Alan Hale, born Rufus Alan McKahan, Actor, b. 1892, d. 1950.
Alan Hale decided to go into the acting business at a very young age. As a teenager going into the theatre at a time when acting was looked down upon as a highly dishonorable career. Still, he felt it was his calling and after completing his studies at Philadelphia University he joined the slapstick comedy oriented Lubin Company in 1911. He needed to work odd jobs to be able to get by, as the acting pay scale was minimal and there was no organization in place to protect actors from scams and promoters running off with the gate receipts.
The son of a man who manufactured patent medicines, Hale had a bit of the inventor in him as well. He is said to have invented greasless potato chips and presented ideas for new type of automotive brakes. In the 1920s he found himself in demand for roles as a character actor. His specialty was mean, hard drinking villain types. This would change after he was cast alongside Douglas Fairbanks in the 1922 version of Robin Hood as Little John. He would own the role for a quarter century, reprising it alongside Errol Flynn in 1938 and John Derek in 1950 (in Rogues of Sherwood Forest).
Hale would perfect the goofy, slapstick, loyal sidekick buddy role alongside Errol Flynn in Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and The Adventures of Don Juan. He would be cast in roles calling for drunken, fun-loving Irishmen and assorted comic relief roles. With Errol Flynn in Santa Fe Trail he is not Flynn's right hand man but one half of a pair of drunken halfwits who shadow Flynn throughout the movie with grand schemes and boasts.
Hale would die while filming Montana, his final project with Errol Flynn. Pneumonia would be the cause of death, and perhaps the loss of Hale was the harbinger for Flynn's career. It would begin to completely unravel soon after.
Alan Hale is frequently confused with his son, Alan Hale, Jr., who strongly resembles him and gained fame as the skipper on Gilligan's Island.