|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.