Alan Hale, Sr. has been called one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood, with 235 films under his belt. He began in 1911 with “The Cowboy and the Lady” and though he appeared in many westerns, he also played in films adapted from classics by Dickens, Bronte, Twain, and Ibsen.
In 1934 he played in “Of Human Bondage,” “The Scarlet Letter,” and “Great Expectations” in just that year alone. He was the boorish Klaas Poole who mimicked Barbara Stanwyck’s appreciation of the sight of a field of cabbages in “So Big,” and played her bumbling, hapless best pal and unsuccessful suitor in “Stella Dallas.” Another featured role was in “Santa Fe Trail” with Errol Flynn, and he made 12 films with Flynn.
One film with Flynn which stands out is “Robin Hood” (1938), in which Hale plays Little John. Mr. Hale seemed to have owned the part of Little John, having played him in two other films as well: “Robin Hood” (1922) and “Rogues of Sherwood Forest” (1950), which was to be his last film before he died.
Part of Warner Brothers famous merry band of stock actors, Hale was big, barrel-chested and seized each small role with the gusto of a star.