Posted by: Author | November 19, 2010

Friday Facts- November 19, 2010- Basil Rathbone, the Spy

I adore, adore, adore Basil Rathbone. He was the ubiquitious Sherlock Holmes. I loved those old movies and used to stay up until 3 am to catch them on television in the days before VHS tapes.  He was a great actor. He played a lot of villains in his career as well. He was a master fencer and that skill was used in a lot of his films. The funny thing about that was since he was usually the bad guy, he lost the on screen duel. In fact, he only won one on film. He won when he played Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet.

In real life, he was the son of a British man and woman and they lived in South Africa until Basil’s father was chased out of the country as a British spy during the Boer War. This is truly amazing because during WWI, Basil was an intelligence officer; perhaps following in dear old dad’s footsteps. Basil had a knack for disguises (not unlike the Sherlock Holmes character he’d play in the future). On on occasion, he disguised himself as a tree (!) and brought back some good information as well as some prisoners. This was an unusual mission as it occurred in daylight hours.  A very brave man indeed.  He was awarded the Military Cross- an award for gallantry during active operations against the enemy.   I like that- gallantry! This man was quite gallant.

By the way, come by and see me today – I’m visiting Naughty Author Chicks. 

Sir Basil Rathbone

Military Cross for gallantry during actions against enemies


  1. Fascinating story!! When I used to watch his old movies as a child, had no clue he was a hero. Great post!! RitaVF

    • Thanks Rita. He was truly a hero. Just fascinating.

  2. That’s cool as all hell! I’m afraid I didn’t watch any of the old movies. For some strange reason, I never did get into Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, which is really strange since I’m a total Anglophile. Hm. That’s really awesome information though!

    • Danica- I loved the S.Holmes ones (because I read them all as a kid) and Charlie Chan, too. Charlie Chan is why I call my oldest son “#1 son.” In a horrible Chinese accent, of course. LOL! James Bond? Not so much.

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