Who Played the First Sheriff ?

Fred Johnson (1899 -1971)

There are a number of actors and actresses that appear in Walt Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) that do not appear in the credits. Down the years we have attempted to discover the identities of these people who helped make such a wonderful film. One success was the identity of Giles the pageboy, who I later discovered was played by Cavan Malone. Thanks to Neil and Laurence we also managed to put names to some of  Robin's outlaw band here.

So I was thrilled last week, to receive this email from Christian:
I have researched on subject character who appears only once in the film, that is to say upon King Richard’s departure for the Holy Land. At that moment, the sheriff requests permission to follow his king with his men across the seas, a request granted by his sovereign, prompting the latter to ask his brother Prince John : find a new sheriff !

This character plays a pivotal role in the film, since it justifies the whole plot of Robin becoming an outlaw. Should the sheriff had remained in England, the story would have been very different for obvious reasons.

I believe the Sheriff is played by Irish actor Fred Johnson (1899-1971), a very good character actor who has unfortunately made very few films (mostly horror pictures). Fred Johnson is uncredited in the Story of Robin Hood and no filmography lists him as one of the actors in this film.

Attached is Fred Johnson's filmography and a few pictures.

The Sheriff (Fred Johnson) asks King Richard I if he can join the Crusade

Christian seems to have found our lost Sheriff!

Fred Johnson was born in Dublin, Ireland on August 6th, 1899 and went on to have a very successful acting career both on the silver screen and television. He was also a screen writer and director.
Johnson is best remembered for his roles in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), A Christmas Carol (1951) and The City of the Dead (1960).

Fred Johnson as Father Stepnik in 'The Brides of Dracula' (1960)

Christian has very kindly created a list of Fred Johnson's career:

Von Richthofen And Brown 
Movie, Actor - Jeweler

Where's Jack? 
Movie, Actor - Merchant

Eden Cried 
Movie, Director

Eden Cried 
Movie, Writer

Young Cassidy 
Movie, Actor - Cab Driver

Life Is A Circus 
Movie, Actor - Mr. Deaken

Loss Of Innocence 
Movie, Actor - American Tourist

Doctor Blood's Coffin 
Movie, Actor - Mr. Morton

Horror Hotel 
Movie, Actor - Elder

The Brides Of Dracula 
Movie, Actor - Father Stepnic/Cure

Scream Of Fear 
Movie, Actor - Father

Sea Fury 
Movie, Actor - Doc

The Curse Of Frankenstein 
Movie, Actor - Grandfather

Miracle In Soho 
Movie, Actor - Priest

The Weapon 
Movie, Actor - Fitzsimmons

Lust For Life 
Movie, Actor - Cordan

The March Hare 
Movie, Actor - Joe Duffy

They Can't Hang Me 
Movie, Actor

The Break In The Circle 
Movie, Actor - Farquarson

Land Of Fury 
Movie, Actor

Tonight's The Night 
Movie, Actor

Black Glove 
Movie, Actor - Inspector Mackenzie

Martin Luther 
Movie, Actor - Prior

The Saint's Girl Friday 
Movie, Actor - Irish Cassidy

Treasure Hunt 
Movie, Actor

The Long Memory 
Movie, Actor - Driver

You Can't Beat The Irish 
Movie, Actor

No Resting Place 
Movie, Actor - Bailiff

A Christmas Carol 
Movie, Actor - Collector

Flesh And Blood 
Movie, Actor

The Naked Heart 
Movie, Actor - Esdras the Bonesetter

Dance Hall 
Movie, Actor - Mr. Wilson

Adam And Evalyn 
Movie, Actor - Chris Kirby

Movie, Actor - Head Waiter

Nora Prentiss 
Movie, Actor

The Mark Of Cain 
Movie, Actor - Prison Chaplain

Knickerbocker Holiday 
Movie, Actor - Juggler

Native Land 

Movie, Actor - The Farmer

Many thanks to Christian.

To see more about the lives of the wonderfully talented cast of actors and actresses who appeared in the Story of Robin Hood (1952) please click here.


Clement Glen said...

"Who Played the First Sheriff ?"

Special thanks to Christian

Neil said...

I am not sure this is the man - it looks very much to me like Noel Purcell who was around a lot at that time in films BUT I think if it had been Noel Purcell he would have been credited. Still think it was him though.

Clement Glen said...

Very interesting...... I have just looked at Noel Purcell on IMDb and Google Images. It really is hard to tell... perhaps other readers can help!!

Anonymous said...

Christian said...

Neil has a good point!
However, I am not sure the part is being played by Noel Purcell, himself, it is true, an Irish film and stage actor about the same age as Johnson (born in 1900) and looking very much like him.
Purcell was very well known 1952, having played prominent role in The Crimson Pirate and the Pickwick Papers that same year. He should then have received screen credit and no evidence exists that he was a member of the cast, as his well-detailed filmography does not mention Robin Hood at all.
In addition, Noel Purcell was very much taller than the actor depicting the Sheriff in Story of Robin Hood
I still maintain that the man is Fred Johnson, until somebody states otherwise...

Clement Glen said...

Jules and I have been scrutinizing images of both Noel Purcell and Fred Johnson. They have incredibly similar features, but we both agree with Christian that Fred Johnson probably played the first Sheriff. This also concurs with another website that names Fred as the actor in the film, although they do not name their source.

Neil said...

I did say that although I thought the actor was Noel Purcell that the one thing against it was that he would have got a credit in view of his fame at that time and so I do agree with Christian as far as that goes. Noel Purcell also played a prominent role in The Blue Lagoon with Jean Simmons - one of my favourite films - and it was a memorable part he played too. I am though still inclined on instinct mainly to say that this is Noel Purcell. I am also a little surprised that no one else queried this when Clement published his latest post. I personally was very surprised by the name put forward straight away.