Joe Robinson, 2004. (Photo copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Joe Robinson, the estimable stuntman, stunt arranger and occasional actor, has passed away in his native England at age 90. Robinson came from a family of wrestlers and he won the European Heavyweight Championship in 1952. Robinson drifted into the film industry initially as an actor, starring in the 1955 movie "A Kid for Two Farthings". Leading man status eluded him but he found a steady career arranging stunts for films and television shows and occasionally acting in them as well. Like many British and American actors, he gravitated to Italy in the early 1960s to appear in some of the "Hercules"-inspired strongman films that were quite popular during that era. He scored small action roles in "Barabbas" and "Ursus" before returning to England, where he had a supporting role in Tony Richardson's classic "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Rnner. He was a noted judo and karate expert and helped train Honor Blackman for her action scenes in "The Avengers" TV series and in the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger". In 1971 he landed his best-remembered role as smuggler Peter Franks in the James Bond movie "Diamonds are Forever". In the movie's best action scene, he has a bruising battle with Sean Connery inside the tight confines of an elevator. This writer and fellow Cinema Retro publisher Dave Worrall met him in 1995 when he participated in recording a laser disc commentary track we were producing relating to the elevator fight along with "Diamonds are Forever" director Guy Hamilton at Pinewood Studios (the track is available on the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film today).
Robinson battling Sean Connery in the 1971 James Bond film "Diamonds are Forever".
Robinson was very much a free spirit who would often turn up unexpectedly at events and ingratiate himself with people by discussing his fascinating stories of working in the film industry. He later would appear with the James Bond International Fan Club at various 007-themed events and conventions where he enjoyed meeting his admirers and signing autographs. He once told this writer that many years after filming "Diamonds are Forever", he decided to drop by Sean Connery's estate in Spain. When he rang the doorbell buzzer in the gated community, Connery asked who was there. When he heard it was Joe Robinson, Connery exclaimed "Tiger Joe!", referring to Robinson's nickname in the industry. The two men spent a pleasant afternoon reminiscing about old times. In addition to his other achievements, Robinson and his brother Doug co-authored "Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defence", a 1965 volume that illustrated their training sessions with Blackman. For more click here.