Legendary actor, Errol Flynn, was born Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn on Jun 20, 1909 in Hobart, Australia. Flynn appeared in over 60 film and TV roles. His best known films include His best known films include The Prince and the Pauper, The Sea Hawk, Objective Burma, Dive Bomber, Gentleman Jim, Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Dodge City, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and They Died with Their Boots On. Flynn died at the age of 50 on Oct 14, 1959 in Vancouver, Canada and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.
Errol Leslie Thomas Flynn was born on June 20th, 1909 to a well-to-do family in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. His father was a respected biology professor at the University of Tasmania and his mother came from a family of sailors. Since early childhood, the young Flynn was always something of a rebel rouser. By all accounts he was an unruly child. He was always fighting, always looking for trouble, and always doing so with a smile on his face. His impulsive nature would put him at odds with his mother, who unaffectionately referred to her son a "nasty little boy."Â She would eventually leave the family in 1920. Although he received his formative education in Tasmania, in 1923 Flynn was send to London to study at the South-West London College. More interested in woman and roughhousing than scholastic achievement, Flynn returned to Australia in 1926 after being expelled. He then attended the Sydney Church of England Grammar School but was again expelled, thus ending is academic career. He next lost a job as store clerk for petty embezzlement. He went to New Guinea in hopes of running a tobacco plantation at the ripe age of 18. His plans failed and he spent the next few years traveling between New Guinea and Sydney, working on a series of odd jobs and odd adventures along the way.
In 1933, while working as charter-boat captain, an Australian movie producer was taken by the Flynn's good looks and devilish-charms. Later that year Flynn made his film debut as famed mutineer, Fletcher Christian, in the In the Wake of the Bounty. He soon traveled back to England, interest in seeing how far acting could take him. He landed a gig with the Northampton Repertory, gaining the professional training he felt he needed. After his time with the Northampton company, headed for the Warner Brothers studios in London, where was cast in the now lost-film Murder at Monte Carlo. Warner Brother then signed the handsome young actor and gave him a one-way ticket to Hollywood.
Upon arriving in Hollywood, Flynn was cast as corpse in the film The Case of the Curious Bride. Soon after, however, he would soon have his big break when, in 1935, Robert Donat was forced to back out of his next project, an action/adventure called Captain Blood, due to health issues. After Fredrich March, Ronald Coleman and Clark Gable all declined, the studio decided to take a gamble on their new, Australian import and cast Flynn in the titular role. Despite rocky a rocky relationship with the films director, Michael Curtiz, and the countless pranks he played on co-star, Olivia de Havilland, the film was hit. Critics and audiences loved their newest swashbuckling hero and his leading lady, making instant stars of both Flynn and de Havilland. Warner Brothers immediately cast the two in another film together with Curtiz once again at the helm in 1936's The Charge of Light Brigade. The film was massive success, and Warner brother's realized they had gold with Flynn/de Havilland formula. The pair would go on to become one of classic Hollywood most beloved on screen pair, starring in a total of eight films together.
In 1937 Flynn would star in the big screen adaption of the Mark Twain's classic The Prince and Pauper. It would be with these types of films, costumed action/adventures with Flynn playing a charming rogue, that he would build his legacy upon. During this time he also traveled to Spain as wartime correspondent, demonstrating a gift for writing. The next year Flynn would play his most iconic role, Robin Hood in his first Technicolor production The Adventure of Robin Hood. He again teamed with director Michael Curtiz and Olivia de Havilland, who portrayed Maid Marian. The film was Warner Brothers biggest moneymaker of the year. Later that year, Flynn made a venture into comedy with the familiar team of Michael Curtiz and Olivia de Havilland in Fours a Crowd. The next year he starred with Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. The two did not get along during filming, resulting in Davis full-on slapping Flynn in scene that required a choreographed slap. Flynn angered reaction can be seen in the film today. In 1940 Flynn starred in three action/adventure films Virginia City, The Sea Hawk and Santa Fe Trail and was named the number 4 box-office draw of the year. The next year he and de Havilland would star in their final picture together, They Died with Their Boots On, a highly romanticized version of Custard's last stand.
Flynn had developed a reputation of hard drinking, hard partying, and, despite his marriage, cad-ish womanizing. It was partly because of this lifestyle that Flynn would be rejected from WWII service, despite his eagerness to join. Although only 32, Flynn had an enlarged heart (already suffered one heart attack), liver damage, chronic back pain and venereal diseases. Despite his on-screen person as the athletic picture of a perfect male specimen, Flynn was unqualified for military service because he was unable to meet the minimum requirements for physical fitness. Although failure to enlist caused problems with Warner's publicity department, it would be nothing compared to the scandal Flynn would face later that year.
In 1942, Flynn's hard partying lifestyle would catch up to him in one of classic Hollywood's most notorious scandals when two underage girls accused the Hollywood star of statutory rape. Both girls alleged that act happened at on event in the Bel Air home of Flynn's close friend Frederick McEvoy. A media-circus followed, with many people unable to believe the perfect star of the Hollywood screen would participate in such depravity. Although found innocent, Flynn's on-screen persona as the idealized romantic partner was irrevocably damaged. The scandal also introduced the popular phrase "In like Flynn," a euphemism for easy success of a goal, particularly of sexual nature. During and after the scandal, he continued to act appearing in the war film Edge of Darkness in 1943 and 1945's Objective Burma!, a surprising realistic look at the horrors of WWII.
After WWII, American audiences began to crave a grittier, more realistic portrayal of the world around them. The escapist fantasies that made Flynn's career were quickly falling out of vogue and as a result, so was Flynn. He attempted to make the change with films like Peter Godfrey's crime drama Cry Wolf, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He had minimal success with Westerns such as 1948's Silver River but by that time was considered difficult to work with, as his drinking and drug habits were only getting worse. He was loaned to Universal for the pirate adventure film Against all Flags. The film was successful enough for Warner Brother's to make one more Flynn film, 1953's The Master of Ballantrae before they released him from his contract.
After leaving Hollywood, Flynn would fall into debt after one bad financial decision after another. He acted in mostly indie films that failed to capture the vigor of his youthful on screen persona, as the years of alcohol and drug abuse had left Flynn both bloated and pre-maturely aged. He also worked in television, hosting the unsuccessful The Errol Flynn Theatre. By the time he released the 1958 film Too Much, Too Soon, his rapid physical deterioration was visible on screen, with many people flocking to see the film for that reason only. He later traveled to Cuba, working on the self-produced film Cuban Rebel Girls where he met and befriend Fidel Castro. Flynn became an ardent supporter of the Cuban Revolution and narrated the sort film Cuban Story: The Truth About Fidel Castro Revolution. It would be his last performance as an actor.
In 1959, Flynn flew to Vancouver, Canada to lease his yacht as Flynn was in dire need of cash. He immediately fell ill and was taken to a hospital, where he suffered a fatal heart attack. Errol Flynn died On October 14th, 1959. His autopsy revealed that despite only being 50 years old, his body was that of a 75 year old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
Flynn's quite colorful autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn was written in 1956 and is still available in print and digitally.
FLYNN / DE HAVILLAND FILMS:
Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland starred in eight films together: Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four's a Crowd (1938), Dodge City (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940) and They Died with Their Boots On (1941).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
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Abbie Irving: No thank you. I can manage it.
Wade Hatton: Oh, I'm sure you can manage a bigger one than that -- in each hand, if you wanted to -- but why should you?
[Peter Blood watches as the slave ship he and the others are on approaches Port Royal]
Dr. Peter Blood: It's a truly royal clemency we're granted, my friends... one well worthy of King James. He spares us the mercifully quick extinction of the hangman's rope... and gives us the slow death of slavery. He grants us our lives in exchange for living death. Faith, it's an uncertain world entirely.
Gerald Beresford Wicks: I've never had so much fun in my life.
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