Picture Strip 27 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 27 of Laurence's very popular 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.

Joan Rice and Martin Boyce

Recently I was thrilled to discover this very rare press picture of Joan Rice with her fiancĂ© Martin Boyce. It was taken at London Airport and dated 14th November 1952.

Joan and Martin Boyce were engaged in July of that year. He was a manager of an auto parts and air compressor factory.

She described him in a magazine article as a, “regular pip of a fellow". She also revealed, “We went together for a year and three months before he proposed." "As I recall it, we held hands after four months, then he kissed me on the sixth month of our meeting each other and things were on a standstill after that, until I got the news I was coming to the States."

The engagement didn’t last long though, and approximately seven months later Joan was dating David Green, a film salesman and son of veteran comedian Harry Green, in London. Joan and David were married on February 16th 1953 at Maidenhead Register Office in Berkshire.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Joan Rice and there are over 42 pages of pictures and information about the life of this beautiful actress. So to read more information about Walt Disney’s first Maid Marian, please click on the label below or visit here: Joan Rice.

If anybody has any more information on Martin Boyce or Joan Rice please get in touch with me at: disneysrobin@googlemail.com. It would be very much appreciated.

Picture Strip 26 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 26 of Laurence's very popular 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.

Herne the Hunter

Spring is my favourite time of year and over the last few weeks we have been blessed with some lovely warm weather. The cold grey cloak of winter has at last been finally lifted and gentle blossom is at last decorating the branches of the trees and hedgerows.

As I walk down my garden and admire the bluebells and the magnolia, it often reminds me of scenes in that excellent series ‘Robin of Sherwood’ of the 1980’s. The award winning writer Richard Carpenter very cleverly created a link in the screen play between Herne the Hunter, the mysterious Green Man and the Celtic fertility god, Cernunnos.

The shamanic figure of Herne the Hunter (John Abineri) featured in 17 of the 26 episodes and one particular story, ‘Lord of the Trees’ (31st December 1984) often reminds me of this time of year. In that wonderful episode the villagers set aside a ‘Time for the Blessing,’ a forest tradition held in the spring when no blood can be shed to guarantee a good harvest.

Many of my blog readers are familiar with the art work of Mike Giddens. A while ago I featured his version of Herne the Hunter from ‘Robin of Sherwood’ and along with his art work I did a short history of the mysterious legend of Herne the Hunter.

Above is Mike’s most recent painting of Herne and I am sure you will agree that this version is absolutely stunning. His fabulous artwork can be seen on his Facebook site and also throughout this website, including his beautiful interpretation of Maid Marian.

Longbows on the Mary Rose

On a calm summer day in 1545, a French invasion fleet lay at anchor off Portsmouth, poised to attack England. On that day, Henry VIII’s favourite ship Mary Rose sailed into her final battle. As the king watched from the shore, she heeled over and sank, taking with her seven hundred men. The Mary Rose was lost for more than four centuries.
 Millions of people from around the world held their breath as she finally surfaced again at 9.03 am on Monday October 11 1982 to the sound of cheers and klaxon blasts from the spectator fleet-and a single gun salute from Southsea Castle. Her rediscovery and raising had been a ground-breaking feat in the history of nautical archaeology.

                                   The hull of the Mary Rose
I visited the Mary Rose in the late 1980’s. The exhibition was amazing, there is such a wide variety of artefacts that have survived the ravages of time, including Tudor longbows.
Until recently there was only one arrow in existence thought to date from the Tudor period. The Mary Rose discovery changed this situation dramatically.
According to contemporary records, the ship was stocked with 250 bows, 400 sheave of arrows and 6 gross of bowstrings. The bowstrings have not survived, but 168 bows and around 3,000 arrows have been safely recovered.
The English longbow was quick to shoot, unlike the powerful, accurate but cumbersome crossbow. A skilled archer might have been capable of shooting twelve arrows a minute, a rate of fire not equalled until the development of semi-automatic firearms in the 19th century.

                                         Surviving Tudor Longbows
Mary Rose bows-mostly found stored in chests measure between 1.84 and 2.06 metres in length. Each is fashioned from a single piece of yew, cut to exploit the natural laminate which occurs in the living tree. The sapwood formed the ‘back’ and the heartwood the ‘belly’, theoretically giving the bow increased performance over any bow made of heartwood alone. The longbow could pierce armour at ranges of more than 250 yards. The bow stave was shaped into a D-section from a half cross section of a tree or branch. The string of the longbow was made from hemp as it was the strongest and least elastic fibre available which was soaked in glue as some protection against moisture. The longbow arrows, called bodkins, consisted of a straight shaft with a sharp point on one end.  Long Bodkin point arrows were used for piercing chainmail and Short Bodkins were used for piercing armour plate.  Demand for good bows led to a search for high quality yew staves throughout Europe.
                                      Reconstructed Tudor Rose Arrows
Experiments show that the bows have around 50 per cent of original strength. The draw weight was probably between 40 and 80 kg at a 76 cm draw. Many of the arrows were made of poplar and were around 76 cm long and 13mm in diameter. The iron heads have been lost. So have the flights, but there are traces of the glue and binding thread.
“The English are the flowers of the archers of the world.” So said the Frenchman, Philip de Commines in 1580. Even though the gun was gaining in importance, the longbowmen of Tudor England were still a force to be reckoned with. The English Archery Law of 1363 had made it obligatory for Englishmen to practise their skills with the longbow every Sunday. Longbow training included much practised commands and motions which could be carried out automatically in battle. The Mary Rose archers would have been strong to be able to draw the bow. This was confirmed by the examination of the 200 skeletons which were found on the Mary Rose. Nearly all of the skeletons were of young men in their twenties with an average height of 5 foot 7 inches. Many of these men would have been skilled with the longbow as there was a marked skeletal shoulder development which had been accentuated by their skill in archery - wide shoulders were common amongst the Mary Rose Archers.

Picture Strip 25 : Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood

Part 25 of Laurence's very popular 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.

Elton Hayes

I am indebted to Geoff for sending another fascinating article from the TV Mirror Magazine of the 1950’s. We have recently had an insight into the lives of Patrick Barr and James Hayter, this piece sheds more light on the early life and personality of Elton Hayes, it appeared on January 9th 1954.

"A friend of Elton Hayes owed him thirty shillings. But Elton didn’t press for the money-he accepted a small guitar in full settlement. It was an act he never regretted, for the guitar put him on the road to stardom.

That was before the war, when the now-famous guitarist was a young violinist and actor who also sang and danced.

One day. When walking through London’s Leicester Square with the guitar firmly under his arm, a stranger stopped him and asked if he would play some guitar music off-stage for a one-night play. Elton obliged, though he says now he couldn’t really play the instrument very well. Yet he seemed to please the producer. At any rate it gave him confidence, for he became proficient as a guitarist.

When the war came and he joined the Army he had to make a big decision. Which should he leave behind-his violin, which had made him a young prodigy, or the small guitar?

Elton took the guitar with him when he donned the uniform of a gunner in the Royal Artillery. He still had the instrument by him when he became an infantry major in the Far East.

But then near-tragedy befell the young musician. He contracted rheumatic fever and lay in hospital on his back. Elton foresaw the end of his dancing days, and with his fingers robbed of their flexibility, the end of his violin playing too.

Someone had heard

But what about the guitar? While in bed in hospital he kept himself cheerful by strumming it. He couldn’t clasp it in the proper manner, but had to hold it to his side. Lying on your back is not the most comfortable way of playing an instrument, but he persisted, and after a while found the tunes coming fairly easy.

Invalided home, he visited Broadcasting House to see a ‘Children’s Hour’ broadcast. He was still in uniform, and someone heard about his guitar-playing, the way he amused the patients in the hospital, and his battle to overcome his illness.

The result was an immediate invitation to take part in ‘In Town Tonight,’ singing to his own guitar accompaniment, and after the broadcast producer “Mike” Meehan suggested he should do a radio series.

Though he didn’t take the offer too seriously, Elton nevertheless typed out a rough schedule of just one ‘He Sings to a Small Guitar’ programme.

They wanted more

When the BBC accepted it and said they wanted more, he thought it was just their little joke. But of course, he was wrong. They meant it.

After the success of those first programmes there followed the late night series ‘Close Your Eyes,’ in which the Hayes charm and sincerity came strongly over the microphone.

With his fame spreading he broadcast in ‘Variety Bandbox’ and in other big shows. Then came television, proving that Elton’s personality was as important to his act as was his guitar. It was then that his gentle manner led him to greater success, for someone decided he was an easy choice for the part of Allan-a-Dale in the film Robin Hood.

As one newspaper columnist remarked after visiting the film studio:

“When the women see and hear him play his guitar and sing ‘Whistle, My Love,’ I reckon it’s the girls who will do the whistling.”

In fact so good was Elton in the role that although it started as a few lines, it grew into one of the film’s big parts.

In his London home Elton has filed away hundreds of ballads with his own guitar accompaniments. Friends who ask the modest, 38 year old singer how many songs he knows get the reply, “If I was an American I should probably say a thousand. So I just say ‘quite a lot.’”

An “ordinary chap”

Elton feels that if he likes a song it is worth working on, because “I’m an ordinary sort of chap, so there is surely somebody else who will like it too.”

When he is not playing the guitar he likes to slip away for the weekend in the country. He has a 350-year-old thatched cottage on the borders of Essex and Hertfordshire, which he restored himself. “It looks just like a tea cosy” is how he described it. In its four walls, surrounded by open fields, near the old coaching route between London and Cambridge, he can enjoy the country pursuits he loves so much."

To read more about the life of Elton Hayes, including a discography of his music, please click on the label below.