BIOGRAPHY, FAMILY HISTORY, general biography, Relationships
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Basil and Rodion

In the 1930s, when Basil Rathbone was very much in demand as an actor, few people were aware that he had grown son living in England. Silver Screen magazine published an article informing the public of this “secret son”:

Hollywood took another surprise jolt when it learned that the very fine English actor, Basil Rathbone, had a “secret son.”
At nineteen, Basil was swept into an impetuous World War marriage, and later, a son was born in London, whom he named Rodion. After his romance crashed, he set forth to win fame as an actor, while the boy remained in London with his mother. Coming to America, Basil remarried, and few knew of this early chapter in his life.

There have been a few brief meetings between father and son and last summer it was planned that Rodion should journey to Hollywood for a real visit. Then occurred one of those ironical incidents that frequently punctuate the life of the screen player; before his son arrived, Basil was called to London for an important film engagement and the two passed each other en route, with out even a chance of a “Hello!”

The tall, distinguished Rodion arrived and immediately conquered Hollywood, all on his own. The high point of his visit being that he developed a terrific crush on pretty Olivia de Havilland, calling her the Ideal Girl of the World, and having no eyes for other screen charmers. Now, having been graduated from Cambridge this spring, Rodion is coming to Hollywood for a lengthy stay and his father is exuberantly excited about it.

Said Rathbone, “The boy followed my father’s footsteps rather than mine in his education, by becoming an electrical engineer, but the acting profession intrigues him tremendously and he may try his luck on the screen. I would be very proud were he to become an actor and shall encourage him, but the final decision will be his. One must choose his own career if he is to be happy in it. Whatever comes from this visit, I shall have the great joy of his companionship and, at last, my son will be a reality. This is something I’ve dreamed about for many years.”

“Secret Families” (Silver Screen, June 1937)

Note that the second line in the above article says that Basil was 19 when he married. Another magazine article says that he married when he was “a youth of twenty.” The implication seems to be that because he was young and impetuous he made a mistake and married when he shouldn’t have. In fact, Basil married Marion in 1914, so he was 22. He was young, yes, but he wasn’t a teenager. He was old enough to know what he was doing.

Basil’s dream of having the joy of Rodion’s companionship came true. Rodion lived with Basil and Ouida in their home on Los Feliz Blvd. For a while, all was good in the Rathbone home. Rodion even acted in a couple of films with his famous father: The Dawn Patrol (1938) and Tower of London (1939). Rodion used the name John Rodion while working on those films.

This is what Basil told Photoplay magazine:

Let me tell you of Ouida’s latest gift to me.I think it is the finest thing I have ever known. She has brought me back my son, Rodion. He is the son of my first wife. He is here now, living with us, working in the technical department at Warner Brothers, and loving it. Ouida did it alone. Unknown to me, she made friends with Marian, my former wife. She wrote my boy in England and made friends with him too. She brought us together again, and now my happiness is complete. And I owe this, as I owe everything, to her.

“Love Life of a Villain” (Photoplay, August 1938)

Knowing what we know about Ouida’s narcissistic personality, this unselfish act seems very unlikely. Yet, these are Basil’s words. So, the story is either true, or one that Basil was making up for the reporter. Regardless, Rodion was living with Basil and Ouida, and Basil was overjoyed. The household included two English servants—Nellie, the maid, and Ambrose, the butler—and a Swedish chef.

And lots of dogs, of course. Rodion helped Basil walk his six dogs.

Dick Pine, a reporter for Screenland magazine, visited Basil at his home one weekend. After walking in Griffith Park with Basil, Rodion, and the six dogs, Pine sat down to dinner with Basil, Rodion and Ouida. “They love each other, these three,” observed Pine (“The Host of Hollywood,” Screenland, July 1938).

Late in 1937, Rodion met Caroline Fisher, a drama student, on a motion picture set. Over the course of the winter they fell in love and made plans to get married in the spring of 1938.

Ouida Rathbone, who had a reputation as a successful party-giver, stepped in and staged a grand Hollywood wedding reception for Rodion and Caroline. The reception was in the garden of the Rathbone home. When Basil and his wife entertained, it was very much of an event. Scores of screen celebrities attended the nuptial ceremony.

Photoplay reported that of all the gala Hollywood parties planned and executed by Ouida Rathbone, the Rathbone wedding reception was one of the most brilliant events!

According to Rodion’s son, his parents didn’t feel that their wedding day was their special day. The reception was all about the Hollywood movie stars. The photographers were busy taking pictures of the celebrities. Gary Cooper even chided one photographer, “Why are you photographing me? I’m not the groom!”

The young couple felt somewhat ignored as Ouida did her thing. In Ouida’s mind, this party was her great gift to them, and Rodion and Caroline owed gratitude to her. Given how Rodion and Caroline felt about the event, they did not express adequate gratitude to Ouida. “Words were spoken,” said Rodion.

Basil naturally came to Ouida’s defense. We may think of Ouida as a narcissistic spendthrift, but Basil worshiped her and he was loyal to her. In “Love Life of a Villain” he said, “Without her I would be nothing; with her I can be everything. Without her I would be miserable. With her I am the happiest man in the world. … Everything I have achieved – everything I may be today or hope for tomorrow – I owe to my wife, Ouida.”

So it’s no surprise that Basil would take Ouida’s side in a family dispute. Rodion told his children that Basil had said at their falling out, “I never want to see you again.” Rodion took him at his word. He made an exception once when Basil was touring in the play J.B. and appeared in a town near where he and his family lived. Rodion took his daughters Heloise and Dounia back stage to meet Basil. He was very gracious and glad to meet them.

Years later, when Basil wrote his autobiography, he barely mentioned his son. He acknowledged that he had a son, and that he divorced his first wife, and that’s all. And that’s sad.

Basil and Rodion in happier times on the set of Dawn Patrol

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53 Comments

  1. rockhyraxx says

    Well so I don’t know if you already knew this, or if it was discussed in the comments before, but I just found some interesting info by coincidence. And as it is about Marion and Rodion I thought I´ll add it here.
    It is basically two articles from the newsletter of the Newport Playgoers from 2012, where they discuss if Basil ever played in a Playgoers production (they had a Sherlock Holmes play coming and so Basil was a nice topic to write about). You can find the articles online and I am going to cite the relevant parts here:

    “A photograph [my note: b/w picture in Sir Guy of Gisborne costume] of the late, great actor adorns the walls of the Dolman Theatre and was a gift to Playgoers from Rathbone’s first wife, Marion, who was for many years one of the leading lights of the drama society. Well-known as an actress, director and teacher, she filled the walls of her home with photos of Rathbone in various roles.” [Now isn’t that super cute? And somehow really sad?]
    “The couple divorced in 1926, two years after Playgoers was founded – so the puzzle remains of whether Basil Rathbone ever appeared in a Playgoers production before going off to Hollywood […] Veteran Playgoer Babs Richards recalled, ´I knew Marion very well. She always dressed in black and one felt she was always giving a performance, even when she just speaking to you. She directed many plays, mainly outdoor productions of Shakespeare. I remember their son, Rodion, appeared in a few Playgoers’ productions in the 1930s. He looked very much like his father, very dark, with a little moustache.´” [That’s really interesting, so Rodion also tried out acting in theatres before visiting Basil and Ouida! I´m sure his daddy was so proud of him!]
    “Marion kept the name Rathbone all her life. She would always sweep into the theatre, black cloak flying behind her, billowing scarf and big feathered hat – a real grande dame.”
    (from Did Hollywood legend Basil Rathbone act with Newport Playgoers?, https://newportplaygoers.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/did-hollywood-legend-basil-rathbone-act-with-newport-playgoers/, opened last: 09.09.2019)

    Their Newsletter “Spotlight” writes basically the same, adding:
    “There is, however, a further mystery. Although it is unmistakably Basil Rathbone in the photo, the signature beneath it is neither his nor Marion’s.” [I can’t see any signature on the picture shown in the article…] (from: Spotlight. The Newsletter of Newport Playgoers Society.- September 2012: Vol.10. No. 1. page. 1-2)
    I think Marion sounds like such a kind and talented person and I feel so sorry for her. Keeping the name all her life and decorating her home with Basil´s pictures just makes me want to cry! But I mean who wouldn’t decorate the walls with Baz pics?

    Hope you all had a beautiful summer!
    Lots of love,
    Rockhyraxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • ticobasiljd says

      What a great find!! Would be wonderful if someone would come up with a photo of this strange woman. All theatrical, all in black, directing, teaching….was she an early draft of our fetching Ouida? Or another boyish Eva L.? Never married again? He certainly had/has a strange effect on women. I’ve put all my clippings in some sort of order for sending tidbits, but I don’t see anything about this first wife. Google or Wiki had her touring here, and I do have one ad of a play here led by Frank Benson with both in the cast, but wouldn’t it be great to finally find out what she looked like. Was she likable or a stagy, bossy type, pining for a romance that was bound to fizzle anyway. Did she call her home Grey Gardens?? Did she keep scores of dogs? Yuck.

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    • marciajessen says

      I asked one of Basil’s grandchildren (one of Rodion’s children) if the story that Beatrice had joined a convent was true. This is the response I got:
      On Beatrice, my father also got the story that she had sequestered herself off in a nunnery. It was clear that she was even more distraught than Basil with the loss of brother John in the last months of the war. I don’t recall any particular reference,not even a specific “personal communication” that came to my father, but I do remember he had a consistent impression but no solid information. He grew up imagining her becoming a deeply spiritual person and devoting her life to the church, but in later life,in talking to other family and friends of that time, he was more aware that this could have been more of a case of the nuns taking care of someone after a mental breakdown. “Going off to a nunnery” was a used as polite society’s cover for a range of lives.All I knew was that she was not a part of my father’s growing up.

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      • Ellie Foley says

        Does anyone have any idea how long a life Beatrice might’ve had?I think between John’s death during WWI and their mother’s death at an early age,it must’ve deeply affected Edgar,Baz and Bea,don’t know how well Rodion could’ve remembered John,as he was so young when his uncle died.

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  2. ticobasiljd says

    (I need to check out this website to make sure I don’t send things that are already there! Such a wonderful site!–I’ve been guilty of neglect in past months.) But here is something of possible interest, no source but By Caroline Galbraith, and dated 6-5-13, which must be 6/5/43. Note “Branch” going Hollywood with “La Branche.” Lots of “clews” to pursue!):
    Basil Rathbones Reveal Marriage of Niece. Mr. and Mrs. Basil Rathbone are announcing the marriage of their niece, Miss Ouide La Branche, to Herbert Appleton Wagner jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Wagner of The Green Spring Valley, Baltimore Md.
    The wedding, taking place at 7 o’clock in the evening of May 30 was solemnized by Dean Francis Eric Bloy of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a mass of “bridey” motifs featured by gardenias and Easter lilies at the altar improvised in the drawing room of Mr. and Mrs. Rathbone’s handsome Bel-Air residence. Only close friends of the bridal couple were guests and a charmingly simple and intimate reception followed the nuptial ceremony.
    The bride, daintily gowned in blue lace with a large garden hat to match, was given in marriage by Mr. Rathbone. She carried a spray of luscious-hued orchids. Her only attendant, Valerie Cole of London, England, assisting as maid of honor, wore blue chiffon and carried an arm bouquet of blue delphinium and lilies. Lieut. Com. John Bolton, United States Navy, was Mr. Wagner’s best man. Mrs. Wagner came west from her home in Baltimore with Mrs. Ral Parr, also of Baltimore, to attend the marriage of her son to the beautiful English girl.
    The bride attended school abroad until the war, and she is now in Los Angeles doing canteen work in the Bundles for Blue Jackets. Meantime she is making an intensive study in a Red Cross course in preparation to be a nurse, that she may go overseas to be near Mr. Wagner when he, who is now a cadet in the Royal Air Force, completes his training at Lancaster Field in California. Mr. Wagner attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., and Princeton before entering the aviation service.
    When he and his bride return from their wedding trip, they willl reside at 10718-1/2 Wilshire boulevard until Aug. 15, at which time Mr. Wagner receives his wings to go overseas.

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    • marciajessen says

      Thanks for sharing this! If only the wedding of Rodion and Caroline had been a “simple and intimate” affair (like Ouida Jr.’s wedding), Rodion and his father might have maintained a good relationship with one another.

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      • ticobasiljd says

        Thanks for your comments! Things certainly seemed a bit subdued. (And the bride didn’t wear white.) Thus encouraged, I just got into a Google of the names, which led down the garden path for the past hour or so. I found out Weed Jr.’s age and another engagement, and a divorce, ta-dah!
        First, the Australian Women’s Weekly, 1941/03/08 (can’t download–Geneanet family genealogy site): announces Ainley engagement and says Ouida is 22 years old.
        Then Winnipeg Free Press, Tues., Feb. 18, 1941, Amusement Page, In Hollywood, “War Held to Blame for Broken Romance.” Engaged to Richard Ainley, young British actor, and Ouida La Branche. Ainley was an actor, son of English actor Henry Ainley and Baroness van Hatton, prominent writer. He’s leaving shortly to join the Royal Canadian Air Corps. The Rathbones announced that the reason was “the future was too [indefinite?] to [maintain?] a long engagement.” [Lousy copy on Google.] Says she’s been living with the Rathbones since outbreak of war.
        (Interesting factoid: Richard Ainley, 12/22/10-5/18/67 U.K., was in BR’s “Above Suspicion,” 1943. One of his last movies, due to war injuries.)
        (Another cool factoid: “La Branche de Lilas” was an 1874 novel by Ouida, whom I am sure Ida Berger named herself after. (Could she read French?) It just means branch of lilacs, if that isn’t obvious. This was also the name of a Henri Matisse lithograph, 1914 or 1924.) So question begging: What was Weed Jr.’s real name?? Who were her parents?? Ainley later married three times.
        Now, Marriage #2, 5/30/43, to Herbert Appleton Wagner, Jr. He died at age 85; Baltimore Sun article, Nov. 29, 2005. He received his RAF cadet training in the Mojave Desert near Lancaster, CA. “Newspaper stories of that time reported his marriage to Ouida LaBranch, the niece of film star Basil Rathbone, but their union lasted only briefly.” He was sent to Britain to fly Spitfires. He was a successful businessman and golfer, from successful Baltimore family. (So brief they got the name wrong?)

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          • ticobasiljd says

            Thanks, I just took the veddy interesting refresher course on The Many Lives of Ouida [sic]. If Ouida Jr. lived in their house from the start of WWII until her first marriage (thanks, had forgotten about #3, or whatever number Huxley bro was), that’s a long time not to be mentioned in his biography. And no photos of her. Part of his “if you can’t say something nice” book tactic? With what we read today about the rather sordid beginnings of Hollywood, lavender marriages, drugs, hidden scandals, hidden pregnancies, etc., and how via the studio publicity machines we were lied to about everyone well into the present era, is it possible that she had some sort of “goods” on him, tucked away in a lawyer’s office, and held over him all those years? Even alcoholism if true or alleged would have been something to hide back then. Did he pay off her bankruptcy debts as part of the deal? Did she hush up his Madame X affair and perhaps others so as to protect her wonderful Hollywood Hills life? Would she have denied access to his daughter if he walked out? A woman with such an invented and reinvented life who struggled to get to the top would surely have done anything to keep her place secure. Especially if (yikes) she really did love him.

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    • rockhyraxx says

      Hey! Great find! Your clippings seem to be a true gold mine! About Ouida Jr, I think he is mentioning her very briefly in the war chapter talking about the Hollywood canteen. He says something like about Ouida Jr meeting her future husband there. But very brief indeed considering that she seems to have LIVED there over a period of some YEARS!!! Also: great fun fact about “Above Suspicion”, I hope there were no tensions between them (I imagine it to be hard to work with the “uncle” of my ex-wife and vice versa)
      About her wedding: maybe BR and Ouida saw how horribly wrong a big wedding can go and just decided to go for the exact opposite this time. As you all have already said it, it is just so super sad that A) Either Ouida (and Basil) did not listen enough to Rodion´s and Caroline´s wishes or they just could not tell their wishes and B) that Basil and Rodion fought so heavily about this that it basically ended their relationship as father and son.

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      • ticobasiljd says

        Have run into an issue with my clippings: they are filed by decade, which means all kinds of subjects are grouped together. In order to find tasty little bits for here, I think the best way is to reorder the pile by subject. Since nice weather is coming (soon to be followed by the usual succession of heatwaves) this is gonna slow me up. But here are a few bits and pieces for fun:
        For the Movie “A Notorious Affair,” 1930, BR plays the theme song “One Hour of Love,” on the violin. He is also a “talented musician” who additionally plays the organ and piano. He is also a “lover of good music. he is a regular attendant at the opera when circumstances permit.” (Unsourced 1930 article; many clips seem to be set up for printing with room to insert theatre name, possibly from a studio publicity department. So they may have never actually appeared in print.) So does our boyo play the violin in the Holmes pix? Piano in “Mazurka”/”Confession”? Etc.?
        1935: while working on “David Copperfield” is writing a play in his leisure time, with a locale of South Africa. He hopes for Broadway production next season and there’s in part in it for BR. (No source.)
        12/34: “Lieut. Basil Rathbone Meets His Old Sergeant in Toledo. BR, English actor, and Patrolman Ray Turner of the Toledo, Ohio, police force, met for the first time since they served together in the World War sixteen years ago, when Rathbone appeared with Katharine Cornell in that city recently. Rathbone was a second lieutenant and Turner a sergeant in the Liverpool Scotties of the British forces.
        “‘You taught me all I ever knew about the army,’ the actor told the policeman.
        “‘Well, you didn’t know much about it when you came to us,’ replied the patrolman. ‘I thought you were a snob until I went to you for orders the first morning and you ordered me to take a drink.'” (No source.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • rockhyraxx says

          Would love to know what the South Africa play was about! (Seems to bee a case for the time machine ;))
          Read somewhere that he, despite being a good pianist, does not actually play the piano in “Confession” just makes the exact movements, which is very hard to do. Maybe they could not record the sound the way the piano was positioned or something like this…
          I loved the part in IAOOC mentioning the meeting with Turner. Very sweet and interesting background info here!

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          • ticobasiljd says

            Thanks, I’m hoping to find more little nice things like that. There was reference to another play, and that one turned out to be “Judas,” if I remember correctly. South Africa, wow, maybe it would have hinted at his father’s work down there, or their Great Escape. Yeah, on “Confession” he would hardly be likely to be of the required concert quality. I will try to sort my thick mound of clips into order by subject and send more stuff. I had one where they had an actress living with them for a year and now I can’t find it–sounded strange to do and I don’t see Weedie wanting rivals under her roof, unless this was an elderly lady. Good project for the rainy days to come. (Beats housework.) I really appreciate your encouraging interest!

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            • marciajessen says

              Oh, yes! Please continue to share these nuggets! I’m very interested!

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        • rockhyraxx says

          Hello! Just found a kind of funny mentioning of BR in something like a college student newspaper called “The Stick”. So to follow the good example, I thought I´ll post it here:
          “Some of us are right at home among the big movie stars, is that true Sue Bolger? It seems that Sue, Kay Donovan, Mary Jennison and this columnist with Miss Warymann and Miss Cunningham headed for the big city and the “Heiress” the other night. The play was wonderful, and then Sue was enlightened with the bright idea of going backstage and interviewing Rathbone for the STICK. Kay agreed, but Mary Jensie begged off saying that she´d rather Basil didn´t see her with her hair so short, and yours truly prefers comedians. So off headed Sue and Kay for the back regions and our hero. Bravely they opened the dressing room door and were greeted cordially by Rathbone in various stages of undress – shorts to you. Out like two bolts of lightning backed the girls and when the valet had finished dressing the movie butler, resumed the interrupted interview. Kay scared him by asking how he liked Henry James, the author of the play and his works. Mr. Rathbone, fearing that he was dealing with two intelects, froze and became extremely polite and so the scene ended. Anyone who would like further details as to muscles etc. may see Sue or Kay, who are now saying “Shake the hand that shook the hand ‘”
          (Grammar and spelling as in the original.)
          From: The Stick, vol. 14, issue 10. Publisher: Fitchburg State Teachers College, Massachusetts. Publication date: 1949-04-07

          WordPress does not like me btw… hope this turns our right this time!

          Liked by 1 person

          • ticobasiljd says

            (Can’t seem to manipulate my way around the site. Anyhow, I DID want to thank rockyhydraxx for clearing up, in his report from the college publication, that age-old question we women have about our idols: shorts or boxers??)
            Anyway, what I was trying to do was add on to the Treetops posts. Found a clipping, unsourced but about the time of “Love from a Stranger” (1937), which states that the picture was filmed in England and “gave him a summer in his native land.” With his wife he “moved into The Granneys, an Elizabethan house in the ancient village of Penn. It was near Denham,,,Denham, of course, is near London…Mr. Rathbone found it pleasant to work in English studios…the film was finished in the scheduled six weeks. Mr. [Rowland V.] Lee saw to that.” So this must have been a rental. Obviously not Treetops, but interesting. Treetops (Rathbone) is also veddy interesting–I opened a few of the PDFs but can see no further mention. Hope more info turns up!
            Can’t resist adding this tidbit from 1932: unsourced photo of BR with Pola Negri in a scene from “A Woman Commands.” He is reclining on top of her; the shot of both is head to shoulder (chin to chin, not lip to lip). Caption: “Technically Perfect is this scene from ‘A Woman Commands.’ Following a kiss, the man’s eyes should be opened first. He should dominate the scene, as Basil Rathbone does here. The woman’s face should reflect a spirit of other-worldliness; Pola Negri has captured the mood skillfully.”

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            • ticobasiljd says

              Oh goodness me, I did say “boxers,” not “briefs.” The very thought scrambled what’s left of my mind.

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              • rockhyraxx says

                I´m so glad you enjoyed my comment!
                Ooooh that picture has to be so pretty! I always thought that Basil had excellent screen kisses and I am always so happy to read good reviews about him!

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                • ticobasiljd says

                  I never really saw him as a kisser type of actor–maybe he couldn’t get the vision of OB out of his mind for the scene. I liked him so much better in the Holmes movies–only “B” movies, but well-done, and for once he wasn’t the freaking villain, he was the hero; he was so cold and authoritative, someone you could absolutely depend upon and love from a distance…and maybe up close you’d be the one and only…(hah).
                  So for today’s tidbit, here is an excerpt from Screen & Radio Weekly, “Heavy, Heavy Basil Rathbone Has Blood in His Veins, Screen Reputation to the Contrary,” by Clarke Wales, undated but seems to be late Jan. or Feb., 1937, because it is after the death of two friends, whose dates can be confirmed. Wales wrote, “When we met for lunch one day recently, he apologized for being a bit low in spirit; he had just buried two of his closest friends–John Miltern, who had been killed by an automobile while a guest at the Rathbone home, and Richard Boleslawski, director with whom Rathbone worked in ‘The Garden of Allah.’ [Google shows Richard Boleslavsky/Boleslawsky, born in Poland 2/4/1889, as having died in Hollywood 1/17/37, and John Miltern (real name John E. Sheehan) born in New Britain, CT 7/13/1870, died in Hollywood 1/15/37. He acted in “The Love of Sunya,” with BR, in 1927; also played Moriarity in “Sherlock Holmes” (Broadway, 1929) and as cast member in the Broadway play version in 1910, not to mention “Romeo & Juliet” as Montague on Broadway with BR in 1934. Lots in common. From other current Google entries I’d say he was BR’s friend, not OB’s; she would not have had any friend of hers living in the garage like a chauffeur!! Do I love Google….!] Pray continue, Watson:
                  “Don’t expect me to ‘spark’ today, he said, “i’m afraid I’m not up to it.”
                  [They went to a quiet restaurant–BR very solicitous about making sure his interviewer didn’t have to be bothered by interruptions in a noisy place.] “So we went to a quiet Italian restaurant where we had good roast beef and were interrupted only once, by a woman neither of us knew but who loves little dogs and wanted to know about Rathbone’s little dogs which John Miltern had on a leash when he was killed. Rathbone told her, graciously, that the little dogs were all right, and she thanked him and he thanked her and she thanked him again and we both took big bites of spinach and then went back to settling the national labor unrest.
                  “Another woman he did not know had called him on the telephone the day before. She was a non-professional mystic, and said that John Miltern had been trying to ‘get through’ to Rathbone but couldn’t and had asked her to deliver a message.
                  “‘He asked me to tell you,’ she said, ‘that he is all right. He says that he has ascended to the second sphere. And–oh yes–he says that there are no dogs there.’
                  “‘It was a strange experience,’ Rathbone said. ‘The woman was obviously sincere; she wouldn’t tell me who she was. And she told me things about John which she couldn’t have got from the newspapers or from any other source I could think of. You know, one can’t help being material in the kind of life we live, but when a thing like this comes along, there are questions you just can’t answer.'”
                  [So this incident had just happened, and the relation of events is slightly different from what’s in his autobiography. The woman’s call did not come the same day as the accident. The “second sphere” stuff is news. These were the days when the newspapers’ advertising sections were full of ads from psychics and fortune tellers. The best book on the subject I ever read is by Mary Roberts Rhinehart, “The Red Lamp,” 1925. She corresponded with Conan Doyle to research the subject. This is required summer reading for any mystery fan!!]
                  Now, I have outgrown UFO fascination and such things, but did have my own “spooky things from afar” (Einstein) experience when I moved into this house. One three-shelf bookcase contained, among other hardcovers, two volumes of Holmes stories. I passed papers on Halloween (my deceased parents’ house). I came down one morning and from the middle shelf one volume of the Holmes books was lying spread open on the floor. There was no way my cat could have dislodged it; at least it never happened again. My father, who before his death was volunteering in the local hospital’s library, had kidded the librarian that he would come back and knock a book off the shelf. She said it didn’t happen, but it happened to me! I will always regret that I closed the book before checking on what page the book had opened!!!! Had years of reading Lovecraft taught me nothing??
                  And if our website louses me up after all this, as now and then it does, in sending this I shall let out an eldritch scream!!

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                  • rockhyraxx says

                    Oh poor little Basil! I did not know about Boleslawski dying at about the same time as Jack… Must have been a terrible time for him!!!! I don´t even want to imagine it…
                    Thanks again for sharing this goldmine with us!!

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                    • ticobasiljd says

                      Thank you! Wish he bothered to mention more about his friends in his book. Boleslawski was a surprise to me. More stuff to come–this fabulous yardwork weather will not last!!!

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  3. ticobasiljd says

    Here is a long but interesting article from the [NYC?] Evening Graphic __, SNAPSHOTS, by [Alissa?] Kier (someone typed over the names), date of 1/31 typed (could be Jan. 31 or January, 1931). Type is small and background grey, so retyping best option for site. But lots of factoids about our boyo, and they sound generally real. Some quite amusing! The system graciously allowed me to type the whole thing without a fight, so enjoy:
    BASIL RATHBONE. The Great Lover. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa during the Jameson Raid. ‘Twas a June 13. Thirteen always his lucky number.
    His father was a mine inspector. Condemned to death by Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal Republic, during the Boer uprising. Escaped with his wife and two babies under seat of a cattle truck. They reached England safely.
    He weighs 160 pounds. Height 6 feet 1. Wears an 8 shoe.
    Irish eyes. Dark hair. Slender nose. It’s long enough to stand a couple of ripples in it and yet looks grand. Grows a tiny mustache to widen his face.
    Handsomer off the stage than on.
    Brought up near London. Made up his mind to be an actor at seven. Wrote plays while at school. Father raised objections. When he was eighteen they compromised. Promised to spend a year in an accountant’s office before he tried for the stage. Did. Says it helped regulate his life. He keeps all the house accounts. Checks and pays the bills. Knows exactly where his money goes.
    Enlisted during the war. Afterward got a commission. Was at Ypres. Had some miraculous escapes. His belt was shot off. A map blown out of his hand. Won the Military Cross.
    After the armistice played in Frank Benson’s Shakespearean Company.
    Married twice. First a kid’s war romance. Has a boy 14 at school abroad. Seven years after his divorce married Ouida Bergere. Famous scenario writer. Have no children. Thinks American women make grand wives.
    She’s never jealous of the stars he plays with. He says she’s too much of a professional for that.
    The five-minute kisses he gives are real. Says you can’t fake a kiss. They’re purely mechanical–non-emotional. Gets no kick out of them. Subconsciously waiting for his next one.
    Relaxes lying flat on the floor. Loves to have his head massaged and brushed. It sends him to sleep. Enjoys going to the barber’s. Likes to have immaculate hands. Has a manicure once a week.
    Never falls in love with the women he plays with. Says he’s noticed that when his friends do it, the play suffers. Audiences sense there’s something wrong.
    Spending the summer at Great Neck with some friends. In the winter lives in an apartment in the East 80’s. Likes New York when he’s working. Says “There’s no place as vital and alluring.”
    Travels in Europe for vacations. Hearing different languages stops him from going stale.
    Not superstitious. But firmly believes in astrology and numerology. Goes to bed late. Never before 3 A.M. Thinks after midnight is the time to think and live. Is sure then his phone won’t ring.
    Gets up at ten. Takes a cold bath winter and summer. Light breakfast. No lunch. Big dinner. Eats anything but tripe, liver and kidneys. When he enlisted wasn’t afraid of shooting or being shot. Scared they’d ask him to kill an animal. They didn’t.
    Likes to journey to the ice box after the theater. Picks out anything he fancies. Eats it sitting on the kitchen table.
    Was a good sprinter. Excellent tennis player. Likes to play golf. But “it needs lots of time and money like a love affair. Has to be done right, else you’d better leave it alone.”
    No card sense. Never plays bridge.
    Likes to drive. Hasn’t a car now. Usually owns a Packard.
    Can’t understand his rep for being a fancy dresser. Despises clothes. Attends only to his stage attire with care. Usually owns two suits. Now has twelve. Needed them for the movies.
    Wears nothing but pajamas in the house or in his dressing room. Owns every variety. Thinks men’s fashions physical torture.
    Hates parties of more than four or five. Likes wines with his meals. No hard liquor. Whisky and soda once in a while if he’s dead tired.
    Part he likes to play best is Iago. Says it gives him a thrill.
    Doesn’t like skinny ladies. Says he can’t see why a man should want to hold a bag of bones in his arms. Thinks the curves of a woman’s body nature’s best invention. Why do away with them? Finds American women the loveliest in the world.
    At present on the RKO circuit. Likes doing vaudeville. Says it’s stimulating. Stops mental laziness. You’re given but twenty minutes to get across. Have to work hard. In a play you’ve a couple of hours to make good with the audience.
    (Copyright: 1931: by News Syndicate Co., Inc.)

    Liked by 1 person

      • ticobasiljd says

        Here’s an earlier instance of Ouida rewriting scripts:
        Undated/unsourced (1930?): (Delicious, so fully quoted.)
        Hollywood has been puzzling over the little game of see-saw which Basil Rathbone and Universal have been playing. It has been repeatedly announced–and as repeatedly denied–that Rathbone would play the lead in “The Command to Love.” His success in this role on the stage was instrumental in his being signed for the talkies. Obviously it would be to the advantage of both Rathbone and Universal for him to repeat this success on the screen.
        Furthermore it is known that Rathbone was very discontented with the parts which were meted out to him at M-G-M and that he was anxious to buy off his contract with the studio and return to the stage. Why, then, this apparent coyness on the part of Mister Rathbone and the Universal executives?
        Old sleuth Cal succeeded in ferreting out the soure of all the difficulty. Remember that good old French adage, “cherches la femme”? The femme in this case happens to be Ouida Bergere, scenario writer and wife of Basil Rathbone.
        Miss Bergere, it seems, did not approve of the script which Barney Glazer had prepare on “The Command to Love.” She wrote what she believed to be a better version. Then, hand in hand, she and husband Basil stormed the Universal fortress and demanded that her script be substituted for the Glazer one. A thoroughly unorthodox procedure.
        Universal, although eager to secure Rathbone’s services, demurred. Rathbone insisted–“love me, love my wife.” As we go to press it is still raging. Someone ought to whisper to Mr. Rathbone that it is wise to keep one’s career and one’s domestic affairs in their separate spheres.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ellie Foley says

          Jeez,she’s a bigger pain than Mrs Paul Muni!Just finished watching “They Shall Not Grow Old”:Gives me more understanding of film Paths Of Glory.Didn’t notice John or Basil Rathbone,but very intense.No wonder why he loved dogs-an early PTSD practice.Also probably why he acquiesced (?spelling) to Weedwhacker.Movie was graphic in showing casualties.As everyone else has observed,it is tragic that Basil and Rodion lost touch because Baz had to humor Her Majesty!

          Like

          • ticobasiljd says

            It’s so hard to understand his putting up with her, maybe even encouraging her. I love men but wasn’t crazy enough to get married and experience their less glorious side…… But I have a good friend who is the most helpful guy in the world, and he lives with a reincarnation of Ouida. I find it disgusting, but realize the high price of moving out (renting anything decent is out of so many people’s range, and murder is strangely illegal). I guess the answer is, whatever Bazz went through in WWI so affected him that nothing else in life would ever bother him too much. How to live with the Weedie disease: take six dogs and call me in the morning.
            Glad you saw the movie. Keeping an eye peeled for Netflix, which will surely have it eventually.

            Like

            • Ellie Foley says

              Everything Baz said about the trenches was mentioned in They Shall Not Grow Old.Funny bit in there about the need for lack of modesty while having the daily constitutional andfaling in the muck and mirel.And a review I’d read mentioned about the dental hygiene-no equip for button polishing,so issued toothbrushes were used instead,and the teeth of some of the soldiers would make you cry about what other necessities were lacking.The latest machine gun was watercooled,getting so hot they could make tea.And the lice,rats contributing to their despair.Sorry I ramble,but the film is brilliant in showing true life 100+ years ago,and the flagwaving and the unfortunate reality these young men faced.

              Like

          • ticobasiljd says

            Hi,thanks for the link to the play and proposed movie. Lots of research and info there! Looks like Hollywood censorship would have watered the thing down and it may explain why Ouida’s version may not have gone over well. The reviews are great fun and the comments about Ouida’s suggestions and the “be yourself, Ida Berger!” comment are good for a laugh.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. ticobasiljd says

    Thought I sent a juicy bit of info I found in old clippings the other day and when I went back to look at it online it had melted away into another dimension somewhere. Google or Gmail or some other villain likes to change its ways of doing stuff without letting us poor suckers know. I won’t even mention the sudden banning of this pop-up, which I didn’t know was a pop-up. Here goeth:
    “Pants on Fire…??” Did BR attend Oxford U. for a year or more and never tell anyone about it? Is this perhaps more having-fun-with-the-press like his alleged cavorting during “the season” with British royalty? In the [NYC] Official Metropolitan Guide, 1/19/27, by John F. Lewis, Lewis begins: “Rathbone (Oxon). You wont’ see him write his name that way, but he is entitled to, for Basii Rathbone came to America from the historic university….” “Mr. Rathbone is one of those well educated, reserved Englishmen such as are known the world over. He is never hasty, nor effusive, and having been tagged with a B.A. by the masters of Oxford, he wears his honors modestly.
    “‘In seeking the B.A.,’ he said, ‘we have a peculiar university term–“responsions,”
    which may mean nothing to American university men. With us it is an undergraduate term for “small.” Well, anyhow, we grow out of it and when we get the B.A. we are justly proud.'”
    Lewis finishes with this quote: “I am going to visit my alma mater this summer. It is an institution worth seeing. Make the trip some time.”
    The book “Famous 1914-1918” shows his application for Officer Cadet Battalion for a Temporary Commission in the Territorial Force, while he was currently serving as a private in the London Scottish. The application is extremely hard to read, Stamped 7 Sept. 1916. Married. Permanent address: 24 Hendrick [Ave.?], Wandsworth Common London[?]. Address for correspondence: 24 Howgate Road, East Sheen[?], London S.W. Schools or colleges: 11 Frampton Hall and Private School, Haddon Court East Barnet and Repton. No Oxon there.
    Oh, here’s another goodie: Private Lives, by Edwin Cox, 11/9/[1939-1947], a set of editorial cartoons, one of which says “Pit in the Parlor–giving the ultra-ultra Hollywood set something to shoot at, actor Basil Rathbone’s living room sports an orchestra pit.” [No source; I dated it by Googling its cartoon of Dixie Walker of the Brooklyn Dodgers and that’s when he was with them (long may they wave).
    OK, let’s see what happens when I click. I have lots of other interesting tidbits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • marciajessen says

      An orchestra pit in his living room? Well, the Rathbones did have some big parties, and folks had to dance, so maybe it’s true. It seems a bit extravagant even for Ouida!

      Like

    • rockhyraxx says

      Hmm interesting… I think I read somewhere (can’t find it right now) that his parents took him out from Repton before his last year there. So he would have had to do some bonus exams or something to be able to attend university. Or was it possible that time to matriculate without graduating from school? And when would he have attended Oxford? Before he joined the Shakespearian Company he worked for an insurance group in London, I think it would have been hard for him to work and be in Oxford at the same time. After that he was on tour everywhere in the UK and overseas. Then marriage and war came. Did the post WW1 Basil just think one day it would be fun to matriculate at Oxford? Also according to your excerpts he also got a BA degree there so he really had to take exams and do some intensive learning, not just hanging out there in his spare time. Where did he find the time for that? (I am beginning to think he simply was some kind of super brain :))
      But if he did attend Oxford it would be really interesting to know what his field of study was. And why did he keep quiet about this? Maybe he felt it would sound like boasting, he did not talk about his MC a lot either.
      I think we should try to find a list of the alumni between 1910 and 1926.

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      • ticobasiljd says

        What fun all this is. We learn about a complex man and we learn history as well. Enjoyed your comments! BR’s early years are a bit mysterious–he really had so little to say about his childhood. I was thinking of trying to Google those hard-to-read educational entries on his 1916 enlistment form, and his home address; looks like he started by listing grammar school and ended with Repton. Back in 1994 I was crazy enough to buy a big load of clipping copies from the NY Public Library, and finally decided to go through them. Am itching to start quoting bits and pieces here when I have a moment (am technically hibernating for the winter). I think I found an answer to that story of him cavorting in season with English royalty, for instance! Anyway, I do find that he was in America in 1912 or 1913, age 20-21 (get this: in “As You Like It,” 12/13/13, in Toledo, OH, with Frank Benson’s company, and guess who’s in the company: his wife, Marion Foreman. (She did a lot of stuff in this country; wonder if they ever met again; wonder also if she was at Rodion’s wedding–seems like NOT. BR also ays his first play, in England, was “The Taming of the Shrew,” in 1911. He appeared in USA with Benson’s company and they did about 26 plays, or something like that (wherever I put that clipping). Then in 1921 he’s in “The Czarina” and then other plays and on to movies (first known silents in UK 1921). So as you say, when the heck could he have gone to Oxford and gotten any kind of degree?? And why would he have left Repton early, unless he was kicked out or his parents ran out of tuition? Did his younger brother John continue there? He seems to have loved the place, though the wonderful Roald Dahl (born 1916), who went to Repton School, wrote a deliciously dark story (a roman a clef?) called “Galloping Foxley,” about his character’s painful experiences there as a fag for a sadistic older boy. John Mortimer (the wonderful Rumpole stories) also went there and hinted at forbidden goings-on. A quick look at Repton’s website didn’t show any mention of BR/JR, but maybe if one digs deeper….

        Like

        • rockhyraxx says

          Well, all I could find about Basil on the Repton website was this:
          “Repton is fortunate to possess superb facilities: in sport, all-weather hockey pitches, an indoor swimming pool, and a cricket ground that is the envy of many schools and clubs; a Music School with a plethora of practice rooms, performance areas and recording studio; the 400 Hall with a versatile, purpose-built Studio Theatre; a stunning Art School with dedicated spaces for three-dimensional work, ceramics and photography.
          Whatever your passion, whatever your potential, at Repton School we aim to offer the facilities, resources and opportunities to help you discover and develop it. […]
          Repton has an enviable dramatic history and a distinguished tradition of nurturing both the amateur actor and the aspiring professional – Tom Chambers, Nicholas Burns and George Rainsford being the latest Reptonians to follow in the tradition of Basil Rathbone.” (From https://www.repton.org.uk/school-life/co-curricular)
          Btw I found the article where he talks about leaving Repton. He says: “I was seventeen when I received that letter from my father saying there wouldn´t be enough money for me to return in fall. I was heartbroken because that next year I would have won my colors in football and cricket and a pair of silver candlesticks if I´d won – as I think I could have – the half-mile in the track events.” (From Modern Screen, 1937 december, Buoyant Battler https://archive.org/details/modernscreen1617unse/page/n93)
          Later in the same article he talks about John Rathbone and some other boy as students at Westminster School. So I think John did not attend Repton…
          Oh and please do quote bits and pieces from your clippings whenever you feel like it! Speaking for myself I enjoy reading little interesting and curious pieces of information about him very much!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellie Foley says

    The movie “They Shall Not Grow Old” about WWI and those who gave all is out now,and in thinking of the above post and Baz’s definite PTSD,I want to see it,and if not in theaters,on dvd,as I wonder if young John Rathbone might be included in the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ticobasiljd says

      Sounds like something to watch for! In mid-2016 I was able to find a copy of the book “Famous 1914-1918” by Richard Van Emden and Victor Piuk, Pen & Sword Military Books, on Amazon. This includes a chapter each on B.R. and Nigel Bruce, both of whom served, and where Nigel was severely injured. It (pub. 2008 and 2009 in South Yorkshire) was unavailable for a long time, and if Amazon still has it, you might enjoy it. This site mentioned it a few times when it was unavailable.

      Like

    • rockhyraxx says

      Thank you for the great movie tip! I want to see it very much right now, but I think I´ll have to wait for the DVD. Austrian cinemas do not seem to show “They Shall Not Grow Old”…

      Like

      • ticobasiljd says

        This movie is reviewed in The New Yorker, 3/4/19, pg. 12. Says commissioned by Imperial War Museum to use its archival footage for a film about the British involvement in WWI. Uses digital tech to clean up and colorize and render it in 3-D(!), “making it virtually indistinguishable from recent generic entertainments. But the soundtrack is a treasure: it’s composed mainly of excerpts from oral-history interviews with dozens of veterans of the war, specifically ones who endured trench warfare in Belgium against German forces.” Reviewer says more and calls it “a nearly great talking-heads movie–albeit one in which the talking heads go unseen.” Sounds like a very interesting film, and is in wide release. Netflix is our best hope.

        Like

    • Ellie Foley says

      The orchestra pit in BR’s home:more like lion pit with Weedy scratching his face because of affair she almost did the decent thing and allow him to remarry.He was more entitled to happiness than her to blow all his money out of “punishment” for any affair.She must not have understood men as well as she thought-some get into fights too often,some have affairs to cope,some drugs,some drink.Maybe it was a bear pit,or the tiger pit from Marco Polo,that orchestra pit.Such extravagance-was her family so poor growing up to have such delusions of a grand orchestra pit,covering over swimming pool for use asdance floor,or making Artur Rubenstein play for his supper?Too bad Ida didn’t do like Vin Price said and marry Baz when they had opportunity until Weeds prevailed because of threatening to spill all to the tabloids.No wonder someone said he was unhappy alcoholic later in life-I’d be,too,if my consoling substance wasn’t food,junk food at that.

      Like

    • rockhyraxx says

      I finally managed to watch “They Shall Not Grow Old” last night! What a great movie! Thank you so much for recommending it!!

      Like

  6. rockhyraxx says

    (Hmm third try to post this comment, hopefully everything will work this time!)
    Thank you for this great article and the amazing research! How horribly sad this situation must have been for both! Maybe there were already some tensions, as Basil said in IAOOC, both Ouida and he might have been hard to live with, and the wedding was just the last straw. I am sure Ouida had positive sides as well (for example some of her party decorations were pretty creative, I think) but she also sounds to me like somebody rather eccentric and like somebody, who enjoys giving the orders more than cooperate (a personality that some people might like, others not). I don’t think she wanted to do anything bad with this party; she just did not listen to Rodions wishes. Maybe she also thought she would know better, what is good for them.
    Anyway it is just super sad how this whole situation ended, and I am so sorry for them both! Just thought about what Madame X about Basil not sleeping for a month, when Rodion went to WWII. This must have been extra horrible knowing he did not reconcile with his son! Poor little Baz and poor Rodion!
    (Great to see a new post! Keep up this amazing job!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ellie Foley says

    All responses incredibly insightful.Thanks to Marcia for a very interesting post.Doubt the Basils Rathbone fell out over trivial matter,as is evident from past posts.Ouida’s meddling caused a huge divide,and never thought Basil himself wouldn’t at least try to continue to see his own son in some way-but whatever tiffs his wife had with others,he was bling to her responsibility for offending others.Think these photos show how handsome Rodion was.Agree,the wedding reception should only have been about Caroline & Rod,and Baz should’ve said something.Kudos to Gary Cooper for telling photog it wasn’t about the guests.Prior post stating about Baz buying the home for newleyweds & his interfering wife decorating it seems more the cause of the fight between father & son.How sad if Rod’s kids didn’t get to know their grandfather well,esp since Baz’s health was at issue starting in late 1950s with a possible stroke.Ouida sounds like some present day asserions of Camilla Parker-Bowles and her drunken allegations causing problems for the Royals.Maybe Ouida should’ve met up with Edward VIII before Wallis.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ticobasiljd says

    Thanks so much for this post! At last we find out a lot more about Rodion and the relevant events. Basil in his book exercised a bit too much of that British reticence of his generation, and obviously felt that private details were not the public’s business. These days anything goes, if you want to sell a book. And the readers are far more sophisticated and understanding about people’s foibles. Basil should have known what he was doing at 22?? Yikes, if I told you what I was doing at that age and well beyond–needing the wrong men, having a floor-level self image…..I got this far not by smartening up all that much–just living past my sell-by date–but am a survivor, as aren’t we all. If Bazzz had been born 20-30 years older and been a star, I am sure his book, and maybe his life, would have been very different. Likely he was a serious sufferer of WW1 PTSD, unrecognized and untreated, and maybe Ouida was at least able to understand his issues and support him in dark hours. We may never know, but we all know of weird and unexplainable relationships.
    Love this site–this man fascinates me, though he never got to perform in the best movies. Thanks for all your research.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John Brown says

    It’s just sad that a family broke up over something so trivial. His son and son’s family paid a high price for the son’s parents’ major egos.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Carolyn says

    Sounds like once she got the bit in her teeth, there was no stopping Ouida—she must have been overwhelmingly controlling. Yuk.

    Liked by 1 person

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