|Two of our grandchildren and Basil of Baker Street|
Recently a friend of mine expressed shock that I couldn't remember the first name of a certain bourbon. That name is Basil, which indeed should be easy for any Sherlockian to remember. There are at least three great Basils that any friend of Mr. Sherlock Holmes should hold dear.
My friend was probably thinking of Basil Rathbone, the face and voice of Sherlock Holmes for an entire generation or more of Sherlockians. I first encountered Holmes in the written word and Sidney Paget illustraitons, but Rathbone was my first movie Holmes.
In my files I have a yellowed 1967 clipping of a New York Times story which appeared in my local newspaper. "Death Drops Curtain For Basil Rathbone," reads the headline. But there's an overline that says "Famed as Sherlock Holmes." Even in death he couldn't escape that connection, although the website devoted to him makes it clear that his career was much more.
In the photo with the story, taken later in life, he has a thin mustache and looks very much like fellow actor David Niven.
I also have a piece of paper on which I wrote down the title of the Rathbone-Bruce films and the dates on which I saw each one on television. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the year, but it was in the 1960s.
The second great Basil is Basil of Baker Street (although that name could be used by the other Basils as well). Some of you know him best as The Great Mouse Detective of the Disney film. That came decades after I read the Eve Titus books in the early '60s. Once time some friends and I read one of those books out loud -- the whole book -- at a party. We were a raucus crew.
The third great Basil is Captain Basil, one of the less well known pseudonyms of Sherlock Holmes himself. Check out "The Adventure of Black Peter," where there is a passing mention of it. Someday Sebastian McCabe, hero of my my series, will start his own Sherlockian scion society and call it "Captain Basil's Crew."
Who is your favorite Basil?