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.