The following letter is shared by Christopher Newsom. It
was written to Broadway producer Gilbert Miller on March 26, 1923, at a time
when Rathbone wasn't very famous, and wasn't earning a large salary. The
"Suez" referred to in the letter is the play "East of Suez," in which Basil
51. Welbeck Street
Dear Gilbert Miller. Your cable came this morning—such
a disappointment. But I expect all is for the best, it always is in
the end. “There is a Divinity that shapes our ends rough hue them
how we will.” Sometimes I just crave to play in Shakespeare again
and I know and love playing Orlando so much.
I read Romeo for the
B. Empire Shakespeare Socy
Friday and it was like finding water in the desert. I was so happy
that I was unhappy when it was all over. Do you still sail on April
14th? It will be good to see you again and have a talk.
I am so hoping “The Swan” is not on your list for the Fall and
Casanova what of him?! To think that Romeo has been done twice in
N.Y. this season. I suppose I shall never play it again until I am
old enough to play Lear!
I don’t quite know what I shall do now. Things seem very quiet
and all too optimistic. I turned down a film hoping against
hope to play Orlando. I am going to run rather short of money
soon. I paid off debts with Suez and saved a little too but it won’t last long
and I have such heavy responsibilities. Could you let me have the 3
weeks due to me now and if I work again before August I must of
course repay you at the rate of exchange you let me have it at now
if you kindly will. It will be a great help and give me a nice
sense of security until things look up a bit. Suez has been over a
month now. Hoping to hear favorably from you. All fond wishes
Here is a letter sent to me by Joe Blackburn. The letter is undated, but
since the letterhead itself has "1943 Campaign" printed on it, it must have
been written no earlier than 1943. My best guess is 1946, since in that year
Rathbone appeared in a play called Obsession, which toured in some
cities before opening on Broadway in New York. The letter is written to
Emily Torchia, an MGM publicist to some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Mrs.
Rathbone was the chairperson of the premiere committee of the United Nations
War Relief in 1943 (when the letterhead was printed).
[United Nations War
Dear Emily. Thank you
so much for the photos and your charming note. My very best wishes
and kind remembrance come to you with this letter. I am very happy
after a hard week of playing, rehearsing, cutting, adding, etc.--
the play has come alive with a bang and we can safely go on to
Chicago and New York. Our business is very good and our reception
The following letter is shared by Eduard
from the Netherlands. It was written to Basil's good friend Clifton Webb,
who had introduced Basil to his wife, Ouida. She was
married to George Fitzmaurice at the time she met Basil, hence the
reference to "Mrs. Fitzmaurice."
135 Central Park West
New York City 23
Jany 9, '63
Cliffy. We heard you were in hospital in Houston Texas. How could
you desert the great state of California for the greater state of
Texas! It just isn't done! Dear boy -- do call or write us. We are
such very old friends (and you introduced me to Mrs. Fitzmaurice!)
With our newspaper strike here in N.Y. we are tremendously
handicapped. Read about you in Time magazine. Is there anything we
can do? Even though we don't see you we talk & think of you often.
We eventually heard about Mabel -- bless her darling heart -- we
four were so close at one time, particularly down at Great Neck. Do
drop us a line & maybe we could talk on the phone,
Love as always,
Basil & Ouida
front of envelope
back of envelope
This letter was sent to the mother of a little girl named Penny.
Penny used to have a crush on Yul Brynner, but after meeting Basil, she
could talk of no one else. See the
Anecdotes page for the story
of their meeting.
135 Central Park West
New York 23, N.Y.
Dear Mrs Slingerland. Nothing can be more worth while than the
opportunity to give a little happiness, & that I should have been
given that opportunity is deeply satisfying. I am sending Penny my
picture -- inscribed to her! I feel very flattered to have taken
over Yul Brynner. Every good wish to you all.
The following two letters (to Harry Dausman and Jimmy Ambrose) were shared
5254 Los Feliz Boulevard
May 8, 1937.
Thanks for your letter of ther 28th, and for your understanding
of my problems. I would have written before, but my problems, far
from decreasing, are increasing. [The day your?] letter arrived, we
had to send Miss Bradford to a hospital with a very bad nervous
breakdown. As she is in a very bad financial way, I am responsible
for her hospital bill. I also have another beautiful hospital bill
in this morning for Miss Earlcott.
Added to this, there is the very unpleasant situation of the
Screen Actors Guild possible strike. At the present moment, the
whole industry seems very much upset, and I think it would be of
little value for me to ask anybody at Warner Bros. or any other
studio to consider you for any job. As soon as the present unstable
condition in the industry settles down again, you know only too
well, Harry, that I will do everything I can to get you some work
that is permanent and progressive.
In the meantime, will you endeavor to find out the names of those
at Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to whom I might speak about
With continued good wishes, and let's hope all our difficulties
[will soon?] be over.
Mr. Harry Dausman
14149 Emelita Street,
Van Nuys, California.
Apparently, Mr. Dausman never got an acting job; there is no record of
him on the Internet Movie Database. Records show that Harry Dausman was born
in 1900 and died in 1969. But what did he do, and how did he know Basil?
Here is a typewritten letter to Jimmy Ambrose. Ambrose was the butler in
the Rathbone household in 1938.
10728 Bellagio Road
Los Angeles, California
October 5, 1939
I was very happy to receive your letter, and to hear of your
impending marriage. I think it is really grand, as after all, you do
need an anchor, don't you? I was equally delighted to hear that your
health had improved so tremendously. I do wish you and your wife all
happiness and when you settle down somewhere you must let me know of
some little wedding present that we can send you both.
If you are down here in Hollywood, by all means give me a ring
and tell me more fully of your news.
Yes, the war is a pretty serious business, but I don't think I
shall have to go for a very long time, if at all.
Mrs. Rathbone is in New York, but if she were here I know she
would join me in saying "Bless you both", next Sunday.
Yours very sincerely,
Mr. Jimmy Ambrose
3124 Octavia St.
San Francisco, California
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