Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my Merrie readers! I hope you all have a peaceful and prosperous 2018.

I will have more information about the new Elton Hayes CD very soon.

Joan Rice in 1973

Joan Rice in 1973

This is a slide of Joan Rice taken in about 1973. It is not known  exactly where she was, but this image may have been taken outside the stage door of a theatre. 

I have dedicated this blog to the memory of Joan Rice (1930-1997). She was personally chosen by Walt Disney to play the part of Maid Marian in his wonderful live action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Today, Joan is almost completely forgotten, but down the years I have tried to piece her life together.

For a short period Joan's film career was very successful and she became one of the many British 'pin-up girls' of the 1950's. But sadly her career quickly waned and her last appearance on the silver screen was as a grave robbers wife in The Horror of Frankenstein (1970).

Joan's acting abilities were criticised by director Ken Annakin and film legend Richard Todd. But I have since discovered that after her work on the silver screen faded she continued a successful and distinguished stage career. 

Joan Rice in 'A View From The Bridge'

In September 1959, Joan played the part of Catherine, in Arthur Miller’s play A View From The Bridge at the Savoy Theatre in Kettering. Another highlight was in 1972, when she appeared alongside Davy Jones of 'The Monkees', James Hayter and Dave King in Forget Me Not at the Leeds Grand Theatre. This production was later voted 'play of the year' and went on tour. 

Joan also played the leading female roles in such plays as Rebecca, Tea and Sympathy, Dial M for Murder, Bell, Book and Candle and Gaslight.

The image of Joan Rice at the top of this page was taken in 1973. From the 20th February till the 10th March 1973 she appeared at the Theatre Royal Windsor in A Voyage Around My Father alongside Gay Hamilton. So, that could have been when she  The programme notes include a short bio about Joan:
"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."
This blog now has 90 pages on the life and career of Joan Rice. To read more about Walt Disney's first Maid Marian click here.

Elton Hayes CD Release

Elton Hayes as Alan a Dale

Geoff Waite has been researching the life and discography of Elton Hayes (1915-2001) for many years. He has regularly contributed to this blog and given us fascinating information about the man who played Alan a Dale in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood (1952).

Elton Hayes

This week Geoff emailed me with news that Nimbus Records are about to release a selection of music by Elton Hayes as part of their 'Retrospective' series. It is wonderful to think, that once again Elton's songs and ballads will be heard again. So watch this space for more information.

This blog has 28 pages about Elton Hayes's life and career. To read more, please click here.

Film Script Auction

Film script of 'The Story of Robin Hood'

Regular readers of my blog will know that we have been lucky enough to see the original script of Walt Disney's live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). Images of the script were sent to me from Canada by Cindy. They were owned by her father-in-law Noland Blackburn who worked for Walt Disney in the 1950's.

Richard Todd as Robin Hood

Cindy has kindly informed me that the script together with two stills ( shown on this page) from the movie are now up for auction. The link to Heritage Auctions is here. Good luck!

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

The Sheriff Arrives at Robin's Camp

The Sheriff is brought to the camp

Another rare couple of  images to add to the many now on this blog from Walt Disney's live-action version of the Robin Hood legend. Stills like this show the amount of detail used in this wonderful film.

A warning arrow lands at the camp.

These two scenes of Robin's camp in Sherwood were created by Carmen Dillon and her art department. Remarkably, the camp was built on one of the huge soundstages at Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire. But, sadly, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) was the last big budget movie made there.

There is much much more on this blog about the making of the film. Just click on the various links to discover the history behind this underrated Technicolor masterpiece.

Joan Rice in 1939

As some of you know, I am a genealogist and have recently started my own business. My website can be seen here. Family history has been a passion of mine for over 35 years. I have been fascinated with history all my life, particularly the medieval period and the legend of Robin Hood. 

Tony Wait Genealogist and Family Historian

As a youngster I first saw Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in the 1970's. This film made a huge impression on me and I started this blog to raise awareness of this forgotten film and the lives of the actors and actresses that appeared in it.

One star of that film, has been the topic of many of my blog posts, Joan Rice (1930-1997). Combining my interest in family history and my love of the movie I have slowly pieced together her life story.

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Joan was born Dorothy Joan Rice on the 3rd February 1930 at the City Hospital in Derby.  Her parents were Harold and Hilda Rice (née Watson). Harold and Hilda had married a year earlier.

Very little is known about Joan's early childhood and this is something I would like to work on. 

The 1939 Register

One avenue of research is the 1939 Register. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced over the airwaves that Britain was at war with Germany on September 3rd 1939. The 1939 Register was taken twenty six days later, over a single weekend and was created essentially for identity cards, evacuations and rationing. Sadly this survey is the only surviving record of the population between 1921 and 1951. The 1931 Census documents were completely destroyed in a fire and the 1941 Census was not taken because of war. So this is the closest to modern times that I will get because of the law protecting confidentiality.

Detail of the 1939 Register showing Dorothy J Rice

I found Joan, or Dorothy as she was known then, living in Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire with the Watson family. George Watson the head of the household, was probably Joan's grandfather a brewery labourer aged 63. Her grandmother Rebecca was a year younger. Next we see Thomas G Watson aged 36 and John W Watson aged about 20. These men were possibly her uncles. Dorothy J. Rice is the fifth person living at 47 King Street. Her date of birth is given as 3rd February 1930 and she is at school. The last person to be recorded at the property is Gwendoline Bullock a domestic worker aged 29.

This is an example of how genealogy can help give a glimpse of the past. My research shows that Joan (Dorothy) and her sisters did not directly go to Nazareth House orphanage, after her father was imprisoned for child abuse.

If you would like me to investigate your family history, please contact me at tonywait@tonywaitgenealogist.com

Robin Hood Press Advertisement

Above is a newspaper advertisement for Walt Disney's live action movie The Story of Robin Hood at the Regent in Portsmouth and Gaumont in Southsea. 

The movie had its Premiere in London in March 1952. We can see from the newspaper that Joan Rice (Maid Marian) and James Hayter (Friar Tuck) were both making personal appearances at those cinemas on Monday 7th April 1952. The times shown were 7.25pm at the Gaumont and after a 4 mile car journey they arrived at the Regent at approximately 8.55pm.

In previous posts we have looked at those 'Provincial Premieres' and wondered how many there were? Geoff Waite made us aware of these, two years ago. He discovered that Elton Hayes and Joan Rice had made personal appearances in Manchester and Liverpool.

Elton Hayes and Joan Rice at the Provincial Premiere in Manchester

So we now know that after the 'official' premiere of The Story of Robin Hood in London at the Leicester Square Theatre on the 13th March 1952, there were 'provincial' premieres the following month. These were held in Portsmouth and Southsea on the 7th April with Joan Rice and James Hayter. 

On April 24th Joan also joined with Elton Hayes (Allan-a-Dale) at the Odeon in Manchester. Then Elton Hayes visited the Gaumont Theatre in Liverpool on the 27th. The accompanying film on these occasions were Hammer, The Toff starring John Bentley and Patricia Dainton.

Were there any more of these 'Provincial Premieres?'

Richard Todd (1919-2009)

This week I have uploaded some images of the Irish-born British actor Richard Todd (1919-2009). He was chosen by Walt Disney productions to play the part of Robin Hood in their live-action movie The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952). The RKO card above was sent in by John Nelson. It is a vintage German example singed by the great man himself.

Richard Todd c.1951

Richard Todd with his first wife Catherine Grant-Bogle

In the photograph above, we see Richard with his first wife Catherine Grant-Bogle in the early 1950's. Was he reading a draft of the Robin Hood film script?

Richard Todd as Robin Hood and Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Above is one of my favourite promotional shots of Richard Todd in the role of Robin Hood with Joan Rice as his love-interest, Maid Marian.

There are over 55 pages on the life and career of Richard Todd. So to read more please click here.

Favourite Pictures

Maid Marian in the outlaws camp.

I have neglected this blog recently, due to my other projects. But I never grow tired of this wonderful movie. So for this post, I have uploaded some of my favourite images from the film.

Richard Todd (Robin), Walt Disney and Joan Rice (Marian)

James Robertson Justice as Little John

Richard Todd as Robin and Joan Rice as Marian

Peter Finch as the Sheriff of Nottingham

Prince John is confronted at Nottingham Castle

Marian helps Robin recover

There are of course hundreds more images on this blog. And I have many other favourites! Just click on the task bar to view the various subjects.