All posts filed under: MAGAZINE ARTICLES

Rathbone: Handsome Villain

On June 2, 1940, the Milwaukee Journal published an article by Edith Dietz called “Handsome Villain: The Story of an Actor Who Resents Hollywood’s Assembly Line.” Dietz wrote: Basil Rathbone’s sinister looks are confined to the screen. In reality he is handsome in a tanned, sultry way, his face lighted by brilliant hazel eyes and a warm, glowing smile. He is tall, broad shouldered, of an athletic build, but he likes to slouch and relax. He wears his gray and brown sports clothes easily, smartly, effortlessly. At the moment he is enraptured with “Rebecca.” “Perhaps I’m prejudiced,” he admitted, sheepishly. “You see, Daphne du Maurier, who wrote the novel, flattered my vanity when she was a young girl of 14. I was appearing with her father, Gerald du Maurier, in her grandfather’s play, ‘Peter Ibbetson.’ She adored everything her grandfather had written and I was for the run of the play, at least, her hero. She was a lovely young girl and I was just at the age when a bit of worship did me …

Secrets of a Hollywood Hostess

Readers of this blog seem to enjoy reading about Basil’s second wife Ouida, so I am sharing here an article published in Silver Screen, August 1939. The author of the article, Leon Surmelian, seems to have been smitten or besotted by Ouida. His description of her oozes with admiration. I hope you enjoy reading these “Secrets of a Hollywood Hostess”: It is generally admitted that the No. 1 Hollywood hostess is Mrs. Basil Rathbone. This brilliant wife of a brilliant actor has a genius for spectacular and original parties. Whether it’s a formal dinner-dance, a wedding or a garden fete, a party by her is well nigh a work of art by the sheer beauty of its conception and setting. She was a writer on the Paramount scenario staff for seven years and has worked in New York as a scenic designer and interior decorator, and her flair for the dramatic has stood her in good stead as a hostess. She is a little titian-haired woman with high cheekbones, and is vital, electric and straightforward, …

Spring Cleaning

In March 1940 Hollywood magazine did an article about spring cleaning at the Rathbone house (“How to Do Spring-Cleaning,” pp. 26-27, 44-45). Kay Proctor, the author of the article, paid a visit to Basil Rathbone, whom she described as “one of my favorite people.” She added, “and I like his tea and toasted crumpets.” It’s an amusing article, and perhaps it will inspire you to do some spring cleaning, too! In a merry frame of mind I whanged the iron knocker of his home which sits on a hill overlooking the sixth hole of a swank golf club. Something lean and tall opened the door. I knew at once it wasn’t the butler (I catch on quick that way!) because it wore a white cap which said “Simpson’s Paints Are Better Paints” in red letters on the visor. Moreover, it was wearing a striped English four-in-hand, the latest style Mexican huraches, a pale tan shirt, and white denim overalls which hit its legs amidship knee and ankle. A harassed look around the eyes and a …

Party with the Rathbones!

This is the season of Christmas parties and, of course, New Year’s Eve parties. Thinking about parties reminds me of the Hollywood parties hosted by Ouida and Basil Rathbone. Ouida was in fact known as “The Hostess of Hollywood.” Here’s a magazine article about one such party that took place in April 1930: Starry Masquerade by Grace Kingsley Read about the Party that Had all Hollywood Talking! “I’ll just bet that man over there, dressed as an army cadet, is Irving Thalberg!” exclaimed Patsy the Party Hound in an inspired tone. “But who can the other one, dressed the same way, be? It just can’t be Norma Shearer!” But it was! Billy Haines, that terror of social functions in Hollywood, went over and pinched Irving on the arm, and said, “Oh, excuse me! I thought it was Norma!” Then Norma laughed an embarrassed and astonished little laugh, and we knew her. “But isn’t it just too gorgeous!” exclaimed Patsy, catching her breath at the beauty of it as we looked around. Basil Rathbone and his …

Hollywood Tours 1937

Marcia Jessen from BasilRathbone.net has very kindly sent The Baz these wonderful pdfs of articles advertising “Hollywood Tours.” Interesting to us mainly because amongst the delights offered the lucky tourists is a “cocktail party at Basil Rathbone’s home!” But almost as interesting is the glimpse of the culture of 1930s America. Fascinating to see the beginnings of present-day fear-marketing aimed at women. Warnings of the fire consequences of not being “dainty” enough, and post-Victorian coy recommendations for Kotex. And then, the culture shock of an ad aimed at “skinny girls”, promising they can “add five pounds!” Anyway, enjoy, and download the full pdfs from the link below. *** *** *** ***

“Fight Your Husband & Win Success!” – 1922

This article first appeared in THE DANVILLE BEE, JULY 20 1922. Ouida Bergere was married to her second (or third) husband, George FitzMaurice. Click on pdf button to download a copy of the original article Well, those who have been following the eventful career of Basil’s second wife, the incomparable Ouida, will probably not be too surprised that this was a concept she stood by. But for the record, we now have it in writing. “Fight your husband and win success” says Ouida. Indeed. Click on the button above to download a pdf of the original article from 1922. She wouldn’t meet Basil for another year and wouldn’t marry him him for another four years, but we can guess her philosophy didn’t change too much over time. ***

“Basil Rathbone Eulogizes the American Actress” – 1923

This article first appeared in THE BILLBOARD, November 1923. Just a few weeks later Rathbone would be taken to a party by Clifton Webb, where he would meet unemployed screenwriter “Ouida Bergere” (as she called herself). Click on pdf button to download a copy of the original article Basil Rathbone Eulogizes the American Actress The Billboard, November 24 1923 When our dramatic critic, in his review of “The Swan” defined Mr Basil Rathbone as “the leading man par excellence with the looks, bearing and acting capacity which should go with the genius” we decided that we had a clue worth following in our search for interesting personalities. But getting a seat for a performance of “The Swan” was like getting poor Humpty up a again. It was only due to the cancellation of a third balcony box reservation that we succeeded in viewing that ideal couple, the fair LeGallienne(sic) and the stalwart Rathbone. We gazed so long from our dizzy heights thru the lenses of an opera glass that we became dizzy and were obliged …

“Elementary My Dear Rathbone” – 1946

Neve’s note – This article first appeared in EVERYBODY’S DIGEST, in 1946. Rathbone was to quit Holmes, Hollywood and his friendship with Bruce within a few months of it going to press. Click on the pdf button to download a copy of the original article Elementary My Dear Rathbone By Jules Archer (Everybody’s Digest, 1946) Basil Rathbone was about to give the business to Dr(sic) Moriarty in another Sherlock Holmes film, when Denis Conan Doyle, scion of the world’s most famous whodunit writer visited the set. Rehearsals were stalled, while Doyle threw his weight around, passing unsolicited judgments on the props, costumes and sets.  Rathbone gnawed his fingernails. “Hmmm,”  deliberated the visitor, scrutinizing the Hollywood version of Baker Street. “Ya-as, it’s veddy much like my fahthah’s description, veddy much indeed!” Nigel Bruce, more widely recognized as Dr Watson made ominous sounds. Unable to stand any more, he whispered something in Rathbone’s ear. The razor-nosed film sleuth reacted with amusement. “Sounds rather silly,” he said, “but let’s do it.” Rehearsals finally began, with Doyle shunted tactfully …

“Images of homo-eroticism in the Golden-Age of Hollywood” – date unknown

Well, your humble host had the cast taken off her wrist yesterday. She fondly assumed it would emerge all healed and wonderful! Sadly she was wrong. I have a fat-lady wrist, and fingers like frankfurters, and I can hardly move the thing. The doctors tell me happily it will be six more weeks before the bone is properly mended and the swelling goes down and it stops being stiff and hurting like crap. So, no long wordy posts for a while. Which is why I’m taking the moment to post something sent to me by reader-Cherry whose marvellous blog I’ve mentioned previously. She recently featured a quote from Fred Cavens, fight-supervisor on at least two of Rathbone’s swashbucklers. I asked her if she knew where it came from and she sent me this interesting article she found some years ago on a now-defunct Queer-theory website. We don’t have an author name, but if he/she should read this please inform us and we will add it. (Any muffled detonations you hear will be our Claude Rains’ …