Geoffrey Rodway (1911-1999)

Geoffrey Godway (1911-1999) with Joan Rice in the make-up department

This is an up-date to a post from three years ago. It was in November of that year I posted a picture of Joan Rice (1930-1997) in the make-up department for her role as Maid Marian during the filming of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

At the time, I was not sure who the gentleman was applying the make-up. I went through the names, including Geoffrey Rodway the Make-Up Supervisor on the movie, Trevor Crole-Rees, Stuart Freeborn, Eddie Knight, A. L Lawrence, Robert Alexander and Wally Schneiderman. They are all listed in various articles as uncredited make-up artists on Disney’s live-action movie. At the time I guessed in might have been Geoffrey Rodway.

Well, I was thrilled to receive a message from Alex Rodway:
“Yes that is Geoffrey Rodway, my grandfather.”

Neil, our regular contributor, also informed us that South African born Geoffrey Rodway (1911-1999) was employed in various make-up departments from the early forties right through to the seventies. Including working on the much-loved Carry-On films.

Rodway was part of the team that worked for Walt Disney on Treasure Island and Sword and the Rose.  He was also Joan Rice's make-up artist not just on Robin Hood, but also Curtain Up, A Day To Remember and One Good Turn. 

In March of this year Mick got in touch and asked if the family had lived in Iver in Buckinghamshire? I am pleased to say that yesterday Tim Walker contacted me with this answer:

"Hi all - I'm another of Geoff's grandsons - cousin of Alex who wrote in previously. Geoff did a large number of films at Pinewood Studios, which are of course situated in Iver. So yes Geoff and his wife Nora (who was also his assistant) did live in the area - I think in Denham and Iver at some stage. This was up until Geoff retired and they moved to the South coast during the seventies. I hope this is of interest. Regards, Tim Walker. 

Many thanks to all those who very kindly contacted this web site regarding Geoffrey Rodway, especially members of his family. If you have any information regarding the production crew or actors and actresses that made Disney's Story of Robin Hood please get in-touch. I will be pleased to hear from you.

Archie Duncan, Villain and Hero

Archie Duncan (1914-1979) has the unique distinction of playing a villain and a hero in the world of Robin Hood. He played Red Gill, the murderer of Robin’s father in The Story of Robin Hood (1952) and Little John in 105 episodes of TV’s The Adventures of Robin Hood between 1955-1959. 

Archie Duncan is proving to be a popular choice for your favourite Little John of 'all-time' in our current poll (see the right-hand panel on this blog).

Archie Duncan

Archibald Duncan was born in Glasgow on 26th May 1914 and was educated at Govern High School. His father was a regimental sergeant major and his mother a postmistress. The Scottish actor Russell Hunter remembers ‘big Archie’ at a Communist Party Rally in support of the Soviet Union and the opening of a second front in 1941. Duncan was then working as a welder at John Brown’s Shipyard.

“I was looking for acting work,” Russell Hunter said. “Duncan came up to me and asked if I he had a big voice? I replied yes! So he invited me through to a back room, where I was asked to read the part of the fascist in the Saturday night production at the Partick Borough Halls. As the original actor had been called up.”

Archie Duncan later introduced Russell Hunter to the Glasgow Unity.

It was at the Citizens Theatre Company that Duncan joined the training ground of many Scottish actors including, Molly Urquart, Duncan Macrae, Gordon Jackson and Eileen Herlie. He then made his Scottish acting debut in Juno and the Paycock, playing all three gunmen, at Glasgow's Alhambra in May 1944.

Duncan's London debut came at the Phoenix Theatre in 1947 when he appeared with Alistair Sim and George Cole as Inspector Mc Iver in Dr Angelus.

Film roles started to follow with: Operation Bullshine (1948) Counter Blast (1948), The Bad Lord Byron (1949), Floodtide (1949), The Gorballs Story (1950), The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), Green Grow the Rushes (1951), Flesh and Flood (1951), Circle of Danger (1951) Henry V (1951), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) You're Only Young Twice (1952), Hot Ice (1952), Home At Seven (1952) and Walt Disney's The Story Of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men as 'Red Gill' (1952).

Archie Duncan as Red Gill 

Two years later Duncan teamed up with Richard Todd and James Robertson Justice again in Disney’s Rob Roy the Highland Rogue as Dugal Mac Gregor.

Archie Duncan as Red Gill with Richard Todd as Robin Hood

In-between these various film roles, came the first of his long running TV appearances in the early U.S. series Sherlock Holmes as Inspector Lestrade. But just as he was finishing the final recording of Sherlock Holmes in 1955, he was preparing for a role that he will always be fondly remembered.

Richard Greene as Robin Hood and Archie Duncan as Little John

6ft. 2inch Archie was to play the part of Little John for Sapphire Films in The Adventures of Robin Hood with Richard Greene, at Nettlefold Studios, the first production of the newly formed ITP company (later ITC). It was commissioned by Lew Grade and was shown in the first weekend of Independent television in 1955 and became a massive success, running to 143 episodes

Duncan's portrayal of Little John would be fondly remembered decades later for his combination of strength, skill and  humour.  It was during the filming this unforgettable series that this Scottish gentle giant proved to be a true hero and managed to prevent a runaway horse from hurtling towards a group of spectators, consisting of mainly children, watching close by. For this brave feat, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and £1,360 in damages. But it also resulted in him missing the recording of eleven episodes of Robin Hood. So between times, a replacement was found in fellow Scotsman, Rufus Cruickshank.

After TV’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, Duncan’s most notable film roles were in Saint Joan (1957) and Ring of Bright Water (1969). 

Matt Robertson sent me this message:
"I think I remember "meeting" Archie Duncan when I was a child visiting grandparents at Linthouse, Govan. As I recall, Archie Duncan was occasionally in the small Post Office at Linthouse, his mother or sister was the postmistress there. I would have gone into the Post Office, along with other kids at the time, to shout out, "Who killed the otter?" He had been our hero as Little John on TV but whacked Mij in Ring of Bright Water."
Archie Ducan's career in television production carried on with parts in programmes like Z Cars, Hereward the Wake, Orlando, Black Beauty and Bootsie and Snudge. 

But in 1978 he suffered a massive stroke which caused paralysis down his right side. Sadly he passed away at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, London aged 65 on 24th July 1979. 

Don't forget to get involved and vote for your all-time favourite Little John in our poll in the right-hand task bar.