Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone: The Iconic Sherlock Holmes Actor

Basil Rathbone


Basil Rathbone was a prolific actor, with over 70 film credits to his name. However, he is best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in 14 films produced between 1939 and 1946. Some of his other notable film roles include Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1936) and Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

Outside of film, Rathbone also had a successful stage career, appearing in numerous productions on Broadway and London’s West End.


Rathbone was married twice and had two children. His first wife was Marion Foreman, with whom he had a daughter named Cynthia. His second wife was Ouida Bergere, with whom he had a son named Rodion. Both of Rathbone’s children followed in his footsteps and became actors.


Rathbone was known for his tall and slender build, standing at 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) tall. His height, combined with his distinctive voice and sharp features, made him a commanding presence on screen.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Rathbone’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is widely regarded as one of the most iconic in film history. His performance, which emphasized Holmes’ intelligence and deductive skills, helped to define the character for generations of viewers. Rathbone’s Holmes was also notable for his chemistry with Nigel Bruce, who played Dr. Watson in the films.


Even decades after his death, Rathbone’s legacy as an actor and as Sherlock Holmes endures. His films continue to be popular with audiences and are widely available on DVD and streaming platforms. In addition, Rathbone’s influence can be seen in the many actors who have played Sherlock Holmes since his time, all of whom have had to contend with the shadow of his iconic performance.

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