This unusual picture of the actress Joan Rice in a role she will always be fondly remembered for - Maid Marian, was recently sent to me by Mike. It was a publicity still used to promote Walt Disney's second live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men which was filmed in England and released in 1952. Disney had personally picked Joan to play the part of Robin's girlfriend.
This website is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice (1930-1997) and since 2006 I have been researching her life, which included finding her final resting place.
Joan was one of four sisters. The early years of her life were spent in Abbey Street in Derby, England. But tragedy hit the family when her father was imprisoned for child abuse and she was sent to a convent orphanage in Nottinghamshire for eight years, where she often played in Sherwood Forest.
After early experience as a lady's maid, housemaid and bar maid Joan left for London with half a crown in her purse and took a job as a waitress with Lyon's for £3 a week.
Joan Rice on the cover of 'Home Chat'
In March 1951, during the early stages of filming Robin Hood at Denham Studios, Joan was chosen as a weekly magazine's cover girl. In five paragraphs, Home Chat printed a very short biography of her introduction to the world of movie making, which I hope my readers will find interesting:
" Home Chat's Cover Girl this week is the pretty new star, Joan Rice, who went rocketing up to stardom in the new film Blackmailed, in which she shares the honours with such illustrious people as Dirk Bogarde, Fay Compton, Robert Flemyng and Mai Zetterling (our cover girl next week.)
I think Joan's story has an almost fairy-tale magic about it, for not long ago this twenty-one year old girl was a Nippy at the Strand Corner House, and before that had been in domestic service.
It was at the Corner House that she was spotted by film agent Joan Rees, and this meeting led to a small part in One Wild Oat.
Joan Rice with Dirk Bogarde in Blackmailed
Soon green-eyed Joan Rice was being considered for a small part in Blackmailed - the role of Mary, the girl injured in a tragic accident. But the director of the film met Joan, decided to give her a big chance right away, and cast her in the part of Alma, the artists model, playing opposite Dirk Bogarde! And not much more than a year ago Joan was still a Nippy!
Ask Joan about her family, and she'll tell you with pride all about the great, great uncle who fought with Wellington at Waterloo."
(Home Chat March 31st 1951)
Joan's movie career was brief and sadly she never found the big role that might have given her international stardom. She smoked heavily and as she grew older began to suffer with asthma and emphysema. In her later years she would often mention the fact that she had once been Walt Disney's first Maid Marian. She sadly passed away on January 1st 1997 aged 66. Incidentally, during the Middle Ages, this particular day of the year was known as Marian's Day (another name for the Virgin Mary).
There are now over 66 posts about the life and movie career of Joan Rice, including glamour photographs and movie stills. To see them please click on the relevant links, or here.