Richard Todd, Joan Rice and Elton Hayes's Autographs

Richard Todd signs as Robin Earl of Locksley

Here is the second set of autographs kindly sent in by John Nelson. John says:

Just look at the wonderful inscriptions on them.  It was very kind of him to do this for me [Richard Todd],very patient,  and with his gifted neat hand wanted to make them as special and unique as he could for me.
I hope you like them.
He certainly was a wonderful gentleman and it was always a great pleasure meeting him.
You certainly work hard on your blog and I'm sure it is very much appreciated and enjoyed by all your followers .
I am also sending you my signed photos of Joan. I was given them by my very good friend Barry who had the good fortune of meeting her after a theatre performance.
I'm sure you will agree she looks beautiful in her Marion costumes.
He took some persuading in parting with them I can tell you. 

Richard Todd signs as Robin Fitzooth of Huntingdon

Richard Todd's signature as Robin Hood

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Joan's letter (below) is sent from The Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth and dated 6th December 1969. She writes:

Dear George,

Thank you very much for your sweet letter - I am glad you enjoyed the play. Please forgive me but I cannot send you a photograph as I haven't got round to organising a new still session yet. May I reciprocate your best wishes. Many thanks. I hope you will have a lovely Christmas and prosperous New Year. 

Yours Sincerely

Joan Rice 

Joan Rices's letter

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Elton Hayes's signature

Many thanks to John Nelson for sharing this collection of autographs. To see a whole assortment of memorabilia from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men please click here

Laurence's autograph collection

Above is the fabulous autograph collection owned by Laurence. The 'Memorabilia' section has many examples like this.

Please get in touch if you would like to share any collections or memories you have of this wonderful classic. 

In the sidebar there is a whole range of subjects connected to this movie. They include information about the lives of the stars that appeared in the film, the people involved in its production and the legend that inspired it. 

Autograph Collection

It is always a pleasure to hear from people who have collections and memorabilia connected to Walt Disney's live action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). John Nelson has recently been in touch to show his enviable assortment of autographs from the stars of our favourite film.

He writes:
"Hello again.
Wonderful reading all the news and updates on the Robin Hood Disney blog.
I thought the following enclosed photos maybe of interest to your many readers.
They are part of my cherished collection and special because they are so rare in this form.  Joan on the same page as James and the Little John inscription added by James Robertson Justice, the uncommon autographs of Hal Osmond and Clement McCallin.
All these fine actors long gone but their memory still kept alive through your wonderful blog.
Keep up the good work, always interesting and informative."

Below are some examples of his collection:

Hal Osmond (1902-1959)

Hal Osmond as Midge the Miller

Hal Osmond 

Clement McCallin (1913-1977)

Clement McCallin as Earl of Huntingdon

James Hayter (1907-1983)

James Hayter as Friar Tuck

James Hayter

Joan Rice (1930-1997)

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

James Hayter and Joan Rice

James Robertson Justice (1907-1975)

James Robertson Justice as Little John

James Robertson Justice

There is more of John's collection to follow. And don't forget there are over 68 pages of memorabilia, including curtains, jigsaw puzzles, film projectors, stamp books and records that can be seen here. Or click on the link 'Memorabilia' below this page or in the task bar.

Edward II: The Unconventional King by Kathryn Warner (and how I met Jules)

Edward II: The Unconventional King by Kathryn Warner

My review:

Jules read Kathryn's book first (of course), and loved it. When I finally managed to pick it up, it felt a privilege to hold such ground-breaking material.

As regular readers of Kathryn's blog will know, Edward II: The Unconventional King is the culmination of many years of intensive research, driven by her tireless passion to get to the truth.  That passion is immediately apparent, as you witness her steadily dismantle centuries of myths surrounding Edward II's reign.  

The tomb of Edward II

One example of this is the traditional story of Edward's murder by the use of a 'red-hot poker'. Kathryn has forensically examined the contemporary records, one by one, to reject it as a lurid invention. Kathryn's close analysis of contemporary manuscripts also provides fascinating details of Edward's household. These include the names and costs of his minstrels and entertainers, something which I found particularly interesting.

Kathryn Warner

Kathryn gives fresh insight into the life of this maligned monarch. Her research reveals a fiercely emotional king who not only enjoyed the company of  his 'common subjects' and their pastimes, but who was also remarkably generous and kind to the people who pleased him. Edward II was also openly a lover of men, and this unconventional and often eccentric behaviour led to the utter failure of his reign. But, paradoxically, Edward was ahead of his time, and that was the tragedy of his life. 

Kathryn's work has a special place on our bookshelf. It is superbly written, meticulously researched and is a much needed re-assessment of Edward's reign. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the Plantagenet kings of England.


Edward II and Robin Hood 

When I was at school, I wasn't taught anything about Edward II. I heard about Richard the Lionheart, Henry VIII and Edward III of course, but not Edward II. After all, he was considered to be just a weak king who brought about an English civil war. It wasn't until I was thumbing through a book in my college library during a dinner break that I became fascinated by his reign.

An early image of Robin Hood

The book was a version of Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. Included in the great statesman's account of the Lancastrian revolt during the reign of Edward II, was a feature about the findings of the 19th century antiquary called Joseph Hunter. The article included details of his discoveries of a Robin/Robert Hood recorded in Edward II's household chamber accounts. Hunter's ground-breaking research also uncovered a Robert Hood living in Wakefield, part of Lancastrian lands during the time of the Battle of Boroughbridge (1322). After the battle, Hunter believed that this Robert Hood, a tenant of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, would not have only been outlawed, but may also have been the same Robert Hood brought to court by Edward II during his progress through the northern counties in 1323. 

Joseph Hunter (1783-1861)

Remarkably, Hunter's findings mirrored details in one of the earliest ballads about the outlaw, the Geste of Robyn Hode, written circa 1500, which describes a 'comely' King Edward who travelled though 'all the pass of Lancasshyre'' to capture him. 
I was transfixed.

Court rolls of Edward II

Books and More Books

I had always enjoyed watching Robin Hood films (particularly Walt Disney's live-action Story of Robin Hood) and the classic Richard Greene tv series, but never dreamed there may have been some historical fact in the legend. So, from that moment on, like a manic magpie I began to accumulate books and more books on the origins of Robin Hood. Eventually, I compiled a chronological list of all the important discoveries regarding the celebrated outlaw.

'Some' of my collection of books on Robin Hood

The Computer Age

As the computer age dawned I soon realised that the possibilities for research were endless. Now, it was not necessary to join various libraries and trawl through the dusty shelves of secondhand bookshops. (Although I still do!) The excitement of owning my own computer was palpable. Soon, doors (or should that be windows?) began to open. Kathryn Warner's very informative website on Edward II was one of the first places I discovered.

As 'Clement Glen', I joined several forums and found myself entering into long-winded discussions about the origins of the Robin Hood legend. But, sadly they often became over-heated. So, I decided to step back from it all and, inspired by Kathryn's site, I started my own Robin Hood blog. But how could I make it different from all the others? 

My blog header

The Story of Robin Hood

In my opinion, Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) is the best film version of the legend ever-made. From the first time I saw it at my local cinema, I was awe-struck by its wonderful actors, colourful pageantry and thrilling action. So, I decided to create a web page that combined information about this movie with the facts I had discovered about the ancient tradition that inspired it. After ten years, my blog has had world wide popularity.

Jules Frusher

In 2010, I posted an article about Joseph Hunter's discoveries. I received many kind comments afterwards, never realising at the time that one of those messages would change my life forever! One came from Kathryn Warner (whose successful website about Edward II I had discovered a few months earlier). Kathryn kindly congratulated me on a 'fascinating post' and the excellent research. Following that came a message from a certain Jules Frusher who described my piece as an 'interesting read,' and 'lots of food for thought.' 

Jules and Kathryn knew each other through their investigations into Edward's reign, with Jules specialising in the life and times of Hugh Despenser. Jules's tremendous website about Hugh can be seen here.

Five years later Kathryn had her first book, 'Edward II: The Unconventional King' , published and . . .  Jules and I got engaged!

Jules Frusher

Did this 'comely' monarch who enjoyed the company of lowborn subjects meet Robin Hood? After decades of debate, many historians agree that Edward's northern progress of 1323 is a rare factual element in one of the earliest ballads about the outlaw. There is a lot more information on my website. So perhaps the 'Edward our comely king' referred to in the Geste of Robyn Hode was Edward II. Ironic, then, that such a reviled king influenced the legend of such an adored hero. 

Final Resting Places Continued

Two years ago Christian sent me images of the final resting places of some of the people responsible for creating our favourite film, 'The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men' (1952). To see that original post, please click here.

Recently Christian has kindly shared more information and pictures regarding the graves and tombs of those much-loved people.

Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham

Peter Finch is buried at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles, California in the U.S.A.

James Robertson Justice

James Robertson Justice (1907-1975) played an irascible Little John. He was cremated and his ashes were taken by a party of friends to Scotland. On a moor where Justice had often hawked, and along with the accompaniment of a lone piper, they created  a cairn and his ashes were interred there.

Ken Annakin

Ken Annakin, the director of 'The Story of Robin Hood' (1952) is buried in Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles in the U.S.A.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney (1901-1966) although uncredited, was the executive producer on his second live-action movie. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Glendale), Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.

Many thanks to Christian for getting in touch.

Disney's Robin Hood Comic Strip: 13

Here is the last instalment of the comic strip, drawn by Jessie Marsh and based on Walt Disney's live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men which was released in 1952. 

A huge thank you to Matt Crandall for uploading every strip and giving readers the opportunity to see this wonderful artwork. Matt runs the excellent Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland blog, which contains many rare items and collectables from the classic animated film. 

To see the previous strips, please click on the label  Robin Hood Comic Strip. And to read about the illustrator Jessie Marsh, please click here.

Richard Todd and Catherine Grant-Bogle

Richard Todd and Catherine Grant-Bogle on their wedding day

It is always a thrill to hear from readers who have information about the lives of the stars who appeared in 'The Story of Robin Hood.' Recently Scott Coleman got in contact about a post I did on Richard Todd's first wife, Catherine Grant-Bogle :
"Hi all, this is fascinating stuff. My sister was married to Peter Todd for many years before he tragically took his own life. It's funny how I've stumbled across this blog as I was searching for Catherine as I'm in the process of selling my artefacts that I have had passed to me, all of which are related to Richard Todd and his film career. I'm sure I can answer many of your questions if you still have any and would be happy to do so. I have a portrait of Cathrine which is part of my collection passed to me by Richard and Peter Todd and she truly was a beautiful lady and from what I understand a fantastic mother. However, the Todds life was incredibly difficult for all involved and I saw personally the very sad end in which it finished. I'm here is you wish to discuss further. Best regards Scott."
I have since contacted Scott and hope to hear from him again soon.

Richard and Catherine relaxing c.1950'

This message about Catherine Grant-Bogle was sent by Pam back in February 2011:
“I was looking up info on Richard Todd when I saw this article on Catherine Grant-Bogle. She was my landlady in 1970/71 in London, in a flat near the Tate Gallery.
I am Canadian and was backpacking through Europe with my girlfriend. She took me, my girlfriend and a girl from Hawaii in for room and board. The rooms were as the children left them and she didn't want us to touch or move anything. She also didn't want us using the kitchen and when she found the three of us making dinner, she was very upset.
She was very bitter about the divorce and told us stories. Her son Peter also came by a few times to check on her. I also have a picture of her with her cat in my photo album.
I went back to London with my first husband in 1978 and went to show him the flat. And there she was walking down the street coming out of the liquor store, looking a little worse for wear.
I am surprised to see that she lived another 20 years after I last saw her. She didn't look well and the difference in her from 1971 to 1978 was astounding!”
Pam continued:
“She did seem so sad, not only when I was rooming at her flat, but especially when I saw her walking down the street a few years later. She was a sweet lady.
Anyway, just thought I would share this with you.” 

                        The Todd's photographed in 1954                                    

This week Neil, our regular contributor, has been in touch with an interesting find:

Richard and Catherine's autographs.

Neil says:
"I have very recently acquired this item – which is a programme for a Festival Of Britain event on 17 June 1951 in Maidenhead – a River Procession and Garden Fete.
It is signed on the rear by Richard Todd the film actor - and his wife Catherine Todd - or Kitty as he called her.
The date of 17 June 1951 coincided with the time that Richard Todd was filming The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios for Walt Disney  - and even more specific it was at the time when the filming of the famous quarter staff fight on the bridge between Robin Hood and Little John was being done on that wonderful studio set designed by Carmen Dillon. The reason I know this is that in Richard Todd's Autobiography 'Caught in the Act' he says that on his Birthday which was 11 June, this scene was being filmed and it would have gone on for some days I expect. 
This is the first time I have seen his wife’s signature – she seemed to always stay in the background. I still maintain though that whilst married to he his career went well so she must have had a good business-like head on her – which he, as he admits, did not.

I remember my Dad going down to London at that time to see the Festival of Britain – think he went with the Prudential Assurance Co who he worked for at that time. This event at Maidenhead must have been a big one – inside this programme it states that on the launch was Cicely Courtneidge, Ronald Howard, The Mayor and Mayoress and Richard Todd." 

Richard Todd as Robin Hood and James Robertson-Justice as Little John

Many thanks to Neil for sending in this programme. It is not only a historical document in its own right, but also has a fascinating link to the filming of Walt Disney's 'Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952).'

Many thanks to everyone who have been in contact.

If you have any memories you would like to share about Catherine Grant-Bogle or anyone else connected in some way to our favourite film, please leave a message below.                           

Robin Hood's 2 Chairs

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-1958)

Allen Wright, the owner of the fantastic Bold Outlaw site, has been in touch with some excellent examples of those 'Robin Hood chairs' being used in the television series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-58). If you have any information of props from Disney's Robin Hood being used, or know where that are stored, please get in touch.

Behind the two Robin Hood chairs in The Adventures of Robin Hood

The film prop we know as 'Robin Hood's Chair' has been mentioned many times on this blog and the input from my readers has helped chronicle its use for sixty four years. This I believe is unique in the tv and movie world. 

I originally called it Robin Hood's Chair because of its continual appearance in productions about the outlaw. But what must be made clear is that there were originally two chairs designed by Carmen Dillon and her art department for Walt Disney's live-action film 'The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men' in 1951. 

The two chairs in Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952)

This pair of ornate chairs only appear together for a few moments in a scene with Joan Rice as Maid Marian, Hubert Gregg as Prince John, Martitia Hunt as Queen Eleanor and Anthony Eustrel as the Archbishop of Canterbury (above). But the distinct style of these two chairs made them popular with set designers. They appeared two years later in Men of Sherwood (1954) along with other furniture props from the Disney movie.

Men of Sherwood (1954)

We now have a list of movies and tv shows that the Robin Hood Chair or Chairs have appeared in here.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-58)

If you have seen the two chairs being used in any other productions please get in touch.

What Happened to Joan Rice?

Joan Rice (1930-1997) played Maid Marian in Walt Disney's live-action film The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, which was filmed in England in 1951. Thirty years later she captured my heart when I first saw that movie in my local cinema. So my blog is dedicated to her memory and for over nine years I have attempted to piece together Joan's life-story.

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Many of Joan's family and friends have contacted me with anecdotes about her life and career, while fans of the film have sent magazine articles from the height of her fame. These can all be seen by following the Joan Rice link on this blog.

As always, I am indebted to Neil, a regular contributor and owner of the fantastic web site Films of the Fifties, who has discovered another very interesting article about Joan from the August 1955 edition of the film-fan magazine Photoplay. 

This piece by Philip Parrish, attempts to answer the question many of us have asked. What happened to the film career of Joan Rice?

Below is the text from that article, with some pictures of my own:

Joan Rice was groomed for film fame like a filly for a big race, what did she do wrong?

"There's a notion, probably spread by jealous and thwarted repertory actresses that Great Britain is seething with disregarded, potential stars.

It is true that good-lookers abound, that actresses more capable than Joan Collins can be found in Oldham or Oswestry. But the essential, conquering mystery of personality that cleaves through to the clammy hand-holders at the back of the cinema - that is a rare as Reds on Rhode Island.

Which brings me, surprisingly to the strange case of Joan Rice, "Miss Lyons, 1949."

Mention that name around the Rank Organisation four years ago, and eyes would light up and hands be rubbed gleefully together. Faces that had been haggard and down ever since Jean Simmons was lured to Hollywood by Howard Hughes cracked into bonny smiles. "Miss Rice," they said, "will be the new Jean Simmons." And one or two critics, not wholly blinded by the dark, were prepared to agree.

Joan Rice

Zoom forward to 1955. What has happened to the all promising super-curving Joan Rice, pride of the Nippies? She is sadly decorating B-minus pictures like Police Dog- not for the Rank boys. Her tidy little contract wasn't renewed last summer. Her Pinewood swan song was the thankless chore of keeping a stiff upper lip while Norman Wisdom laughed himself hoarse in One Good Turn. 

A new batch of up-and-comings have swept on to the payroll-Eunice Gayson, Jill adams, Josephine Griffin, Julia Arnell.

Horrid warning
Now I find that pathetic, stupid, and a horrid warning to all those girls who might win beauty contests and believe all the big talk handed out to them.

Joan Rice started with nothing but a flashing smile and a certain plump physical assets. She was polished and refined into a suitable leading lady for Burt Lancaster, with a nice little £50-a-week coming in steadily.

Joan Rice with Burt Lancaster

All that after a bleak, sordid, and love-starved childhood, during which she'd slaved as a kitchen-maid in a Nottingham orphanage and then came to London as a £3-a-week Corner House waitress.

She might have still been juggling tea-trays contently if the Welfare Officer hadn't insisted she entered for the sups-nippy competition.

Not interested
"I wasn't really interested," she says, "but they were short of entrants. One of the prizes was a camera-and that decided me."

The reluctant heroine was awarded first prize. She was encircled with a sash and congratulated by two film personalities provided by the Rank Organisation, John McCallum and Anne Crawford.

Well that was that. Joan Rice got her camera and a free week in Torquay, and was softened up for a sales-talk. She soon got it- from a film extra who used to sup at one of her tables. "You ought to be in films," he chattered.

So one day she wandered incoherently into Wardour Street, and was found on the stairs by an agent. And that agent, called Joan Rees, gave birth to a hunch. "I looked at her," she says, "and had faith in her."

Joan Rice at that point, was unpolished, and unrefined. Her voice echoed the worthy wood-notes of Nottinghamshire, her figure was promising, but ample. Her acting according to one Pinewood wiseacre was 'a pale imitation of an amateur giving an impression of Lillian Gish." The material, in fact, was not so much raw, as completely unquarried.

Then the agents took a hand. Joan Rees's boss George Routledge asked her measurements - and he looked at her feet. Joan Rice said she took "size six shoes." This was rather daunting, but then Garbo went far on a similarly broad basis.

Routledge decided to give her five pounds a week, a personal contract, and training with a dramatic coach called Helen Goss. He bought her some more flattering shoes, and Miss Rees dropped everything to devote her talents to selling Miss Rice.

Joan Rice with Joan Collins arriving for her first screen test

So an unwieldy teenager began to be transformed into a young lady who can air fluent, if unoriginal, views on the topics of the day without undue strain.

She as given public poise, being made to walk up and down a long flight of stairs fifty times until she could do it without touching the wall or the banister.

She was taken to smart restaurants to eat, and her Midland accent was worked upon. They didn't want to give her the standard R.A.D.A. voice, so they just softened the rough edges.

On view
Then she was introduced to Harold Huth, an ex-start of the silents, who now makes the speaking variety. And six months after she'd served her last plate of baked beans, Joan Rice was given her first film part, a tiny bit as a maid in One Wild Oat. Aims began to soar. Joan Rice was touted round the studios. She was even interviewed for the part in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, subsequently filled by Ava Gardner.

And the film boys were impressed with Joan Rice. She has a face that can look a camera straight in the eye. That, in itself, is quite something, for most faces have facets and angles that can be forbidding if captured by a careless cameraman.

Joan is prepared for her next scene

Most important, she has a direct and lustrous appeal - a kind of untroubled gaiety and enthusiasm - that photography, which can be very searching, seeks out.

Off the screen, she seems the acme of ordinaries; on it, she appears deliciously super ordinary, when she gets the right handling.

The budding "oomph" was apparent to everybody. Joan Rice was cast as a girl who became a corpse in the first reel of Blackmailed. Second thoughts found her too promising for early death, so she was promoted to the larger footage of an artist's model, to be painted by Dirk Bogarde.

And she was a hit. Her unspoilt freshness - mainly displayed in natty black underwear - brought her such praise as "sensitive," "tremulous" and "Bergman-like."

Joan with Dirk Bogarde in 'Blackmailed'.

And the Rank Organisation stepped smartly in, bought out Harold Huth, and gave houseroom to Joan Rice.

Big plans
It seemed that Joan Rice had made it. Up and down the country she went on personal appearances. "A Cinderella story come true" - that's how they spoke of it. And Miss Rice, demurely clad in white taffeta, lived up to it.Big plans were mulled over in board-rooms. For a time it looked as if the Rice fortunes were on a soaring spiral. She landed the lead opposite Richard Todd in Walt Disney's version of Robin Hood. She was chosen by an American company to go to Fiji and Hollywood for His Majesty O'Keefe, opposite beefy Burt Lancaster.

Joan Rice in 'His Majesty O'Keefe'

In four years she made nine films, acquired a husband, David Green, and a baby called Michael. But early last year [1954] you could tell that temperatures were cooling. That early talk about taking over where Jean Simmons left off was forgotten.

Now I don't think Joan Rice is an earth quaker. I'm quite certain she'll never be squabbling with Grace Kelly over an "Oscar."

Film poster for 'Blackmailed'

But I stick to my original opinion. Potentially, she has a warm and effective personality that registers more than most. And all the hopes and efforts that went into grooming her should not be allowed to waste.

And the saddest fact of all? That Joan Rice, in danger of being forgotten when the parts are being dished out, is still only twenty five. Isn't that much too young for a pension?"

Philip Parrish (August 1955)

Well, Joan Rice will never be forgotten here!

Parrish gives some interesting details about Joan's start with Rank. Unfortunately they contradict details given by other magazines of the period. So perhaps we may never know exactly how Joan made those first steps to stardom.

There are now 82 pages about Joan Rice on this web site. They contain many photographs and articles about her life and film career. Just click here to see a lot more.