Probably still the deadliest exponent of the Martial Arts
in Britain today (he holds an 8th Dan in Judo and a 5th Dan in Karate),
Joe Robinson comes from a family of championship wrestlers who eventually
moved into the entertainment industry.
Both his father Joseph Robinson Senior and grandfather John were World
Champions. Following in their footsteps, Joe junior won the Wrestling
European Heavyweight Championship in 1952, beating Axel Cadier in London,
when he was billed as ‘Tiger’ Joe Robinson. After injuring his back
wrestling in Paris, ‘Tiger’ Joe decided to concentrate on acting, and
after a few bit-parts in films his first leading role came in the keep-fit
documentary Fit As A Fiddle (1952). Joe also played Harry ‘Muscles’
Green in the West End stage musical Wish You Were Here (1952).
By way of RADA, Joe was eventually cast by director Sir Carol Reed for the
pivotal lead role of Sam in the magical film A Kid For Two Farthings
(1955) in which he wrestled the gigantic Primo Carnera. About this
time Joe found his impressively muscular frame (he has a 50-inch chest)
much in demand in 60’s Italian cinema, appearing in many ‘sword and
sandal’ epics such as King of Brute Force (1962), Ursus and the
Tartar Girl (1962), and also opposite Anthony Quinn and Jack Palance
in Richard Fleischer’s affecting and memorable epic Barabbas
But probably Joe’s best-remembered role is as the deadly diamond smuggler
Peter Franks in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) opposite Sean Connery’s
James Bond, where the two big men battle it out to the death in a moving
lift, in one of the best fight scenes in the entire Bond series.