William Nigel Bruce (September 4, 1895 – October 8, 1953), usually credited as Nigel Bruce, was a British character actor, best known as Dr. Watson in a series of films starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes.
The son of a baronet, he was born in Ensenada, Mexico, where his parents were on vacation.
He was severely wounded in World War I and spent most of the war in a wheelchair.
In 1920 he began his career on stage and eight years later started working in silent films. In 1934 he moved to Hollywood. During his career he worked on 77 movies, including Treasure Island, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Lassie Come Home, The Corn is Green, and Bwana Devil.
He played buffoonish, fuzzy-minded gentlemen and his signature role was that of Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series beginning in 1939 with his good friend Basil Rathbone. Holmes purists objected that Watson in the books was an intelligent and capable person, just not a super detective, and that the Bruce portrayal made him seem dimmer and more bumbling than he was. But for millions of fans, Bruce was the definitive Watson. There were 14 films made and he also played Watson on the radio.
Bruce died in 1953, aged 57, in Santa Monica, California. He was cremated, and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.
His last movie, World for Ransom, was released posthumously in 1954.