Jeremy Brett – Holmes actor and the mystery of the Italian benefactor

Fan of actor Brett gives £120,000 to the drama school he attended

Published: September 29, 2011

PIA Trona never met Jeremy Brett – but the actor capable of bewitching audiences as perhaps the world’s best Sherlock Holmes became one of the most important ­people in her life.

So smitten with his legendary performances, the Italian superfan has donated a six-figure sum to the school in Swiss Cottage where he trained.

Ms Trona said she wanted Mr Brett, who died in 1995, to be properly honoured and has given £120,000 to the Central School of Speech and Drama in Eton Avenue to ensure he is not forgotten.

“Jeremy is the second most important person and my father was the most important person of my life,” she said.

Ms Trona, who lives in Perugia, recently contac­ted the school ahead of the 16th anniversary of his death from heart failure. A cheque followed a few days later. She said: “Jeremy Brett is an inspiration to me, and I wanted to be able to find a way to help him to be remembered amongst the next generation of Central students so that his legacy might continue.

“I couldn’t fund a whole school the way he dreamt of doing, but I hope that by making this gift I can help in some way make a difference in the life of a hard-working, talented student.”

The money will pay for student scholarships in the actor’s name.

Mr Brett – who also played Audrey Hepburn’s dashing young suitor Freddy in My Fair Lady – dreamt of setting up a school for unemployed actors. He had also campaigned to raise awareness about mental health after suffering from bi-polar disorder.

Best known for his 10 years in the Granada TV film adaptations of the Arthur Conan Doyle Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, Mr Brett is celebrated for his meticulous studies of Holmes’s eating and drinking habits, as well as introducing eccentric hand gestures and short, violent outbursts of laughter to his character.

Mr Brett later suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed with manic depression. He had been born with the speech impediment rhotacism which stopped him pronouncing the sound “R” correctly.

The donation will cover the fees of five students for 2011-12 and two awards for each of 2012-13 and in 2013-14. The school, which has raised its fees to £9,000 a year, said the Jeremy Brett Scholarships would help the dramatic arts to “flourish”.


Fantastic news! I adored

Fantastic news! I adored Jeremy Brett and I still watch the series of Sherlock Holmes on ITV3.

I am glad that some students will benefit from this great gift.

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