More Letters from
Basil Rathbone

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 appeared.

51. Welbeck Street

My Dear Gilbert Miller.  Your cable came this morningsuch 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 [Society] last 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!

Well 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 always.

Yours Sincerely
Basil Rathbone


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 Relief letterhead]

Forgive paper.

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 most gratifying.

As always



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."

Endicott 26138

135 Central Park West
New York City 23

Jany 9, '63

Dear 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.

Basil Rathbone
135 Central Park West
New York 23, N.Y.

Sunday, Sept. 15th '57

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.

Basil Rathbone


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All original content is © Marcia Jessen, 2013