Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, MC (13 June 1892 – 21 July 1967) was a South African-born English actor. He rose to prominence in the UK as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers and, occasionally, horror films.
He frequently portrayed suave villains or morally ambiguous characters, such as Mr. Murdstone in David Copperfield (1935) and Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). His most famous role, however, was heroic — that of Sherlock Holmes in fourteen Hollywood films made between 1939 and 1946 and in a radio series. His later career included roles on Broadway, as well as self-ironic film and television work. He received a Tony Award in 1948 as Best Actor in a Play.
Rathbone was born Philip St. John Basil Rathbone in Johannesburg, to English parents. His mother, Anna Barbara (née George), was a violinist, and his father, Edgar Philip Rathbone, was a mining engineer and scion of the Liverpool Rathbone family. He had two older half-brothers, Harold and Horace, as well as two younger siblings, Beatrice and John. Basil was the great-grandson of the noted Victorian philanthropist, William Rathbone V, and thus a descendant of William Rathbone II. The Rathbones fled to Britain when Basil was three years old after his father was accused by the Boers of being a spy after the Jameson Raid. He was a distant cousin of Major Henry Rathbone, who was present at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was seriously wounded trying to stop John Wilkes Booth...
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