Robert Hartford-Davis

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Robert Hartford-Davis (1923-1977) was a film producer, director and writer.


Robert Hartford-Davis (originally William Henry Davis) was born in Ramsgate, England on 23 July 1923 and had a career in film and television both in the United Kingdom and the United States. He came to South Africa in 1957 to produce a pilot episode for a television series to be transmitted overseas and a newspaper article stated that he was looking for a local leading man. The leading lady had already been cast. She was Marilyn Patterson, a Canadian-born, South African-raised actress who had returned to Johannesburg to act in a stage production of Look Back in Anger. According to the Sunday Times of 14 December 1958 they had been married since April 1957, but their marriage certificate states that the union took place on 24 November 1958.

In South Africa he formed a company called Assegai Films, said to be backed by a syndicate of wealthy local businessmen. One project was a feature film based on South African crime writer Peter Godfrey’s short story Leopard by Night and another was a film version of the popular radio serial No Place to Hide, written by Monte Doyle. In the event neither materialised, though he did produce a half-hour version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. It was made for Alpha Film Studios and the cast included the likes of John Hayter, Stuart Brown, Gordon Mulholland and Bruce Anderson. Produced by Assegai Films was the documentary City of Contrasts, a portrait of Johannesburg. There is no record of either of them having been shown in South Africa.

In April 1957 he and cameraman Tim Spring were filming the Rand Easter Show and in December 1958 he produced a variety show at the Johannesburg City Hall with a cast that included Diana Dors, Dicky Dawson, the Petersen Brothers, Virginia Lee and Gordon Mulholland. He and Marilyn Patterson were divorced early in 1960. He returned to England and he died in Beverly Hills of a heart attack on 12 June 1977.


Rand Daily Mail, 19 March 1957

Sunday Times, 24 August 1958

Sunday Times, 14 December 1958

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