being himself, and not playing a role.  Here we see Basil unabashedly flirting with Olivia de Havilland on the set of The Adventures of Robin Hood. She clearly enjoys his attention!

Olivia was not the only woman Basil flirted with, of course. Here we see him with Veda Ann Borg on the set of Confession:

and here with Marlene Dietrich. Basil, dressed as Richard III in Tower of London, was visiting Marlene on the set of Destry Rides Again.

Basil loved children; he was especially close with 10-year-old Freddie Bartholomew. They met on the set of David Copperfield, in which Freddie played young David and Basil played David’s cruel stepfather Murdstone. They also acted together in Anna Karenina. Their friendship grew after that, and Freddie was a frequent visitor at the Rathbone home, where he was treated as an adopted son. Since Freddie’s real father was back in England with the rest of his family, Freddie needed a surrogate father. And Basil was happy to fill that role!

A few years later, Rathbone was in Son of Frankenstein, and little Donnie Dunagan played his son. Here is Donnie sharing a candy bar with Basil.

This photo shows Rathbone reading to two small boys in the hospital. The children were suffering from Infantile Paralysis (polio). In 1950 Rathbone participated in a benefit concert to raise money for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. This hospital visit may have been made to promote that concert. Even if it’s a promo photo, it seems to show that he cared for these small boys.

And of course Basil loved his own child, Cynthia, adopted in 1939. This photo shows them reading together (December 1944):

Basil Rathbone also loved animals. Mostly dogs, yes, but this photo of him and Barbara O’Neill playing with cute baby goats is really sweet. They were on location for The Sun Never Sets.

This photo shows Basil swimming with some of his dogs:

Basil getting a wet kiss from Judy (white bull terrier):

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce playing with Bruce’s four Dachshund puppies by the pool at Bruce’s home:

 And here he is with Bunty, a West Highland Terrier. Aww.

Basil Rathbone had a reputation as a prankster, so it’s no surprise to find photos of him playing practical jokes or goofing around. This photo shows him on the set of The Mad Doctor, about to pour some water on Ellen Drew’s head.

Here he is horsing round with his makeup man:

Basil in mink? I don’t know what he was doing here. Perhaps it was a charity fashion show. I can imagine that Basil good-naturedly donned a hat and mink stole, and strutted his stuff down the aisle.

Here he is celebrating Boris Karloff’s birthday on the set of Son of Frankenstein:

Peter Lorre sitting on Rathbone’s lap on the set of The Comedy of Terrors (1963):

Goofing around with Hildegard:

My final photo in this collection of favorites is one that makes my heart beat faster: bare-chested Basil getting sprayed with oil to look sweaty for a scene in Rio.

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20 Comments

  1. GRETCHEN says

    Hello again, folks! 🙂

    If anyone’s reading this 2-nite, Baz is on TV RIGHT NOW playing in “Son of Frankenstein”……..on “Svengoolie”!!!
    You can watch it on the MeTV channel—if you DARE.

    C-YA! 😀

    Like

    • GRETCHEN says

      Oh, and it’s actually still August 4th where I live (USA).
      This site is still showing European time (8 hrs. ahead).
      The Svengoolie show is on from 8-10 pm Saturdays, FYI.
      T-HEE! 😉

      Like

  2. GRETCHEN says

    Hey, everybody!
    I’m baaaack. 😉

    Just wanted 2 say:
    Happy (very) belated 126th Birthday, Basil….
    and, UN-happy 51st death anniversary today. 😥

    We LOVE and MISS you, Baz!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Sandahl says

    I found it so touching that in his autobiography Rathbone could tell the story of each indivdual dog, what their personalities were like, and what happened to each one, after they had been gone for 20 years or more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marciajessen says

      Isn’t it interesting that Basil could write so much about the dogs, and write NOTHING about his son?

      Like

    • ticotico2 says

      Well, our relationships with our animals are usually much more clearcut than with our people. We know exactly where we stand in the opinion of our dog or cat or other animal. Give ’em love and food and shelter and they will give us love and head-bumps unconditionally.
      As to Rodion (and why on earth that name anyway? and seems he later adopted John Rodion as his official, maybe legal name?), guess that was a very complicated relationship, even when he moved to Casa Rathbone. On a John Rodion/Rodion Rathbone Google search a couple years ago I found a newspaper article from when Rodion and his wife/family lived in the Midwest and the article (with picture of the family) discussed preparations for their upcoming local play. I don’t recall any mention of Baz in the article, except perhaps that he was John’s famous father. Article was one of those awkward documents that take one forever to print a readable copy so I didn’t bother. Anyway, further down the same newspaper page was a short article stating that Baz was producing John’s play!! Why didn’t John/wife mention THAT?? Sounds almost as if Baz had barged in to be helpful but wasn’t really wanted on this project.

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      • marciajessen says

        I think that “John Rodion” was just a name he used when he made films (all 2 of them). Perhaps so that viewers wouldn’t know he was Basil’s son. But I think he later used the name Rodion Rathbone. Yes, people relationships are more complicated than animal relationships!

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        • ticotico2 says

          Think I may have solved the “Rodion” name mystery. I was trying to find that old article about the play the family was producing and found many pages of John Rodion references on Google, though not all him. I think in the article he also went by that name. Damme, as they used to say, I shoulda printed the article. Anyway, it seems that Dostoevsky’s antihero of “Crime and Punishment” (1866) was named Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. Bingo? Am sure Baz and his then wife were pretty literary, being Shakespearean actors. Kind of nice to think about, anyway!

          Liked by 1 person

          • marciajessen says

            I always wondered about that name. This is the best theory I’ve heard!

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            • ticotico2 says

              Thanks! I am now reading the book on Kindle (where it was free, so what the heck) to see if there are any hints favoring this idea.
              Anyway, I am still convinced that Ouida named herself after the famous author who went by the sole name “Ouida” on much of her stuff. Full name Marie Louise de la Ramee, born in UK. She wrote “A Dog of Flanders” in 1872 and many other books and was
              apparently quite a character: held big parties, spent lots of money on flowers and jewelry and clothing, and loved and rescued dogs and at times owned as many as thirty! This book was a moderate success in US (movie too) and UK and a big hit in Asia. All this and lots more on Wikipedia. One can imagine our young Weedie reading the book and contemporary articles about her and thinking, “boy, I want to reinvent myself in this woman’s image!!” And so she did….

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              • marciajessen says

                “held big parties, spent lots of money, … and loved and rescued dogs” — That sounds exactly like Ouida Rathbone!

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                • ticotico2 says

                  As to Dostoevsky’s 1866 “Crime and Punishment” research–was Rodion named after its main character, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov (Raskolnikow in early movies)? Assuming not many read Dostoevsky these days, this might be fun:
                  You won’t believe what I found in Chapter 3: Raskolnikov’s sister was named DOUNIA. I let out a screech when I saw this. Isn’t that the name of one of Rodion’s children?
                  In this chapter the plot began to resemble a Rathbone movie when the penniless law student “Rodya” (mum’s nickname for him) gets a letter from his mother saying that Dounia, age 22, was about to make a hurried marriage to a wealthy 45-year-old lawyer who is cold and aristocratic, stingy and mean, and wants to marry a good girl who is poor and has no dowry so she will consider him a benefactor. (There’s our Bazzz!) Dounia is marrying him solely to help her brother; he can hopefully work for this guy as secretary and continue his law education and maybe become partner. Raskolnikov is beside himself–knows this marriage is wrong and will ruin his sister’s life. They’re all apparently making the 90-mile journey to St. Petersburg where Rodya lives. So is the crime to be that he kills this nasty man?? Ya’d think!
                  But no, at least not yet: he kills two people for money and is in the process of recovering from his act. I left off to report.
                  This is a very good book to read, despite its age; not flowery and overwrought like some books of that period. Nice simple translation. A bit difficult with all the Russian names is all.
                  So looks as if Rodion, AND Dounia, were named after these characters! Why they appealed to Bazz is a bit unclear so far, except that Raskolnikov is actually a very good, tall, handsome young man with a big heart who is destitute and has nowhere to turn.
                  Can you imagine if some producer had decided to cast Rodion as Raskolnikov and Basil as the nasty Pyotr Petrovitch Luzkin??
                  Wikipedia sez there were at least thirty movies made of this, starting off with Russian silents (1919: “Rodion Raskolnikow,” for instance). In 1935 Hollywood made one, renaming Rodion Roderick (played by Peter Lorre!), eliminating the sister, and concentrating instead on the prostitute he tried to save, Sonya.
                  What fun research is, especially when it seems to lead to an answer. Plus a great book to survive a heat wave with.

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                  • marciajessen says

                    You are correct about Dounia being the name of Rodion Rathbone’s daughter. That seems to confirm the connection between the names and the characters in the book. Thanks for this info!

                    Like

                    • ticotico2 says

                      Thanks! Question remaining: why did Baz (or maybe it was wife’s decision) name his son after an “antihero.” And then in turn his son liked the plot enough to name his daughter after Rodya’s sister. I’d have thought he would have been sick and tired of telling people how to pronounce his name by the time he had kids. (Looked it up online and I’m still not sure; I use RoadEYEon, but…..)
                      In part 2, ch. 5, Rodion and his sister’s fiance Luzhin meet, and immediately (um) cross swords. He’s a pretentious fop, overly well dressed, holding lavender gloves and wearing a cravat with pink stripes….so there may be another murder here yet. Rodya’s first victims were evil people and he was desperate for their money, which he didn’t find. Now his heart of gold is beginning to emerge again after a period of terror and near-insanity and almost confessing to the crimes. Book’s a bit slow-moving, but lots of good dialogue. Perfect global warming reading for the next few days.
                      “Ouida” apparently means Warrior–certainly fits our gal charging into studios and producers’ offices to fight over scripts.

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                    • ticotico2 says

                      Finally completed “Crime and Punishment.” There is a second scoundrel after sister Dounia, named Svidrigailov, but in the end…just in case anyone wants to read the thing, I shall say no more. Excellent book. And a rare chance to read something that Baz must have read and been so greatly influenced by. It wasn’t all Shakespeare and cricket after all!
                      One is still left wondering why Baz, at about the same age as Raskolnikov, would choose to name his firstborn not after his father, or brother, or Sir Frank Benson, or some relative of his wife’s, but after a killer, goodhearted tho’ he may have been. Rodya’s state of mind in his impoverished circumstances (had to quit his law studies) and especially after the murders is a lot like someone suffering from PTSD after war service. Makes one wonder whether Baz was having conflicting emotions even before his own war trauma. What exactly was his relationship with his family, which he says less about in his book than he does about his own son or adopted daughter. What exactly was his father doing in South Africa that he had to sneak out under fear of arrest or worst; was he really a secret agent for England. Was his wife from S.A., or did they marry in England. Who were those two mysterious other sons of hers. Why am I so snoopy. (Because research is fascinating and takes one’s mind off the scary news events.)

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  4. ticotico2 says

    Great pix! And last and certainly not least: Quick, Henry, the Flit!!!!!

    Like

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