On the British stage from the age of 15, Basil Sydney first toured the U.S. in 1914, just before his army service in World War I. During the postwar years, Sydney established himself as a dependable leading man, rising to matinee idol status with the London stage hit Romance. It was this property which also launched his screen career in 1920. Though he spent most of the 1930s in America, Sydney avoided film work in Hollywood because the producers would not honor his request that he only appear in movie versions of Shakespeare and Shaw. He resettled in England in the early '40s, where he appeared in such roles as Rufio in the 1945 filmization of Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, Claudius in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version of Hamlet, and Captain Smollett in Walt Disney's British-filmed Treasure Island (1950). In 1956, Basil Sydney, together with several of his fellow British thespians, played an amusing cameo in Mike Todd's all-star Around the World in 80 Days.