September 12, 2007
It's that sad day again.
We are still mourning Jeremy Brett 12 years after his passing, even fans who have only recently discovered this legendary actor through his legacy of recorded performances.
For those of us who were fans when Jeremy was still alive, his death was an especially hard blow. Most of us didn't know Jeremy personally, but we'd been following news of his health closely, hoping that his failing heart would somehow heal. We didn't really care if Jeremy ever played Sherlock Holmes again; we just wanted him to be healthy and happy. He'd spent 40 years in the acting profession and he should have been able to enjoy his "golden years." Unfortunately, that wasn't to be...
As the editor of TBE, I received many tributes from fans, and I collected literally hundreds more from the internet. Actually, at the time of Jeremy's passing, he was remembered with newspaper obituaries around the world, but he was only a blip on the British TV newscasts, and apparently none of the UK networks ran special tributes to him (although they did so with other actors such as Robert Stephens). The brief tribute Diana Rigg presented on Mystery! aired in the US a couple of months later, and books such as Bending the Willow and A Study in Celluloid were published years afterward, so the messages that were posted almost immediately on the internet were the first (and perhaps the most heartfelt) tributes Jeremy received.
Below is just a small sampling of some of the tributes from fans I either received or found on the internet in 1995. They are posted here exactly as they were then, unedited, except that I've removed any identifying information for privacy's sake. (Please excuse the primitive internet formatting.)
Subject: Jeremy Brett
Date: Wed, 13
Sep 95 17:44:04 GMT
I was just driving home from work tonight when I heard the tremendously
sad news about Jeremy Brett's passing. He apparently died from the heart
failure that has dogged him for quite some time now. I, as I guess most
of you guys, was hoping that he would one day soon return to Granada to
do another series. It was his portrayal in the Granada series that kindled
in Holmes and Watson.
He will be deeply missed by very many people, myself included, but he has
left a great legacy - another generation with an ongoing enjoyment of
Holmes and Watson.
Subject: Re: Disturbing Rumours-Brett
Date: 15 Sep 1995 01:35:28 -0400
Yes, I'm afraid the rumors are fact. I have searched this evening for
admirers of Mr. Brett to comiserate over his passing. I have tonight
discovered [this newsgroup] and in doing so found kindred spirits. Let us
raise a glass in a toast to Mr. Brett. He completed 41 films out of 60 stories.
May he finish the canon in a better place
Subject: Jeremy Brett Teletext
Date: 13 Sep 1995 15:57:31 -0400
I just got this off of [another newsgroup] and thought some of you
might be interested. I'm saddened at his death but so thankful that
all his Holmes performances are available on video tape. Without him,
I would never have known or read about The Master. What a loss that
would have been. ---s---
>Here is a report on the death of British actor Jeremy Brett which
>appeared on British Independent TV teletext. It has been cut and
>paste directly from the screen.
>I thought this report may be of interest to fans who are not in
>contact with UK news.
>P310 Teletext 310 Sep13 17:30:28
>ACTOR JEREMY BRETT DIES
>Actor Jeremy Brett, who played Sherlock
>Holmes in the ITV series, has died of
>heart failure, Granada Television said.
>The actor, 59, taken ill with heart
>problems in 1993, died peacefully in
>his sleep at his London home.
>Edward Hardwicke, who played Holmes's
>partner Dr Watson, said: "I am totally
>saddened by Jeremy's death. He was a
>great friend and a remarkable actor."
Subject: The Passing of Mr. Brett
Date: 15 Sep 1995 14:20:46 -0400
Two years ago I had the great pleasure of seeing Mr. Brett in person when
he came to the Cleveland PBS station as part of an evening-long
Sherlockian event. Always the over-the-top trooper, Mr. Brett enthralled
us all but did include some very poignant details about his health
problems - both mental and physical - after the sudden death of his
beloved wife. Everyone present could see that he was "running on his
nerves" and we were doubly grateful for the great performance he gave that
night. Ave atque vale, dear sir:
Subject: Re: Jeremy Brett's Death
Date: 16 Sep 1995 19:00:36 GMT
I was one of the lucky group of people who found out about Jeremy's death
before the news hit the press. His passing was, indeed, incredibly
devastating to me and so many whom he touched through his portrayal of
Holmes and all the wonderful literary characters on stage and screen into
which he breathed life.
To me, he was the definitive Holmes, the ultimate Bassanio, the only
Maxim de Winter (putting Olivier to shame), the saddest and beautiful
Captain Edward Ashburnham (The Good Soldier), among so many other
characters he played.
The cruelty is that he never received the recognition he deserved by the
television industry. He also never lived to see himself get honored on
the Queen's 1996 list for the O.B.E.
He was a delightful man whose time I never had the privilege or courage
to share. I will miss him desperately...even though I only knew him
through mutual friends.
Good night, sweet Jeremy...may you find the peace, love and comfort that
this life devoided you of...no more pain.
Subject: Jeremy Brett
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 95 16:59:58 GMT
I've been reading all the really lovely things that have been written on
this newsgroup about Jeremy Brett over the last few days. I can honestly say
that I have never felt moved so much by the death of someone known only to
me by their performances. I, too, have cried so much over the last few days.
To me, the loss of him is much more than that of a great actor - although
he certainly was that. I respect Holmes for his logic and his reasoning,
but Jeremy brought that touch of humanity to him. He was born just a few
miles from where I live, the son of a respected soldier, who had aspirations
for his son to follow the same career. Upon persuing a career in acting,
his father insisted he change his name, for he felt no son of his should be
an actor. I wonder how his opinion would be changed if he could see the
deep love and admiration that his son has inspired in so many people.
I hope that, as I write this, he is somewhere, reunited with his wife
Rest now, dear Jeremy, safe in the knowledge that what you achieved in your
far too short life is more than many could have had the courage to achieve in
a dozen lifetimes.
Subject: Re: Jeremy Brett
Date: 20 Sep 1995 07:33:31 -0400
I didn't hear of Jeremy Brett's death until Monday night while watching
"Thor Bridge". As everyone here, I was devistated. I think my face must
of turned completely white the moment I heard the news. I still find
myself crying at the mere thought of it.
Jeremy Brett was one of the finest actors I have seen in a long time. He
had such finesse in playing Holmes. His detail in his portrayal of Holmes
was second to none. I can still hear his voice in my head. Fortunately,
I have many episodes of the series on tape. That way he will always be
I hadn't discovered the series until about a year and a half ago. I was
completely enthralled by the entire atmosphere of the show. I would find
myself smiling when Jeremy Brett raised an eyebrow as an indication that
he discovered the solution to the mystery. He was Holmes in every detail.
Jeremy Brett is a true legend. He will be sorely missed. My heart aches
as I write this.
Subject: A sad loss
Date: 18 Sep 1995 22:22:31 -0400
I just heard -- Monday, Sept. 18. I had the pleasure of meeting him twice
(I think it was 1989) after seeing him in the play "The Secret of Sherlock
Holmes" in London. I sent him a card of appreciation and he wrote me back,
saying he would be in NY with the play in '91. He never made it. He was a
charming, literate and humorous man. Of course, he hadn't been well since
his wife died. I like the idea of him spending some time with Gillette,
Rathbone and Sir Arthur now.
Subj: Re:Brett Forever
Date: 95-09-14 10:20:11 EST
Lay down to take your rest
Lay your head upon your Saviour's breast
I Love You, but, Jesus Loves you the best
so I bid you goodnight
Thank You Jeremy
Date: 95-09-25 18:06:20 EST
Here I thought I was finally getting better, even though I've still been
watching my tapes of Sherlock Holmes almost daily. Then today I signed on to
AOL for the first time, came across this board and cried all the way through
it. I had only one other friend here to commiserate with, and finding all
these tributes made me feel not so alone in my sadness. The tributes were so
touching, but reading the first message breaking the news on Sept. 12--my
birthday--was all it took to make me cry again and remember the singular
gifts by which my friend, Mr. Jeremy Brett, was distinguished.
And, finally, here is a message that I (LLO) posted in response to a fellow fan's tribute:
Subj: Re: She's going Gooey again
Date: 95-09-30 21:03:11 EST
Not "gooey" at all--beautiful!!!
Your last paragraph reminded me of something that happened not long after
Jeremy died. It was the first day of Autumn, and I was driving in my car
with the radio on. A "This Date in History"-type program played a melancholy
song called "Another Autumn". It was sung by Jan Peerce and was from the
original score of the Broadway musical "Paint Your Wagon". I couldn't stop
the tears when Mr. Peerce sang these words: "If you're alone when Autumn
comes, you'll be alone all Winter long." I thought of Jeremy, and how his
fans will be "alone" now.
We aren't really alone, though, since we have boards such as this one. The
outpouring of grief and remembrance I've witnessed here and on the Internet
since Jeremy's death was announced has been phenomenal. People really cared
about Jeremy as a person, and I think that's because his humanity showed
through in every role he played. We could empathize with his brainy,
eccentric Holmes and even with his Maxim de Winter when he chillingly
confesses to shooting "Rebecca". His humanity was also evident in
interviews, where the cheerful, hearty soul beneath the austere Holmes get-up
Check out the picture "Time" magazine ran with its "Milestones" tribute to
Jeremy a couple of issues back. Look closely, and you'll see the Great
Detective is sporting an earring--and a huge grin. That's not Holmes you're
seeing, that's "J.B."--the man of whom Edward Hardwicke said, "In spite of
the enormous strain his illness placed on him he never lost his sense of
May we never lose our sense of joy when we think of Jeremy.
(My feeling still. -- LLO)