All posts filed under: Relationships

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 …

Basil’s Best Friend

August 26 is National Dog Day! Basil Rathbone would have loved that, as he was a dog lover. His favorite dog was a black German Shepherd named Moritz. Basil devoted several pages in his autobiography to this beloved dog. He also wrote an article about Moritz, which was published in the December 1936 issue of Hollywood magazine. I’m reprinting this loving tribute here, for your reading pleasure. He Was My Friend by Basil Rathbone This is a tribute to the memory of Moritz von Niklotsburg, who was a gentleman. He was graceful, loyal and an individualist. Today he must be enjoying the progress he has earned in the great scheme of things as they are, and have been, and always will be. For what wrongs he committed, he suffered. For what good he did, he was rewarded. He lived and died with his great pride intact. And for the time he was with us, he gave us such devotion that his passing left a streak of bleakness across our days. Moritz was my very dear …

Cynthia at Hockaday – by David Leddick

In the first real post of 2014, we’re looking at the brief memoir of Cynthia Rathbone given to us by David Leddick her friend and colleague at Hockaday Associates. Answering some of our questions, though also adding several more, David tells us Cynthia died of “drink and drugs.” I think more investigation is needed to explain how this poor girl’s life could have imploded like this, aged just 30! Much thanks to David for letting us use this… I worked with Cynthia Rathbone at Hockaday Associates in the early 1960s. Perhaps 1962 and 1963. Hockaday was then one of the new small front-edge advertising agencies in New York. We had perhaps 30 to 40 small clients, all of them selling expensive top-of-the-line products. Crane Papers, Elizabeth Arden, Grant’s Scotch. Miss Hockaday, the President, wanted her staff to be young, smart, fashionable. Clients liked the agency as much as they liked the advertising. Cynthia Rathbone was part of this young but adult world. Rock and Roll, The Beatles, and Mick Jagger hadn’t come on the scene …

Friends & Co-stars: Conrad Veidt

Conrad Veidt 1893-43 This is a re-style of an earlier post (hence the 45 already extant comments). It’s being re-issued and extended as the first of an occasional series I’ll be doing about the people in Basil’s life who weren’t family, lovers or wives. People he worked with, people he loved or was close to or who impacted his existence in some kind of meaningful way, good or bad. I’m doing this partly because it helps to throw light upon Ratbone to know how he interacted with those around him. Partly because as a lifelong movie buff I”m keen to include as many aspects of Vintage Hollywood as I an in this blog. Why I’m starting with Conrad Veidt I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I am slightly haunted by him, or because he happens to be in some of the great old films I most enjoy. But for whatever reason, we are starting with Conrad Veidt. “Connie” as his friends called him. The Soundbite Life Story Born in Berlin, Germany in 1893 to a …

Cynthia…?

Judging from the search terms that hit this blog and the steady trickle of emails I get on the subject, there is a fair amount of curiosity and/or puzzlement amongst Rathbone fans regarding the life and tragically early death of his adopted daughter Cynthia. It’s true that what we know about Cynthia is surprisingly patchy, considering she was a movie star’s daughter…Here is what we do know…

Letters to Madame X c.1940 – 1963

These are all the letters we currently have that were allegedly written by Rathbone to “Madame X” between c. 1940 and 1963. They’re numbered as they were when received by us. Nos. 13, 15 and 16 are currently missing. We’ve only received one letter in autograph. The rest are typed copies, seemingly quite aged and pretty hard to read. Some are annotated, but not always legibly. Everything in black is original text, my notes are in blue and the annotations are in red. LETTER 1: no date, possibly 1939-40 Dearest X – what an extraordinary amount of enquiry crammed into such a small and charmingly violet note. How do I begin? 1. Tell him Dietrich is an angel – for the first week that you know her. Thereafter all bets are off. Her self-interest is boundless. Her sense of ensemble non-existent. If she can erase you in front of the camera she will. She is legendary for being very accommodating in other ways, but it barely compensates for the sheer flaming hell of working with …

X Part VII

Continuing the transcribed interview with Madame X from PART VI [tell me about [NAME REDACTED]] ……[NAME REDACTED] was crazy. But you know insanity is an amazingly good distraction. I was…Basil and I had called it off as we did periodically. And [NAME REDACTED] just made all the moves. And, you know, he was attractive and charming and wondering what this crazy man would do next was…well it filled up time. And he was good company on a good day. Nothing much more to say…the press crawled all over the stupid things he did. It was painted very lurid, really it was just ridiculous. He was tinged with farce. Tattooed with it maybe. In big letter…right here. But…when all that came out [Basil] was mad as hell with me. He was saying “he’s a degenerate, what’s the matter with you.” He was a degenerate. But…I guess I wasn’t being all that rational or together myself by then. It was hard…the situation was so hard. Being detailed off by the man you love to find happiness with …

X Part VI

Continuing the transcribed interview with Madame X from PART V [so during most of the war years, we’re talking 1941-45 your marriage to David was increasingly a front and behind that he was……homosexual] It wasn’t a front exactly. Before he went away to war we…David and I enjoyed what we had in our way… [but he was involved with various men] Yes. But it’s up to him to say anything more about that. [but the various magazine articles we can pull from the time, 1941 until the end of the war, depicting your idyllic life together…] Oh God they’re fiction, but they were always fiction. I mean who the hell would believe those? The rictus smiles, the so-called interviews put together by the studio publicity department. When you were under contract you had to do them. But yes, fiction. [so what was reality?] He had his relationships. I suppose for the first year or so I waited, in my naivety for him to start liking girls and wanting to sleep with me more than…never. [were …

X Part V

Continuing the transcribed interview with Madame X from PART IV “…You know, one of the first things [Ouida] did was get in touch with David. He came in one day and said, “Well, darling, guess who wants to have lunch with me tomorrow.” I think maybe she thought he didn’t know and she was going to…you know…but…she…she…So they had lunch and she said, “Do you know about my husband and your wife?” And David said, ‘Ouida, what are you implying? I’m there whenever Basil visits and we just sit round making raffia table mats for the war effort.’ [laughter] And he said to me, after he had lunch with her, he said “Darling, you need to realize she’s never going to divorce him, because if she isn’t Mrs Basil Rathbone, what is she?” And of course he was right. The whole divorce thing was just…it was just shock and rage…and Ouida being Ouida. She was Mrs Basil Rathbone. That’s what her life was. [and when the shock and rage subsided she was going to do …