This blog is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice. So it is always a great thrill to receive an email from someone who has memories that they can share with us of the beautiful actress of the 1950’s who played Maid Marian in Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952). A couple of weeks ago I was contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org by Teresa who sent me this:
Just wanted to drop you a line after reading your piece on Joan Rice.
I worked at The Kings Arms in Cookham from summer '88 to summer '89, during which time Joan was a regular customer. It is true to say as was mentioned in your article that Joan was smoking and drinking a lot, however it was clear that she was a fascinating lady. I don't recall any other person living with her at this time, although this is not to say that she did live alone. She was always accompanied by her German Shepherd who would lay loyally and obediently by her feet.
She was very kind - hiding a Christmas gift for me in her own home which I collected on Christmas Eve. She showed me photos of herself in her movie days.
I remember her appearance on ‘This is Your Life’. She had been incredibly nervous and wasn't entirely sure she could do it. She had also had to keep it secret so help and support was not readily available to her.
What I remember most was her great pride in her role as Maid Marian, telling anyone who would listen that she was Walt Disneys' first Maid Marion. She talked little of her other roles, although she did talk about how things had changed within the movie industry which she felt had hampered her career.
I have thought of Joan many times over the years and was saddened if not surprised to hear that she had passed away some time ago. I am glad that your work will help to ensure that she will not be forgotten.
Remembering Joan Rice - Walt Disneys' First Maid Marion.
Joan Rice’s appearance on Thames TV’s This Is Your Life was first broadcast on 23rd November 1988. It was hosted by Michael Aspel who presented the life of Richard Todd. Joan appeared near the end of the program after a short clip from Disney’s Story of Robin Hood was shown in which she is captured by the outlaw. Here is the dialogue from her appearance on the show:
“Michael Aspel: The lovely young actress who played your Maid Marian went on to make more than 20 films, but it is 35 years since last you met.
[Joan’s voice is heard saying, “But I’ll never forget being thrown into your arms Richard-In fact I’ve still got the marks to prove it!”]
Michael Aspel: Re-united with Robin Hood for the first time since 1953, Maid Marian herself, Joan Rice!
Richard Todd: How marvellous!
Michael Aspel to Joan: Actually we have just seen you being thrown into Richard’s arms, is the memory still strong after all these years?
Joan Rice: How could I forget? Richard always did his own stunts. Little John was played by James Robertson Justice, he picked me up and threw me into Richard’s arms and he went flying!
Michael Aspel: You both went flying?
Joan Rice: [Laughing] I went flying as well!
Michael Aspel: Has he changed at all?
Joan Rice: No. He’s still as gallant and as dashing as ever.
Michael Aspel: He’s glad you said that. Thank you very much Joan Rice! Thank you.
Richard Todd: Lovely to see you.”
Richard Todd: Lovely to see you.”
Thank you Teresa for taking the time to send this email and giving us your fond memories of Joan, please stay in touch. I will certainly do my best to make sure Joan Rice is never forgotten.
As usual I am indebted to Neil, this time for sending me a copy of the program This Is Your Life, with Richard Todd from 1988.
To read more about Joan Rice, Walt Disney’s ‘first’ Maid Marian, please click on the Label Joan Rice.