Basil Rathbone was born on this day in 1892 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His family moved to England when he was a toddler and he became interested in theater at a very young age. He became an accomplished stage actor and remained exclusively as such until the 1930s, when he eventually crossed over to film.
In many of his early roles, Rathbone was typecast as the villainous rake, a trend that continued throughout his career until he found his signature role as Sherlock Holmes in 1939’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. He played the famous sleuth in 16 films and over 200 radio broadcasts. By 1946, Rathbone was so tired of the role that he quit his Sherlock Holmes film series to go back to the stage. In the years after, his career found new life in television and he continued to act and do voice work until his death in 1967.
Factoid: Basil Rathbone is regarded as one of the most skilled swordsmen in the history of Hollywood, but only once was he allowed to win a swordfight on-screen.