Thursday, 13 July 2017

Joe Robinson R.I.P.

Joe Robinson, the professional wrestler turned stunt man and actor, died on July 3 2017 at the age of 90.

Joe Robinson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland on May 31 1927. Both his father and his grandfather had been champion professional wrestlers. Joe Robinson followed them into wrestling as "Tiger Joe Robinson". In 1952 he defeated Axel Cadier of Sweden to win the European heavyweight wrestling title at Royal Albert Hall. Mr. Robinson was already interested in acting at the time and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He appeared as Harry "Muscles" Green in a West End production of Arthur Kober's Wish You Were Here. After injuring his back Mr. Robinson decided to concentrate on acting.

Joe Robinson made his film debut in A Kid for Two Farthings in 1955. In the late Fifties he appeared in such films as Pasaporte al infierno (1956), Die ganze Welt singt nur Amore (1956), Murder Reported (1957), Fighting Mad (1957), The Flesh Is Weak (1957), The Strange Awakening (1958), Sea Fury (1958), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), and The Bulldog Breed (1960). He made his television debut in a guest appearance on Before Your Very Eyes in 1956. He guest starred on Hancock's Half Hour, Emergency-Ward 10, Meet the Champ, and The Strange World of Gurney Slade.

In the Sixties it was Joe Robinson and his brother Doug Robinson who trained Honor Blackman in judo for her role as Mrs. Cathy Gale on the hit TV series The Avengers. They also co-wrote the 1965 book Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defence and appeared with Miss Blackman as her opponents in photos in the book. As might be expected, Mr. Robinson also guest starred on The Avengers, in the episode "November Five". He also guest starred on the TV shows The Saint, Pardon the Expression, and Theatre 625. He appeared in such films as Carry on Regardless (1961), Gli invasori (1962), Barabbas (1961), Ursus e la ragazza tartara (1961), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Taur, il re della forza bruta (1963), and The Undertakers (1969).

He made one last film appearance in Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

Mr. Robinson also worked as a stunt arranger on many films, including several James Bond movies. He retired from acting in the Seventies and opened a martial arts centre.

There can be no doubt that Joe Robinson was a skilled martial artist. When he was 70 he made headlines by fighting off a gang of eight muggers in Cape Town single-handedly. He was also very good at training others in martial arts, having taught Honor Blackman, Mrs. Gale herself. That having been said, he was a fairly good actor as well. He was quite convincing as sport master Roach in Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, as well as smuggler Peter Franks in Diamonds Are Forever. He was even good at comedy, as evidenced by his turn as neurotic fighter Dynamite Dan in Carry On Regardless. Joe Robinson generally played heavies known more for their fighting prowess than their intelligence or personalities, but he was talented enough that he could do other roles as well.

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