On This Day 24th July

William Gillette, born July 24, 1853 – died April 29, 1937. 83; actor, playwright, inventor, stage manager and director.

William Hooker Gillette was an American actor-manager, playwright, and stage-manager in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2014.

William Hooker Gillette (24 july 1853 – 29 april 1937) was an American actor and writer, famous for having played Sherlock Holmes on stage about 1300 times, which rank him on the 3rd place of actors who played Sherlock Holmes the most, beaten by H. Hamilton Stewart (2000 times) and H. A. Saintsbury (1400 times). William Gillette played Sherlock Holmes on stage until 1932 in a play co-created with Conan Doyle, which was an instant success.

In august 1914, in London, Gillette was accused to be a German spy as he had the British embassy plans in his possessions. Scotland Yard was about to arrest the actor, but Arthur Conan Doyle vouched for him. Full details here.

In 1916, he also played the detective in a cinema movie adpated from his play, lost until 2014 when the movie was found in the Cinémathèque archives. He also played Sherlock Holmes on radio, two times: on monday 20 october 1930, The Adventure of the Speckled Band (WEAF-NBC), and 5 few years later (aged 82 years-old) in a 1-hour adaptation of his play on monday 18 november 1935 (New York WABC) with Reginald Mason as Dr. Watson, Betty Hanna as Alice Faulkner and Charles Bryant as professor Moriarty.

William Gillette was guest of honor at the The Baker Street Irregulars diner of 1934.

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