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Also Known As: William Nigel Bruce Died: October 8, 1953
Born: September 4, 1895 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Mexico Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Many performers personified Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary heroes Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson onscreen, but no film actors were so identified with those roles as the team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Over the course of 14 feature films, the pair battled everything from a seemingly supernatural menace on the English moors to Nazis undermining the American war effort. In contrast to his literary counterpart, Bruce's Watson abetted as much as aided that process, but he and Holmes remained inseparable friends and Bruce's loveable bumbler endeared himself to audiences around the world. Even before he was cast as Watson, the gregarious Englishman had already made a name for himself both on stage and film playing various colonels, dukes, and aristocrats, blowhards virtually to a man, but appealingly so, thanks to Bruce's comedic talents. Over a long career, the actor's talents also enhanced such notable features as "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1934) and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936), and Alfred Hitchcock thought enough of his countryman's abilities to cast him in both "Rebecca" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941). Sherlock Holmes aficionados may have objected to the way in which Bruce's...

Many performers personified Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary heroes Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson onscreen, but no film actors were so identified with those roles as the team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Over the course of 14 feature films, the pair battled everything from a seemingly supernatural menace on the English moors to Nazis undermining the American war effort. In contrast to his literary counterpart, Bruce's Watson abetted as much as aided that process, but he and Holmes remained inseparable friends and Bruce's loveable bumbler endeared himself to audiences around the world. Even before he was cast as Watson, the gregarious Englishman had already made a name for himself both on stage and film playing various colonels, dukes, and aristocrats, blowhards virtually to a man, but appealingly so, thanks to Bruce's comedic talents. Over a long career, the actor's talents also enhanced such notable features as "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1934) and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936), and Alfred Hitchcock thought enough of his countryman's abilities to cast him in both "Rebecca" (1940) and "Suspicion" (1941). Sherlock Holmes aficionados may have objected to the way in which Bruce's older and chubbier Watson - whom they nicknamed "Boobus Britannicus" - was used mainly for comic relief and to help advance the narrative, but few would take issue with the actor's personification of the character as written, a wonderful mix of innocence and pomposity that provided a nice contrast to the sagacity and self-assurance of his famous partner.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 World for Ransom (1954) Gov. Sir Charles Coutis
2.
 Limelight (1953) Postant
3.
 Hong Kong (1952) Mr. Lighton
4.
 Bwana Devil (1952) Angus "Doc" Maclean
5.
 Vendetta (1950) Col. Sir Thomas Nevil
6.
 Julia Misbehaves (1948) Colonel [Bunny] Willowbrook
7.
 The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) Dr. Tuttle
8.
 The Exile (1947) Sir Edward Hyde
9.
 Dressed to Kill (1946) Dr. Watson
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1934:
Screen debut, "Coming Out Party"
1939:
First teamed with Basil Rathbone to play Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes for "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"

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