Comments 10

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Rathbone fans! I apologize for not having an exciting new blog post ready to start the new year. Rest assured that I am on the lookout for interesting items about Basil Rathbone to post on this blog. I appreciate your patience. What kinds of posts would you like to see? Please use the Comments section below to share your thoughts about future posts.

I also welcome guest posts! If there’s some aspect of Basil Rathbone’s life that you’d like to explore, please do! Contact me about posting it on The Baz: gisbourne@basilrathbone.net.



  1. ticobasiljd says

    Hi, and (hopefully) a happy new year (which doesn’t officially have a chance till Jan. 20).
    Hope you get more suggestions. I would think Baz may have enjoyed some of Freddy Mercury’s music, which was close to classical and so original in sound. Could he have appreciated the hippie life? Sure, what was theater life like?!! And yes, more on Vincent Price, David Niven, other actor friends, especially Nigel Bruce. I was reading Aldous Huxley’s “The Gioconda Smile,” the 1921 version, and can’t help but wonder, since he seems to have known Baz around then (at least one of your play reviews is by him), could he possibly have based the character on him. The wife in the story is Ouida spot on, but years too soon. Wonder if the 1938 version (in book No. 9 in the series of Zodiac books, states my 1950 volume, Literature of Crime, Ellery Queen, editor) was revised, like Huxley’s “Antic Hay,” which you quoted some time ago. Then, Queen writes, it was a movie, “A Woman’s Vengeance,” and then the play that BR starred in. A wonderful, humorous story!!
    Then there’s Laurel & Hardy. In “Nothing But Trouble” (1944, MGM), out of work, they grab a chance to be butlers at a swank dinner for three guests, including a young king, or prince about to be king if he survives an assassination attempt. The dinner is held by a very funny Mary Boland, who in a superbly plummy voice tries to rise to the occasion. She is a social striver, easily tripped up by sophisticated words; “not born to the purple, but giving a good imitation” (“The Woman in Green”). She addresses her husband as Basil. A strange name for an American, so my ears pricked up. Her name is Elvira. Basil and Elvira (Hawkley) sound a lot like Basil and Ouida. It’s easy to take this scene as a little joke about the famous Ouida parties. (Too bad we have no recording of Ouida’s voice to compare.)
    The Elephant in the Room: I’ve noticed in “Secret Weapon” and another SH movie (and other period movies) a lovely black elephant on the mantelpiece. I have the same envelope, which I snatched from my grandparents’ possessions after their death. Found online what seems to be the same model, except that it’s silver, in the White House collection of President Nixon. There is no maker’s i.d. on mine, so in looking at similar ones online found it to be made of cast spelter or pot metal, circa 1940s, and one in a different pose but same great detail (maker unknown) had an asking price of $270. Wouldn’t give him up for a million. So if you see it in a thrift shop, grab it!
    “Aye, Aye, Up She Rises.” This song, sung by Kitty in a barroom (“Voice of Terror”), has always fascinated me; so one night, watching a current movie, “Fisherman’s Friend,” it turns out to be part of an old sea chanty, “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor,” sung while the sailors are pulling on the ropes of their vessel. All the words in various versions can be googled. (But I was expecting something more titillating….)
    OK, now it’s someone else’s turn.


    • Basil Fan says

      Hi tico, I enjoyed reading your thoughts! Wish you a happy new year, too!

      One thing that came to my mind is Basil’s stance on faith and religion, since I saw a video of his appearance at a christian TV program called “The Christophers”, in which he made some interesting remarks on young people’s inner and spiritual lifes and that he likes talking to them. He seemed to be interested in psychology, too.
      I know, religion is a delicate subject and I myself am a non-believer, “believing” in science. But it’s interesting nonetheless and a bit surprising; I know from his book (or Ouida’s book ;)) that he seemed to believe in superstition (the incident with his friend and colleague who got run over by a car). But by the time he was born this wasn’t uncommon. More suspect is his talk on “happy” marriages in Hollywood and him complaining about bad media coverage on this matter in that very same episode of “The Christophers”; made me giggle… On the other hand he seemed deluded or even brainwashed. I assume that after his departure to NY he didn’t have a single person he could talk to candidly.

      Search on YouTube for that Christophers snippet if you haven’t seen it already.



      • ticobasiljd says

        Hi, thanks for your nice reply! I too am all science and no religion, at least since I reached so-called “maturity” years ago. A subscription to Astronomy magazine sure helps. But I remember my father, born in 1910, who was not religious but late in life was very interested in the subject. A product of that generation, is all. As to Baz’s supernatural experience after his close friend’s accidental death, the earliest interview of him has him saying that the mysterious phone call came a day later, which (if he wasn’t misquoted) means the grapevine must have been at work and the call a hoax. We know the internet brings out the nuts these days, and people were the same back then, though seances were still a big thing. Am trying to get my YouTube set up again so I can check out that “Christopher” interview, and wouldn’t it be great if part one of the “Person to Person” interview was now on it. As to Hollywood marriages, bad news is what sells, and the average unhappily married couple can’t afford to divorce or live apart anyway. His return to New York must have been a disappointment–something he had vowed to do some day, but perhaps good stage roles were now rare, with the competition from TV. If ONLY!! he had been born 20 years later, he would have been the star of PBS and other good drama providers (maybe returning to the UK), and we’d have nice videos to collect and watch. And he may have had a happier old age. (Sigh!!)


        • Basil Fan says

          Well, well, that’s a hot take. πŸ˜€ I know lots of believers (Christians) and wouldn’t say they are immature, at least not in other aspects of life. But I can tell you it’s sometimes hard for me to listen to so many logical fallacies. Anyway, it’s a personal decision.

          And yes, I remember a “Person to Person” episode I’ve seen a while ago on YouTube. Basil was reading a poem from a female soldier who he mistook for a man iirc. He was walking behind his sofa with Ouida and Cynthia sitting on. Was there another episode with Basil or do you mean the full episode/appearance of that snippet?

          You mentioned your father being born in 1910. My grandparents were born in the early twenties (I’m 39). πŸ˜€ But it’s interesting how many different age group(ie)s adore our dear Basil! I remember one of the comment writers here who was/is a teenager! Basil would be pleased that he’s not forgotten. πŸ˜€

          (Sorry for any bad grammar, you know, it’s not my mother tongue… :))

          I never receive notifications of new comments although I do click that box below…?


  2. Basil Fan says

    Happy New Year, Marcia! It’s 4 am here in Germany and I’m still working on editing a video (not Basil-related, although I did quite a lot Bazids with music I like; don’t dare to upload on YouTube in fear of copyright claims. I see I’ve already made 32 Bazids, whew!).

    So you ask for suggestions… May I repeat my wish for Rathbone-Niven or Rathbone-Price blog posts – if you can manage to obtain something? Would be much appreciated. Or something theoretical – like thoughts on how Basil would reacted to the Hippie/Free Speech Movement or the Summer of Love (he lived til 67 so he might have shared his thoughts?) or the lifestyle of the 70s and 80s. I’ve heard that Vincent Price was some kind of Hippie wearing caftans an collaborationg with Alice Cooper. What was Basil’s attitude towards rock (or soul/black) music? Would be interesting – at least for me. πŸ™‚

    Wishing Happy New Year to all Basil fans!


    • marciajessen says

      Thanks! I will look for specific mentions of David Niven and Vincent Price. I’ll see what I can find about Basil’s attitude towards Hippies. I don’t remember reading anything that would suggest how he felt. Hmm. He did write about his taste in music, so I can definitely pursue that!


      • Basil Fan says

        Thank you, Marcia! I enjoy reading your posts and I can image how much time you put into this!

        He liked a song called Annie Laurie, right? I wonder what kind of music he’d prefer if he was born (much) later. David Niven told in a radio show, that his two teenage daughters constantly play disco music (in the 70s), and that he likes it very much, songs like Rock your Baby by George McCrae. So funny! πŸ˜€

        Stay save!


    • GRETCHEN says


      Greetings & hoping 2021 brings MUCH LESS STRESS 2 all of us!!!

      Hello, Basil Fan; nice to meet you!! πŸ™‚
      My dad & his parents/siblings were originally from Germany, too….they were also atheists, but my dad converted to Catholicism so he could marry my mom in the ’50s. I was born in ’75 (got 2 bros, born in ’56 & ’57)–my dad was born in 1925 & his siblings in 1915 & 1907. (Daddy & me were our parents’ VERY LATE ‘surprises’!) His parents were born in 1886 & ’87!! My mom’s parents (also from Western Europe) were near in age to my dad’s siblings + she’s 10 years younger than him. Mom’s 2 youngest bros are near MY bros’ ages & her 2 other siblings are in their 80s (sadly, her older bro died a few days before X-mas from COVID, at 87). 4 of my male cousins + my 2 bros & my mom’s 2 younger bros all played together as KIDS in the 1960s. (???) Can’t get more confusing than THAT.

      Seems like the stuff we’ve learned chatting with each other on this blog is JUST as interesting as the stuff we’ve learned about Basil!

      I know some NEAT info about Vincent Price & his life, ’cause he’s my OTHER favorite guy (besides Basil, that is!); so I might be able to help answer your Vinnie-related questions.

      He & his wife Coral used to wear those caftans you mentioned, in the 1970s….it was sort-of a popular ‘thing’ back then + they were comfortable to lounge in. Vincent was really COOL, ’cause he always kept-up with the younger generation & newest fashion trends/music/electronics as he aged–didn’t judge others for their differences & LOVED everyone. If Baz had lived longer, he would’ve been JUST as awesome during the following 2 decades, as his pal. (Wanted him to live til age 100, but more realistically he might’ve made it to 85-90, if he’d been healthy–& dumped Ouida for a WAY BETTER chick–hee, hee!).

      Like you, I wonder what Basil’s feelings were regarding some of the fads surrounding him in the late 1960s + the sudden change-over to more ‘modern’ styles of rock music, which happened at that time. If he hadn’t died then, I’m sure he’d still have stuck to his FAVES of medieval & classical music + possibly thought that the more current stuff was too WEIRD & futuristic, like early ‘punk’ & disco. I can imagine Baz initially being a bit shocked by the colorful (+ BIG!) hairstyles & strange clothing/accessories/shoes the teens began wearing in the ’70s/’80s, but I guess he’d eventually grow accustomed to it. Trying to picture him owning/using a computer or playing video games….SO ODD!!

      He died just before a LOT of things became very different in our World & society–both positive & negative. Basil would probably have been delighted that people of ALL sexual orientations, cultural/racial/ethnic groups & religions, were finally being given equal rights & freedoms for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY. But he’d also be saddened that many people continue to refuse to treat others equally & respectfully in spite of this.

      Hey there, Marcia! πŸ™‚
      Wanted to say THANK YOU for the great job you’ve done keeping BOTH “The Baz” + “Master of Stage & Screen” websites going….I’m sure you helped THOUSANDS of fans forget their troubles during COVID this past year–while they instead focused on Basil’s troubles (& triumphs) in life. Will be nice to see what other fun facts you can find to share with us about David, Basil & Vincent + their special friendship.


      • Basil Fan (not very imaginative, I know :D) says

        Hi Gretchen, I just saw your insightful comment here and like to tell you I really, really enjoyed reading it! As mentioned before – I don’t get notifications for new comments, only when Marcia posts a new article. And again Happy New Year to you, too!

        Your family tree is quite interesting! You are 6 years older than I am, and your bro’s are my parents’ age group. Funny stuff! Yes, I have read lots and lots of your comments here in the last couple of years. I often come back to the Madame X letters and interview – so intriguing! πŸ˜€ And tragic at the same time… In deed I’ve read ALL your comments in that section! Good reasoning and I remember one man who was with his Dad at Basil’s for the pool maintenance and heard (martial) quarrel between Baz & Ouida!

        Wouldn’t it be nice if we’d all come together more often on this blog for reminiscing all over again?

        Also thanks for the commentary on dear Vinnie! Keeping up with the younger generations is one thing I like most about him! And I adore his warm-hearted way to treat others (as far as I can judge from afar); I love his appearance in “This is your life” from 1973. So cute! πŸ™‚

        Regarding Basil and the events following the Summer of Love… Well, I guess your assumption might be accurate. Can’t image him switching from this style of music to Rock & Disco – not really. He was 18 years older than Nivi, that’s a whole generation. And David… he was some kind of more modern than Basil. He once said at Michael Parkinson, that he has lots of much younger friends. I guess he didn’t solely mean his girl friends. You know David was a womanizer, but an endearing one. His craving for sex was attributable to his experiences early in life… parents who neglected him emotionally… meeting a 17 year old prostitute who took care of him… starting a real friendship with her and so on.

        Well, I should have been sleeping already… I have to stand up early tomor… today. So – til we read again! Bye!


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