It is always a thrill to be sent information and details connected to the making of Walt Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) and the fascinating legend that inspired it. This blog is not produced for profit.
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|Capitol Record's 'Reader' Disney's Story of Robin Hood|
We have recently looked at some wonderful comic strip art associated with Walt Disney's live-action motion picture the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). I thought this time I would feature another set of beautiful illustrations based on the film. So at the end of this post is a YouTube video that includes not only a narration of the story but every page of the colorful story book that accompanied the Capitol Record 'Reader' Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood. I think you will agree that the art work is delightful.
This double album with a 20 page booklet was originally released by Capitol Records in 1952 and was an adaption of the movie by Alan Livingston.
The Billboard from August 1952 announced:
This is certain to be treasured by the many youngsters who will be lucky recipients of the album. What is etched on the two discs is just part of attraction. Bound into the album is a superbly illustrated 20 page book telling the Robin Hood story as it is given on the records. It is an excellent adaption of the Walt Disney pic by Capitol exec Alan Livingston. Nester Paiva is the narrator and songs are contributed by Eddie Pola, George Wyle, Elton Hayes and Lawrence E. Watkins with Billy May conducting the work. All do fine jobs. Dealers who tie in with the runs of the movie should move plenty of copies; also the set is capable of doing well enough on its own.
The movie had been released in New York on 26th June 1952 and the Billboard chart (above) was based on reports received for August 6th, 7th and 8th 1952. The records listed were those records selling best in American retail stores at the time.
Below is the video that includes the narration and artwork by Paterson and Simonson :
|Jessie Marsh (1907-1966)|
I have posted this article before about the comic strip of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952), but since then I have discovered more examples of the excellent artwork of Jessie Marsh.
The Story of Robin Hood was the first Walt Disney live-action movie to be adapted to a comic strip. This was yet another way in which Disney was able to advertise his new releases and keep the film fresh in the audiences mind. Above is an image of the original artist and animator who worked on the Robin Hood strip, Jesse Mace Marsh. His strip version of the film ran for twenty five weeks, from 13th July till 28th December 1952.
Below are some examples of Marsh's fine illustrations:
|The first scene at Huntingdon|
|The archery contest|
|The death of Robin's father|
Jesse was born in Florence, Alabama on July 27th 1907 his father was a small business contractor. From a very young age, Jessie had an interest in art and studied artists he admired in the local library and the museums. He was a self-taught and aspired to be a fine arts painter.
When Jessie was twelve years old his father moved the family to California, where in 1939 his son’s talents were first noticed and used by the Walt Disney Studio. He was involved in creating the studio’s animated classics, such as Pinocchio and Fantasia, but by 1945 he had also joined some fellow Disney artists in freelancing at Western Publishing.
1n 1947 he began drawing his main claim to fame - the Tarzan Comic for Dell (later Gold Key Comics), from the comfort of his new studio at his home. Other strips were created there, including Gene Autry, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and many more.
Below are a few colorized examples of his Robin Hood strip:
|This strip was first published October 12th 1952|
But Jessie remained intermittently working for Disney, which included drawing their Sunday newspaper strip that usually featured the current Disney movie as a tie-in. His first was The Story of Robin Hood which had been released in America a few weeks earlier. He began Robin Hood on July 13th 1952 through until December 28th 1952 and worked alongside the strip writer Frank Reilly.
|This strip was first published December 14th 1952|
Jessie remained as a staff artist for Western Publishing, often producing over a 100 pages a month, until 1965 when diabetes was seriously affecting his eye sight. Jessie sadly passed away on April 28, 1966.
It would be wonderful if Jessie's complete strip of Robin Hood could one day be released in book-form.
|Allan-a-Dale with Maid Marian and Midge the Miller in Sherwood Forest|
This very rare image of Allan-a-Dale (Elton Hayes) with Maid Marian (Joan Rice) and in the background Midge the Miller (Hal Osmond) has intrigued me for quite a while. It's provenance is unknown to me, but it is a scene that was never used in Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).
The picture shows the characters cautiously walking through 'Sherwood Forest', where they eventually meet up with Robin Hood and the rest of the outlaws. This was clearly shot on location in Burnham Beeches by Walt Disney's second film unit, directed by Alex Bryce.
Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire is a forest of outstanding natural beauty and been used by many film and television production companies down the years. To read more about the ancient woodland and a list of the movies and TV shows filmed there please click here.
|Areas used for filming by Disney at Burnham Beeches|
Disney's second unit filmed many scenes in an area of Burnham Beeches known as Mendelssohn’s Slope which is filled with ancient pollarded trees. Also at Middle Pond, where Robin (Richard Todd) and Marian (Joan Rice) took their romantic evening stroll, accompanied by Friar Tuck (James Hayter) and Allan a Dale (Elton Hayes) singing ‘Whistle My Love.’
|Perce Pearce (producer) Carmen Dillon (art director) and Alex Bryce (2nd unit director)|
Burnham Beeches was the location chosen by Walt Disney to be his Sherwood Forest, not only because of its close proximity to Denham Studios (12 miles approx.), where two of the huge sound stages were used, but also because of its amazing ancient woodland that was ideal as a backdrop to this classic tale. I have noticed a number of film web sites state that Disney’s live-action movie was the only Robin Hood tale to be filmed in Sherwood Forest. This in incorrect, but shows what a good choice Burnham Beeches was.
Sadly Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men is not available on DVD in Europe. We can only hope that one day the Disney Organisation will see the error of its ways and release it worldwide, complete with missing scenes (like the one featured above) and outtakes.
Although I have been blogging about Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood for over eight years, it still amazes how much memorabilia still appears on the web from time to time. This arrow appeared on E-bay recently and I was very tempted to put in a bid. It is a promotional souvenir from the time of the film's release in 1952.
This rare piece of 'Disneyana' was originally painted gold (Robin wins a Silver Arrow in the movie) and made of cast metal, but sadly the tip of the arrow is now broken. Down one side it has the legend 'Walt Disney's story of Robin Hood'.
To see some of the vast amount of promotional material sold during the release of the film (comics, jigsaw puzzles, models, books, ornaments, posters, stills, etc.) please click here or on the relevant labels in the side bar.
If you have any memorabilia from the Story of Robin Hood please get in touch.
|Inside of a Japanese programme for Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood|
This image of inside a Japanese programme for Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men was kindly sent in by Mike. Disney's live-action movie had its premier in England on 13th March 1952 but was not released in Japan until 22nd January 1955 which is probably when this article was produced.
I would have liked to have seen more pages, as it is always fascinating to see how the movie (and of course the legend) is presented in different cultures.
But what we can see are stills from the movie that have been posted on this blog before. In particular is the rare glimpse of the filming of the scene in which Robin Hood (Richard Todd) and his men throw Little John (James Robertson Justice) into the stream (below).
|The filming at Denham Studios|
This is a clearer image of the picture used in the Japanese programme and we see the huge Technicolor cameras being used (by possibly the director Ken Annakin) at one of the sound stages at Denham Studios. Also note how the area of the stream is still dry before being filled with water for the particular scene.
|Walt Disney with Elton Hayes (left) and Richard Todd (right)|
Above is a slightly different picture (than in the Japanese programme) of Walt Disney feeling the weight of a helmet, on the Nottingham Castle set during his visit to Denham Studios in June 1951. Alongside him is Elton Hayes (as the minstrel Allan-a-Dale) and Richard Todd (Robin Hood ‘disguised as a soldier of the Sheriff’). In his autobiography (Caught in the Act, Hutchinson 1986) Richard Todd describes the ‘solid’ dungeon walls as being constructed of pure wood and plaster and the ‘metal’ ring made of papier mache'.
Filming of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men began on 30th April 1951. Ken Annakin, the director of the movie, in his autobiography (So You Wanna Be a Director, Tomahawk 2001) says that 10 weeks into shooting, Disney made a surprise visit to the set. Annakin describes how the great man had photos taken with the stars of the film in the Nottingham Square set on the lot. This also included ‘numerous’ pictures with Joan Rice (Maid Marian) on the archery field.
This fits with Richard Todd's (Robin Hood) memoirs where he describes Disney coming over from London to Denham near the end of June 1951 and how he was thoroughly pleased with the way things were going.
Coinciding with Walt’s stopover, the then Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) paid a visit to the Denham Studios, accompanied only by her lady-in-waiting and equerry. The future queen was shown by Walt Disney and the art director Carmen Dillon around the outside sets and the costume department. Perce Pearce, the producer of Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, insisted that filming should continue as normal as that is what the young princess wanted to see. So for about twenty minutes she stood quietly in a dark corner, while production carried on, then gave a friendly wave and slipped out of the stage. I wonder what scene it was she saw being filmed?
To read more about the production of the film, Walt Disney, or see the picture gallery please click on the labels below.
|Elton Hayes (Allan-a-Dale) sings to the outlaws|
One of the unique features of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) was the use of the minstrel Allan-a-Dale to link the scenes of the movie together. This, of course, not only provided a reference to the roots of the ancient legend but showed how medieval entertainers created the earliest ballads of the outlaw.
The character Allan-a-Dale was played by Elton Hayes (1915-2001). Today he is sadly almost forgotten, but Hayes was very well-known to radio and television audiences of the 1950’s as ‘the man with the small guitar.'
Below is a small section of his detailed obituary by Evelyn Branston:
When Walt Disney's Treasure Island (1950) was made, Elton had the task of arranging the old sea shanties sung on board the 'Hispaniola'. This was followed by the job of researching ancient ballads for their second live-action production, Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). The producer Perce Pearce, asked him to assist in another actor's screen test, and then sprang the surprise that it had been Elton on test and the part of Alan-a-Dale was his! So good was he in that role that, although it started as a few lines, it developed into one of the main parts in the film.
|Elton Hayes as Allan-a-Dale with Hal Osmond (Midge) and Joan Rice (Marian)|
The success of the film led to Elton completing a nineteen-city tour of the USA and Canada, making 113 radio and TV appearances in eight hectic weeks!
Sadly his second film ['The Black Knight' (1954), Elton appears in the opening sequence as a minstrel on horseback] did not enjoy the same success. One of the film 'extras' inadvertently wore Elton's costume and was conspicuously killed in an early scene. Continuity failed to notice. Consequently all Elton's scenes were later consigned to the cutting room floor.
He sang in the Light Music Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Film Performance at the Empire, Leicester Square, innumerable other concert appearances, private functions and then trips to the continent for recitals of higher academic standard to music societies, universities, international musicians etc. The nervous tensions of the concert platform began to take their toll and Elton realised that it was time for a change of career. Being a confirmed country lover the choice was easy; he became a farmer.
He bought a 47-acre farm at Hartest, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk and soon built up a prestgious herd of pedigree pigs. He now found time to return to his youthful hobby of horses. This brought him into contact with the members of the British Driving Society and the art of carriage driving. Like everything else, Elton threw himself into this new interest with enthusiasm and was soon skilled enough to win awards for driving tandem (two horses, one behind the other).
Down the years, with the kind help of Geoff Waite and others, I have researched the life of Elton Hayes. To see his complete discography, read his full obituary by Evelyn Branston and a lot, lot more, please click here.
|The German press cutting|
I recently discovered this German press article on E-bay showing Joan Rice and David Green cutting their wedding cake. The text is dated 17th February 1953 and I was curious as to what it might say.
Joan Rice and David Green were married at Maidenhead Register Office on the 16th February 1953 and the reception was held in Gables Lodge just outside Maidenhead. David was a film salesman (for a Hollywood company) and they met at a Christmas party shortly after Joan's return to England after filming His Majesty O'Keefe. It was a classic whirlwind romance. They were engaged on 15th January and married a month later!
The German press cutting has this:
Eine der hütschesten und beliebtesten englischen filmscau - spielerinnen ist - wenigstens vorlaufig - nichtmehr gu haben Joan Rice, 22 Jehre alt, hat den sohn des amerikanjschen filmechauspielers Harry Green, den 19 Jahrigen David Green, geheiratet. In November vergengenen jahres gab Joan die lösung ihrer verlobung mit Martin Boyce, sinem Ingenieur aus Denham, bekannt, und in December lernte sie David auf einer Christmas - party kennen. Unser Bild zeigt das frisohgetraute heper beim Anechneiden des Hochseitstorte in London.
I have no knowledge of German so I had to resort to the online Google translator. Below is the result of my translation:
One of the prettiest and most popular English actresses, Joan Rice aged 22 has married David Green the 19 year old son of American film actor Harry Green. In November last year Joan was engaged to Marin Boyce an engineer from Denham, but met David at a Christmas party. Our picture shows the newly-wed couple cutting their wedding cake in London.
This I believe is the basic meaning of the text, but I apologise to my readers for any inaccuracies in my translation.
David Green had been a public school heavyweight boxing champion before leaving Harrow. His father, according to various press cuttings, was Harry Green and some refer to him as being a film producer, but it seems this was not so. A while ago I received this email regarding Joan and David:
I was so happy to find that someone else was interested in Joan Rice. I left England in 1968 and have never heard of her since. My interest in her stems from the fact that I was lucky enough to have been invited to her house in Maidenhead for dinner in approx 1964 (I was about 12 at the time). My father knew her husband David Green through business dealings and we went as a family to spend a lovely evening. David’s father (Harry Green I think) was an accomplished magician and he showed us many tricks, mostly with cards. I think David dabbled in the magic as well. There was a large conservatory style room at the back of the house where we spent some time being entertained. I just wish someone had taken a photo of that occasion.Eamonn
Eamonn's message intrigued me so I decided to do some research into Harry Green. I discovered that David Green's father Harry, was born as Henry Blitzer in New York in 1892 . He trained as a lawyer, but was drawn to the vaudeville stage, where he became a popular magician and comedian across America and Australia. In Britain he appeared in such prestigious places as the Lyric Theatre in London, Theatre Royal in Belfast, the Royal in Dublin and the Alhambra in Glasgow.
|Harry Green (1892-1958)|
Soon Hollywood's 'talking pictures' attracted his talents and he took on the role of numerous stereotypical Jewish characters in movies such as Why Bring That Up? (1929), The Kibitzer (1930) and Close Harmony (1931). Harry Green is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Jose Pedro Alesandro Lopez Rubenstein in She's Learned Something About Sailors (1934).
For the last ten years of his life Harry continued his movie career in England procuring character roles in three films, Joe Macbeth (1956), Charlie Chaplin's King in New York (1957) and Next To No Time (1958). He passed away in London in 1958.
From the scant information available it seems that in his later years Harry opened a club in London known as Kiss Korner. This became a popular haunt for celebrities of the time and they were often invited to kiss the walls and sign their autograph (which was duly varnished over for prosperity). It was at Kiss Korner that his son David was photographed with Joan Rice in 1953.
|David Green and Joan Rice in Kiss Korner c.1953|
Below is some fascinating film footage from 1953 by British Pathe showing Harry Green with his son David and daughter-in-law Joan Rice at his newly opened club:
I wonder where Kiss Korner was? And if the building still exists? If any reader has any information on Harry Green's club please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: Joan Rice
|Robin Hood (Richard Todd) attempts to escape from Nottingham Castle|
Since starting this blog in 2006 I have been amazed how many stills exist from The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Down the years those images have been collected and saved on this web site under the link Picture Gallery and there are now 91 pages of them. Please take a look!
Here are two more action shots from the climatic scene in Nottingham Castle when Robin Hood (Richard Todd) and his men rescue Maid Marian (Joan Rice) from her cell.
|Robin Hood (Richard Todd) is trapped on the draw-bridge|
If you know of any other rare stills from this wonderful movie please get in touch.
Labels: Picture Gallery