The Archbishop's Blessing

This rare still from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood was kindly sent in by Mike. It shows the Archbishop of Canterbury played by Anthony Eustrel leading prayers for King Richard (Patrick Barr) and his Crusaders as they leave for the Holy Land.

On the steps of Nottingham Castle can be seen Prince John   (Hubert Gregg) and Queen Eleanor played by Martitia Hunt.

Do you think the young choir boy (front/left of the picture) looks remarkably like the Page (Cavan Malone) who appears later in the movie?

To read more about the stars of this wonderful movie please click on their names on this site.

Italian Robin Hood Sweet Tin

This Italian sweet tin has recently been on EBay and is undoubtedly been inspired by Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952). Although there are no markings to indicate it as genuine Disney 
merchandise, it has been based on stills from the live-action movie.

Edward II and Robin Hood

Above is a picture of the tomb of King Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral in England. In the Geste of Robyn Hode, one of the earliest surviving ballads of Robin Hood, ‘comly’ King Edward hearing of the death of the Sheriff and that his deer in his forest have been killed, visits Sherwood disguised as an abbot. Eventually Robin recognises the king and asks for mercy for himself and his followers. But the king will only grant them a pardon on condition that they leave the forest and come to court.

In the ground breaking discoveries of Joseph Hunter which were first published in his book The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, Robin Hood his Period etc. Investigated and Perhaps Ascertained in 1852, he proposed that the king was Edward II ( 1307-1327).

A day book surviving from Edward's Royal Chamber between 14th April to 7th July 1323 mentions on 27th June a Robyn Hode received wages as porter of the king’s chamber from 5th till 18th June. In the fragment of the Account book, £6 is paid out to thirty four, including Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Wat Cowherd and Robin Dyer.

In P.R.O. E101/380/4 there are payments of 3d a day starting on the 25th April 1324 to ‘Henri Lawe, Colle de Ashruge, Will de Shene, Joh. Petimari, Grete Hobbe, Litell Colle, Joh. Edrich, Robyn Hod, Simon Hod, Robert Trasshe.......... (And nineteen others).’

On May 17th 1324: ‘ To Robert Hod and thirty one other porters for wages from the 22nd April to May 12th, less five days for Robert Hod when he was absent.’

On June 10th 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod twenty seven days wage less one day absence deducted for absence.’

On June 30th 1324: 'Twenty Six porters received their wages but Robyn Hod received nothing.'

On July 22nd 1324: ‘To Robert Hood and six other valets being with the king at Fulham by his command from the 9th day of June arrears of wages at 3d a day for twenty one day’s pay.'

August 21st 1324: ‘Robin Hod had eight days pay deducted for non-attendance.'

October 6th 1324: ‘Robyn Hod received full pay.'

October 21st 1324: No pay to Robyn Hod, absent altogether.

From October 21st to November 24th 1324 the Clerk of the Chamber paid Robyn Hod for 35 days, but deducted seven days because of absence.

November 22nd 1324: ‘To Robyn Hod formerly one of the porters, because he can no longer work, five shillings as a gift by commandment.'

Edward II (1307-1327)

In the Geste Robin has spent all his money on entertaining and on gifts to knights and squires. Only two of his men, Little John and Scathelock, are left with him. Robin longs to go back to the greenwood, and begs leave of the king to go on a pilgrimage to a little chapel in Barnsdale that he had built.

We know now that this Robert Hood/Robin Hood was already in the King’s service before his visit to Nottingham; perhaps he was given the five shillings because he was too old and sick to work. But whatever way you look at it, this is indeed a remarkable coincidence between ballad and historical fact. 

To read more about Joseph Hunter's discoveries, please click here.

Robin Hood Autograph Collection

I expect a lot of my regular readers, like myself, will look upon this collection of autographs and images from the Story of Robin Hood, with admiration and envy. The picture of this wonderful display was sent in by Laurence and shows his fondness for Disney's Technicolor masterpiece.

Joan Rice in the Fiji Islands

Joan Rice's biggest break into Hollywood came with her role in the lavish Warner Brothers production His Majesty O'Keefe. Below is a copy of the article that appeared in a magazine promoting the movie during its production:

"Being a Hollywood star, British-born Joan Rice decided, has the same privileges as being a world traveller. At least that was her experience when she signed to star in His Majesty O’Keefe for Warner Brothers. She went on location with Burt Lancaster and the rest of the cast and crew to the Fiji Islands. It was a wonderful experience, one that Joan will never forget.

The green-eyed brunette loves adventure and travel anyway and is brimming with curiosity and people of other countries. She plays the piano, has a dog named Beau Geste and a cat named Digby Geste. She plays bridge and canasta and loves cricket and would like to belong to a women's cricket club. She loves clothes, prefers soup and vegetables to steak and potatoes and her favourite authors are O'Henry and Neville Shute.

Joan Rice co-starred with Burt Lancaster, went on location to the Fiji Islands for the film. The British start met tribesman, saw a dressing room built in little time. She learned to fish, island-style, discussed Island lore with native women, and collected souvenirs."


Joan Rice

An early image of  the beautiful Joan Rice (1930-1997). She was later hand-picked by Walt Disney himself, to play the part of Maid Marian in his live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). To read more about her journey from an orphanage in Nottingham to the glamorous world of Hollywood, please click on the links.

Hubert Gregg

Hubert Gregg (1914-2004) was an actor, songwriter, author, director and radio presenter - among other talents - as if that isn’t enough. His career spanned 70 years in theatre, film and radio.

The picture above was sent in by Mike and shows Gregg in his role as the evil Prince John in Walt Disney's live-action movie, the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). In my opinion, his performance as the 'sneering' brother of King Richard the Lionheart is very underrated and is up there with the likes of Claude Rains and Guy Rolfe.

This is a excerpt from his autobiography Maybe It's Because... :

'It was during a tour of Agatha Christie's The Hollow that I got a telephone call to say that I had been asked to test for the part of Prince John in the coming Walt Disney production The Story of Robin Hood. I was told that Ken Annakin was directing. He had directed me in a pot-boiler called Vote for Huggett and we got along well together.

I made my first film at Denham Studios - I hadn't set foot there since In Which We Serve - and the final choice seemed to be between Kenneth More, Geoffrey Keen and myself. I won by a short beard.

The Disney Robin Hood was a new screen experience and one I wouldn't have missed for seven whodunits in a row, director or play. Peter Finch was cast as the Sheriff of Nottingham and we shared a crack of dawn car to the studio each day. It was a colour movie with absolutely no expense spared. The costumes were beautiful, if unnecessarily weighty in their adherence to medieval reality. One cloak was heavily embroidered and lined with real fur: it cost more than a thousand pounds (a good deal of money in pre-inflationary days) and took all my strength to wear. In one scene I had to ride into the town square, leap off my horse and enter the treasury building in high dudgeon.

To add to the reality our saddles were fitted with medieval pommels at the back that had to be negotiated carefully when dismounting. In the first take, I lifted my leg as gracefully as I could the necessary six inches higher than usual and leaped beautifully off my steed. As my feet touched the ground the weight of my cloak carried me completely out of frame to the left.

One day on the set, a week or two after shooting had begun; I heard a quiet voice coming from a chair on my left."How are you, Mr. Gregg? My name is Disney." I looked surprised at this modest newcomer to the studio - he had arrived from Hollywood the day before. "I'd like to thank you...." he was saying, adding flattering things about my performance, which however he referred to as 'a portrayal'. The choice of word was typically American and the modesty typically Disney.

I enjoyed every moment of the filming but had to put my foot down over a suggestion from the publicity department. They wanted to send me by car, in costume and make-up, to Alexandra Palace where I would appear on television singing Maybe it’s Because I'm a Londoner!'

To read more about Hubert Gregg click here and scroll down.

Patrick Barr as Richard the Lionheart

Mike has recently sent in this great still of Patrick Barr (1908-1985) as King Richard I in Walt Disney's live-action movie the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

Like Hubert Gregg who played Prince John, Barr resurrected his role as Richard the Lionheart in two episodes of the classic TV series the Adventures of Robin Hood. In a unique cross-over between the silver screen and television  he appeared once again as King Richard, this time alongside Richard Greene in two episodes; Secret Mission (1956) and Richard the Lion-Heart (1956) .

Patrick (or Pat, as he was sometimes called) was born in Akola, India on 13th February 1908 and had his first brush with the legendary outlaw when he first appeared on the silver screen in 1932 as a torturer in the black and white short, The Merry Men of Sherwood.

During the 1930’s Patrick was very often cast as dependable, trustworthy characters and after six years of military service during WWII he continued to bring those qualities to his roles in a very long career in film and television. His early notable movies included The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940), The Blue Lagoon (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).

In 1950 Patrick had appeared as the Earl of Northumberland in a television production of Richard II and it was in this medium that his popularity was mainly to grow, although he did continue to perform in some celebrated films. He appeared once again alongside Richard Todd in the classic war film, The Dambusters (1955), Saint Joan (1957), Next To Time (1960), The Longest Day (1962), Billy Liar (1963) The First Great Train Robbery (1979) and Octopussy in (1983).

His later television appearances included four episodes of Dr Who, three performances as Lord Boyne in The Secret of Boyne Castle for the Wonderful World of Disney in 1969 and three episodes of Telford’s Change in 1979.
Pat died aged 77 in Wandsworth, London on 29th August 1985.

To read more about Patrick Barr please click here. There are also 84 stills and images from Disney's Story of Robin Hood in the Picture Gallery and more information on the real Richard the Lionheart here.

Joan Rice

I saw this signed card on Ebay recently and although we already know most of what it has to say, it does give us a bit more information on Joan Rice’s later stage career:

 Joan Rice has been a familiar face in the cinema, where she has starred with Richard Todd in Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, with Dirk Bogarde in Blackmailed and Burt Lancaster in His Majesty O’Keefe as well as numerous others including One Good Turn and A Day To Remember with many of our leading actors. In the theatre she has had no less a distinguished career playing the leading female roles in such plays as Rebecca, Tea and Sympathy, Dial M for Murder, View from the Bridge, Bell, Book and Candle and Gaslight. Joan was born in Derby and educated in a convent, and her hobbies are animals, she has two Labradors that attend rehearsals, music and bridge.”

To read a lot more about the life of Joan Rice, please click here.