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Original The Tales of Fatima header art

The Tales of Fatima Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> The Tales of Fatima
L&M-Drummond ad for Big Chunk chewing tobacco
L&M-Drummond ad for Big Chunk chewing tobacco

Fatima logo from 1929
Fatima logo from 1929

Our original The Tales of Fatima .mp3 cover art.
Our original Tales of Fatima .mp3 cover art.

Full color Fatima ad promoting Basil Rathbone in Tales of Fatima over CBS
Full color Fatima ad promoting Basil Rathbone in The Tales of Fatima over CBS

Radio serial veteran Agnes Young appeared as Basil Rathbone's personal assistant, 'Lavender' until Episode Number 34
Radio serial veteran Agnes Young appeared as Basil Rathbone's personal assistant, 'Lavender' until Episode Number 34

Busy radio, film and television veteran Francis DeSales portrayed Basil Rathbone's police nemesis, Lt. Dennis R. Farrell.
Busy radio, film and television veteran Francis DeSales portrayed Basil Rathbone's police nemesis, Lt. Dennis R. Farrell.

Versatile actor and annoucer Michael Fitzmaurice served as the Announcer for The Tales of Fatima
Versatile actor and annoucer Michael Fitzmaurice served as the Announcer for The Tales of Fatima

KERN spot ad from February 12th 1949 promotes the 'Twisted Talisman' episode of Tales of Fatima.
KERN spot ad from February 12th 1949 promotes the 'Twisted Talisman' episode of Tales of Fatima.

Tales of Fatima took a dramatic turn in format with Episode No. 34. From that point forward, guest stars took the leads and Rathbone took on several different roles.
Tales of Fatima took a dramatic turn in format with Episode No. 34. From that point forward, guest stars took the leads and Rathbone took on several different roles.

Rex Harrison was the featured guest star of 'The Most Dangerous Game' during the Tales of Fatima episode of September 24th 1949.
Rex Harrison was the featured guest star of 'The Most Dangerous Game' during the Tales of Fatima episode of September 24th 1949.


The Billboard of September 24th 1949 announces L&M's intent to cancel Tales of Fatima after its intially contracted 39 installments.
The Billboard of September 24th 1949 announces L&M's intent to cancel Tales of Fatima after its intially contracted 39 installments.

Background

The former Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company traced its roots to a snuff manufacturing mill owned by Christopher Foulks, John Edmund Liggett's grandfather. Foulks had milled snuff in New Egypt, New Jersey as early as the post-Revolutionary War years. Indeed, Foulks' snuff mill was razed by British soldiers during the War of 1812. After the War, Foulks moved to Illinois in the 1820s, then to St. Louis, Missouri in 1833 establishing a new snuff mill there.

Foulks' grandson, John Liggett, joined the family business during the 1840s. By the late 1850s Foulks' snuff and tobacco business was renamed J. E. Liggett and Brother. Expanding further, by the late 1860s J. E. Liggett and Brother was manufacturing tobacco blended from domestic Virginia-grown tobacco and Turkish tobacco. Further expansion brought a partnership with another Missouri tobacco manufacturer, George Smith Myers. The resulting firm was incorporated as The Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company in 1873.

The firm began producing L&M plug [chewing] tobacco in 1876. The 1880s produced a period of even greater expansion and by 1885 Liggett & Myers Tobacco had become the largest manufacturer of chewing tobacco in the world. L&M began producing its Fatima brand of packaged cigarettes during the 1880s. J. E. Liggett passed away in 1897 and The Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company was acquired by the American Tobacco Company in 1899.

Fatima standee display from the 1920s

But after Liggett's surviving partner George Myers passed away in 1910, the former partners' heirs successfully petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1911 for a Dissoulution Decree which returned control of Liggett & Myers Tobacco to Liggett and Myers' heirs.

In 1912 Liggett & Myers introduced their Chesterfield brand to the domestic market. Initially a Turkish-Virginia leaf tobacco blend, in 1915 L&M added Burley and Maryland tobacco to Chesterfield's blend. In 1916 Chesterfield became the first cigarette pack-tobacco to utilize a moisture-proof packaging and foil inner packing. By 1917 Chesterfield's success resulted in L&M building a major new warehouse and factory in Huntington, West Virginia.

By the 1930s, L&M's Fatima brand was one of the first cigarettes to offer regular and 'long' sizes. Fatima's 'long' cigarettes were actively promoted as the finest long cigarette employing a Turkish and domestic tobacco blend. L&M, since the very advent of sponsored, commercial Radio emerged as one of the Golden Age of Radio's most prolific sponsors:

1932 Music That Satisfies
1932 Ruth Etting
1933 Howard and Shelton
1933 Jane Froman Show
1933 Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra
1934 The Chesterfield Show
1936 Chesterfield Presents
1937 Chesterfield Time
1937 The Chesterfield Half Hour
1937-1939 Paul Whiteman
1938 Burns and Allen
1939 The Fred Waring Show
1940 Glenn Miller
1940 Professor Quiz
1942-1944 Harry James
1944 Johnny Mercer Music Shop
1944 Music That Satisfies
1944-1955 The Chesterfield Supper Club
1945 Chesterfield Time
1945 Smoke Dreams
1947 Johnny Mercer
1948 Sammy Kaye
1949 Tales of Fatima
1949-1952 Dragnet
1950 The ABC’s of Music
1950 The Bob Hope Show
1951 Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
1952 The Martin and Lewis Show
1952-1955 Dragnet
1953-1955 Perry Como
1954 Gunsmoke

L&M also 'hitchhiked' a great deal of its spot sponsorship throughout the era via time-slicing or time-sharing programming mounted by all four major networks during the 1940s and 1950s.

L&M brings Basil Rathbone and The Tales of Fatima to the air

Basil Rathbone, long a Film icon by the 1940s, had also been a frequent fixture over Radio throughout the period. Most associated over Radio with his equally iconic portayals of Sherlock Holmes, once Rathbone's long-running The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes left the air, L&M and its Fatima brand found a way to bring Basil Rathbone back to the air with a rather novel mystery format showcasing Basil Rathbone--as himself.

The news series promoted its format as drawing upon Basil Rathbones' own diverse experiences over his lifetime in far-flung locations throughout the world, including those he experienced growing up as a child in Johannesburg, South Africa. Premiering on January 8th 1949, the half-hour format was presented as a mystery-comedy series--much in the mold of Sam Spade, The Saint, The Thin Man and Mr. and Mrs. North. Even more closely mirroring The Saint series' over Radio, Basil Rathbone was depicted as an actor-raconteur with a yen for unraveling crime adventures and mysteries. He was futher helped with the services of 'Lavender,' his ostensive personal assistant, portrayed by Agnes Young. And as was often the pattern of detective-mystery dramas of the era, his obligatory municipal police nemesis was Police Lieutenant Dennis R. Farrell, portrayed by prolific character actor Francis DeSales.

The series was produced and directed by Harry Ingram and written by Ingram's wife Gail Ingram. Michael Fitzmaurice was the series' network announcer, Carl Hoff and Jack Miller provided music composition and direction, and Basil Rathbone himself was the spokesperson for Fatima, "the long cigarette. " The series' commercial pitches, as was also common practice for the era, were skillfully interwoven with each installment's storylines.

From the May 9th 1949 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

Rathbone
Gets Weary
Of Sherlock

By JOHN CROSBY

     Basil Rathbone, an actor in flight from a character, remarked with deep feeling:  "I had to get away or Sherlock Holmes would have absorbed me completely.  William Gillette (who played Holmes for roughly a generation on the stage) finally built himself a big house full of trap doors and things and went around in a cap and cape like Holmes. Holmes is too big for anybody."
     Rathbone is still a couple of decades behind Gillette as a portrayer of Sherlock Holmes, but he's had more than enough.  Gregory Ratoff first suggested him in the role of Holmes to Darryl Zanuck about ten years ago.  Zanuck thought it was a fine idea.  In the next seven years Rathbone played Sherlock in sixteen, pictures.  The radio series started shortly after the release of the first picture, and it, too, went on for just seven years.  Then in 1946 Rathbone threw up his hands.
     "They thought I was bluffing," he declared grimly.  "They thought I'd be back like a bad little boy.  I told them I'd be willing to play Holmes on the radio but I'd be in the East.  They thought I couldn't leave all those oranges.  If they knew how I loathed oranges."
VOICE IMITATED
     When Rathbone couldn't be budged out of New York, the Sherlock Holmes program had to go on without him. Tom Conway, an actor who sounds almost exactly like Rathbone, went into the part.  Rathbone doesn't take kindly to this imitation of him.  "I resent intensely the way they imitate what we did as well as give the impression I am still on the program.  It's too bad there isn't a law against plagiarizing man's voice."  Rathbone claims he still gets hundreds of letters from people congratulating him on his performance "last night" as Sherlock Holmes, which he hasn't played for three years.
     The Holmes character, while it has provided Rathbone a nice living for years, was not an unmixed blessing.  It dogged his tracks long after he'd quit.  Rathbone lost out on one part in a play because the author told him he was too closely identified with the great detective.
     "Holmes .vas the most difficult character I've ever had to play.  From the American point of view he's completely un-understandable.  He's the most detached person I can think of in literature or history.  He lived for his cases.  There was no woman in his life.  He was bored with vacations, with people.  But when that knock came at the door, he came alive."
TOO SMART FOR 'YARD'
     Rathbone had a terrible time getting people's minds off Holmes.  In 1946 he was asked to play a Scotland Yard detective in a radio series.  He was flabbergasted.  "I asked those people if they didn't realize I'd spent seven years making everyone at Scotland Yard look ridiculous.  I told them I can never play another detective.  I've played the greatest of them all."
     But he did.  The radio series, "Scotland Yard," in which Rathbone played the part of Inspector Burke, lasted a year and was never very successful.  Its failure, Rathbone says, was foreordained.  Inspector Burke was much too smart to be in Scotland Yard, which everyone knows is staffed by blithering idiots.
     Rathbone then gave up the detecting business for a bit to play in the stage version of Henry James' "Washington Square" re-titled "The Heiress," where the crime was committed in a human spirit leaving no noticeable outer bruises.  Early this year, though, Rathbone got back in the detective racket, this time strictly as an amateur, in a dubious program called "Tales of Fatima."
     The original idea was that this be based on Rathbone's own life.  It didn't work out well.  While Sherlock Holmes' personality is susceptible of almost infinite variation, Rathhone's personality isn't.  The Rathbone experiences ran dry in about ten weeks; since then the series has been run along more orthodox lines, which is to say the plots are downright fantastic.  However, Basil Rathbone (known on this program as Basil Rathbone) is no Holmes, no Inspector Burke, no expert at all.  He just blunders through each case, exhibiting only ordinary intelligence, something the average Holmes fan may find difficult to believe.
     In one episode his pal, Detective Farrell, remarked crisply to him:  "Get up off the floor, Rathbone, and stop acting like Sherlock Holmes."

Copyright, 1949, for The Tribune

Basil Rathbone's character was further served by conjuring up inspiration for his sleuthing with the help of the ethereal, thousand-year-old "Fatima," again much in the mold of Dick Powell's 'Richard Rogue' character and his alter ego "Eugor" as voiced by Peter Leeds in Powell's Rogue's Gallery radio series. In this instance, "Fatima" didn't literally 'speak' to Rathbone, but rather provided Rathbone's character 'inspiration and guidance.' Fatima evinced herself to Basil Rathbone's character after he'd fired up a fresh 'Fatima long' while musing about the mystery or crime of the evening. Having imparted one of her coded clues to Rathbone, the light popped on over Rathbone's head and he proceeded to the denouement of the evening's mystery.

The series ran for its contracted thirty-nine episodes from January 8th 1949 to October 1st 1949, replaced by Escape. Fatima wisely moved its sponsorship to Jack Webb's long-running, wildly successful Dragnet series from October 6th 1949 to September 11th 1952. Rathbone for his part had been heavily involved in Walt Disney's 1949 animated hit, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, voicing the narration for the film. Therefore, the timing for Fatima's switch to sponsoring Dragnet was ultimately satisfactory to all parties concerned.

In the final analysis, Tales of Fatima, cloned as it appeared to have been from several other detective mystery formats of the era never really surpassed the 'sum of its parts.' From episode one the series' scripting was almost universally panned by the critics and reviewers of the era. In all fairness to Gail Ingram, writing a dramatic-comedy vehicle for recent Tony Award-winner Basil Rathbone set a fairly high bar. From Episode No. 34 forward, the series tried to inject more star power into the program with notable guest stars of the era: John Garfield, Bela Lugosi, Rex Harrison, Lili Palmer and Florence Eldridge. Rathbone, rather than continuing the lead as himself, undertook other character roles in the succeeding episodes while continuing to emcee the series. The 'guest stars' took the lead roles. But even the added star power and format changes failed to overcome the series' scripts.

All of the above having been said, dyed-in-the-wool Basil Rathbone fans continue to find much to enjoy in The Tales of Fatima--for all its faults. The supporting characters throughout the series were as entertaining as Rathbone himself. The comedic aspects of the series were amusing to a degree and--given sufficient suspension of disbelief--the 1000-year-old Fatima and her mysterious suggestions to Basil Rathbone's character were equally tolerable. All told, schlocky yes, dismal entertainment, no. We enjoyed the series.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Mystery Dramas
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 49-01-08 01 The Strange Mr Smith
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 49-01-08 to 49-10-01; CBS; Thirty-nine, 30-minute programs;
Syndication: CBS
Sponsors: Liggett & Myers Tobacco [Fatima Cigarettes]
Director(s): Harry Ingram
Principal Actors: Basil Rathbone, Agnes Young, Francis DeSales, John Garfield, Bela Lugosi, Lili Palmer, Rex Harrison, Florence Eldridge, Ralph Bell
Recurring Character(s): Basil Rathbone as himself; Lavender [Agnes Young]; Lt. Dennis "R. for Robert" Farrell [Francis DeSales]; Oliver, Basil Rathbone's chauffer
Protagonist(s): Basil Rathbone as himself
Author(s): Richard Connell
Writer(s) Gail Ingram
Music Direction: Carl Hoff (New York) and Jack Miller (Hollywood) [Composers/Conductors]
Musical Theme(s):
Announcer(s): Michael Fitzmaurice
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
39
Episodes in Circulation: 2
Total Episodes in Collection: 2
Provenances:

The Billboard reviewed the premiere of Tales of Fatima in its September 29th 1949 issue.
The Billboard reviewed the premiere of Tales of Fatima in its September 29th 1949 issue.

Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were newspaper listings.

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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]







The Tales of Fatima Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
49-01-01
--
--
49-01-01 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: Comedy: It Pays to Be Ignorant, With Tom Howard, Lulu McConnell and Others--WCBS.
49-01-08
1
The Strange Mr Smith
N
49-01-08 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Strange Mr. Smith," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS (Premiere).

49-01-08 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Tales of Fatima (WBBM): new series starring Basil Rathbone; "
The Fires at Schuyler Square."
49-01-15
2
The Mystery At Mirador
N
49-01-14 Portsmouth Times
"Tales'of Fatima" at 9:30 p.m. starring Basil Rathbone, will feature
"
The Mystery of Mirador".

49-01-15 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Mystery at Mirador," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-01-22
3
The Fires At Schuyler Square
N
49-01-22 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Fires at Schuyler Square," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.

49-01-26 Syrcuse Herald Journal
ANSWSER TO A CARD received from William Limage regarding the CBS Tales of Fatima series.
Basil Rathbone doubles as star and narrator on the adventure series, dramatizing actual experiences encountered during his full adventurous life, beginning with his boyhood in South Africa, and including his far-flung travels.
WFBL is not carrying the series during the present cycle because it is not sponsored, and therefore a local show has been substituted.
49-01-29
4
The Frozen Forest
N
49-01-29 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Frozen Forest," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-02-05
5
The Cairo Curio
N
49-02-05 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Cairo Curio," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-02-12
6
The Twisted Talisman
N
49-02-12 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Twisted Talisman"; Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-02-19
7
The Jilted Juvenile
N
49-02-19 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Jilted Juvenile, With Basil Rathbone.
49-02-26
8
Invisible Caballero
N
49-02-26 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Invisible Caballero," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-03-05
9
The Cry of A Cat
N
49-03-05 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Cry of a Cat," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-03-12
10
The Tower of Ice
N
49-03-12 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Tower of Ice," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-03-19
11
Design For Death
N
49-03-19 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Design for Death," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-03-26
12
Murder On Stage
N
49-03-26 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Murder on Stage," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-04-02
13
The Biggest Game
N
49-04-02 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Biggest Game," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-04-09
14
Murder At the Circus
N
49-04-09 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Murder at the Circus," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-04-16
15
Duet and Death
N
49-04-16 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Duet and Death," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-04-23
16
Country Killing
N
49-04-23 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Country Killing," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-04-30
17
The Cautious Corpse
N
49-04-30 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
The Cautious Corpse," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-05-07
18
Murder At the Ball Game
N
49-05-07 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Murder at the Ball Game," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-05-14
19
Over My Dead Body
N
49-05-14 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Over My Dead Body, With Basil Rathbone.
49-05-21
20
A Much-Expected Murder
Y
49-05-21 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
A Much Expected Murder"; Basil Rathbone--WCBS.

Announces a teaser for
Time to Kill as next.
49-05-28
21
Time To Kill
Y
49-05-28 New York Times
9:30-10--Drama: "
Time To Kill," With Basil Rathbone--WCBS.
49-06-04
22
One Foot In the Grave
N
49-06-04 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
One Foot In the Grave, With Basil Rathbone.
49-06-11
23
Murder In Pig Latin
N
49-06-11 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Murder in Pig Latin, With Basil Rathbone.
49-06-18
24
Death Sits With the Baby
N
49-06-18 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Death Sits With a Baby, With Basil Rathbone.
49-06-25
25
Dead Or Alive
N
49-06-25 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Dead or Alive, With Basil Rathbone.
49-07-02
26
The Dark Secret
N
49-07-02 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Dark Secret, With Basil Rathbone.
49-07-09
27
The Sleeping Dog
N
49-07-09 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Sleeping Dog, With Basil Rathbone.
49-07-16
28
Cargo of Death
N
49-07-16 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Cargo of Death, With Basil Rathbone.
49-07-23
29
Memory of Murder
N
49-07-23 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Memory of Murder, with Basil Rathbone.
49-07-30
30
Next of Kin
N
49-07-30 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Next of Kin, With Basil Rathbone.
49-08-06
31
Portrait of Death
N
49-08-05 Portsmouth Times
SATURDAY
9:30 p.m.—WPAY-CBS: Basil Rathbone is presented with an unwanted surrealistic painting of himself, an unknown art expert offers him $1,000 for the painting, a lovely girl ransacks the apartment, and the artistes murdered, as Rathbone finds himself involved in "
Portrait of Death". It's all on the "Tales of'Fatima" mystery show.

49-08-06 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Portrait of Death, With Basil Rathbone.
49-08-13
32
Dead and Buried
N
49-08-13 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Dead and Buried, With Basil Rathbone.
49-08-20
33
Prescription For Death
N
49-08-20 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Prescription for Death, With Basil Rathbone.
49-08-27
34
Intent To Kill
N
[New format, featuring guest actors, and Rathbone himself in different roles]

49-08-27 Portsmouth Times
On CBS "Tales of Fatima" Basil Rathbone will be joined on -Saturday at 9:30 p".m. by guest, John Garfield. Rathbone will play a criminal psychologist and Garfield will portray a young surgeon.

49-08-26 Portsmouth Times
SATURDAY
9:30 p.m.—WPAY-CBS:
A new format, in which Basil Rathbone plays a variety of roles and is joined by a name guest star each week, will be introduced on "Tales of Fatima", with John Garfield as the first featured actor.
Mr. Rathbone, who, in past dramas of the series has played himself, an actor and detective, will be cast in the future in various roles, depending on the story and the characterization it requires. He also will serve as the program's emcee.
In the first new-format show, "Intent To Kill", Mr. Rathbone will portray a criminal psychologist who sets out to prove that the products of a man's entire lifetime can tumble in 24 hours.


49-08-27 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Intent to Kill, With Basil Rathbone, John Garfield.
49-09-03
35
A Dose of Death
N
49-09-03 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
A Dose of Death, With Basil Rathbone.
49-09-10
36
The Man In the Shadows
N
49-09-09 Portsmouth Times
SATURDAY
9:30 p.m. — WPAY-CBS:
Basil Rathbone enters into a sinister partnership with Bela Lugosi, movie menace, in a new episode on "Tales of Fatima". Rathbone is cast as the black sheep of a prominent London family who, abetted by a mysterious little man, follows a bizarre career of crime, stemming from his inexhaustible need for pounds and shillings.

49-09-10 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Man in the Shadows, With Basil Rathbone; Bela Lugosi, Guest.
49-09-17
37
A Portrait of Fear
The Bend Sinister
N
49-09-17 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Bend Sinister, With Basil Rathbone; Lillie Palmer, Guest.
49-09-24
38
The Most Dangerous Game
N
49-09-23 Portsmouth Times
SATURDAY
9 p.m.—WPAY-CBS: Following at 9:30 p.m. Rex Harrison teams with Basil Rathbone in a radio version of Richard Connell's story, "The Most Dangerous Game" on "Tales of Fatima."

49-09-24 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
The Most Dangerous Game, With Basil Rathbone; Rex Harrison, Guest.
49-10-01
39
A Study In Suspicion
N
[Final program; Replaced by Escape]

49-10-01 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Drama:
Study in Suspicion, With Basil Rathbone, Florence Eldridge.
49-10-08
--
--
49-10-08 New York Times
9:30-WCBS--Escape: The Primitive.






The Tales of Fatima Radio Program Biographies




Basil Rathbone [Sir Philip St. John Basil Rathbone]
(Basil Rathbone)

(1892-1967)

Birthplace: Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa

Education: Repton College

Radiography:

1937 Lux Radio Theatre
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1938 On the Way To Yorktown
1938 Warner Brothers Academy Theater
1938 The Adventures Of Robin Hood
1938 Elza Schallert Reviews
1938 Information Please
1939 Gulf Screen Guild Theater
1939 Radio Tribute To the King and Queen
1939 The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
1941 The Pepsodent Show
1941 The Jell-O Program
1942 Cavalcade Of America
1943 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater
1944 The Charlie McCarthy Show
1944 The Jack Benny Program
1944 Three Of A Kind (Audition)
1945 Command Performance
1945 The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
1945 Request Performance
1946 Truth Or Consequences
1946 The Danny Kaye Show
1946 Voice Of the Army
1947 Guest Star
1947 Radio Reader's Digest
1947 Theatre Guild On the Air
1947 WOR Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Broadcast
1947 Hollywood's Open House
1947 The Telephone Hour
1948 The Henry Morgan Show
1948 The Tony Awards
1948 The Fred Allen Show
1948 Great Scenes From Great Plays
1949 Tales of Fatima
1949 The Chesterfield Supper Club
1950 MGM Theatre Of the Air
1950 The Bill Stern Colgate Sports Newsreel
1953 High Adventure
1954 Stagestruck
1954 Anthology
1957 Gunsmoke
1958 Voices From the Hollywood Past
1959 Word Detective
1963 Flair
1963 Tales From the Reader's Digest
Skippy Hollywood Theater
To the Rear March
Basil Rathbone Presents
Yarns For Yanks
Sounds Of Freedom
The World's Greatest Mysteries


Early Basil Rathbone publicity shot
Early Basil Rathbone publicity shot

Basil Rathbone's first starring role was as Philo Vance in The Bishop Murder Case (1930)
Basil Rathbone's first starring role was as Philo Vance in The Bishop Murder Case (1930)

Rathbone examines a clue in The Bishop Murder Case
Rathbone examines a clue in The Bishop Murder Case

Rathbone's portrayal of Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) provided him a major boost to his career.
Rathbone's portrayal of Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) provided him a major boost to his career.

From the January 28th 1949 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

Backstage
With Basil
Rathbone

By THERESA LOEB
 
     After last Wednesday's matinee of "The Heiress," that peculiar quiet of an empty theater had settled over San Francisco's Geary.  All except one of the actors' dressing rooms backstage were temporarily deserted too.  In the tenanted, somewhat enlarged  cubicle Basil Rathbone, the star performer in "The Heiress," was removing the last vestiges of his makeup, preparing to meet friends for dinner and at the same time talking rapidly in that famous clipped speech that identifies him immediately, about Hollywood, New York, the theater scene, "The Heiress," radio, television, his personal theater plans, other actors and actresses and a host of related subjects.  This, mind you, during an interview which necessarily had to be brief.
     I reminded Mr. Rathbone that during his stay in San Francisco in 1946 with the ill-fated "obsession," he had been subjected to one of those mass press interviews backstage.  All of us had had a good time, as I recall, talking about the American National Theater and the San Francisco Repertory Theater idea of John Jennings.  I came back to the Tribune, wrote the interview, only to find that the then alarming newsprint shortage left the theater page with no space to print the story.
     Basil Rathbone, whose cold suaveness on screen or stage gives way to directness and friendliness in person, has been playing the doctor-father role in "The Heiress" ever since the play opened in 1947.  "Over 600 performances," he said.  "And I'm not tired of the part yet--despite almost seven months on the road.  We're due back in New York in six weeks, however, and I'll be glad to be home again."
     Rathbone sold his Hollywood home in 1946 when he went on the road with "Obsession."  The following year he had found "The Heiress."  He, along with it, settled down to a nice long Broadway run.  Now he has a house on Manhattan's Carnegie Hill.  While he has not made a movie since he went back to his first love, the theater, Rathbone intends to do more work on the screen.  "I feel that there should be a synthesis of arts-radio-television-stage and screen.  Of course, for the stage-trained actor, the theater always is foremost in his mind.  Movies are secondary.
     We discussed the poor quality of so many Hollywood pictures, the fact that the studios are feeling the public audience resistance as they never felt it before.  Rathbone is hopeful that the younger men, the progressive directors like Robert Montgomery, Leo McCarey, John Ford, and Charles Boyer to mention a few, will revitalize the industry and form independent producing companies.  "Obviously, they have to do something down there," he added.  "The town now is filled with unemployed movie technicians of all kinds, stars and bit players.  These people are out of work through no fault of their own, sadly enough."
     The shoes, ships, sealing wax conversation ran along at a steady clip for almost a half hour.  Just before we parted company, I asked Rathbone about the magnificent 19th Century sitting room that graces the Geary stage for "The Heiress."  "It's almost like another room in my residence," he laughed.  "We have all spent so much time on stage--the set is the same for the whole play, after all--that we have become used to all the furniture, the ornaments and draperies."
     "It's a murderous job to move that room, you know.  Originally the set wasn't built for road shows and is a heavy, solid room.  Why, those pillars are solid, not hollow, and the staircase (which provides the background for some of the most dramatic moments in the play) feel as solid as any I have trod."  It was 5:45, time for Rathbone's dinner date.

From the July 22nd 1967 edition of the Wisconsin State Journal: 

Film Star Basil Rathbone
Dies at 75

     NEW YORK (UPI) — Actor Basil Rathbone, 75, famed for his movie portrayals of the fictional detective "Sherlock Holmes," died of a heart attack Friday.
     Rathbone died in his Manhattan apartment shortly after the seizure, according to his daughter, Cynthia Rathbone.
     A stage actor since 1911, Rathbone was an accomplished Shakespearean performer for decades before teaming up with the late Nigel Bruce in 1937 in the first of the films based on the "Sherlock Holmes" stories created by A. Conan Doyle.

     IN LATER years, he would receive fan mail addressed to ''Sherlock Holmes."  He also was the Holmes of radio and combined this with his stage appearances.
     Rathbone defected from Hollywood in the late 1940's, declaring:
     "Hollywood gets waves of enthusiasm; you're a terrific success, you're a vogue, and then they drop you for somebody else.  I played Sherlock Holmes for seven years and nobody thought I could do anything else.  They put you in a slot and the slot pays off for a time--and then you're just left in it."
     Rathbone later made films in England, many of them of the "horror" variety.  His favorite stage role was Romeo in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
     The 6-foot-1 actor with penetrating black eyes appeared to many fans to be the incarnation of the imaginary Holmes when he donned the famed two-peaked deerstalker hat and puffed on an underslung pipe.
     WITH THE PORTLY Bruce at his side as the well-meaning but bumbling friend of Holmes, Rathbone starred in such classic Sherlock Holmes movies as "The Scarlet Claw" and the "Hound of the Baskervilles."
     Rathbone and Bruce made 11 of the Sherlock Holmes movies during an eight-year period, and also portrayed Holmes and Watson for years in a radio serial.
     Born June 13, 1892, at Transvaal, South Africa, Rathbone was the first of his family to become an actor.  His father, Edgar, was an engineer and his uncle, William, a member of the British Parliament.
     He attended Repton College in England, where the family had moved shortly after his birth, and worked for a brief time as an insurance clerk in London before succumbing to his desire for acting.
     His training in the theater was thorough for in 1912 he joined the Frank Benson Shakespearean Company, a famed troupe which toured through England, America, and Europe.  Rathbone played 42 parts in 22 Shakespearean plays during his two years with the company.
     HE DESERTED acting only once from that time--in 1914 when World War I broke out Rathbone joined the British Army.  He was discharged three years later as a captain and holder of the military cross.
     Rathbone said he won the award for disguising himself as a tree and crossing no-man's land to gather information from the German lines.
     Starring roles in hit plays on both Broadway and the London stage followed in quick succession after the war for Rathbone, and his future was assured.
     He married playwright-scenarist Ouida Bergere in 1926 and they had an adopted daughter, Barbara Cynthia, born in 1939, and a son, Rodion, born in 1916, by a previous marriage.



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