Photo: Ian Thraves  www.thravesphoto.co.uk

Robin Hardy Bio

Robin’s name has been indelibly connected to THE WICKER MAN (1973) because it has become such a widely recognised classic, on both sides of the Atlantic, but also in continental Europe. He is often asked to preside at major festivals dedicated to The Wicker Man in Scotland and the USA.  The music has been used and adapted by countless pop and folk groups. It is as a result of having to interact with the book’s and the film’s enormous fan base over the last years that Robin has felt that another film in the same genre is required.  Not a sequel or a prequel, but a story inhabiting the same territory. The Wicker Tree is the result. Early in his long transatlantic career, Robin won The Grand Prize at the New York International Film Festival for his film Workability. A decade later in 1974, he won Le Grand Prix at the Paris International Festival of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Films for The Wicker Man, which went on to win the awarded for Best Horror Film from The American Academy of Science Fiction and Horror Films in Hollywood.

Main image of Hardy, Robin (1929-)

A Jack-of-all-trades, Robin was trained as an artist in Paris, studying under Fernand Leger and Matisse at their Ateliers. Painting and drawing has always been part of his life. As a novelist he has been particularly successful in the United States. His Book of the Month Club novel, The Education of Don Juan, was considered ‘an authentic tour de force’ by The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times considered it: ‘Vastly funny and sexy, it is the author’s genius that he makes flesh and blood characters out of sexual clichés’. He has written several historical novels, and has been involved in the creation of historical theme parks in the US.

don juan

His film, The Fantasist, starring Moira Harris, Timothy Bottoms and Christopher Cazenove was called by the London’s Time Out, ‘lyrical and disturbing, showing that love is not all it is cut up to be’. Robin’s literary editor, the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis, thought he ought to avoid keeping his tongue in his cheek.  In The Fantasist, he kept his vow to her to curb it. The film was simply terrifying. 

He also co-wrote and produced Forbidden Sun (d. Zelda Barron, 1989), which continued some of The Wicker Man’s thematic preoccupations in that it dealt with repressive, secret cults.

forbidden sun

In the theatre, Winnie, his West End play with music, based on Winston Churchill during World War 2, was considered by Lord Bill Deedes (who knew Churchill well) to ‘mix most judiciously patriotism and fun’ in celebrating the great leader in a show which both The Evening Standard and Thames Television called ‘A triumph’, and The Daily Mirror called it ‘a blockbuster’. Deedes thought ‘Churchill would have loved it’.

His work for television has been worldwide: The Ramayana in India, an epic dance drama with Ravi Shankar, Paradise Lost, with Sir Ralph Richardson as God, and The Frozen Moment (with Sessue Hayakaa) in Japan. Also, Cyrano de Bergerac with Claude Dauphin and many others, often for American sponsored shows like Exxon World Theatre and Alcoa Presents. Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer had for many years one of the biggest and most influential commercials companies in the world,  Hardy Shaffer Ferguson Avery, with offices in Paris, London, New York and Frankfurt.  Some of their most important work was done with great photographers like Richard Avedon and cameramen like Jack Hillyard BSC. Marilyn Monroe made, as far as we know, her only contribution to advertising history in Avedon’s and Hardy’s launch of Spring Cigarettes. Suzy Parker launched Dove soap with Robin’s production company and in Paris, Robin directed the top fashion show on everything that was new and a la mode – Dim Dam Dom. Truly, an eclectic career.

Updated: December 2013

Sarah Rossellini

Sarah Rossellini

All Things Wicker is created and edited by Sarah Rossellini.