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McCarthyism and the Robin Hood Myth

John Simkin

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As a result of McCarthyism left-wing writers were blacklisted and could not get work. In 1955 two of these blacklisted writers, Ring Lardner Jr. and Ian Hunter, were approached by Hannah Weinstein, a blacklisted journalist who had moved to London. As Lardner later explained: "Hannah, the former executive secretary of the leftish Independent Citizen Committee of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, was living in England and running a TV production company.... We were grateful, as well, to find that Hannah had chosen, for our maiden effort in the new medium, a literary property filled with stimulating possibilities. Set in medieval England and filmed largely in around Hannah's appropriately historic estate, Foxwarren, outside London, The Adventures of Robin Hood gave us plenty of opportunities for oblique social comment on the issues and institutions of Eisenhower-era America. And the series was a great success. Using our pilot script and a preview of episodes to come, Hannah sold the package to networks on both sides of the Atlantic; with Richard Greene in the title role, Robin Hood ran for four years, generating profits for everyone concerned and perhaps, in some small way, setting the stage for the 1960s by subverting a whole new generation of young Americans." Weinstein also employed other blacklisted writers on the series.

These writers did what they could to put over a left-wing message. This included the idea that Robin Hood robbed the rich and gave the money to the poor. In this way they promoted the myth that Hood was some kind of socialist. However, the documentary evidence is that Robin Hood was just an ordinary criminal.



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