Walt Disney thought The Scarecrow was real … plus a fact you won’t find anywhere else!

BE SURE TO READ THE WHOLE POST … I’ve saved the best for the end.

McGoohan as The Scarecrow

McGoohan as The Scarecrow

In my last post, I exposed myself for the Dr. Christopher Syn / Scarecrow of Romney Marsh fan that I am. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and talking about the subject and the star of the Disney version of the story (the best known version) starring Patrick McGoohan who passed away this past Tuesday. I even got involved in a very brief “flame” war with the guys at Appy Entertainment who defended (lamely) their fan devotion to McGoohan’s series The Prisoner. I’m actually a fan of The Prisoner, but I couldn’t admit that to them, so I’m admitting it here.


The new Scarecrow DVD. Buy it for yourself.

Before moving on to a TRULY GREAT STORY by Fanatic Gary Guzzo about the night that Disney premiered Dr. Syn alias the Scarecrow on the Wonderful World of Color, let’s quickly share some cool Scarecrow stuff for all you fanatics out there.

Click on the picture of the Walt Disney Treasures graphic here and you can order your very own copy from Amazon.

Many people commented on the creepy picture of Walt Disney with the Scarecrow masks that I posted last time. Click HERE and you’ll get to see the video intro that aired on television before the first episode. Brace yourself … Walt claims that Dr. Christopher Syn was REAL. I can’t find any other information anywhere that makes this claim. Everyone else says that the character began with writer Russell Thorndike and his seven Dr. Syn novels. But apparently, the Disney version is far more closely modeled after the 1960 novel Christopher Syn by William Buchanan, which made major revisions to Thorndike’s work.

Painting tribute to the first masked hero

Painting tribute to the first masked hero

That Scarecrow theme song, the one that everyone remembers, the one that you can’t get out of your head once it has invaded … if you want to hear the first few bars … click HERE. This will connect you with “www.drsyn.com” which is a good resource for Scarecrow stuff, but it certainly isn’t complete.

Fans of heroic fiction also tend to have or foster other more peculiar hobbies. In the interests of presenting something a little stranger, check out the Dr. Syn / Scarecrow Action Figure. Yes, it is real, but it wasn’t produced commercially, it was customized by people who do this as a hobby. A little weird, a lot fanatical … but in this instance, at least for me … very cool.

Scarecrow action figure (?)

Scarecrow action figure (?)

And I’ll have to admit to being a little sad that Ricardo Montalban passed away the same day that the death of Patrick McGoohan was reported. Montalban was a bigger star in most circles, so the loss of McGoohan got a lot less media attention.

And now, without further ado, a truly FANATIC story of titanic proportions. Put this fact in your back pocket. Use it to win bar bets if you want. I think it is TRULY AMAZING. I present it here in the words of terrific friend and fanatic brother-in-arms Gary Guzzo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I heard the news earlier today about Patrick McGoohan, and being the news junkie that I am, I must have read ten different obits……well, NOT different. Most only gave points to Mr. McGoohan for The Prisoner and only a few mentioned my favorite, ‘Secret Agent Man’ (it’s theme being included in Gary Guzzo’s Ten Greatest Songs Ever Written, by the way). 

No one, with the exception of Dave Olbrich on his terrific blog site Funny Book Fanatic, mentioned the Disney Scarecrow show, and quite frankly I had forgotten it myself.  Well…there IS a wonderful piece of trivia here that explains, even in my advanced state of geekhood, why I would have forgotten the Scarecrow

wwofcolorYou see, every Sunday night, my family would go next door to my Grandmother’s house to watch TV. NO…it wasn’t some Italian thing, it was because my grandmother had 13 children and they had all gotten together to buy her the first color TV I had ever seen. First one on the block, by the way. (hey…I was a poor Italian kid from Yonkers, OK?). Anyway…..we would go over on Sunday because Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color was on……AND it was in color, unlike much of the programming on TV at that time.scarecrow3men1

We had seen the promos for The Scarecrow on the previous week’s progam, and my sister Cheryl, being older and more hormone driven than I, was already in love with the Secret Agent Man, so she spent the week in teenage anticipation for Sunday’s show, while I, the kid that stayed in his room with his treasured comic  books, had other plans.  You see, my room did not only contain my four color friends, I had been given the old, cracked, Bakelite shelled Motorola family radio and it was on throughout my entire comic reading life. 

As Peter Parker battled the Molten Man, Cousin Brucie, Scott Muni, Dan Ingram, and Murry the K played a soundtrack that enhanced the experience.  And it was Murry who caused the rebellion that Sunday and caused me to throw a wrench in the weekly family tradition.  There was no way I was going to Grandma’s on the night of February 9, 1964.  There would be no color TV that night, it would forever exist in glorious black and white because at 8PM, a half hour after the Scarecrow started airing, I was sitting on the living room floor with my Mom, who had volunteered to endure the monochrome magic of that night’s Ed Sullivan Show, and sat with me as Ed introduced The Beatles.

The Beatles historic first appearance on ED SULLIVAN

The Beatles historic first appearance on ED SULLIVAN

And the whole world changed…..

To this day, I have only seen snippets of the Scarecrow, but now that Dave has educated me on the fact that a DVD exists, I am off to Amazon to grab a copy.  I will watch it, most likely, with Meet The Beatles playing in the background.  It just sounds right.

           — Gary Guzzo

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Yes, you read that correctly. The night that Disney first showed Dr. Syn alias the Scarecrow (in color), at the same time The Ed Sullivan Show was airing its historic appearance of The Beatles (in black-and-white), February 9, 1964. That deserves a major fanatic YEEK! I don’t know what the ratings were, but I’ll bet The Scarecrow didn’t do very well. 

Thank you Gary Guzzo for that AMAZING story that you can’t get anywhere else, unless you’re reading Funny Book Fanatic.

           — Dave Olbrich (DWO) Fri. Jan. 16, 2009



Filed under Behind the Scenes, Fanatic General, Fanatical History, Product Plugs

34 responses to “Walt Disney thought The Scarecrow was real … plus a fact you won’t find anywhere else!

  1. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. The literary Scarecrow was also mentioned in Alan Moore’s ‘the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ as being a member of a much older incarnation of the team.
    I just hope that the upcoming cable “re-imagining” of the Prisoner series (to star Ian McKellan) will do McGoohan’s work justice.

    Also- Dean Motter, designer supreme, did a mini that was an awesome ode to the Prisoner for DC in the years just prior to their Vertigo imprint, which would have housed it nicely, I think.

  3. Dave Olbrich

    Richard –
    The Scarecrow was mentioned in LEG …

    Did the character actually appear, or was it just in dialogue or a caption?

  4. DWO-
    Most clear is a portrait from pg 53 of the first series, which shows the 1787 League (including also Jonathan Swift’s Lemuel Gulliver and James Fenimore Cooper’s Hawkeye). They were mentioned again in the second series, and an actual story was to be a feature for the third series, along with those of other eras.
    I reference from Jess Nevins’ “Heroes and Monsters”, a companion book approved and endorsed by Moore and O’Neill.

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  8. Marc

    WAS Dr. Syn based on a real person? I am confused over this matter. As was previously pointed out, Walt Disney indicated that he was based on an actual man. I cannot find anything to confirm this. Please clarify.

  9. Dave Olbrich


    Just like you, I can’t find and haven’t found any evidence that Christopher Syn (the Scarecrow) was based on a real man. It appears as if the character was completely fictional, dropped into a real world setting, by author Russell Thorndike. I was shocked to find that Disney thought otherwise, but maybe he just wanted to embellish the story.

    If any information surfaces that Walt was right, I’ll be happy to provide it.

    And remember, Walt spent a lot of time in the actual location where the story is set in England. It wouldn’t be the first time that local merchants turned a fictional character into something more to boost tourism.

  10. Marc


    Thanks so much for the quick and thoughtful reply. I will reciprocate and tell you if I learn of anything new regarding the manner. In the meantime, I can relish the new copy of “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” that we received last Friday. We found it on the net and paid $65 for it. It was well worth it. I was just over 5 years old (I am now 50) when Dr. Syn first appeared on Wonderful World of Color. Although I had forgotten most of the story in the intervening years, the Scarecrow’s costume and his great cackle never left me. As well, the opening song stayed with me and the image of the Scarecrow, astride his horse, thundering past a real scarecrow as he rode off to a nighttime rendevous with the gentlemen of the marshes, is seared into my memory. What a great show (and still is) it was! Take care.


  11. Richard

    How can I get the cool action figure? I am forty nine yrs old and I do remember the scarecrow. Classic series, very few programs can match such drama and acting,. the actors played there parts as true actors. the plots seemed real enough and deserve great praise. Thanks for the info.

  12. Dan Brown

    One thing this post leaves a misimpression about–Disney with the Scarecrow was on at 7 p.m. (that was when network shows started back then) and Ed Sullivan with the Beatles aired at 8 p.m. I saw both (in black and white) the first time they were on because I changed the channel. My family watched both shows for years, because they were consecutive on different channels, so I do not think the Beatles affected the Scarecrow’s first ratings at all.

  13. Our beloved Walt [as in Disney] had his facts wrong [or] maybe he even embelished a wee bit who really knows right? Let us not forget he was in the Entertainment Industry. Because guess what? the person of Christoher Syn was a real clergyman in the Romney Marsh area circa 1778. Please accept this weblink [below] for the official Dr. Syn website.

    Which is run by surviving relatives of the original Christopher Syn. I found this while doing some research for a book that I’m writing about the very time period, and am considering adding a ‘Scarecrow’ type of aspect to it [maybe] or at least something similar perhaps.


    You should be able to with this link, if it comes through well enough that is. Click on the top center picture labled Vicars of Dymchurch. Here you will find a well kept record of the original listings of all vicars and parsons, with Royal visitations added. Even the ‘Ship Inn’ mentioned in the books actually exsits, go figure huh? So since I have stumbled upon your most excellent blog, and feeling fairly certain I have the answer for you…eer ya go matey! I do hope this answers yer question as to Mr. Disney’s confusion…or embellisment[?]. Ever in HIS service, HIS humble privateer…Michael

  14. As too brother Dan Brown’s recalling of the shows being on consecutive channels, Yes! Thats how I remember it as well. My family did the same thing we all watched Disney, then we would flip to Sullivan. Although coming up on 54 yrs of age, I do think I have that correct…LOL, and yes I saw them in black and white also!

  15. Sorry gang I forgot to mention somethng…silly me!
    As someone who lives in Roswell NM, I am sure that since Romney had a real Christopher Syn, that there are some who ‘do believe’ that the scarecrow myth is real. Just as there are folks here in Roswell who think the alien thing is real, even if there is no real supporting evidence.

    So I am thinking that the ‘Scarecrow’ is Romney’s “Roswell’ of sorts. I do not doubt that this ‘Christopher Syn’ did exsist, since their are folks claiming his lineage, but I do doubt that the scarecrow in legend has any merit whatsoever. Myself being English and have heard nearly all of the olde English legends over my lifetime…I do hope this makes sense and clears the air
    [I hope…lol] Thank you for your time everyone…Michael

  16. DBE

    Of course Dr. Syn was a real character. Myths are based on real events and real people. The ancient city of TROY was DISCOVERED. The remains of KING ARTHUR were uncovered centuries after his and Genieve’s death. And besides, Walt Disney says so.

  17. Dwayne Croft

    Don’t forget that Patrick McGoohan starred as Long Shanks in the movie Braveheart later in life and was quite brilliant!!

  18. Doug

    I have to weigh in on The Beatles/Scarecrow airing question as well. I too remember watching Scarecrow on Disney, and then watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I’ve been told that it never happened… But it did… In Canada, CBC aired Disney at 7PM and then Ed Sullivan at 8 PM. That was a stellar night for watching TV — even if it was on a Black & White television with Rabbit Ears.

  19. LindaY

    I’m coming late to this party while looking for items on the Scarecrow, but WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR started at 7:30 p.m., not seven. I know because LASSIE was at seven, and then the channel was changed for Disney.

  20. Sorry to disappoint you, but Dr.Christopher Syn was never a real person. His creator Russell Thorndike produced the first story in 1915. Romney Marsh certainly exists, as do many of the places mentioned in the books. Smuggling reached its height there during the 17th-18th Century. One vicar was known to have helped the smugglers hide their contraband under the floor of his church – but it was one of many events that Russell heard about and re-invented for his own smuggler-parson. There is, however, a memorial plaque to Russell inside Dymchurch Church, not far from where
    he often drank at ‘The Ship Inn’ and where the Thorndike family cottage can still be seen.

  21. The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was a truly wonderful adaptation of Buchanan’s book — with one major exception. The Scarecrow had two lieutenants: Hellspite and Curlew. Disney made Curlew the squire’s son, but in the original book, Curlew was the squire’s daughter; and there is intimated romance between the Vicar Syn and the squire’s daughter at the end of the book. Having Curlew be a boy spoiled this romance story.

  22. Joe Reader

    Like so many others, I came to your site, also a little late in the game, while looking for ” The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh ” info and found what you have fun and interesting. I was 9 years old when the show debuted on Disney, and was hooked. My family, by coincidence, was also together for a gathering at my grandparents the night the Beatles took the stage on Ed Sullivan. I wanted to watch “The Scarecrow”, but was outvoted by my cousins. I was so angry I stormed off swearing to not watch these Beatle guys. In Los Angeles, Disney was on 7:30 – 8:30. Ed Sullivan was on 8:00 to 9:00.
    I had to wait until the early 70’s, when “The Scarecrow” was rebroadcast to see the complete series. It also was released here in a theatrical version around the mid 70’s. Watched it every chance I got.
    By the way, I became a lifelong Beatles fan, too.

  23. Mac

    I first saw the theatrical version on television in 1983 at age 7.
    At first I kind of thumbed my nose at it, yet later when the 3-part televised version aired in spring of 2000 as a late, late, late show, well, I took a more active interest, and to this day I miss the theatrical version. Also, I miss Mr. McGoohan, too.

  24. You should have a look here, at “what might have been”.

  25. randy

    @ Cory Hinman
    whoa; that is some badical fanart.

    I’ve been a Scarecrow fan since that telecast. And a superhero geek in general. In the 1960’s the pickings were kinda slim on TV. Davy Crocket and Zorro were popular. Everybody had the coonskin caps and the capas gaucho (Zorro) hat. I was sort of a the-road-less-travelled guy

    A perusal of Dr. Syn at Wikipedia shows just how conflicted a hero he was. Not possessed of the integrity of Superman, etc., he had several identities; he was Captain Clegg, a bloodthirsty pirate. He dynamited his ship to get rid of witnesses when he decided to resume a parson’s life. Smuggling had it’s own set of ethical issues; lots of unsavory things were going on; his wife deserted him for his best friend; he stalked them both for .that. Squire Cobtree’s daughter fell in love with him, and lost her life over it. Syn was harpooned through the neck by a survivor of the dynamited ship.

    There are numerous fansites on the web. I was impressed with DrSyn-dot-com…as you also noted. Ebook editions of Thorndyke’s books also seem to be available.

    I remember Uncle Walt’s info that the Scarecrow was real, and that intrigued me mightily. The oversight isn’t so egregious. Elected officials tell bigger whoppers..

  26. Taken from http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk

    Russell Thorndike, DOCTOR SYN 1915, republished 1998. It is set around the turn of the 18th century in Dymchurch and Romney Marsh and tells the story of the genial. kindly well-loved Vicar of Dymchurch, who sometimes breaks into the ungodly vavourite song of the notorious pirate Captain Clegg ==though Clegg had been hanged as a pirate ten years before — so it was said. And who is the Scarecrow, leader of the smugglers’ gang? An unusual story with plenty of mystery and ‘atmosphere’.
    The author was the actor and writer Russell Thorndike, brother of the actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. While the Thorndikes were touring the USA with a theatrical company, a murder took place outside their hotel. The body was left all night on the street below their window. Unable to sleep, they passed the time by telling stories. The character of Doctor Syn is said to have been created that night. The Thorndikes knew Dymchurch well and were frequent visitors. Russell lived in several different houses in the village, and was often to be found in the Ship Inn, which is featured prominently in the novel. So high was the popularity of the original novel that Thorndike went on to write six others but these had to be prequels as he had killed off Dr Syn in the original book

    To Read All the 7 Dr Syn Books


    http://www.bythefireplace.com/Young Adults

    Scroll down until you reach the Heading “Russell Thorndike” the Dr Syn Books are listed under this heading!

    Every 2 years the village of Dymchurch, Romney Marsh, Kent hold a “Day of Syn Pagent” This year 2016 (51st Year) the “Day of Syn” will be held in the village of Dymchurch on the 27th, 28th & 29th August 2016 “August Bank Holiday”

  27. Dr Syn – The Scarecrow – Official Website – Scarecrow of the Romney Marsh

    Dr Syn – The Scarecrow – Official Website – Scarecrow of the …Dr Syn – The Scarecrow – Official Website – Scarecrow of the …

    Scarecrow of the Romney Marsh, Dr.Syn – alias the scarecrow, Dr.Syn of dymchurch, Russell Thorndike, Reverend Dr.Syn, Doctor Syn, Captain Clegg, …

    The Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn is the smuggler hero of a series of novels by Russell Thorndike The first book, Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marshwas published in 1915. The story idea came from smuggling in the 18th century Romney Marsh,where brandy and tobacco were brought in at night by boat from France to avoid high tax. Minor battles were fought, sometimes at night, between gangs of smugglers, such as the Hawkhurst Gang and the Revenue, supported by the army and local militias in the South, Kent and the West, Sussex.

    Dr Syn TabsWhen you visit the Website http://www.drsyn.net/Home.htm

    You will see the following Tabs; which help you Navigate around the Web Site

    Dr Syn Web Site Tabs

    The History of Syn

    The History Of Syn Tabhttp://www.drsyn.net/History.htm

    Click on the Links below a & you will taken to another Page


    17th Century Map of KentAncient-Romney-Marsh-Map.jpg


    Family TreeFAMILY TREE




    The Books of Dr SynThe Book Of Syn Tabhttp://www.drsyn.net/Books.htm

    The Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn is the smuggler hero of a series of novels by Russell Thorndike.The first book, Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marshwas published in 1915. The story idea came from smuggling in the 18th century Romney Marsh, where brandy and tobacco were brought in at night by boat from France to avoid high tax. Minor battles were fought, sometimes at night, between gangs of smugglers, such as the Hawkhurst Gang and the Revenue, supported by the army and local militias in the South, Kent and the West, Sussex.

    Publication history

    The Dr. Syn books detail his adventures and attempts to help the people of Dymchurch and the surrounding area evade the Excise tax. There are:

    Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh (1915)
    Doctor Syn on the High Seas (1935)
    Doctor Syn Returns (1935)
    Further Adventures of Doctor Syn (1936)
    Courageous Exploits of Doctor Syn (1938)
    Amazing Quest of Doctor Syn (1939)
    Shadow of Doctor Syn (1944)
    An expanded version of Doctor Syn Returns titled The Scarecrow Rides was published for the US market by The Dial Press in 1935.

    In 1960 American author William Buchanan used the character in his novel Christopher Syn. This is essentially a reworking of Further Adventures of Doctor Syn with a different conclusion and some conflation and renaming of the supporting characters. Christopher Syn became the basis for the 1962 Disney production (see below). There was also a novelization of the Disney theatrical version, titled Doctor Syn, Alias the Scarecrow and written by Vic Crume.

    The Land of Syn

    The Land of Syn Tab


    Click on the ENTER Picture & it takes you to “Greetings from “The Land of Syn”

    Greating From the Land of Syn

    THE ROMNEY MARSH, situated in the South East corner of England, is a unique and mysterious location, steeped in tradition and legend. Reclaimed from the English Channel since the time of the Romans and due to it’s close proximity to mainland Europe; the area has, over the centuries, been in the front line of the invasion hordes of Vikings, Saxons and Normans; as well as in more recent times facing the sinister invasion threats of both Napoleon and then Hitler. The range of Martello towers and defensive bastions along it’s curved coastline reflect this unenviable legacy. The area, now a peaceful haven, lies somewhat precariously below sea – level; the awesome force of the great tides only kept at bay by the giant wall which has withstood the onslaught of centuries of ferocious channel storms. The Marsh is famous for it’s churches, so rich in charm, beauty, history & architecture.

    The Art of Dr SynThe Art of Syn Tab

    Over the years, many artists have attempted to capture the essence of Dr.Syn in his many guises, but none more potently and vividly than Romney Marsh bred maestro Terry Anthony – the Official Dr.Syn Artist for the Official Dr.Syn Website. Terry’s paintings are sought after throughout the world and his work depicting Dr.Syn is loved by many, including being recognised and endorsed by the Thorndike family. In 2008, Terry was commissioned by Walt Disney to provide artwork for the bonus disc of the re-release of the 1964 movie – “Dr.Syn – The Scarecrow of the Romney Marsh.” The re-release is part of the ‘Disney Treasures’ series and is the best known of 4 movies that have been made about the character. Terry Anthony has also recently painted the cover of Jayl’s classic album -‘The Dance of Life.’ He also now has his own show on Romney Marsh FM with Niko Miaoulis – Marsh author and proprietor of The Ship Inn Dymchurch. Check out Terry’s phenomenal work by clicking the links below.


    Music of SynThe Music of Syn Tab

    As depicted by Romney Marsh born brothers, Singer/Songwriters – Jayl & Jimmie Bone – all original works on their own Harmony Label. Click on the picture links below to discover more:-


    The Day of SynThe Day of Syn Tab


    The Day of Syn is held Every Two Years in the Kent Village of Dymchurch – The next Day of Syn event will be on 23rd, 24th & 25th August 2014

    Intro by Jayl De Lara

    I’ve always been here. Not always as conspicuously as in 1968, 1998 or 2006, but always lurking somewhere on our beloved Marsh … absorbing the light magnificence of the sky at Dungeness, bathing in the warm summer sounds of Dymchurch Sands, the brush of the waves on the beach, the echo of a child’s laughter in a child’s paradise … and in the distance the horn of Typhoon riding on the Southern breeze.

    A balmy evening – tide far out, beach smooth, sand glistening and sighing after glorious day. I stand here proud – a Marshman true, full from Fish ‘n Chips, watching the blazing sun settiing beneath the wall. This is MY land – this is OUR land … wrestled from the grip of the sea through storm and tempest, blood and age, time and tide. And as dreamy dusk takes hold and I stand here still, refreshed and strong, I hear him calling – on his own celebration day … our hero – Syn – The Vicar – The Master. The Fighter – The Pirate. The Hero – The Englishman.

    And here in this illustrious and mysterious corner of Olde England – OUR corner of this precious realm, I hear his message of courage and heroism pervading my soul. My ancestor calls to me through the swirling mists and I know the deepest secrets of the Marsh, both dark and light – as rare as blue glass stones – hidden like shipwrecks from all but those whose hearts are true. And as the midnight tide, with moon in tow, floods the bay once more, I stand alone upon the wall, breathing in the sweetest air of life.

    Maybe it’s a shimmer on the swirl, a 7th wave upon the shingle or a whisper on the wind, but i’m sure that just offshore I hear a bongo drum – and maybe the faintest rumble of a proud old pirate tune … “And here’s to the feet that have walked the plank … yo ho ho for the dead man’s throttle. And here’s to the corpes afloat in the tank and the dead man’s teeth in the bottle!”

    I’ve always been here … and I always will. …………… Jayl De Lara

    The Son of SynThe Son of Syn Tab


    In 1775, in arguably the most moving story of Syn’s life, he finally finds Imogene in Rye on her deathbed. He forgives her before she dies and she reveals to him that Syn is the true father of her son and that ‘Black Nick’ left the boy somewhere in the Americas. These events are told in Russell Thorndike’s “Doctor Syn Returns.” At the novel’s end Syn dispatches his faithful servant Shushuhgah to locate the boy, but alas, neither are heard of again in the series. There has been much speculation and rumour surrounding the fate of Syn’s son. Now, due to extensive research and the uncovering of various new documents on the matter, there is evidence that Christopher Almago Syn was born in the summer of 1755 and was abandoned somewhere in the vicinity of the Hudson River at the age of 12 or 13. He was then adopted by a Mohican Indian tribe, eventually marrying a beautiful squaw (reputedly named ‘Blue Moon Sky’). After many wild adventures, the couple eventually ended up in Imogene’s native Spain and had a daughter named Christina Sky, who grew up to marry a Spanish Count. The events are captured in a rare and unpublished book by Romney Marsh author Chris George, recently discovered in archive documents from a hidden family vault in New Romney.

    Welcome to The Land of SynThe Legacy of Syn Tab


    Click on any Image & It will take you to a Pictorial View of the Romney Marsh

    ‘Serve God; honour the King; but first maintain the Wall.’ – Slogan of ROMNEY MARSH

    Dymchurch-under-the-wallChapter 1. Dymchurch-under-the-wall

    To those who have small knowledge of Kent let me say that the fishing village of Dymchurch-under-the-wall lies on the south coast midway between two of the ancient Cinque ports, Romney and Hythe.

    Shop of SynThe Shop of Syn Tab


    Click on EntreClick on Enter & it will take you to the On-Line Store



    Three film adaptations have been made of Dr. Syn’s exploits.

    Doctor Syn (1937) Hammer FilmsDoctor Syn (1937)

    The first, Doctor Syn (1937), featured noted actor George Arliss in the title role and was its star’s last film.

    Captain Clegg also known as Night CreaturesCaptain Clegg (1962)

    In 1962, Captain Clegg (known as Night Creatures in the U. S.) was produced by Hammer Film Productions with actor Peter Cushing in the lead role, directed by Peter Graham Scott. In the screenplay by Anthony Hinds, the main character’s name was changed from Doctor Syn to Parson Blyss to avoid rights problems with Disney’s upcoming film version, and Captain Clegg’s screenplay follows the novel Doctor Syn and the screenplay of the 1937 film closely with the exception of a tightening of the plot. In the Arliss movie Doctor Syn, Syn escapes to sea with Mipps and the rest of the Dymchurch smugglers, whereas Captain Clegg ends more faithfully to the novel, with Parson Blyss being killed by the mulatto (who is then killed by Mipps) and then being carried to and buried in Captain Clegg’s empty grave by Mipps. Night Creatures was never released on videotape in the United States, but is included in the two-disc DVD collection The Hammer Horror Series.

    Doctor Syn, Alias the Scarecrow also known as The scarecrow of Romney MarshWalt Disney Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow (original British theatrical version) / The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963) Three-part television film

    Another version, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, was produced as a three-part television film in color by Walt Disney in 1963, a miniseries before the term was ever coined. It was shot on location in England and was directed by James Neilson. It starred Patrick McGoohan of Danger Man/Secret Agent and The Prisoner fame in the title role, with George Cole as Mipps and Sean Scully as John Banks, the younger son of Squire Banks (Michael Hordern) and Dr. Syn’s second lieutenant. Part One dealt with the arrival of General Pugh (Geoffrey Keen), who had been ordered by the War Office to smash the smuggling ring and the efforts of The Scarecrow to rescue a Dymchurch man who had been captured by the Naval Press-gang and used by General Pugh as bait in a trap; Part Two centered around how The Scarecrow dealt with the traitorous Joe Ransley (Patrick Wymark); and Part Three showed how The Scarecrow rescued Harry Banks (David Buck) (Squire Banks’ eldest son, a press-ganged man who had escaped from the Navy) and American Simon Bates (Tony Britton) from General Pugh’s clutches in Dover Castle.

    McGoohan was almost completely unknown in the United States at the time; Secret Agent had not yet become a success on American television. While originally conceived and edited for American television (and announced in an advertisement by NBC in the Tuesday, July 9, 1963 issue of The Hollywood Reporter), The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was re-edited for a British theatrical run before the American television debut. Titled Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, the British theatrical version was released on a double bill with The Sword in the Stone, and ran during the 1963 Christmas season (advertised in the January 1964 issue of Photoplay). This version was shown in Europe as well as Central and South America through 1966.

    In the 1970s, the production was re-edited again for its first American theatrical release, on double bills with both Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Treasure Island. (The VHS version of the 1980s, sharing the removal of the Scarecrow’s laugh from Terry Gilkyson’s title song, was expanded to include the story material from all three TV episodes, while retaining feature film structure and credits; it was available for a relatively short amount of time.) Shortly after the US theatrical run, it was re-edited yet again for a two-part presentation on Disney’s television series in the 1970s, simply omitting the middle segment. The original three-part miniseries version was first shown on Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color, February 9, 16 and 23, 1964, and shown again there a few times, included in a late 1980s Wonderful World of Disney syndicated rerun package, and cablecast in 1990s on the Disney Channel. This version generally followed the storyline of The Further Adventures of Dr. Syn and made it clear that Syn did not die or stage his own death: at film’s end, he is having a cup of tea with the Squire, who admits to now owing a debt of gratitude to the Scarecrow.

    On November 11, 2008 The Walt Disney Company released a limited pressing of 39,500 issues of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh in DVD format for the first time as a part of the Disney Treasures collection, and was now called Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. The issue sold out in three weeks, but as of February 17, 2009 the DVD was made available for members of the Disney movie club for $29.95. The two-disc set includes the American television version and the original British theatrical version Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow in widescreen format. It also includes the original introductions by Walt Disney (in which he erroneously indicates that Dr. Syn was an actual historical figure) and a documentary on Disney’s interest in the property.

    The church in the movie is St Clement’s Church in the village of Old Romney, which was restored by the film company.

    From the 23rd – 25th August Bank Holiday 2014, I will be visiting my family in Kent & I will be attending The Day of Syn:- The Day of Syn is a bi-annual event based in Dymchurch near Hythe, Kent. This Day of Syn marks the 50th Anniversary of the event (1964-2014). This year the event is held from the 23rd – 25th August Bank Holiday 2014 in Dymchurch-Under-The-Wall

    Other adaptations

    Made in 1974, Carry On Dick, of the celebrated Carry On series of films, followed the same premise of a country vicar (Sid James) who is secretly an outlaw, in this case the highwayman Dick Turpin.

  28. Colyn

    I think it is about time that Disney release again with a Blu-Ray copy.

  29. ElizaBeth

    The life and times of the Rev. Dr. Christopher Syn… Matthew Baugh…..

  30. Randwulf

    I remember reading in one of “The People’s Almanac” or similar series of trivia books by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, etc. that there was a real historical character around the time Dr. Syn lived who was a parson by day and a smuggler (or some type of criminal) by night. So Walt Disney may not have been so wrong after all! I can’t remember the historical character’s real name (I don’t think it was “Dr. Syn”) but now I’m going to have to track this down.

  31. Ludy Marvin Wilkie

    If Mr. Thorndike died in 1972, his books may still be under copyright according to British law.> Do you know if they are? Perhaps his son, who appeared in stage versions performed at churches, would know.

  32. John Cashell

    Your story about the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh brings back the exact same memories for me and my brother. As I remember it though, I thought the debut of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show occurred of the 3d of the 3 part Disney showing of the Scarecrow? Both my brother and I watched the Scarecrow on a B&W 13 in. TV in our attic. Only place we could get reception. My sister, won the use of our color TV to watch the Beatles. Being only 6 at the time and my brother 10, the Scarecrow and Disney and the Wild Kingdom in general were of much more importance to us than the FAB 4. That is, until seeing A Hard Days Night at the Strand Theater in downtown, Wobutn, MA in the spring of 64. I remember the girls crying and screaming at the movie as if they were at the live Ed Sullivan Show!! Gosh, memories make you realize how much fun growing up was!!! … and still is…

  33. Leelan Lampkins

    I think Disney was just flat out lying to the audience. Just as he did for “Darby O’Gill and the Little People”. “Jimmy O’Dea and the other actors who played leprechauns were not given any screen credit, nor did Walt Disney allow any other material to be published about them in the marketing for this movie. Disney’s intention was to give the illusion he was using real leprechauns for the filming.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052722/trivia#:~:text=Jimmy%20O'Dea%20and%20the,real%20leprechauns%20for%20the%20filming.
    He did that to give his film more “magic”. I am pretty sure that he did the same for “Scarecrow”.

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