A Letter from Basil Rathbone

Albert Bender loved to entertain visiting celebrities and save the letters they wrote to him. Basil Rathbone, best known today for playing Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies, was touring in 1933-34 with Katharine Cornell as Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett in The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Rathbone wrote to Bender from Nashville:

Dear Albert, Thank you so very very much for your gracious and charming help in choosing so suitable a kimona for Ouida [his wife]. She likes it very much & it fits her. We like the picture of you as model trying on different garments for Ouida! & parading before the respectable Japanese vendor! The tour is getting along nicely—it has been very profitable, but very hard & most of the time very uncomfortable. We are all glad to be moving into the last stretch on the way home. The Barretts broke all records with 7 performances in Des Moines to which 4200 people came & which grossed $7087. But the good business & the pleasure of playing in “The Barretts” hardly compensates at times for the unutterable boredom of the hours spent in places I hope I shall not see for a long time again, if ever! We are still planning to be in California this summer & shall hope so much to see you then. Ouida joins me in affectionate regards & our kindest remembrances to Noel Sullivan if & when you see him. I am writing a note to Col. Wood to your home will you forward it for me. Most sincerely, Basil Rathbone

(Bender Papers, Mills College Library)
Rathbone in The Barretts of Wimpole Street

5 thoughts on “A Letter from Basil Rathbone

  1. Ann, this is a WONDERFUL letter. I loved it. So cool. In what chapter will be this letter? Thank you for sharing! xoxo

    • I’m working on a 1930s chapter and came across photos I had taken of this letter back in 2017! I may not include the whole letter in the book, so I thought I’d post it here.

  2. What an excellent bit of history. And what a handsome fellow Basil was. We don’t see that kind of aquiline profile in the movies anymore. Or if we do I can’t think of a single one because they are rare.

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