BIOGRAPHY, general biography, Uncategorized
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Basil’s Photo Album

Many years ago, someone offered a photo album for sale on the auction site eBay. It was Basil Rathbone’s personal photo album, full of photos that he had taken.

I wanted it badly, but the price was too steep for me. All I could do was download the images that accompanied the listing. Unfortunately, the images — snapshots of album pages — are not very large, and the individual photos are unclear. Nevertheless, I am sharing the images with you in this post. Maybe the person who bought the photo album will see this post, take pity on us, and send better images of the album photos!

In this first image, we see seven (7) photos. (Click on the thumbnail below to see the largest version I have. The larger photo will open in a new window.) The photo at the top is labeled “Lands Cricket Ground.” “Lands” isn’t clear, but I think that’s what it says. But where is this cricket ground? This photo appears to be three separate snapshots carefully arranged in the album to make a panoramic photo. 
UPDATE: Based on reader comments, this is Lords Cricket Ground, just outside London. It’s been there since 1814.

The next photo down (on the left side) is labeled “Horse Guards.” Could that be Ouida (Basil’s wife) standing between the columns? UPDATE: Horseguards is the famous central London parade ground on Whitehall where such events as the Trooping of the Colour take place every summer to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.

The next one is labeled “‘Granny’s’ Penn Bucks.” That’s where Basil and Ouida lived during the summer of 1931. “Granny’s” (or “Granney’s”) was the name of the house in Penn in Buckinghamshire, England. The same house can be seen in this photo:

So, probably all the photos on this page of the album were taken in England in 1931. The last photo on the left side appears to be a photo of the same house. I can’t be sure, but I think that the words below it are “as above.”

On the right side of the page (across from the Horse Guards) is a photo identified as “Law Courts.”

The next photo down on the right side is labeled “Ouida and Eden (Chauffeur).”
Though the location isn’t identified, I’m pretty sure it is in front of the fountain near Buckingham Palace. Here’s a more recent photo of that fountain:

Since Basil and Ouida clearly went sightseeing in London, perhaps the “Horse Guards” and “Law Courts” were also in London.

The bottom right photo on the page is a mystery. I can’t read any of the names identifying the people in the photo except for one. I think I see the name Heather Thatcher at the bottom of the page. She was an actress who later acted with Basil in the film Loyalties. But who are all the other folks? The photo may have been taken in front of the house in Penn, or it may have been in front of some other house.

The next image is a page with eight (8) photos. These may be the same people who are seen in the bottom right photo of the previous page. I cannot read any of the names written below the top right photo.

In the second row, the names appear to be Tryk (?) and Evelyn [something] in the photo on the left. In the photo on the right, the fellow laughing is named Eddington. I can’t make out the names of the other two men. UPDATE: Eagle-eyed reader Brendon has identified the folks as: Evelyn Laye, famous British musical comedy star; Lord Eddington; the actor Hugh Williams and the actor Frank Lawton (Evelyn Laye’s husband).

In the third row, the photo on the left shows the same 3 men plus one more. The names appear to be: Eddington, [illegible], Farrell, Lawton. the photo on the right shows Farrell with Lady [name that begins with R or P]. Actually, “Lady” could be “Lucy” — it’s not clear. UPDATE: Farrell is the American film star Charles Farrell (of Seventh Heaven fame with Janet Gaynor).

The photos in the fourth row show Ouida holding two dogs (left photo) and Basil wearing puffy pants and holding two dogs (right photo). They may be the same dogs that are seen in this photo with Rodion, Ouida and Basil:

We don’t know whose dogs they are. It seems unlikely that Basil and Ouida would have adopted pets when they were only temporarily living in England. Or perhaps they intended to stay?

The next image shows eight photos that appear to be taken in and around Buckinghamshire.

The two photos in the first row are of Ouida and the two dogs. The name “Ouida” appears below the photo on the left, but I cannot make out the words written below the photo on the right.

In the second row, the photo on the left is Basil with the two dogs. The photo on the right shows a street, possibly a street in the village of Penn.

Below the left photo in the third row Basil has written “Penn Church,” followed by a date that is illegible. The church is actually called Holy Trinity Church, and is at least 800 years old.

The photo on the right shows Hughendon Church, also known as St. Michael and All Angels Church. It is located in Buckinghamshire near High Wycombe.

The two photos in the bottom (or fourth) row are of nearby Hughendon Manor, once home to Britain’s Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

The next image also contains photos that appear to be taken in and around Buckinghamshire.

The two photos in the first row are labeled “Sunsets Penn Bucks.”

The two photos in the second row are labeled “Beaconsfield Bucks.” Beaconsfield is a town about three miles from Penn.

The third row has two photos of buildings — one in Penn and one in Beaconsfield. But what is the significance of these buildings? Perhaps they are historic landmarks. Beaconsfield has a seventeenth-century inn called the Royal Saracen’s Head that resembles the building in Basil’s photo. Here’s a current photo:

The last two photos on this page are of Basil’s son Rodion — Rodion holding the two dogs, and Rodion next to his car.

The next page shows photos taken in Europe.

First row shows two photos below which is written “Monastery on the road to Meyerling.” I’m guessing that Basil got the spelling wrong, and he was referring to the Austrian village of Mayerling.

The second row show photos of oxen pulling a cart “On the road to Meyerling.” So why was Basil going to Mayerling?

The left photo in the third row shows a building with the word HEGYESHALOM on the facade. Hegyeshalom is a Hungarian village on the border of Hungary and Austria. This may be a photo of the train station. The photo on the right side shows a train with Ouida in the window.

I cannot read the caption to the photos in the fourth row. There’s no indication on this page of when the photos were taken. In his autobiography, Basil mentions that at the end of 1936 he and Ouida took a trip to Paris, Berlin, and Budapest after he had finished work on Love from a Stranger. Perhaps the photos are from that trip.

The next image shows two pages from the photo album. None of the photos have captions, but they appear to have been taken in the garden of the Rathbone home on Los Feliz Boulevard in Hollywood. I believe that the woman in the dark one-piece swimsuit and white swim cap is Ouida. I don’t recognize the other people. I see Bunty and Cullum, the West Highland terriers. The other dog may be Leo, the cocker spaniel.

The next page of photos features more Rathbone pets. The white bull dog is Judy. The cats are Gina and Gita. I believe that the white cat is Gita and the dark one is Gina. I cannot read what is written after their names. And what kind of a house is that? Is it for the cats, or is it an oversized bird house?

The photo in the upper right corner shows two women. I cannot read the caption. The bottom right photo is of a toddler. Whoever she is, she isn’t Cynthia. Cynthia was adopted shortly after Basil and Ouida moved to Bel Air.

Here, we have a photo with a mostly-readable caption: “[name] Hamilton, Ray Romero, self, Dick Hamilton photographed in make-up mirror.” The name of the first Hamilton appears to end in “vid” so perhaps the name is David. The two men on the left and the right look like brothers, so I believe they are the Hamilton brothers. Basil is the one holding the camera, and the fellow in front of him, Ray Romero, was a make-up artist in the 1930s. Does anyone know anything about David and Dick Hamilton?

In June 1939, the Rathbones bought a home at 10728 Bellagio Road in Bel Air. This album page contains three sets of “Before” and “After” photos. The “Before” photos (on the right side), I believe, show the house as it was when purchased. The “After” photos (on the left side) show how it looked after renovations were made.

The top right photo shows the main entrance driveway to the front of the house. Apparently, the Rathbones wanted the driveway to lead to a different entrance, so they closed off that entrance with a wall (upper left photo) and had a new back entrance constructed (middle left and bottom left photos). The middle right and bottom right photos show how the back looked before the construction.

This page has more photos of the construction underway at the Bellagio Road house. The caption below the third and fourth photos appears to be: “Front entrance on work. Ouida and Jack Evans and crew working.” I wonder who Jack Evans is.

I’m guessing that the photo at the bottom of the page shows the finished front entrance.

Some of the photos on these two album pages have captions, but I cannot read a single word! The three photos on the far left appear to be of the garden of the Bellagio Road house. Just to the right of those photos, at the top of the page, is a photo of a woman. Who is she? Below that photo is a photo of the same woman and a dog. This dog does not resemble any of the Rathbone dogs, so perhaps it belongs to the woman. The next photo down is of the dog, and the photo at the bottom of the page is of the Rathbone’s new house.

I cannot identify the photos on the right side page except for the two that show a white dog. The dog appears to be a West Highland terrier, and the Rathbones had two Westies: Bunty and Cullum. So these are photos of either Bunty or Cullum. (Those dogs are like twins; I can’t tell them apart.)

This image shows three photos of a woman with a dog, and a partial photo at the top left of the page. The dog appears to be “Happy,” the Rathbones’s Springer spaniel. And the name “LILLY” is written on the page, so I’m guessing the woman is named Lilly. Who is this Lilly, who is fond of Happy?

This final page has photos that appear to have been taken in the garden of the Bel Air house. The woman in the flowered dress is probably Ouida, and she is shown posing with various dogs, all part of the Rathbone menagerie.

4 Comments

  1. ticobasiljd says

    Great detective puzzle! Will keep everyone busy. Can’t see a thing till i open it on computer. But anyway, I believe the first is Lord’s Cricket Ground.

    Like

  2. Brendan Carroll says

    Hello! I tried to enlarge these to get a closer look and can offer a few extra details for you. Firstly, Lands Cricket Ground is definitely Lords Cricket Ground, perhaps the most famous in England, just outside London. It has been there since 1814!
    Horseguards is the famous central London parade ground on Whitehall where such events as the Trooping of the Colour take place every summer to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.
    The photos of various people at a country house in England are familiar to me. I think they may have been taken at Goldenhurst, Noel Coward’s country home in the 30s.
    The second row featuring Tryk and Evelyn is definitely Evelyn Laye, famous British musical comedy star. I cannot place Tryk but adjoining this photo on the right is Lord Eddington, the actor Hugh Williams and the actor Frank Lawton, Evelyn Laye’s husband.
    On the next row, this trio is joined by the American film star Charles Farrell (of Seventh Heaven fame with Janet Gaynor).
    The rest of the photos are too indestinct for me to identify the people concerned.

    Fascinating to see – thank you for sharing. I hope this helps a little bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marciajessen says

      Thank you! I was hoping someone would recognize people and places that I didn’t.

      Like

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