Homes and Haunts of Basil Rathbone
Page Three

England
Repton School and the London theatres
New York 1
Rathbone's home in the 1920s
New York City Theatres
Hollywood
Rathbone's homes and haunts, 1935-1946
New York 2
Rathbone's later years in New York City, 1946-1967


The original Hollywood sign, which lasted until 1949

 

losfeliz.jpg (259667 bytes)In 1935 Basil and Ouida moved to California; for the first three years they lived at 5254 Los Feliz Blvd. in Hollywood. Basil describes the period as three of the happiest years of his life. "The house was small but extremely comfortable. It had a large and lovely garden and a kidney-shaped swimming pool. Over the four-car garage there was a spacious studio. This studio was occupied by dear Jack Miltern, who had come to live with us." (In and Out of Character, p. 157)

A journalist from Screen Play magazine visited the Rathbones in 1937 and wrote: "The distinguished actor has an equally distinguished home, combining quiet elegance, great charm and comfort. The entire downstairs is decorated in shades of red, white, and blue by Ouida Rathbone, one of the noted amateur interior decorators of the film colony."

Some of the photos below appeared in the May 1937 issue of Screen Play:


The approach to the house is made picturesque by clipped shrubbery and informal planting of trees and flowers.
 

Another view of the Los Feliz home

The cocktail lounge has a corrugated glass bar, matching the opaque skylight. The table top is plate glass, and most of the furniture is metal.
 

Another view of the cocktail lounge. Basil is behind the bar, ready to serve you. Backgammon, anyone?

The library-den is Rathbone's favorite room for work.
 

In this charming dressing room, old lace curtains supplement the Venetians blinds at the windows. The walls and floor covering are blue. The Louis XIV chairs wear a glowing crimson velvet of heavy pile.
 

There is a happy combination of old and new in the furnishings of the living room. The couch is strictly modern. The side chairs are Chippendale. Walls and ceiling are pastel blue, and draperies are crimson velvet.
 

Glass shelves, backed by a mirror and filled with rare china, make colorful one dark corner of the large living room.

The Rathbones give a final inspection of the table before a dinner for eight guests. The dining room is of deep blue and burgundy-red relieved by white.
 

Another view of the dining room

Journalist Dick Pine wrote the following description of Rathbone's home in his article "The Host of Hollywood," which appeared in the  July 1938 issue of Screenland magazine:

Rathbone has room for forty cars or so at the rear of his vine-covered house.... Nellie is the trim little English maid whom the Rathbones imported when they returned from England on their last trip....Ambrose [butler?] is also English.... I found myself in an enormous chair in Rathbone's own particular sanctuary--a dark-walled room with gay Venetian blinds, monk's cloth sort of stuff here and there, scores of books, a white desk....
The living room is not large. It has dark blue glass panels, before which were white flowers....[Dinner] was served on ruby glass plates. There were glasses to match.... The chef was Swedish.

Mr. and Mrs. Cecil B. DeMille were Basil's next door neighbors. Since Rathbone  didn't have his own tennis court, Mrs. DeMille  let him use her tennis court.

Six little dog houses could be seen in the garden.

 


Basil, Ouida and Rodion in the living room.

Basil and Ouida in their living room, 1938
 
   

This photo is from Picture Play, February 1938.

Basil and Ouida at home, looking at a painting of Basil
 

Due to the addition of baby Cynthia to the family in the spring of 1939, the Rathbones moved to a larger house "with a room and a bath and a kitchenette for the baby and a larger garden to care for" (In and Out of Character, pp. 165-166). The new house was located at 10728 Bellagio Road, in Bel Air. It sat on four acres, 1260 feet above Hollywood. One side overlooked the San Fernando Valley, and the other side looked toward the Pacific. Thirty-seven oak trees and wild flowers sat on two and a half of the four acres. A fence surrounded it, and there was a fern dell with a waterfall.

The following are pictures of the Bel Air home:

The Garden

A striking view of the north side of Basil's garden, one of the most picturesque. Basil and his dog Judy can be seen in the garden.

 Basil and dogs on garden steps at
10728 Bellagio Road, Bel Air

I believe that these two photos of Basil and Ouida in their garden (below) were taken from in front of the house seen above at the right (Basil and dogs on garden steps...).
Notice the same potted plants at the top and bottom steps.

belair.jpg (106807 bytes)
Basil and Ouida in their garden

Basil and Ouida in their garden

Ouida and Basil with their dog Happy in the garden with its spacious lawn and flower beds

The Rathbones with four of their dogs in the garden
Outside Views of the House

Basil outside the Bel Air home

Basil and Moritza outside the Bel Air home

Basil and Ouida outside their home

Basil, standing on the steps of his home

Two shots (above and right) of the front of the Rathbones' Bel Air home

Rathbone's home could very easily be mistaken for an English manor, with its shuttered windows and steep, shingled roof.
The Library

The Rathbones in the library in 1940. The walls are oak-paneled and the carpet is olive green. The fireplace is bordered in jade green Chinese porcelain. Note the two dogs on the sofa.

Basil and Ouida in the library of their Bel Air home. Ouida designed this library and sitting room. The upholstered sofa is green. The etchings are by Philip Giddens.

A complete music library is one of the unusual features in Basil's home. The dark mahogany built-in case shown here was designed by Ouida as a Christmas gift to her husband.

The Rathbones in their oak-paneled library. Note the bird cage.

 

 
Bedroom and Guestrooms

A charming corner in Mrs. Rathbone's bedroom with its dusty pink walls, and chair and day bed upholstered in quilted brown satin. The net drapes are brown, too.

Basil highly prizes the antique oak chest of drawers in his bedroom. He keeps his personal papers, files of scripts, and rare music manuscripts in the chest.

Comfortable luxury characterizes the bedroom. The elegant bed is of brown quilted satin, framed in mirrors. The desk and chair are of bleached wood.

a view of the coral and silver guestroom

The small cupboard with plants is really a window.

A mirrored dressing table in one of the guestrooms
Other Rooms

The dining room table is covered with nine-inch square of mirrors and crystal fruit.

Basil in front of a fireplace in his Bel Air home

"The Friends' Corner"--a corner of Basil's and Ouida's home dedicated to their friends. Autographed portraits of the friends line the wall from the back of the lounge to the ceiling.

Basil and Ouida in their Bel Air home

Basil arranges unique white coral pieces in the living room
Rathbone, descending the curved stairway of the foyer. The banister is a grilled, white metal.

The living room contains unusual mirror and blue glass arrangements on the wall. Flowers are in every corner of the house.

Basil and Moritza in the living room

Ouida's rare, antique desk


 

Taking a swim . . .


Basil climbing out of his pool

Basil standing next to his pool
 
Several small photos of servicemen on leave, frolicking in Basil's pool
 

 

Basil and ?

See more pics of Rathbone's pool on the Basil's Bow-wows page.

 

Below is a map of Hollywood, showing the locations of these two homes and the major film studios where Basil worked.


Click on image to see it larger, and much more.


Hollywood Boulevard

 

Continue to Page Four, Rathbone's later years in New York City, 1946-1967

 

 

 

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All original content is Marcia Jessen, 2012