- Errol Flynn
name = Errol Flynn
caption = Errol Flynn c.1940
birthname = Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn
birthdate = birth date|1909|6|20|mf=y
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
deathdate = death date and age|1959|10|14|1909|06|20
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Lili Damita(1935-1942) Nora Eddington(1943-1949) Patrice Wymore(1950-1959)
yearsactive = 1932 – 1959
occupation = actor, screenwriter, producer, singer, director
Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (
June 20, 1909– October 14, 1959) was an Australian film actor, most famous for his romantic swashbucklerroles in Hollywoodfilms and his flamboyant lifestyle.
Background & early life
Errol Flynn was born on
June 20, 1909in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, where his father, Theodore Thomson Flynnwas a lecturer (1909), and professor (1911) of biologyat the University of Tasmania( UTAS). His mother was born Lily Mary Young. However, she dropped the first names 'Lily Mary' shortly after she was married, and changed her name to 'Marelle' instead. [Flynn always calls her 'Marelle' in his autobiography.] She was a descendant of one of the Bounty mutineers. [Flynn, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", p.33. She was a descendant of Midshipman Edward (or Ned) Young.] Flynn described his mother's family as "seafaring folk", [Flynn, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", p.33.] and this appears to be where his life-long interest in ships and the sea came from. Both his parents were native Australians, [Flynn, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", p.25.] who had been married at St John's Church of England, Balmain North, Sydney, on 23 January 1909. [cite web |url= http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A080725b.htm
title= Flynn, Errol Leslie (1909 - 1959)
work= Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
Errol was taken to
Sydney, New South Wales, as a child where he attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School(" Shore School"), from which he was expelled for fighting and, allegedly, having sex with a school laundress [http://www.errolflynn.net/Library/l-mwww.htm My Wicked, Wicked Ways (essay)] ] . He was also expelled from the next schools he attended. At 20 he moved to New Guinea, where he bought a tobacco plantation, a business which failed. A copper mining venture in the hills near the Laloki Valley behind the present national capital, Port Moresby, also failed.
In the early 1930s, Flynn left for Britain and, in 1933, got an acting job with
NorthamptonRepertory Company, where he worked for seven months. According to Gerry Connelly's book "Errol Flynn in Northampton", he also performed at the 1934 Malvern Festival as well as in Glasgowand London's West End.
In 1933, he starred in the Australian film "
In the Wake of the Bounty" directed by Charles Chauvel, and in 1934 appeared in "Murder at Monte Carlo", produced at the Warner Bros. Teddington Studios, UK.. This latter film is now considered a lost film. During the filming of "Murder at Monte Carlo", Flynn was discovered by a Warner Brothersexecutive, signed to a contract, and shipped to America as a contract actor. In 1942, Flynn became a naturalizedcitizen of the United States.
Flynn became an overnight sensation with his first starring role in "Captain Blood" (1935). He became typecast as a swashbuckler and made a host of such films, including "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), "The Dawn Patrol" (1938) with his close friend
David Niven, "Dodge City" (1939), "The Sea Hawk" (1940), and " Adventures of Don Juan" (1948).
Flynn played opposite
Olivia de Havillandin eight films, including "Captain Blood", "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936), "The Adventures of Robin Hood", "Dodge City", "Santa Fe Trail" (1940), and " They Died with Their Boots On" (1941). While Flynn acknowledged his attraction to her, film historian Rudy Behlmer's assertions that they were romantically involved during the filming of "Robin Hood" (see the Special Edition of "Robin Hood" on DVD, 2003), have been disputed by de Havilland. Their relationship was, she said in an interview for Turner Classic Movies, platonic, mostly because Flynn was already married to Lili Damita. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" was Flynn's first in Technicolor.
During the shooting of "
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939), Flynn and co-star Bette Davishad some legendary off-screen fights, with Davis striking him harder than necessary while filming a scene. Their relationship was always strained, but Warner Brothers teamed them up twice. Their off-screen relationship was later reconciled. A contract was even presented to lend them out as Rhett Butlerand Vivien Leighin "Gone with the Wind" but the teaming failed to materialize.
Flynn was a member of Hollywood's
cricketclub along with David Niven. His suave, debonair, and devil-may-care attitude towards both ladies and life has been immortalized in the English language by author Benjamin S. Johnson as "Errolesque" in his treatise on the subject, "An Errolesque Philosophy on Life".
After America entered
World War IIFlynn was often criticised for his failure to enlist while continuing to play war heroes in films. Flynn in fact had actually attempted to join every arm of the services but been rejected for health reasons.Fact|date=February 2008 The studios' failure to counter the criticism was due to a desire to hide the state of Flynn's health. Not only did Flynn have an enlarged heart, which had already resulted in several heart attacks, but he also suffered from tuberculosis, a painful back (for which he self-medicated with morphine and later, with heroin), and suffered from recurrent bouts of malariawhich he had contracted in New Guinea.
By the 1950s, Flynn had become a parody of himself. Heavy alcohol and drug abuse left him prematurely aged and bloated, but he won acclaim as a drunken ne'er-do-well in "The Sun Also Rises" (1957), and as his idol
John Barrymorein " Too Much Too Soon" (1958). His autobiography, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", was published just months after his death and contains humorous anecdotes about Hollywood. Flynn wanted to call the book "In Like Me", but the publisher refused. In 1984, CBSproduced a television mini-series based on Flynn's autobiography, starring Duncan Regehras Flynn.
His adventure novel "Showdown", was published in 1946. His first book,
Beam Endswas published in 1937.
Private life, family and death
Flynn was famous for his drinking, womanizing, and brawling. His freewheeling, hedonistic lifestyle caught up with him in November 1942 when two underage chorus girls, Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee, accused him of
statutory rape. [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6929318/page/2/ Statutory Rape Charges] ] A group was organized to support Flynn, named the American Boys' Club for the Defence of Errol Flynn (ABCDEF); its members included William F. Buckley, Jr..Fact|date=August 2008 The trial took place in January and February, 1943, and Flynn was cleared of the charges. The incident, however, served to increase his reputation as a ladies' man, which led to the popular belief that the term "in like Flynn" was based on Flynn's romantic exploits, but that may not be the case. [ cite web
url = http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-inl1.htm
title = World Wide Words: In like Flynn
accessdate = 2007-12-04
date= 2000-12-09 | last = Quinion
first = Michael ]
Flynn was married three times: to actress
Lili Damita(who was five years his senior) from 1935 until 1942 (one son, Sean Flynn, born 1941); to Nora Eddingtonfrom 1943 until 1949 (two daughters, Deirdre born 1945 and Rory born 1947); and to actress Patrice Wymorefrom 1950 until his death (one daughter, former model Arnella Roma, 1953-1998). In Hollywood he tended to refer to himself as Irish rather than Australian (his father Theodore Thomson Flynnhad been a biologist and a professor at the Queen's University of Belfastin Northern Irelandduring the latter part of his career). Flynn lived with Wymore in Port Antonio, Jamaicain the 1950s. He was largely responsible for developing tourism to this area, and for a while owned the Titchfield Hotel which was decorated by the artist Olga Lehmann. He also popularised trips down rivers on bamboo rafts. [ [http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0033.html The History of Jamaica - Captivated by Jamaica (Dr. Rebecca Tortello)] ]
In the late 1950s, Flynn met the 15-year-old
Beverly Aadlandat the Hollywood Professional School, whom he courted during his last few years, and cast in his final film, " Cuban Rebel Girls" (1959). According to Aadland, he planned to marry her and move to their new house in Jamaica, but during a trip together to Vancouver, British Columbia, he died of a heart attack.
His only son, Sean, an actor and later a noted war correspondent, disappeared in
Cambodiain 1970 during the Vietnam Warwhile working as a freelance photojournalist for "Time" magazine [ [http://www.mensvogue.com/magazine/articles/2008/06/seanflynn The search for Sean Flynn continues: Magazine: mensvogue.com ] ] ; he was presumed killed in mid-1971 by the Khmer Rouge. Although officially declared dead in 1984, his remains have never been discovered. Sean's life was recounted in "Inherited Risk" by Jeffrey Meyers (Simon & Schuster) and he is also mentioned on page 194 in the Colleagues section of "Dispatches" by Michael Herr. Flynn's daughter Rory, has one son, Sean Rio Flynn, named after her half-brother. Young Flynn is an actor. [ [http://www.seanflynn.org/seanflynn.html Sean Rio Flynn] ] Rory Flynn has written a book about her father entitled "The Baron of Mulholland."
Legend surrounds Errol Flynn's death. According to Vancouver history, Flynn flew with Aadland to Vancouver on October 9, 1959, to sell his yacht "Zaca" to millionaire George Caldough. On October 14, Caldough was driving Flynn to the airport when Flynn felt ill. He was taken to the apartment of Caldough's friend, Dr. Grant Gould, uncle of noted pianist
Glenn Gould. A party ensued, with Flynn regaling guests with stories and impressions. Feeling ill again, he announced "I shall return" and retired to a bedroom to rest. A half hour later, Aadland checked in on him and discovered him unconscious, due to his having suffered a massive heart attack. According to the " Vancouver Sun" on December 16, 2006, "When Errol Flynn came to town in 1959 for a week-long binge that ended with him dying in a West End apartment, his local friends propped him up at the Hotel Georgia lounge so that everyone would see him."
He is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in
Glendale, California. He shares coffin space with six bottles of whiskey, a parting gift from his drinking buddies.Fact|date=August 2008 Both his parents survived him.
In 1980, author Charles Higham published a controversial biography, "Errol Flynn: The Untold Story" in which he alleged that Flynn was a fascist sympathizer who spied for the Nazis before and during
World War II. The book also alleged he was bisexual, and had affairs with Tyrone Power, Howard Hughes, and Truman Capote.
Subsequent biographies — notably Tony Thomas' "Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was" (Citadel, 1990) and Buster Wiles' "My Days With Errol Flynn: The Autobiography of a Stuntman" (Roundtable, 1988) — have denounced Higham's claims as pure fabrication. Flynn's political leanings actually appear to have been
leftist- he was a supporter of the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil Warand of the Cuban Revolution, even narrating a documentary titled "Cuban Story" [ [http://imdb.com/title/tt0321867/ The Truth About Fidel Castro Revolution (IMDB)] ] shortly before his death.
In his biography of Flynn, Satan's Angel (2000), David Bret states that on the set of Captain Blood (1935), during the bare-chested flogging scene, Flynn loudly protested when director Michael Curtiz, fearful of incurring the wrath of the Hays Office, turned up on the set with a razor to cut off
Ross Alexander's exhuberant armpits which "turned him on like twin fannies". "Errol grabbed this, and threatened to slit the director's throat should he remove so much as one hair from Alexander's 'magnificent oxters', so the scene was left uncut, and received few complaints."
Duncan Regehrportrayed Flynn in a 1985 American TV movie "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", loosely based on Flynn's autobiography of the same name.
Guy Pearceplayed Errol Flynn in the 1996 Australian film "Flynn".
*Flynn was portrayed by
Jude Lawin Martin Scorsese's 2004 film " The Aviator".
*The character of film star Neville Sinclair, played by
Timothy Daltonin the 1991 film "The Rocketeer", was thought by many film critics to be loosely based on Flynn.
*The character of Alan Swann, portrayed by
Peter O'Toolein the 1982 film " My Favourite Year" appears to be loosely based on Flynn.
Books by Flynn
Flynn wrote the following books:
*"Beam Ends" (1937)
*"My Wicked, Wicked Ways" (1959)
References & footnotes
Sean Flynn, Jamie-Lynn Spears's co-star in Nickolodeon's 'Zoey 101' is Errol Flynn's grandson.
* [http://colsearch.nfsa.afc.gov.au/nfsa/search/summary/summary.w3p;adv=yes;group=;groupequals=;page=0;parentid=;query=Number%3A360461%20|%20Number%3A353658%20|%20Number%3A355510;querytype=;resCount=10 Errol Flynn at the National Film and Sound Archive]
* [http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.jsp?cid=161252 Profile] @
Turner Classic Movies
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=349 Profile for Errol Flynn] at
Find A Grave
* [http://www.errol-flynn.com Errol Flynn Resource Website] Flynn resource website, filmography & photographs.
* [http://unbridledbooks.com/thepiratesdaughter.html "The Pirate's Daughter" by Margaret Cezair-Thompson]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=1310+Burnaby+Street,+vancouver&ie=UTF8&z=16&ll=49.282448,-123.135581&spn=0.008958,0.020556&t=h&om=1 Map of where Errol died in Vancouver]
* [http://humanities.uchicago.edu/orgs/review/index_52_2_3_4.shtml?utm_source=wikipedia&utm_medium=web&utm_term=ErrolFlynn Wu Ming's "In Like Flynn" at Chicago Review]
* [http://archives.cbc.ca/400d.asp?id=1-111-1288-7370&wm6=1 Errol Flynn on CBC's Front Page Challenge]
*Flynn, Errol. "My Wicked, Wicked Ways: the Autobiography of Errol Flynn." Intro. by Jeffrey Meyers. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2003. Rpt. of "My Wicked, Wicked Ways". New York: G.P. Putnam's sons, 1959. ISBN 0-8154-1250-9.
NAME = Flynn, Errol
ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
SHORT DESCRIPTION = actor
DATE OF BIRTH =
June 20, 1909
PLACE OF BIRTH =
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
DATE OF DEATH =
October 14 1959
PLACE OF DEATH =
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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