Joan Rice and 'The Company of Youth'


Recently we have discovered that Joan Rice (1930-1997) continued her acting career on the stage after her film career had sadly faded. A while ago I posted a programme of Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From The Bridge,’ which was kindly sent in by Neil, showing Joan in her favourite play, as Catherine, at the Savoy Theatre in Kettering in September 1959.

Above is a much later programme showing Joan performing in John Mortimer’s ‘A Voyage Round My Father’ at the Wimbledon Theatre in May 1973.

I hope these postings have helped counter the statements by Richard Todd and Ken Annakin that Joan was never an actress. She actually attended ‘The Company of Youth,’ often known as the ‘Rank Charm School,’ J. Arthur Rank's training institution for young film actors. It was established adjacent to Rank's experimental Highbury studio in a disused church hall, under the auspices of Olive Dodds, the Organisation's Director of Artistes. The school trained its pupils in everything from voice production to fencing and launched the careers of stars like: Christopher Lee, Dirk Bogarde, Patrick McGoohan, Donald Sinden, Honor Blackman, Michael Craig, Kay Kendal, Shirley Eaton, David McCallum, Joan Collins and Diana Dors.

It is interesting to see Gay Hamilton also listed in the programme above. Gay had played the part of Maid Marian in the Hammer production ‘A Challenge for Robin Hood,’ in 1967; Joan of course played the same part beautifully for Walt Disney in 1952. Both actresses had also played alongside James Hayter in the role as Friar Tuck.

This site is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice: if you have any information about her life or ever met her I would love to hear from you. Please get in touch at disneysrobin@googlemail.com.

To read more about Walt Disney’s first Maid Marian please click here: - Joan Rice.

2 comments:

Clement of the Glen said...

Joan Rice

‘A Voyage Round My Father’ at the Wimbledon Theatre in May 1973.

‘The Company of Youth,’ often known as the ‘Rank Charm School,

Gay Hamilton
James Hayter

Neil said...

Some famous names here in this play - Rupert Davies and also Bill Kenwright as a producer no doubt. Wonder if he has any memories of Joan Rice - he must be contactable. Gay Hamilton did play Maid Marian and she too was very attractive and good in the role but not as good as Joan Rice. Interesting to see that Joan was still acting in 1973 and it is a pity she never got back into films. It is often said of films that an actor is good if 'the camera likes you' and it certainly liked Joan Rice in The Story of Robin Hood