Elspeth with Richard Todd
I was thrilled last week to finally get the chance to talk with Elspeth Gill, daughter of Alex Bryce the second unit director on Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Elspeth is a charming lady and we had quite a chat about those golden days. It was Neil who initially made contact with her last year and she shared with him some wonderful photographs taken behind the scenes, which can be seen here.
Alex Bryce second unit director with Richard Todd
At the age of sixteen, Elspeth had the enviable experience of watching the filming of Robin Hood at not only Burnham Beeches but also the huge sound stages at Denham Studios. During that period she was living in a house approximately four miles from the legendary studios. When Elspeth entered a fancy dress costume at that time, she was lucky enough to be allowed to borrow one of Richard Todd’s ‘Robin Hood’ costumes. She won the contest-of course!And afterwards rode her horse all the way to the Denham Studios. The security men on the gate were apparently pre-warned of her arrival!
Although it was over sixty years ago, she could vaguely remember meeting Walt Disney and described the Art Director, Carmen Dillon, as a formidable woman. Richard Todd she said “was such a lovely, lovely, man.” He became a friend of the family and Elspeth had fond memories of Scottish dancing with him during the making of the later movie, Rob Roy. Her father, she explained, loved making those live-action Disney movies.
James Hayter (Friar Tuck) and Richard Todd (Robin Hood)
During the filming of the scene in which Robin Hood meets Friar Tuck (James Hayter), Richard Todd asked Elspeth to keep hold of Barron, his Great Dane. Unfortunately Baron was a great deal stronger than Elspeth and she was dragged by the huge dog downwards towards the river!
Nottingham Town Square
Elspeth could also remember being somewhere high up during the filming of a scene in ‘Nottingham Town Square.’ But she kept feeling something hitting her body and when she looked around, she realised it was Peter Finch (Sheriff of Nottingham) throwing pebbles at her!
Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham
I hope to be able to talk to Elspeth again very soon, and capture some more of her wonderful memories of those golden days!