Joe Robinson (actor)
Joe Robinson as Thor in Thor and the Amazon Women
31 May 1927
Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England
Joseph "Joe" Robinson (born 31 May 1927) is an English actor and stuntman born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland. His brother, Doug Robinson, is also an actor and stuntman. Robinson's father and grandfather were world-champion wrestlers.
Robinson initially embarked on a career in wrestling as 'Tiger Joe Robinson' and won the European Heavyweight Championship in 1952. At the same time, he was also interested in acting and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After injuring his back wrestling in Paris he decided to concentrate on acting. Joe Robinson's daughter Polly Robinson (Hardy-Stewart) has also continued the family's success in martial arts by winning the junior Judo championships in the 1980s.
Robinson's first role came in the keep-fit documentary Fit as a Fiddle and in the same year, 1952, he followed it up with a part as Harry 'Muscles' Green in the musical Wish You Were Here in the West End of London.
He made his film debut in 1955's A Kid for Two Farthings, in which he wrestled Primo Carnera. His film and television career really took off in the 1960s and in 1962 he appeared in British classic The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner alongside appearances in The Saint and The Avengers in 1963. With his younger brother Doug and Honor Blackman, he co-authored Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defence in 1965 (Joe was also a judo champion and black belt at karate). The year after he appeared in an episode of the sitcom Pardon the Expression which referenced this book. During this time he was also a popular stunt-arranger, working on several James Bond films and in 1960 was invited to Rome where he appeared in five muscle-bound Italian epics, including Taur the Mighty (1963), Thor and the Amazon Women (1963) and Ursus and the Tartar Princess (1961). Other notable big-screen appearances include 1961's Carry On Regardless, of the British institution the Carry Ons. According to the book Tarzan of the Movies by Gabe Essoe, Robinson played the role of Tarzan in obscure Italian-made films (Taur, il re della forza bruta and Le gladiatrici); the use of the Tarzan character, however, was unauthorised and the character's name had to be changed to Thaur before the film was allowed for public release. His final big-screen appearance was in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever in which he plays diamond smuggler Peter Franks. Robinson claimed that he was a contender for the Red Grant role in From Russia with Love. Though he did not get it, Connery recommended him for the role in Diamonds are Forever. Robinson also claimed he turned down the role of the Rank Organisation's Gongman.
He is now retired and living in Brighton where he opened a martial arts centre. In 1998 he hit the headlines after fighting off a gang of eight muggers single-handedly. The 70-year-old was getting off a bus in Cape Town when the gang struck with baseball bats and knives. 6 ft 2 ins Joe poleaxed two with flying kicks, karate-chopped another in the chest and broke the arm of a fourth, while the rest fled.
Reminiscing about his career in the Daily Mail recently, Robinson spoke on the subject of Laurence Olivier's alleged homosexuality saying 'my kids used to play with his kids at school and I taught him judo ... I have no idea if he was a homosexual... but he did once tell me I had lovely shoulders.'
- Championships and accomplishments
- A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) - Sam Heppner
- Die ganze Welt singt nur Amore (1956) - Max, der Athlet
- Pasaporte al infierno (1956) - Pete Archer
- Fighting Mad (1957) - Muscles Tanner
- The Flesh Is Weak (1957) - Lofty
- The Strange Awakening (1958) - Sven
- Sea Fury (1958) - Hendrik
- Murder Reported (1958) - Jim
- The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) - Corinthian (uncredited)
- The Bulldog Breed (1960) - Tall Sailor
- Carry On Regardless (1961) - Dynamite Dan
- Erik the Conqueror (1961) - Garian (uncredited)
- Barabbas (1961) - Bearder Gladiator
- Ursus and the Tartar Princess / Tartar Invasion (1961) - Ursus
- The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) - Roach
- Taur, il re della forza bruta (1963) - Taur
- Doctor in Distress (1963) - Sonja's Boyfriend
- Thor and the Amazon Women (1963) - Thor
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971) - Peter Franks (Last appearance)