Mini Tribute: Alan Hale Sr.

Born Feb 10, 1892, Alan Hale – Pirates, Cowboys and Much More!
(potato chips anyone?)

Where do I even begin? Alan Hale is just such a wonderful character actor. He’s had quite an impressive career to boot, appearing in over 230 films, silent and sound, (and directed nine more), for a career spanning 40 years. I essentially ‘discovered’ Hale as I watched my favorite Errol Flynn movies — from The Adventures of Robin Hood to The Sea Hawk to Dodge City to Santa Fe Trail and more. But I must say, that perhaps my favorite Hale role is (and it is a SMALL role to say the least) Danker in It Happened One Night – that tinny tiny little scene always has me laughing out loud (what a booming voice!).

Alan Hale Sr

Alan Hale was born in 1892 in our capital city, Washington DC. He studied opera, but was unable to make a career out of it, so he pursued acting instead. He started out in silents and worked his way through sound — becoming a popular and very busy character actor in the process.  He’s probably best known for his role as Little John in both the 1922 (silent) and 1938 (sound) versions of Robin Hood.

Of course, just about everyone knows that he’s also The Skipper’s father (Alan Hale Jr. played The Skipper in Gilligan’s Island), but I’m thinking that not too many people know that he was also an inventor — and is credited with inventing, holding the patent to, and/or financing the creation of auto brakes, hand-held fire extinguishers, greaseless potato chips — and the folding theater seat!


Alan Hale as Little John - Robin Hood (1922) Douglas Fairbanks

Alan Hale as Little John in the 1922 silent classic, Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery (director Allan Dwan)


Alan Hale, Little John, Adventures of Robin Hood, Errol Flynn

And again, as Little John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (directors Michael Curtiz and William Keighley)

Robin Hood: Give way, little man.
Little John: Only to a better man than meself.
Robin Hood: He stands before you.


Alan Hale, Sea Hawk, Errol Flynn

“To England, and the Queen!” – as Carl Pitt in The Sea Hawk, starring Errol Flynn  (director, Michael Curtiz 1940)


Alan Hale, Rusty Hart, Dodge City, Errol Flynn

“He’s the most ‘movin’ on’ man you ever saw. First off, he was in the English army over in India. Then he got mixed up in some kind of a hu-rah Revolution down in Cuba way. Then he started punchin’ cattle in Texas, that is, of course, before he enlisted in the war. So, you see, he’s either the greatest traveler ever lived, or else he is the biggest lier!”
– as Rusty Hart in Dodge City, starring Errol Flynn
(director Michael Curtiz, 1939 )


It Happened One Night, Alan Hale, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Danker

And my favorite:  Alan Hale merrily singing “Young people in LOVE are very seldom hungry” in It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert (director, Frank Capra 1934)


–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Note: this was a partial reprint of a longer article covering Erik Rhodes and Alan Hale from the 2012 What a Character Blogathon

This entry was posted in Character Actors, Mini Tributes, Posts by Annmarie Gatti and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mini Tribute: Alan Hale Sr.

  1. I loved him in “Stella Dallas” starring Barbara Stanwyck. He was hilarious!

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