Arthur Wontner

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Arthur Wontner
Arthur Wontner as Sherlock Holmes in The Sleeping Cardinal
Arthur Wontner as Sherlock Holmes
Born21 January 1875
Died10 July 1960(1960-07-10) (aged 85)
Years active1916–1955
Spouse(s)Rosecleer Alice Amelia Blanche Kingwell (1903–1943) (her death) 3 children
Florence Eileen Lainchbury (1947–1960) (his death)

Arthur Wontner (21 January 1875 – 10 July 1960[2]) was a British actor best known for playing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes in five films from 1931 to 1937.


Wontner's acting career began on the stage where he played such roles as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, Bunny Manders in Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman and Cardinal Richelieu in film The Three Musketeers.[3] In 1926, Wontner appeared in The Captive alongside Basil Rathbone, both of whom went on to play Sherlock Holmes on film.[1]

Sherlock Holmes[edit]

Wontner landed the role of Sherlock Holmes thanks to his performance of Holmes imitation Sexton Blake in a 1930 stage production.[4] He played the famed sleuth in five films from 1931 to 1937.

Of the five films in which Wontner portrayed Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Rembrandt is no longer available. It is officially a lost film.[9]

Silver Blaze was renamed Murder at the Baskervilles on its US release in order to make the most of the publicity which had been generated by Basil Rathbone's version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.[10]

After seeing The Sleeping Cardinal, Vincent Starrett said "Surely no better Sherlock Holmes than Arthur Wontner is likely to be seen and heard in pictures, in our time."[11]

Personal life[edit]

Wontner's son became the well-known hotelier and Lord Mayor of London Sir Hugh Wontner.



  1. ^ a b Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana: an A-to-Z guide to the world of the great detective. Macmillan. p. 290. ISBN 0-02-861679-0.
  2. ^ "Arthur Wontner". British Film Institute. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  3. ^ Kabatchnik, Amnon (2010). Blood on the Stage, 1925-1950: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection : an Annotated Repertoire. Scarecrow Press. p. 399. ISBN 9780810869639.
  4. ^ Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 193–194. ISBN 1-903111-04-8.
  5. ^ a b c d Detective-Mystery Films
  6. ^ a b Allen Eyles (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. pp. 81–83. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  7. ^ Allen Eyles (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. pp. 86–88. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  8. ^ Murder At The Baskervilles (1937)
  9. ^ Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 94. ISBN 1-903111-04-8.
  10. ^ Barnes, Alan (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 178. ISBN 1-903111-04-8.
  11. ^ Starrett, Vincent. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Otto Penzler Books. p. 158. ISBN 1-883402-05-0.

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