All posts filed under: FAMILY HISTORY

The Rathbone Family History

Basil Rathbone wrote about starting his acting career in the Shakespearean company led by his cousin, Sir Frank Benson. This post will take a closer look at the Rathbone family. Just how closely were Basil and Sir Frank related? Not close at all, as it turns out. Basil’s great-great-great-grandfather, William Rathbone III, was also Frank’s great-great-grandfather. The Family Tree diagram below shows that William had two children: William and Sarah. He actually had more children, but we are focusing on William and Sarah because Basil Rathbone is descended from William, and Frank Benson is descended from Sarah. William Rathbone III, who lived in Liverpool from 1726 to 1789, built his fortune in merchant shipping. The company traded in a variety of products, including timber, salt, iron bars, linen, leather, tobacco, tallow, wheat, rye, and rice. The Rathbones (William and his son William IV, who joined his father in the family business) never became involved in the lucrative slave trade. In fact, the Rathbones were ardent abolitionists. Both father and son were founding members of the …

Review: The Curse of Sherlock Holmes

I have finished reading The Curse of Sherlock Holmes: The Basil Rathbone Story, written by David Clayton, and — Wow! What a wonderful biography of the Great Baz! Well-written and well-researched, this book is a “must-have” in every Rathbone fan’s collection. Clayton’s book is a engrossing narrative that follows Basil Rathbone from his birthplace in South Africa, to England, to New York City, and Hollywood. Clayton provides the full sweep of Basil Rathbone’s life chronologically, covering his professional career as well as personal relationships. From the Prologue: “Intrigue, drama, tragedy, mystery, romance and a sprinkling of the macabre: Rathbone was many things to many people. … War hero, son, brother, actor, husband, father, lover … Basil Rathbone was all of these and more, yet the role he would eventually become synonymous with would also become his nemesis.” Does the book reveal anything new? Maybe not to the faithful followers of this blog. We already know so much about Basil. But the general public will discover much about the life of an extraordinary man. Does the …

New Book: The Curse of Sherlock Holmes

At last we Rathbone fans have a new book about our hero to read! David Clayton’s book The Curse of Sherlock Holmes: The Basil Rathbone Story has just been released in the U.K., and is scheduled to be released in the U.S.A. through Trafalgar/IPG Book distributors November 2020.  I haven’t seen the book yet (my copy is on its way), but I’ll post an update after I’ve read the book. Here is the press release: The first definitive biography of Basil Rathbone, from the trenches of WWI to Hollywood fame New biography The Curse of Sherlock Holmes is the first complete account of one of Britain’s most loved actors. Though Basil Rathbone had a long and distinguished acting career, it was as Sherlock Holmes that he achieved worldwide fame. Appearing in fourteen Holmes films, Rathbone made the role his own, and every actor who has since played the ingenious detective has been compared to him — almost always failing to live up to Rathbone’s legacy. He continued his career in Hollywood, appearing in numerous roles, …

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 …