Born William Nigel Ernle Bruce of British parentage on February 4, 1895. Nigel Bruce was born while his parents were on vacation in Ensenada, Mexico. His father was Sir William Waller Bruce, a baronet.
Nigel Bruce served in World War I, enlisting in 1914. He sustained a serious leg injury in France in 1915, then was fated to spend the rest of the war in a wheelchair instead of on the battlefront.
Nigel Bruce began his acting career on the stage in 1920, and made the move to silent films 8 years later. He made the transition to Hollywood in 1934. His career saw his appearance in 78 films including such classics as Treasure Island, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rebecca, Suspicion, and Lassie Come Home.
Nigel Bruce earned his niche in film history portraying Dr. John H. Watson, the associate of famed fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Bruce had made a career playing rather clumsy, ineffectual gentlemen. Holmes afficianados sometimes faulted Bruce with portraying Holmes' accomplice as simply more of the same, but to many he was the definitive Dr. Watson. The literary Dr. Watson as created by Arthur Conan Doyle was intelligent and quite capable, though not a detective of the same stripe as Sherlock Holmes. Nigel Bruce played Dr. Watson opposite Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes (beginning in 1939) to the tune of 14 films and over 200 radio programs. Dr. Watson was a somewhat portly companion to the hawkish Holmes, an interesting juxtaposition. He came off as the elder of the 2 main characters but was in fact 3 years younger than his friend Basil Rathbone.
Bruce's last film World For Ransom was released posthumously in 1954. He also penned an autobiography named Games, Gossip, and Greasepaint which was never published. Nigel Bruce was known as 'Willie' to friends. He was a prominent member of the British film colony in Hollywood. Unlike some, he never renounced his British citizenship though he lived in Hollywood for many years. He was married to Violet Campbell. The couple had 2 daughters, Jennifer and Pauline. Nigel Bruce was the younger brother of Sir Michael William Selby Bruce, 11th Baronet of Stenhouse and Airth and is a descendant of Robert the Bruce as well as the Royal Stuarts.
Nigel Bruce died on October 8, 1953 of a heart attack at the age of 53 at Santa Monica, California. He was cremated and his ashes were stored in the vault of theChapel of the Pines Crematory located in Los Angeles, California.
World For Ransom (1954) Governor Coutts
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Sherlock Holmes - Prelude to Murder (1946)
Sherlock Holmes in Dressed to Kill (1946)
Sherlock Holmes in Terror by Night (1946)
House of Fear (1945)
Pursuit to Algiers (1945)
Son of Lassie (1945)
The Corn is Green (1945)
The Woman in Green (1945)
The Pearl of Death (1944)
The Scarlet Claw (1944)
Forever and a Day (1943)
Lassie Come Home (1943
) Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)
Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
Journey for Margaret (1942)
Roxie Hart (1942)
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942)
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)
The Chocolate Soldier (1941)
The Blue Bird (1940)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Thunder in the City (1937)
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)
Treasure Island (1934)