F rom the Baker Street Irregulars in New York to the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, from the Six Napoleons of Baltimore and the Priory Scholars of Pittsburgh to the Baritsu Chapter in Tokyo and the Red Headed League in Sydney, Australia, from scion societies everywhere, toasts ring out to Arthur Conan Doyle, Mrs. Hudson and Irene Adler.
This year, as every armchair detective knows, marks the centennial of Sherlock Holmes. After rejections by numerous publishers, the great consulting detective took his first bow in Beeton's Christmas Annual in December, 1887, in a novelette titled "A Study in Scarlet."
Come, Watson. The game is afoot.
Summon a four-wheeler and let us proceed posthaste to Paddington Station in trivial pursuit of "the best and the wisest man" the world of detective fiction ever knew.
Here are 20 cases worthy of our attention. Clues are everywhere, but facts, my dear fellow, are a matter of observation and deduction.
Score 5 points for each correct solution. A total score of 70 or above is singularly extraordinary, and no trifling matter, which, around the blazing hearth at 221B Baker St., is a cut above elementary.
\f7 The Problems
1. Who was Orville Sacker?
2. What do Laurence Olivier, John Huston, Orson Welles and Martin Gabel have in common?
3. Which actor played Sherlock Holmes in the most films? The lineup of suspects includes William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Eille Norwood, Clive Brook and John Barrymore.
4. What inspired Doyle to name his detective Sherlock Holmes?
5. What charge could Sherlock Holmes bring against Mark Twain, Bret Harte, James Matthew Barrie, Buster Keaton, John Cleese and Walt Disney?
6. Where did Inspector Lestrade of the Yard say: " 'E was 'it 'ard on the 'ead with an 'ammer, 'Olmes, on 'Ampstead 'Eath . . . "?
7. Who said: "Though he might be more humble, there's no police like Holmes"?
8. Twentieth Century-Fox spent $93,000 on what during the filming of "The Hound of the Baskervilles"?
9. What is a Penang lawyer?
10. What was "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime" in "Silver Blaze"?
11. What was Mrs. Hudson's first name?
12. What do Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Richardson, Nigel Bruce and Roland Young have in common?
13. Would Holmes have tested positive for drugs?
14. Who, in the opinion of Holmes, was "the worst man in London"?
15. What was confirmed bachelor Sherlock Holmes' attitude toward women?
16. Which fictional character has been the inspiration for a classical ballet, a Broadway musical, two full-length biographies, a cookbook, a scholarly encyclopedia and the official name of the crime laboratories of the French Surete at Lyons, and is better known throughout the world than Hamlet, Robinson Crusoe and Scrooge?
17. Was Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Republicans long suspected, one of the great S.O.B.S. of his time?
18. Why did Londoners go about with black mourning armbands in December, 1893? Why did the poet John Masefield then experience "an indescribable feeling of loss," and why was Doyle's mother irked with him?
19. What was Sherlock Holmes doing yakking with a llama in Tibet?
20. What caused Dr. Watson to faint for the first time in his life and Mrs. Hudson to go into hysterics?
1. The name Doyle originally had contrived for his Dr. Watson character and which he discarded because it "smacked of dandyism."
2. All played Professor Moriarty, "the Napoleon of Crime."
3. British actor Eille Norwood played Holmes in a record 47 movies, all of them silent films.
4. Holmes was Doyle's tribute to Oliver Wendell Holmes, the American physician who also dabbled in literature. The Doyle clan had its roots in County Wexford, Ireland, where the Sherlock family had the neighboring estate near the present Sherlockstown.
5. Gross impersonation in outrageous parodies.
6. Only in 'ollywood. Doyle never concocted such Cockney drivel for the "little, sallow, rat-faced, dark-eyed" inspector, as Watson portrays him.
7. Doyle's brother-in-law, E. W. Hornung, who wrote the delightful adventures of "Raffles," the gentleman thief.
8. To create fake fog on the studio's largest sound stage.
9. A knobby-headed walking stick made from the stem of a small pine growing in Penang, Malaysia, like the one left behind in Baker Street by Dr. James Mortimer in "The Hound of the Baskervilles."
10. "The dog did nothing in the nighttime," as Holmes observes. It didn't even bark.
11. Doyle never gave her a Christian name, although the long-suffering landlady had to put up with this sort of conduct from her moody, messy star boarder:
"When will you be pleased to dine, Mr. Holmes?"
"Seven-thirty. The day after tomorrow."
12. All were cast as Dr. Watson.
13. Yes, early in his career. Before he finally kicked the habit at Dr. Watson's urging, Holmes injected himself three times daily with a 7% solution of cocaine.
14. The "king of all blackmailers," Charles Augustus Milverton.