Saturday, September 18, 2010

Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn
In Like Flynn

A sparkling tribute to the male gender as the perpetual "Bad Boy"! A real life two fisted hard drinking womanizing extremely charming trouble maker just one step ahead of the law in his youth and a world wide swashbuckling rock-star like celebrity beaten down by an overwhelming bite outta that shit sandwich we sometimes refer to as "Life" at the end.

Living life as if there was no tomorrow was the signature hallmark of Bad Boy Errol. Unfortunately, the key to living such a life is to die early before consequences can catch up to you. "...Live Fast. Die Young. Leave a Good Looking Corpse.....". A phrase which I believe was coined by yet another Hollywood Legend with a similar philosophy, Mr. James Dean.

Errol made it to fifty years of age in 1959 before he had enough and came sliding into home base just ahead of the IRS, several seriously pissed off husbands, some really irate parents of beautiful young women, a horde of bill collectors, with a mind and physique that had been spoiled by years of alcohol and drug abuse. This Tasmanian Devil (actually born in Tasmania!) having tasted the best and worst of life, he passed away of a final heart attack and left us. Replete in his wonderfully lecherous debauchery.

Embodied here is the adventurous spirit of every male youth unrestrained by social convention, consequence or resource. Mighty are the fallen! If you watch his films closely, it seems to me, his roles are played with an almost "Tongue in Cheek" attitude of humor in which he could, at any moment just look into the camera and say "Hey, how you doing out there?" and we'd all chuckle.

A serious prankster I would have loved to have known, as long as he never met my wife! Errol was long time friend and old roommate of the original swashbuckler John Barrymore. When John died in 1942 Errol attended the funeral and watched in an almost tearful silence as his good friend John was lowered into the earth.

Several of Errol's friends ( on the prank...) took Errol out for a drink of consolation at the passing of the great one. Unknown to Errol, several of his friends returned to the grave site and dug Mr. Barrymore up! Transporting the deceased Mr. Barrymore to Errol's home in the Hollywood Hills propping him up in the living room, placing a lit cigarette in his fingers awaiting Errol's return.

Returning home from the funeral, Errol was seen to run screaming out the front door of his home in true fear at the audacious prank. You could get away with such things in those days before the overwhelming pressure and burden of social convention brings on us today. There would be lawsuits, condemning tabloid headlines, paparazzi and a never ending progression of nightly entertainment TV shows and interviews devoted to such a scandalous prank today.

Although I'm sure many will disagree; Personally, I thought it hilarious.....

Here's Errol Flynn and Joan Blondell performing "The Perfect Specimen"

Betty Hansen (left) and Peggy Saterlee (right)

Sued for Statutory Rape on three different occasions only enhanced his appeal to the fairer sex. In November 1942 Errol was arrested and tried for statutory rape after two young women (Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee) claimed that he had seduced them when they were under the age of consent. Reportedly taking five shots of vodka before taking the stand at the trial he denied everything and was promptly acquitted. Errol Flynn Trial: 1943 - "j.b." And "s.q.q."

From the court records...

"Now Cochran had Peggy Satterlee describe her voyage to Catalina. She said Flynn called her "J.B." (short for "jail bait") and "S.Q.Q." (short for "San Quentin quail")—evidence that he knew she was a juvenile. Nevertheless, she testified, he came to her cabin and "got into bed with me and completed an act of sexual intercourse"—an act against which, she admitted, she did not struggle. The next night, she said, he took her to his cabin to look at the moon through the porthole and there repeated the offense. This time, she said, she fought. In cross-examination, Satterlee admitted to lying frequently about her age, then revealed that she had had extramarital relations with another man before the Flynn episode, and had undergone an abortion. Taking the stand, Flynn denied the "jail bait" and "San Quentin quail" allegations, as well as entering Satterlee's cabin or taking her to his cabin or taking Betty Hansen upstairs after she threw up at the party or having sexual intercourse with either girl. As he finished, women were crying hysterically. Men were yelling obscenities. The bailiff had to quell a near riot."

The age of young women was viewed with a somewhat different perspective in those days i.e. Miss Lili Damita. Seen here with James Carney on the set of "The Frisco Kid" (1935) playing "Belle Mora". By age 16 Miss Lili was performing in popular music-halls, eventually appearing in the Revue at the Casino de Paris. She also worked as a photographic model and was offered a role in film as a prize for winning a magazine beauty competition in 1921.

She is better known today for whom she married as opposed to her own endeavors. In 1928, at the invitation of Samuel Goldwyn Miss Lili went to Hollywood, making her American debut in a film titled The Rescue. Leased out to various studios, she appeared with stars such as Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, and James Cagney. Her films included the boxoffice successes The Cock-Eyed World (1929), the semi-silent The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929), and This Is the Night (1932). In 1932 she married her second husband, Mr. Errol Flynn.

Miss Lili Damita

Miss Lili Damita

Miss Lili Damita

Miss Lili Damita

Miss Lili Damita

Miss Lili Damita

This is Lili and Errol together and they don't look very happy to me

In 1935 having succumbed to the femininely wiles of Miss Damita finds Errol entangled in a beautifully passionate but tumultuous marital relationship with the highly volatile young woman. Neither party was adverse to a little marital physical abuse but such is apparently the course of life when women choose the wild "Bad Boy" over the more boring but conservative less physical "family-man". Divorced from Errol in 1942 she passed away in 1994.

Miss Diana Dill was briefly in the limelight with Errol in 1942 after the divorce from Lili. Miss Diana was a much more serious actress and did not succumb to the wildly charming but self destructive bad boy. Kirk Douglas saw this picture on the cover of Life Magazine while serving in the U.S. Navy in May of 1943 and showed it to his shipmates vowing; "...this was the girl he was going to marry...". He did marry her in November of that year and she became the mother of actor Michael Douglas and Joel Douglas before divorcing Kirk in 1951.

Some of the many roles of Erroll Flynn

The escapades of the six foot two inch 180lb Errol are legend with few worldly temptations left unfulfilled. The only love that rivaled beautiful women was that of the sea. As a sailor myself I can appreciate the brotherhood of wind and wave. The desert and the sea are two of my personal passions. For Errol it was the graceful Sirocco. Peter Stackpole took this picture just below of a happy Errol high up in the rigging on the mast of the Sirocco off Catalina Island August 2, 1941 as she cut through wind and wave on a sunny summer day. Click for the larger pic and look in the eyes of a Happy Errol!

Working behind the counter of the cigar stand at the entrance to the court house in which he was being tried for Statutory Rape of Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee in Nov. of 1942 was the future Mrs. Flynn, one Miss Nora Eddington. Overwhelmed with the august and charming presence of super star Errol Flynn the eighteen year old Nora undoubtedly flattered his need for understanding with a sympathetic and naive heart. They were married in April of '43 and divorced in '49. Nora lived on to the ripe old age of seventy seven and passed away in 2001.

He had ascended to the heights in Hollywood with his peak years between 1936 to 1942 and many of his varied experiences as a young man served him well in his acting career. As a youth in his late teens he set out to strike it rich and find gold, but wound up performing a series of short lived odd jobs including positions of police constable, sanitation engineer, treasure hunter, sheep castrator, shipmaster for hire, fisherman, and all around "Soldier of Fortune".

Click Poster Above for Errol Clip

Click Poster Above for Errol Clip

After America entered World War II, Errol was often criticised for his failure to enlist while continuing to play war heroes in films. He had in fact attempted to join every branch of the armed services, but was rejected for health reasons. The studios' failure to counter the criticism was due to a desire to hide the state of Flynn's health. Not only did he have an enlarged heart, which had already resulted in at least one heart attack, but he also suffered from tuberculosis, a painful back (for which he self-medicated with morphine and later, with heroin), and recurrent bouts of malaria which he had contracted in New Guinea as a youth.

He actually "stumbled" into acting by accident in 1933 as an actor. "In The Wake Of The Bounty" was an Australian film and is noted today for being the debut of Errol Flynn in motion pictures. A documentary about the lives of the folks on rugged Pitcairn Island, the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the women they took with them from Tahiti.

Errol had about 15 to 20 minutes of acting. The documentary called for the use of some brief live action sequences interspersed with documentary footage and voice-over commentary about whatever event the program is talking about. This is the function of Errol Flynn and the small cast who reenact the Bounty mutiny in microcosm.

The documentary might well have been better off without the 20min re-creation but then we would never have seen the likes of Errol on the big screen and I would have been denied seeing "The Adventures of Robin Hood" as a young boy. I was immediately inspired to "...steal from the rich and give to the poor...".

It was only later I found out about juvenile hall as my neighbor's son and I had taken my neighbors' car for a joy ride (on my way to steal from the rich) late one evening. Apprehended by the King's Men dressed in blue w/badges we sat despondently on a florescent lit bench with heads hug low awaiting the arrival of our respective executioners (Fathers). Maybe I interpreted the film incorrectly, but it was indeed a swashbuckling masterpiece of it's time!

Kids don't know much about it today but it's based on the well-known English legend, Robin of Locksley, a noble who is forced to become an outlaw when Prince John the usurper tries to take the throne from his absent brother. He flees to Sherwood forest where he gathers together his Merry Men and is called Robin Hood. He begins to rob the rich and give back to the poor, the townsfolk that are heavily-taxed by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Meanwhile he still has to defend the throne, and woo Maid Marian. Wow! It was bigger than Star Wars !

Watch at TCM

Watch at TCM

She was just 24 when she met and married the forty nine year old Errol in 1950. Her name was Patrice Wymore and could sing like an angel and act as well. Errol had begun his physical and mental decline as the piper had come calling for his years of substance abuse and lingering health issues. Having fallen from grace in Hollywood and succumbing to a life of debauchery the acting roles became fewer and further between. They moved to Jamaica, and had a beautiful daughter, Arnella Flynn, born in 1953. For more about Patrice just click the Pic below.

One of Errol's last conquests was 16 year old Beverly Aadland whom he dated in the last two years of his life. She was born in the same year I was, 1943 and went onto many fine roles in Hollywood. His autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, contains the dedication "To a small companion," which is universally taken to refer to Miss Beverly Aadland.

The Hollywood Elite of the day would often gather here at the Garden of Allah Hotel to party. They once tried to fill the swimming pool with empty liquor bottles. Just click on the Pic for an excellent description of the "Garden of Allah"

Click Pic Above to visit the Garden Of Allah

A Life Well Lived
Errol Flynn

Cuban Rebel Girls (1959) .... The American Correspondent

"Goodyear Theatre" .... 'Doc' Boatwright (1 episode, 1959)

The Golden Shanty (1959) TV episode .... 'Doc' Boatwright

"The Red Skelton Show" .... 'The Duke' - Gentleman Hobo (1 episode, 1959)
... aka "The Red Skelton Hour" (USA: new title)

Freddie's Beat Shack (1959) TV episode .... 'The Duke' - Gentleman Hobo

The Roots of Heaven (1958) .... Forsythe

Too Much, Too Soon (1958) .... John Barrymore
... aka Too Much, Too Soon: The Daring Story of Diana Barrymore (USA: long title)

The Sun Also Rises (1957) .... Mike Campbell
... aka Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (USA: complete title)

"Playhouse 90" .... Captain Bidlack (1 episode, 1957)

Without Incident (1957) TV episode .... Captain Bidlack

The Big Boodle (1957) .... Ned Sherwood

Istanbul (1957) .... James Brennan

"Screen Directors Playhouse" .... Francois Villon (1 episode, 1956)

The Sword of Villon (1956) TV episode .... Francois Villon

"The Errol Flynn Theatre" .... Don Juan / ... (2 episodes)
... aka "Mystery Adventure: The Errol Flynn Theatre" (USA: syndication title)

1000th Night of Don Juan (????) TV episode .... Don Juan / Himself - Host - Rescued (????) TV episode .... John Morton

King's Rhapsody (1955) .... Richard, King of Laurentia

The Dark Avenger (1955) .... Prince Edward
... aka The Warriors (USA)

Lilacs in the Spring (1954) .... John 'Beau' Beaumont
... aka Let's Make Up (USA)

Il maestro di Don Giovanni (1954) .... Renzo
... aka Crossed Swords (USA)

The Master of Ballantrae (1953) .... Jamie Durie

The Story of William Tell (1953) .... William Tell

Against All Flags (1952) .... Brian Hawke

Mara Maru (1952) .... Gregory Mason

Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951) .... Capt. Michael Fabian
... aka La taverne de New Orléans (France)
... aka New Orleans Adventure

Hello God (1951) .... Man on Anzio Beach

Kim (1950) .... Mahbub Ali, the Red Beard

Rocky Mountain (1950) .... Capt. Lafe Barstow (CSA)

Montana (1950) .... Morgan Lane

That Forsyte Woman (1949) .... Soames Forsyte

It's a Great Feeling (1949) (uncredited) .... Jeffrey Bushdinkle, the Groom

Adventures of Don Juan (1948) .... Don Juan

Silver River (1948) .... "Mike" McComb

The Lady from Shanghai (1947) (uncredited) .... Man in background outside of cantina

Escape Me Never (1947) .... Sebastian Dubrok

Cry Wolf (1947) .... Mark Caldwell

Never Say Goodbye (1946) .... Phil Gayley

San Antonio (1945) .... Clay Hardin

Objective, Burma! (1945) .... Capt. Nelson

Uncertain Glory (1944) .... Jean Picard

Northern Pursuit (1943) .... Corporal Steve Wagner

Edge of Darkness (1943) .... Gunnar Brogge

Gentleman Jim (1942) .... James J. Corbett / Gentleman Jim

Desperate Journey (1942) .... Flight Lt. Terrence 'Terry' Forbes

They Died with Their Boots On (1941) .... George Armstrong Custer

Dive Bomber (1941) .... Lt. Douglas S. 'Doug' Lee, MD

Footsteps in the Dark (1941) .... Francis Monroe Warren II

Santa Fe Trail (1940) .... Jeb Stuart

The Sea Hawk (1940) .... Geoffrey Thorpe

Virginia City (1940) .... Captain Kerry Bradford

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) .... Earl of Essex

Dodge City (1939) .... Wade Hatton

The Dawn Patrol (1938) .... Captain Courtney

The Sisters (1938) .... Frank Medlin

Four's a Crowd (1938) .... Robert Kensington 'Bob' Lansford

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) .... Robin Hood

The Perfect Specimen (1937) .... Gerald Beresford Wicks

Another Dawn (1937) .... Captain Denny Roark

The Prince and the Pauper (1937) .... Miles Hendon

Green Light (1937) .... Dr. Newell Paige

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) .... Major Geoffrey Vickers

Captain Blood (1935) .... Peter Blood

Don't Bet on Blondes (1935) .... David Van Dusen

The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) .... Gregory Moxley

Murder at Monte Carlo (1934) .... Dyter

I Adore You (1933) (uncredited) .... Bit

In the Wake of the Bounty (1933) ....

Here is Errol's Autobiography and it's highly recommended reading if you are interested in the outrageous antics of the Hollywood Elite of the day. Just click on the Pic to see it on Amazon. I hope you do read it but keep an open mind and remember these antics cover a lot of pain and although many are hilarious it seems to me they are often the reflection of the dark side of disillusionment.

Well, there you go, the Movie Classics BLOG about good old Errol Flynn. Hope you enjoyed it and perhaps found something about a life well lived by a man that took a really big bite out of it!

....Hope you're having a Brilliant Day!

Got a Pic related to this Blog you'd like to see published here? Upload it right here and please be sure to tell me exactly who it is and any other info you may have. I'll be glad to include it right here with your name or website!

Here's a great little number uploaded by Bob Upham who tells me that even though he's now a weather man for good old channel 9, he really always wanted to be a Lumber Jack! (Joke!)

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We love Vintage Hollywood! The likes of Errol Flynn, Richard Widmark, Cary Grant, Sterling Hayden and those magnificent ladies of yesteryear!
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