Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Errol Flynn
1909 - 1959

Forest Lawn Glendale

Errol Flynn's on-screen image of a wild, fun-loving, hard-drinking, woman-chasing rogue was more than just an image.

Flynn was the son of a respected Australian biologist. He attended some of the finest schools in Australia and England, and was expelled from most of them for his misbehavior. Flynn's adventurous spirit took him around the world in a variety of jobs before he was offered the role of Fletcher Christian in an Australian film, "In the Wake of the Bounty" (1933).

Flynn returned to England, performed on stage, and next appeared on screen in "Murder at Monte Carlo" (1934), which was produced by Warner Bros. London studio. Flynn was brought to Hollywood, where he played the title role in "Captain Blood" (1935), the first in a series of swashbuckling adventure films, including "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936), "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) and "The Sea Hawk" (1940). Flynn also brought his action-packed, reckless style to Westerns and war films, including "Another Dawn" (1937), "The Dawn Patrol" (1938), "Dodge City" (1939), "Virginia City" (1940), "Sante Fe Trail" (1940), "Dive Bomber" (1941), "They Died With Their Boots On" (1941) and "Operation Burma!" (1945). Ironically, when Flynn attempted to enlist in the military during World War II, he was classified 4F, and was turned down by every branch of the service, due to a heart defect, and previous cases of malaria and tuberculosis.

In the early 1940s, two teen-aged girls accused Flynn of statutory rape in separate incidents. After a highly publicized trial, Flynn was found not guilty, which lead to the popular expression, "in like Flynn." Rather than ending his career, the rape charges seemed to enhance Flynn's reputation, particularly when rumors began to surface that the charges may have been part of an extortion scheme against several movie executives.

By the end of the decade, Flynn's years of hard living were taking a physical toll, and his best swashbuckling days were certainly behind him. He attempted more serious, dramatic roles in films including "Cry Wolf" (1947), "Silver River" (1948) and "That Forsyte Woman" (1949), but with little success.

In the early 1950s, Flynn spent several years in Europe, returning to Hollywood to play an aging alcoholic -- perhaps a bit of real-life type-casting -- in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" (1957). He played similar roles in "Too Much Too Soon" (1958) and "The Roots of Heaven" (1958). With favorable reviews in those films, Flynn seemed to be building a new career when he died of a heart attack in Canada in 1959, in the arms of a teen-aged lover.

Flynn's friends reportedly slipped six bottles of whiskey into his coffin before he was buried.

Flynn's grave marker contains the inscription, "In memory of our father from his loving children."

Flynn was born Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn on June 20, 1909, in Hobart, Tasmania. He died on Oct. 14, 1959, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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