Richard Greene (1918 -1985) - A Timeline

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1918

Born Richard Marius Joseph Greene on the 25th August in Plymouth, Devon. 

Richard’s mother was Kathleen Marie Josephine Davidson, an actress and writer (as Kathleen Gerrard), daughter of an actor and theatrical producer Wallace Davidson from Crook in County Durham (of Scottish descent).  Richard’s father was Richard Abraham Greene, an actor at the Repertory Theatre in Plymouth, and a former brewer, from Hampshire (of Irish descent).  He died in 1921. Richard was brought up by his mother and his aunt, Nina Gerrard.  Richard’s uncles (Frank Greene and Norman Bentley Greene) and his aunts (Evie Greene and Nina Gerrard) were also actors.

 

1928 - 1936

Attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Kensington, London; lived in Chiswick

Was captain of the school fencing team; his favourite subjects were English literature and history; received an award for elocution from Poet Laureate John Masefield

 

1934

Film

“Sing As We Go” (bit part - the scene was deleted from the final version)

 

1937

Stage debut at The New Theatre in London – spear-carrier in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”, directed by Theodore Komisarjevsky

Worked as a film extra; appeared in advertisements for shirts, hats, riding boots and hair cream (Brylcreem)

Lived in Bloomsbury, London (in a shared flat in Marchmont Street) for 3 months

Toured Britain with Gevan Brandon Thomas Repertory Company (from Glasgow)

Appeared in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, “Journey’s End” by R. C. Sherriff, “Ah, Wilderness” by Eugene O’Neill, “French without Tears” by Terence Rattigan, and other plays

Had screen tests for MGM and Walter Wanger, but no offers

In December - was discovered by a talent scout from 20th Century-Fox (during a performance of “French without Tears” in Birmingham)

 

1938

17 January - signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox in Hollywood

The studio added 4 years to his age in all publicity materials

Lived in a rented house in Brentwood

Bought his first car, a 1935 Chevrolet

Dated actress Arleen Whelan

Films:

“Four Men and a Prayer” (Geoffrey ‘Geoff’/’Bosun’ Leigh, a.k.a. Hercuma Gordon)

“My Lucky Star” (Larry Taylor)

“Submarine Patrol” (Perry Townsend III)

“Kentucky” (Jack Dillon)

Radio:

Lux Radio Theatre: “Confession”, CBS, 21 November

Select this link to see a newspaper cutting of the period. This particular cutting is thought to have come from the US newspaper "Grit News".

 

1939

His mother joined him in Hollywood

In summer - suffered a serious leg injury in an accident (he was working on his car when another parked car rolled down a sloping drive; his left knee was crushed between the two cars)

Films:

“The Little Princess” (Geoffrey Hamilton)

“Hound of the Baskervilles” (Sir Henry Baskerville)

“Stanley and Livingstone” (Gareth Tyce)

“Here I Am a Stranger” (David Paulding)

 

1940

Dated British actress Virginia Field

Films:

“Little Old New York” (Robert Fulton)

“I Was an Adventuress” (Paul Vernay)

Radio:
Good News of 1940, NBC, 25 January

27 August - returned to England to serve in the army during World War II

Joined the Royal Armoured Corps (2nd Battalion, stationed in Pinehurst Barracks, in Farnborough, Hampshire) and served as a Private for 3 months

Was sent to Officer Corps Training Unit at Sandhurst for 5 months

 

1941

In April – was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant

Served with the 27th Lancers, stationed in Yorkshire 

Select this link to see an extract from the Chronicle of the 27th Lancers.

Select this link to view newspaper cutting announcing the forthcoming marriage of Richard to Patricia Medina.

24 December - married actress Patricia (Paz Maria) Medina in St. James’s Church, Spanish Place, London

 

1942

Was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant

In September – was given a three-month sick leave, and afterwards was classified as unfit for active service (probably because of the leg injury sustained in 1939)

Films:

“Unpublished Story” (Bob Randall)

“Flying Fortress” (James Spence Jr)

 

1943

Due to ill health was offered discharge from the army which he declined

Served as Acting Captain with the Army Kinematograph Service

Film:

“Yellow Canary” (Jim Garrick)

 

1944

In May (or in December?) – was discharged from the army on medical grounds

Bought a Tudor farmhouse in Buckinghamshire (Egham’s Farm in Knotty Green, near Beaconsfield)

Theatre (ENSA):

"Arms and the Man" by George Bernard Shaw - for British forces in France, Belgium and Holland (together with Patricia Medina)

Film:

“Don’t Take It to Heart” (Peter Hayward)

 

1945

Theatre:

"Desert Rats" by Colin Morris – toured England and Scotland, eventually coming to London’s West End (the Adelphi Theatre)

Select to view programme

 

1946

Film:

“Gaiety George”/“Show Time” (George Howard)

Returned to Hollywood (with Patricia Medina) to complete his contract with 20th Century-Fox

Bought a house in Coldwater Canyon (Beverly Hills) and rented a beach cottage in Malibu

 

1947

Film:

“Forever Amber” (Lord Harry Almsbury)

 

1948

Was released from his contract with 20th Century-Fox at his own request

Separated from Patricia Medina

 

1949

Films:

“The Fighting O’Flynn” (Lord Philip Sedgemonth)  

“The Fan”/“Lady Windermere’s Fan” (Lord Arthur Windermere), filmed in England

“Now Barabbas Was A Robber” (Tufnell), filmed in England and in Italy

“If This Be Sin”/“That Dangerous Age” (Michael Barclaigh), filmed in England and on Capri

 

1950

12th June - Patricia Medina petitioned for a divorce

Bought a house on Mulholland Drive in Hollywood, and a 12-foot dinghy (named Arachnid)

Was romantically involved with Nancy Oakes, heiress from the Bahamas

 

Films:

“Shadow of the Eagle” (Count Alexei Orloff); Select this link to view the Press Book for this film

“The Desert Hawk” (Omar)

“My Daughter Joy”/”Operation X” (Larry)

 

1951

17 March – daughter Patricia Louise was born in Mexico City, to Nancy Oakes

25 June – divorce from Patricia Medina was granted in Los Angeles

Films and TV:

“Lorna Doone” (John Ridd)

The Prudential Family Playhouse: “Berkeley Square” (Peter Standish), CBS TV, 13 February

Nash Airflyte Theatre: “A Kiss for Mr Lincoln” (Bank President), 22 February

Robert Montgomery Presents: “Stairway to Heaven” (Peter), NBC TV, 9 April

Your Show of Shows, NBC TV, 21 April

Lux Video Theatre: “Sire de Maletroit’s Door”, CBS TV, 7 May

The Ford Theatre Hour: “Peter Ibbetson”, CBS TV, 18 May

Studio One: “Coriolanus” (Coriolanus), CBS TV, 11 June

Somerset Maugham TV Theatre: “The Fall of Edward Bernard” (Edward Bernard), NBC TV, 29 October

Lux Video Theatre: “Stolen Years”, CBS TV, 19 November

Lights Out: “Beyond the Door”, 26 November

Theatre:

“The Voice of the Turtle” – the Theatre Guild in Nassau

 

1952

Films and TV:

“The Black Castle” (Sir Ronald Burton, alias Richard Beckett)

Robert Montgomery Presents: “The Moonstone”, NBC TV (11 February)

Theatre:

“Dial M For Murder”, Wilbur Theatre, Boston

 

1953

Films and TV:

“Captain Scarlett” (Capt. Scarlett)

“The Bandits of Corsica”/“The Return of the Corsican Brothers” (Mario/Lucien-Carlos)

“Rogue’s March” (Capt. Thomas Garron)

“A Terribly Strange Bed”, CBS TV

Theatre:

“Dial M For Murder”, Harris Theatre, Chicago (for five months)

 

1954

Bought rights to a comedy-western “The Dude from Montana” (no film producer was interested)

 

Theatre (UK):

“The Secret Tent” (also producer); the play was not successful – it failed to reach the West End

"I Capture the Castle" - Aldwych Theatre, London

 

TV:

Music-Hall (introduction), BBC TV, 7 August

 

1955

Film and TV:

“Contraband Spain”/”Contrabando” (Lee Scott)

General Electric Theatre: “The Return of Gentleman Jim”, CBS TV

 

1955 – 1959

TV series “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (Robin Hood/Luke Tanner); also production associate

Appeared in 141 out of 143 episodes; missed 2 episodes (“The Final Tax” and “The Goldmaker’s Return”) because of a sinus operation in December 1956

During the filming of the series he spent most weekends sailing; he owned a boat named Freyja, and in 1958 had an ocean-racing yacht “Santander” built in Cowes

 

1956

TV:

The George Gobel Show (himself/Robin Hood), 24 March, US

 

1959

TV:

The United States Steel Hour: “The Wayward Widow” (Mr Stockdale), CBS TV, 6 May

“Time to Remember”: “1938: Wind up Week” (narrator), UK

 

1960

28 July - Married Beatriz Robledo-Summers from Bogota, Columbia (in Dublin)

Films and TV:

“Beyond the Curtain” (Jim Kyle)

“Sword of Sherwood Forest” (Robin Hood), also producer

General Electric Theatre: “Hot Footage” (Jonathan Love), CBS TV, 29 May

 

1962

Bought a 370-acre farm (Borleagh Manor, near Gorey in County Wexford, Ireland), where he lived in semi-retirement, as a farmer and a thoroughbred horse breeder; within five years he reached the 6th place on the list of top breeders of thoroughbreds in England and Ireland

Was a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, and won several races, including Cowes to Lisbon

 

1965

Was business partner (with a friend Michael Graham) in an Italian luxury hotel Il Pellicano (in Porto Ercole, Tuscany)

 

1967

Film:

“Dangerous Island”/”Lost Island”/“Island of the Lost” (Dr. Josh MacRae)

 

1968

Film:

“The Blood of Fu Manchu”/”Fu Manchu’s Kiss of Death”/”Fu Manchu and the Kiss of Death”/”Fu Manchu and the Keys of Death”/”Kiss and Kill”/”Kiss of Death”/”Against All Odds” (Nayland Smith)

 

1969

Film:

“The Castle of Fu Manchu”/”The Torture Chamber of Fu Manchu”/”Assignment Istanbul” (Denis Nayland Smith)

TV:

“The Doctors” (Doctor Maurice Rapson), BBC1, 17 December

 

1970

TV:

“A Man for Loving” (James Beal), Yorkshire TV, 12 January

“The Morecambe and Wise Show: Show of the Week”, BBC1, 22 November (guest)

 

1971

Theatre:

“No Fear or Favour” by Henry Cecil, Leeds

“Make No Mistake” at the Wimbledon Theatre (it opened on 31st May, and ran for only one week), and at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

"The Tilted Scales" by Henry Cecil at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford – 27th July till 14th August (as Clifton Ledbury and George Ledbury)

 

1972

Sold Borleagh Manor; lived in London, in the house he had bought in the 1950s (47 Chester Row, Belgravia)

Film:

“Tales from the Crypt” (Ralph Jason in segment “Wish You Were Here”)

Theatre: "Getting On" by Alan Bennett at the Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon (opened 25th September)

 

1974

Appeared at Chichester Festival

Was setting up a film and TV production company called Film Lot with a writer Ion Voyantzis

TV:

“Dixon of Dock Green” (Lewis Fulton in the episode “Snout”), 9 March

 

1975

TV:

“Whodunnit!” (Major Denton in the episode “Evidence of Death”)

 

1978

TV:

“The Professionals” (Neil Turvey in the episode “Everest Was Also Conquered”), LWT, 17 February

“Looks Familiar”, Thames TV, 9 November (on-screen participant)

“This Is Your Life” with Patricia Neal (guest), ITV, 13 December

 

1979

TV:

“Tales of the Unexpected” by Roald Dahl (The Colonel in the episode “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”), Anglia TV, 31 March

Theatre:

 “Who Killed Agatha Christie” by Tudor Gates at the Key Theatre, Peterborough (opened in August)

 

1980

Separated from Beatriz Summers

TV:

“Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson” (Lord Brompton in the episode “The Case of the Purloined Letter”)

 

1981

TV:

 “Scarf Jack” (Mr Edward in episode “The Duel”), Southern TV, 27 July

 

1982

TV:

“Play It Again”, Tyne Tees TV, 17 February (interviewee)

“Squadron” (Sir Robert Christie in episode “Memorial Flight”), BBC1, 26 October

Moved from Belgravia to Kensington

In October - suffered serious head injuries (from which he never fully recovered) in a fall at his home in London

 

1983 - 1985

Lived in a cottage on a private estate in Norfolk (the house was later re-named Robin Hood Cottage)

Select this link to see a photograph of Robin Hood Cottage

 

1985

Died on the 1st June in Norfolk, of cardiac arrest

His ashes were scattered at sea

A memorial service was held on 2 July at St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, London. Among those present were: Douglas Fairbanks jnr, Dinah Sheridan, Mr and Mrs Robert Leigh-Wood (son-in-law and daughter Patricia), Nancy Oakes (Baroness von Hoyningen-Huene), and Mr Matthew Keating (governor, Cardinal Vaughan School)

Select this link to view a clipping of The Times Obituary

Select this link to view a cutting from the Chicago Tribune

Select this link to view a photograph of the memorial plaque at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden

 

Richard Greene’s daughter Patricia continued the theatrical tradition – she studied drama at Vassar College, New York.  She has two children: John Alexander Roosevelt, born in 1977, and Shirley Alice Leigh-Wood, born in 1985, an actress and dancer, working under the stage name Shirley Oakes.


We are grateful to Patricia Leigh-Wood for her assistance.
 

Main sources:

Charles Kidd – “Debrett Goes to Hollywood”, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1986

http://uk.imdb.com/name/nm0338901/

www.classicimages.com Dan Van Neste – “Richard Greene, Swashbuckler with a Double-Edged Sword”

Jeffrey Richards – “Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York”; Routledge, London, 1977

Patricia Medina Cotten - "Laid Back in Hollywood: Remembering", Belle Publishing, Los Angeles, 1998

James Robert Parish and William T. Leonard – “Hollywood Players: The Thirties”, Rainbow Books, Carlstadt, New Jersey, 1976

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004

The Times, 1985

www.fairpickings.com

www.tv.com

Various press articles from the UK and the US (with thanks to the British Film Institute library in London)

Thanks to Elaine Brulinski for her research that turned up the Chicago Tribune cutting

Memorial Plaque photograph is courtesy of Howard Rogofsky

Thanks to Mr. Arthur Lunn and Mr. Mark Owen for information about the WW2 period


Biographers: Anna Fraser and Lucy Carpenter