Patrick Barr

The article on Patrick Barr was published in the January 30th 1954 edition of TV Mirror and was very kindly sent in to me by Geoff Waite. It sketches in his career up until that time and includes this excellent photo of him as King Richard.

Strong man of TV

"He appears on screen as a quiet purposeful hero. The stolid policeman type. Or the ‘stiff-upper -lip’ Army officer. Or as Philip Chance, upholder of the right in ‘The Teckman Biography.’

Off screen- and at home, Patrick Barr is much the same. He is one of those people who give the impression that they were born to success. This is probably due to his self confidence, which would have carried him a long way in any walk of life.

Surprising that this self confidence has survived undamaged, considering the knocks he has taken.

Patrick Barr was born in Akola, India, forty-five years ago. His father was a judge. At the age of five he was sent to London to begin his education. By the time he had left Radley School for Oxford he had developed the looks and vigour which have largely survived to this day. His physique was largely responsible for gaining him a place in both the university and rowing teams.

As a boxer, he fought a draw against the Army middleweight champion of the day-not so bad for an amateur. But he was undecided about a career-the urge to act was yet to come.

Became a film “Extra”

Leaving Oxford he surprised his fellow graduates by going to work as a labourer. He joined a big engineering works, intending to start at the bottom and work his way up. This lasted for a year, by which time promotion seemed as remote as ever. The problem was solved for him when a slump forced his firm out of business.

So Patrick Barr decided to become an actor. It was about 1930, when the film industry was still enjoying a boom stimulated by talking pictures. Young and confident, he presented himself at the studios. He was hired as an extra-much to his surprise.

Crowd work in films has sapped the ambition of many an aspiring actor or actress. There is the hope, the chance in a thousand, that the director will notice your face and give you the speaking part that can be a passport to stardom. But what a hope!

New York Success

For two years Patrick Barr persisted. He was one face in a crowd, hoping. But nobody-star, director, or audience-picked him out. By then he was getting very old, twenty-four! And he had three wasted years behind him.

It seemed that his theories about working his way to the top had gone wrong. So he set off along another road, towards the stage. Now he had more success, for in 1932 he made his debut at the Royal Theatre. His first stage part did little more than qualify him for several others. He appeared in a succession of seven plays in London, improving with each one. Suddenly he decided it was time to cross the Atlantic. His idea was to conquer the American stage.

On Broadway, New York, producers turned him down flat! And for the first time young Barr was hungry. Looking back, he recalls: “I managed to get more broke than I thought possible.”

But the crisis passed. Fortune smiled on Patrick Barr and he won a co-starring role with Constance Cummings already a big name in America –in a Broadway play. Inspired by this success, he returned to the London stage and steadily built a reputation in the West End. He became something of a name. And the film industry who rejected him as an unknown, sought his services.

Star Quality

The films Patrick Barr made at this period were far from masterpieces. They were for the most part ‘quickies;’ films made to cash in on the regulations that required cinemas to show a proportion of British pictures in their programmes. Some were turned out by American companies operating in this country. It was in one of these, ‘Cavalier of the Streets,’ that Patrick Barr earned some measure of success as a film star. His talent dominated an otherwise mediocre picture and turned it into a box office success.

Then the war brought that phase of his career to a close. After the war, like so many others, he found he had to re-establish himself in his profession.

Famous Films
But in the last two or three years his career has justified its promise. He has an impressive list of film roles, including parts in ‘The Lavender Hill Mob,‘The Story of Robin Hood’ (where his good looks and fine build earned him the part of Richard the Lion Heart), ‘Single-Handed,’ and ‘The Intruder.’
Lately [1954] he has concentrated more and more on TV. Last year he was in ‘Two Dozen Red Roses,’ and ‘The Three Hostages.’ This year apart from the present serial, the future is an unknown quantity.
But it looks as if we shall be seeing a good deal more of him [1954]. We hope so."
By David Leader

Picture Strip 16 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 16 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's original movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To see previous pages of the picture strip, please click on the label below.

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film or the legend that inspired it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

Robin Hood and Native Americans

Avalon has recently asked me to contribute something for ‘Native American Month,’ and as she is a huge fan of Robin Hood, it rather surprisingly was not too difficult for me to find something that connects the two. In the still from the film ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938) shown above, Errol Flynn can be seen at his best as the iconic outlaw of Sherwood Forest aiming his longbow. But unfortunately he is using a mid-20th Century long American flatbow, instead of a true English longbow that a medieval archer would have used. He also carries his arrows on his back, like many Native American cultures. Mid 14th century illustrations show that English longbowmen carried bundles of arrows in their belts.

A flatbow is a bow with non-recurved, flat, relatively wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section. Because the limbs are relatively wide, flatbows will usually narrow and become deeper at the handle, with a rounded, non-bending, handle for easier grip. This design differs from that of an English longbow, which has rounded limbs that are circular or D shaped in cross-section, and is usually widest at the handle.

It was flatbows that were used by indigenous peoples of North America, from pre-Columbian times; tribes such as the Hupa, Karok, and Wampanoag, prehistoric ancient Europeans, some Inuit tribes, Finno-Ugric nations and a number of other pre-gunpowder societies for hunting and warfare because, unlike longbows, flatbows can be made from a wide variety of timbers.

The archers of the Americas were masters of the bow long before European cultures began to spread across the continents. In the open plains strong bows of great range were used and in the woodlands where stealth and cunning was needed, lighter bows were used. With our Indian the bow was, first of all, a hunting weapon. Here, in order to be successful, he had to be not only an able bowman, but also a good hunter, able to get within bow range of his game.

The smaller bows made by Native Americans in the west explains that the reason they are short is because they fought and hunted from horseback. However, this explanation does not account for the bows of California, New Mexico, Arizona, the mountainous areas of Colorado, or the desert areas of Nevada or Utah where buffalo hunting from horseback was not common.

The bows made and used by Native Americans were what is commonly called a "self" or "true" bow. This is a bow made from a single piece of wood that is durable and flexible enough to be bent in the proper shape. The string itself was made from the very animals that the Native Americans were hunting. Animal sinew, a fibrous material inside the animal carcass was removed, stretched and twisted into string. This string was highly pliable and retained an enormous amount of tension, perfect for launching an arrow. The arrows themselves were made of small shafts of wood with feathers on the ends to guide the arrow. The head of the arrows were made of stone, most commonly flint. The Native Americans became proficient in both the wooden bow and the composite. The bow became such an important tool that it was regarded as a symbol of magic, power, or prowess.

Hopi Indians used arrows coated with snake venom. Arrow tips were made from flaked slivers of stone (e.g., flint or obsidian), bone or antler and were inserted into shafts made from willow wood. The arrows fit into an open-ended quiver that was worn on the back; this proximity facilitated rapid firing at targets. To guard against these projectiles in battle, warriors used tough bison hides to make their shields impenetrable to arrows.

The bow - in Europe, was a weapon of war. It was used by one group of men against another. Because yew, the wood of choice for English longbows, is light, resilient, and has exceptional compressive strength, the rounded design can be used to produce a smooth shooting, efficient, powerful bow. Other woods were also used, probably for compulsory practice purposes, among them wych-elm, ash and hazel, but to this day the slow-grown mountain yew is the supreme wood for the longbow of traditional English pattern. Longbows made of yew were easier to construct by the hundreds and did not require wide staves.

The legendary last member of the Yahi Indian tribe, known as Ishi, came out of hiding in California in 1911. He lived for the last five years of his life at the Department of Anthropology at the University of California where he was clothed and fed. Sadly Ishi died of tuberculosis in 1916, but before he passed away, he willingly taught his doctor, Saxton Pope, about his culture. From his association with Ishi, Pope concluded that Ishi’s bow and arrow making was the best by far of any examples of Indian bowmaking to be found in American museums.

Pope explained that Ishi would split a limb from a tree and use the outer part of the wood including the sap wood, as does the longbowmaker. He reduced it by scraping and rubbing on sandstone, and made the tips by bending the wood backwards over a heated stone. It was then bound to a wooden ‘former’ and left to season in a dark dry place. After seasoning, he backed the bow with sinew from the leg tendons of deer, held on with glue made from boiled salmon skins. The tendons were chewed, to separate the fibres and made them soft, and then glued to the roughened back of the bow. During the process of drying he bound the sinew tightly to the bow with long thin straps of willow bark. After several days he removed this bandage and smoothed off the edges of the dry sinew, sized the surface with more glue and rubbed everything smooth with sandstone. Then he bound the handgrip for a space of 10.2 cm with a narrow buckskin thong.............the bowstring he made from the finest tendons from the deer shank, again chewed and twisted into a chord, with a loop at one end and a thong for tying at the other.

According to Ishi, a bow left strung or standing in an upright position gets tired and sweats. When not in use it should be left lying down; no one should step over it; no child should handle it, and no woman should touch it. This brings bad luck and makes it shoot crooked. To expunge such an influence it is necessary to wash the bow in sand and water.

Pope also described how Ishi, by placing one end of his bow at the corner of his open mouth, and tapping the string with an arrow, the Yana could make sweet music. To this accompaniment Ishi sang a folk song telling of a great warrior whose bow was so strong that, dipping his arrow first in fire, then in the ocean, he shot at the sun. As swift as the wind, his arrows flew straight in the round open door of the sun and put out its light. Darkness fell upon the earth and men shivered with cold. To prevent themselves from freezing they grew feathers, and thus our brothers the birds were born.

Judi Trott as Marion

One of the most influential versions of the Robin Hood legend in recent times was the hugely successful TV series Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986). This wonderfully mystical production was created by Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter for Harlech Television and had Michael Praed as Robin of Loxley, Clive Mantle as Little John, Ray Winstone as Will Scarlet and Judi Trott (pictured above) as Marion of Leaford. Today it still has a huge following with an international fan base and an excellent website at

This stunning picture of Judi Trott as Marion, was sent in by Mike, who like me is a huge fan of the series. Judi was born in Plymouth, England in 1962 and trained as a ballet dancer before attending the London Studio Centre where she qualified as an actress. After appearing in several TV movies, including ‘Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story’ in 1982 she eventually beat Jenny Seagrove to the role of Marion of Leaford. This according to some sources was because the producers were impressed with her, ‘pre-Raphaelite beauty and her mane of red hair’!

Judi was very familiar with the Robin Hood legend and loved the film ‘Robin and Marian’ (1976) with Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery (she later worked alongside Sean’s son Jason in the third series). But she confesses that she was never very good when it came to sword play and the production crew had to use clever angles to make it look good. She did enjoy the archery and impressed her instructor with her natural posture, which was partly due to her ballet training. But sometimes things did go wrong!

"They used to put plastic around the cameras so nobody would get hurt”, Judi said “although many of the arrows had rubber tips. But, they used to barricade themselves in when they knew I was going to be firing and arrow! Once, I went over the barrier. It was a beautiful shot - went miles! Some spark [electrician] was sitting in his generator some 200 yards away and suddenly felt a thud!. My arrow had gone straight through the bushes and hit the van! Fortunately, he was inside the van at the time."

Azul Maria

I always like to feature the talents of my regular visitors to this blog and this particular member of The Whistling Arrows has a special place in my heart, as she has helped me through some very rough times recently. Maria, who some will know as Azul Maria, visited this site a couple of years ago, when she translated a Spanish Robin Hood poster for me. She is a keen photographer and a lot of her stunning work can be seen here:

Maria, or Montse as she is known on Facebook, also has her own interesting blog at, which often has a mixture of historical, musical and artistic features. She also has a love of the Robin Hood legend and hopes to visit England and in particular, Sherwood Forest very soon.

It must have been those artistic eyes of hers that noticed a blooper in the Whistle My Love sequence from Disney’s Story of Robin Hood. Something I had never seen before! But if you watch as Robin (Richard Todd) starts to carry Marian (Joan Rice) across the stream, the camera angle behind them shows Marian’s arms around Robin’s neck, but when it switches to the front Joan has her arm hanging down. This is now the second blooper discovered, thank you Maria!

 One of the many interesting pictures that Maria has taken is this image of a gigantic Ceiba. The tree is growing near Maria’s hometown of Tapachula in Mexico, in the backyard of someone’s house! She had to struggle through the undergrowth and extreme heat to be able to capture this amazing image. We don't get these in Sherwood Forest!

Picture Strip 15 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 15 of Laurence's fabulous picture strip of Walt Disney's original movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To see previous pages of the picture strip, please click on the label below.

If you want to learn more about the making of this wonderful film or the legend that inspired it, please click on the relevant subjects in the sidebar.

Norman Lindsay's Robin Hood

My interest in the legend of Robin Hood has led me down many paths over the years. I have a love of art and have a particular interest in illustrations of our outlaw hero. But I must confess I had never heard of the Australian artist Norman Lindsay, until I saw this beautiful etching called, ‘Robin Hood’ that he created in 1922 for a book of verse called Idyllia, by the poet Hugh McCrae. So I thought I would investigate the life of this multi-talented man.

Norman Lindsay (1879-1969), was a prolific artist, cartoonist, and writer. He came from a family that incredibly produced five artists of distinction.

Lindsay was born in Creswick, Victoria in Australia and was the son of Irish surgeon Robert Charles William Alexander Lindsay and Jane Elizabeth Lindsay. Fifth of ten children, six boys and four girls, he is now widely regarded as one of Australia’s best loved and greatest artists. Producing a vast body of incredible work in different media, including pen drawing, etching, watercolour, oil and sculptures in concrete and bronze.

As a child he suffered ill health (a blood disorder) which prevented him pursuing energetic hobbies, so he spent his time learning to draw and paint.

Lindsay left home when he was sixteen to live with his brother in Melbourne. In 1901 he moved north to make his permanent home in the Blue Mountains, to the west of Sydney, in a stone cottage in landscaped grounds. He began working for the Australian journal the Bulletin as an artist, reviewer and contributor of essays and fiction. His association with the Bulletin lasted for over fifty years, almost until his death in 1969. Working for journal as an editorial cartoonist he was able to express his and the magazines political view in his art. But his paintings and drawings were often condemned by the establishment as immoral, and aroused much controversy for their overt sexuality. They were also distinctly politically incorrect and often disrespectful, but the frankness and vitality of his work was an expression of his own personality. One of his pen drawings, the Crucified Venus caused such a stir that it was removed from an art show, only to be returned later under threat of removing all the art by the President of the Society of Artist if it was not returned.

He subsequently led a bohemian life in Melbourne where he established his reputation. This period is reflected in his first novel, A Curate in Bohemia (1913). Lindsay was the main driving force behind Vision, a magazine edited by his son Jack Lindsay and Kenneth Slessor. Creative Effort (1920) and Madam Life's Lovers (1929) express his aesthetic credo.

Lindsay’s energy and creativity became legendary; he usually worked on multiple projects, in different mediums, at the same time. He often rose before dawn, completed a watercolor before having breakfast, worked on some etchings during the day, moved out to the garden to work on a concrete sculpture in the afternoon and finished chapters of his current novel after dinner.

For recreation, he would work on model ships, and he was very precise in his measurements and detail. He also made lead figures for his ships, decorated and carved pieces of furniture, built chairs, planters and Roman columns and even did the building of several additions to his home. He was also known for his lavish house parties.

Norman Lindsay married Kate Parkinson in Melbourne in 1900; they had three sons but were divorced in 1918. One son, Jack, went on to become a noted publisher and writer in England. He married Rose Soady, one of his long-time models, in 1920, and they had two daughters. One daughter, Helen, known as Honey, later took over the printmaking studio in the grounds of Springwood; and built a house around it.

Lindsay also created propaganda and recruitment posters that were commissioned by the Australian government during World War I.

His well-known children’s book, ‘The Magic Pudding,’ was produced in 1918. This classic is still in print, having been translated into four languages and published in three countries; it remains a popular book for children. Other work of literature was not received well. Many aroused protest for his revolutionary ideas and their sexual explicitness. Redheap (1930; US title Every Mother's Son), was banned in Australia until 1958, as was the first part of his trilogy which also included Saturdee (1933) and Halfway to Anywhere (1947); these novels, with their sexually vigorous young protagonists, comically depict small town life. Novels in similar vein include The Cautious Amorist (1932), also banned, and The Age of Consent (1938). Other works include Norman Lindsay's Book, No. I (1912) and Norman Lindsay's Book, No. II (1915), sketches and stories; and My Mask (1970), an autobiography.

Survived by his wife Rose (d.1984) Norman Lindsay died on 25 December 1969 at Mornington and was cremated.

Joan Rice and Richard Todd

I was thrilled to discover this very rare picture recently of Joan Rice (Maid Marian) and Richard Todd (Robin Hood). This was possibly taken during a break from the casting test of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men at Elstree in March 1951.

Richard Todd described it as a ‘happy picture’ and in this photograph, we can see a good example of some of the fun they had making it!

Arnold Beauvais

A very big thank you to Laurence, who recently informed me that he had discovered that the illustrator behind some of the film memorabilia of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood, including the beautiful jigsaw puzzles, that we have been admiring and books, (including his line drawings for the 1952 hardback edition of Collins’ 'Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men’) was Arnold Beauvais.

Neil said a while ago that, “It would be good to find some kind of biography of the man whose life spanned from Victorian times into the modern era”. Well thanks to Laurence, I managed to find some fascinating information......

Arnold Victor Beauvais was born in Catford on the 13th April 1886. He was the third child of the French artist Charles Henri Beauvais. His father, born in Marseille in 1864, was also a talented painter, who after training in Paris came to England in 1882 where he met and married an English girl, Anne Corfield. This happy union produced four sons and two daughters.

Arnold Beauvais commenced his art training in 1900. He worked in his father’s commercial studio, on lithographic and poster design, during the day and studied art in the evenings at the Bolt Court Art School in Fleet Street.

In 1903 Charles Beauvais left England and returned to his native France and opened a commercial studio in Marseille. Arnold Beauvais took this opportunity to further his art studies and spent sixteen months in Paris. He then rejoined his family in Marseille and started to work once again with his father.
Charles Beauvais died in 1911 and Arnold Beauvais took over the management of the studio for the next two years. In 1913 he returned to London, rented a Studio in Chancery Lane and produced Artwork for a wide range of clients – J. Lyons, R.K.O., Radio Pictures, Black & White Whisky, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Co., Younger’s Scotch Ales and many more- which meant drawing everything from Film Posters and Magazine illustrations to Press Adverts, Cartoons and Jigsaw puzzles.

The work for the film distributors included posters and general publicity for such famous films as, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Swiss Family Robinson, Up In Arms and all the subsequent Danny Kaye films, Snow White, Bambi, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Hans Anderson, Peter Pan and a host of Walt Disney nature films. The success of this work inevitably led to the illustrations in the associated ‘book of the films’ produced by Collins of Glasgow.

His involvement with the film world commenced in the mid-thirties and lasted for two decades. During this period a highly successful series of caricatures were produced for the magazine – Film Weekly. These caricatures of film stars were produced by the then relatively untried ‘air brush’ technique. He also originated one of the most successful advertising campaigns produced before the Second World War. His series of ‘Where’s George?’ advertisements for Lyons created a tremendous interest at the time and are still remembered by people almost forty years later.

But Arnold Beauvais’s talents ranged far beyond the realms of art. His career as a free-lance commercial artist enabled him not only to paint for pleasure but also to devote time to his other main love – music. In fact his success as an n opera singer during the 1920’s eventually forced him to make a choice between a full- time career as an artist or a singer when he combined commitments became excessive.

As a singer he made his debut at the Old Vic playing the part of Fernando in Il Trovatore. The quality and range of his bass voice together with his acting ability led him to play the leading roles in many of the classic operatic standards such as: - The Magic Flute, Don Giovann, Rigoletto, Aida, Lohengrin, Faust, Carmen, and about a dozen other operas.

It was during this time with the Old Vic opera company that he designed the famous poster for the appeal fund to raise £30,000 to renovate the fabric of the building. During the 1930’s he taught at the Bolt Court Art School where he himself had studied, more than thirty years earlier.

In 1956 Arnold Beauvais reduced his commercial art commitments in order to devote more time to his oil paintings. He was made a Member of the London Sketch Club in 1929 and elected President in 1936 later he became Life President.

Arnold died in 1982.