RSS
 

Eighty Years Ago Today — At The Mermaid Club

18 Jul

July 18, 1938

“Errol Flynn alone at the Mermaid Club.”

Erskine Johnson
LA Examiner, Behind the Makeup

It’s very hard to find imagery of the Mermaid Club, but the 1930s WPA film video below does show the club, about three-quarters of the way into the film, between Western Market and Cafe Lamaze. It’s also shown briefly in the second video.

The Mermaid Club was later renamed Villa Nova, and ultimately the Rainbow Club, by co-owner Vincent Minelli it is said, after his former wife Judy’s most famous song. Their daughter, Liza, used to party there much later, in her heyday.

This is the where Joe Dimaggio first met Marilyn Monroe, introduced by Mickey Rooney. It’s also where John Belushi had his last meal. For decades now, it has been a rock-and-roll landmark, where legends from Elvis, to the post-Beatle Beatles, to most all of Rock royalty, have raised hell.

Please note that this first video has negligible action until about 45 seconds in, then it has great old film of what one side of Sunset Strip used to look like during Errol’s early years in town.

According to this very cool Vintage Los Angeles video interview of the owners:

“Errol used to hang from the rafters!”

— Gentleman Tim

 

Diamonds are a Damita’s Best Friend

17 Jul

July 19, 1935

Filmland learned for the first time today the romantic history of the diamond that Errol Flynn, dark-headed Irish actor, put upon the finger of Lili Damita, who is now his bride.

It was five years ago that Flynn came into possession.

A young adventurer, he was working as a British agent in New Guinea to help preserve peace among the native tribes. One day, he made a gold strike in the jungle.

Trekking back to civilization, Flynn sold his discovery for $10,000 in gold. He decided to leave New Guinea, but couldn’t carry his new found riches. So he put the money into rough-cut diamonds.

It was one of these diamonds that the young actor, soon to play the starring role in the Warner film, Captain Blood, had made into the engagement ring his bride now wears.

Harrison Carroll
Evening Herald Express

Errol, Lili, and Man’s Best Friend, on the very-appropriately named Lookout Mountain – with a glimpse it appears at Diva Damita’s new diamond:

— Gentleman Tim

 

A PNG BIO

15 Jul

A primer on Flynn’s time and adventures in Papua New Guinea, quoting “Malum Nalu”.

Photo of girl believed to be Tuperselai provided by EFB Author, Tina. Thank you, Tina.

…….

Papua New Guinea’s rich and colorful history is littered with the names of likewise gaudy characters that have carved a niche for themselves.

Few, however, have made more of an impact than the flamboyant and swashbuckling Errol Flynn.

With the discovery of very good paying gold in 1926 at Edie Creek above Wau – six days walk from Salamaua – a gold rush of massive proportions started, not only from Australia but from beyond.

With the major discovery of gold came the last two categories of what the White population of New Guinea was divided into: Missionaries, Moneymakers, and Misfits or Fools, Freaks, and Failures.

Not least among the Misfits was the one who became a Hollywood star – Errol Flynn. And none, probably, has done more to promote PNG than this lovable rogue who went on to become the world’s top sex symbol.

The superb scenery, glorious hills and harbours, white beaches, and shady copra plantations are still today as Flynn describes them in his famous autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

Places like Salamaua, Wau, Bulolo, Lae, Finschhafen, Port Moresby, Laloki, Rabaul, Kavieng, Madang, and the Sepik River have become famous because of My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

His book remains a bestseller to this day and, in places like Salamaua or Wau – just to name two – people still talk about him.”Flynn used to drink here,”they’ll tell you in Salamaua, or, “this is where he went mining for gold”, they’ll reminisce in Wau.

Legendary Australian patrol officer, JK McCarthy, recalls in his book, Patrol Into Yesterday, how Flynn stepped in once to protect a small man from a bully: “It was done in the most dramatic style and all of us should have foreseen that he had a movie career ahead of him. There was the noisy bar, the crowd of onlookers, the challenge and the hero knocking the loud-mouthed one cold, right on cue.”

The true-life story of movie superstar Errol Flynn was more dramatic and incredible than even the wildest of his many Hollywood-starring roles.

Panoramic portrayals of his amazing past have brought the true legend of Flynn explosively to life, blowing the lid off his rabble-rousing time in the gutters of Sydney, and his death-defying escapades searching for gold in the jungles of New Guinea.

Flynn was simply the sexiest, most charismatic star of the Golden Era of Hollywood.

The epitome of a lusty, virile hero, Flynn turned the World into his stage as millions fell for his wicked, wicked ways.

Superstar and legend, Errol Flynn was Hollywood’s symbol of male virility during the Golden Era of moviemaking.

He was adored by fans worldwide, admired by millions, despised by many.

Flynn was the quintessence of the swashbuckling hero, but his on-screen exploits were pale echoes of his real life adventures.

Flynn’s prowess with women was so infamous that the expression “In like Flynn” became a common phrase used to describe the ease with which a man might conquer a woman.

As an actor, Flynn built the foundation for characters later elaborated by Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarznegger, Harrison Ford, and Kevin Costner.

He died at age 50 of a heart attack, having had a good run in Hollywood with 53 films – some for Jack Warner, others contracted out to MGM – across from great female players such as Olivia De Haviland, Maureen O’Hara, Bette Davis, Greer Garson and others.

Errol Flynn was born Errol Leslie Thompson Flynn on June 20, 1909 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.His parents were Professor Theodore Thompson Flynn and Lily Mary Young.

Professor Flynn was a well-known marine biologist and zoologist who later went on to receive an MBE for his work at Queens University, Belfast. Errol also was a direct descendant – on his mothers’ side – of Midshipman Young from the infamous HMS Bounty Mutiny of 1789.

The 18-year-old Errol Flynn arrived in New Guinea in October 1927 to make his fortune on the newly discovered goldfields at Edie Creek, Wau.

From his arrival he tried unsuccessfully to bluff himself into money as a cadet patrol officer, gold prospector, slave recruiter, dynamiter of fish, trapper of birds, manager of coconut and tobacco plantations, air cargo clerk, copra trader, charter boat captain, pearl diver and diamond smuggler.

He was also a prolific writer and contributed regularly to Australian newspapers and magazines with absorbing tales about the untamed jungles of New Guinea.

Flynn soon discovered that the Australian government had a severe shortage of patrol officers, and he hoped to bluff his way through in Rabaul, but this colonial career was short-lived when his background was discovered.

He moved restlessly from one job to another, acquiring many different skills but no great competence.

Hoping to get rich fast, he lived by his wits and ran up many debts.

In Rabaul, although considered a likeable and capable young man, his reputation for roguery quickly spread and he ceased to be with the Administration.

His best memory of Rabaul was of “a wonderful saloon where you encountered everything the world could yield up – miners, recruiters, con men, thieves, beachcombers, prospectors – cubicles both downstairs and upstairs, several phonographs playing, cards.”

Long after Flynn had left he was remembered around Rabaul, mostly for the unpaid bills he left behind.

Even after he became famous as a film star, he never paid any of those bills. If people wrote asking him to pay, he would send them autographed photographs of himself, saying these were worth much more than what he owed them.

The story is told of the famous occasion when a film of Flynn’s was showing in Rabaul, and at the end of the credits, a dentist to whom Flynn owned a large account jumped up and shouted: “And teeth by Eric Wein.”

In 1928, with money from his work on a coconut plantation and a loan from a shipping company in Sydney, Flynn bought a schooner and took an American film company to make a documentary about headhunters on the Sepik River.

He recalls: “The last place in the world I wanted to go was the Sepik River, a human graveyard. I cruised to the north-east coast, where the red, muddy Sepik River flowed into the sea.

“We moved into the broad stream, running against a strong current.

“The Sepik is a monster waterway 600 miles long.

“No white man has been up the river more than 200 or 300 miles and the nature of the river or the land beyond that was practically unknown and remains little known to this very day.

“The waterway was heavily populated with mosquitoes, kanakas, and pukpuks (crocodiles).

“As we traveled the garamuts, tomtoms made of crocodile skins, kept up a steady communication: ‘Outsiders, big magic on the water, beware’.

“When we came in close to shore and tried to get film of the natives, we got arrows instead, real ones, and poisoned.

“In 1929, Flynn sailed from the offshore islands to Salamaua, to fulfill his original ambition.

He hired eight men, bought marching gear and gold-digging equipment, and set out for the goldfields at Edie Creek.

The tough march from Salamaua to Wau – through a region filled with blackwater fever and poisoned arrows – tested men’s limitations.

The rigorous walk between Salamaua and Wau took up to a week, Flynn writing of how the gold fields had to be approached from Salamaua by 10 days’smarch through leech-infested jungle, in constant fear of ambush, and at night wondering ‘whether that crawly sound you heard a few feet away might be a snake, a cassowary or maybe only a wild boar razorback…I have seen Central Africa, but it was never anything like the jungle of New Guinea’.

At Edie Creek, temperatures were high during the day and fell steeply at night.

There was an epidemic of dysentery and malaria, with no trained doctors to attend to the sick.

His men left, and Flynn quickly realised that, “I had neither the provisions, nor the money, nor the necessary men to work a claim properly. The competition with other prospectors who were better set up was too much”.

He lost everything he owned and was forced to take a job as manager of a tobacco plantation in Laloki, near Port Moresby.

Six months later, Jack Hides, a flamboyant patrol officer and old Papua hand, turned up at Flynn’s place and noted in his diary that Flynn was doing a creditable job.

Flynn had criticised the Australian administration in a letter to his father in Tasmania.

Writing to The Bulletin soon after his arrival, he protested against a government policy that affected his own plantation, the high import taxes imposed on tobacco: “Papua is one of the natural homes of the tobacco plant, and, as Papua is part of the Commonwealth and is in receipt of a yearly subsidy of £40,000 from the federal government, the obvious market for its tobacco is Australia. But the market is closed by a prohibitive tariff.”

At Laloki, the man who was to become the world’s top sex symbol, wrote about his affair with Tuperselai, a beautiful Papuan girl: “We let ourselves be carried down by the current of the stream and, on the shores, in a secluded nook of shade, at last we made love.

“I can only say that I don’t know when again my heart pounded so.

“I was less alone and soft-aired Laloki River is one of my most precious, poetic memories.”

Flynn later observed that, “If you spend more than five years in New Guinea you were done for, you’d never be able to get out, your energy would be gone, and you’d rot there like an aged palm”.

In April 1933, he sold his property and suddenly left the island with some smuggled diamonds and a case of malaria that would plague him for the rest of his life.

During his years in New Guinea, from the age of 18 to 24, Flynn came to maturity and formed his adult personality. New Guinea brought out the worst and the best in him.

He was willing to try anything, but wouldn’t work at anything for very long.

He said, “There is no thrill like making a dishonest buck” and always expected others to support him when he had no money of his own.

He lived by his wits, bluffed his way through crises, and used his fists when he had to.

One of Errol Flynn’s greatest loves was writing. Apart from his autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, he wrote two semi-autobiographical novels Beam Ends and Showdown and in addition wrote articles for the Sydney Bulletin whilst in PNG under the pen-name “Laloki.”

Errol Flynn loved many women, but he is said to have once confided to a close friend that two of his greatest loves were New Guinea, and writing.

— Gentleman Tim

 

Who had Errol’s Ear?

15 Jul

Questions, not a quiz.

Anyone know the story behind this photo – location, approximate date, name, the species of Errol’s companion, where one can find that shirt, etc. ????

— Gentleman Tim

 

Mystery Meal Quiz

14 Jul

What significant event in Errol’s life happened here?

“Resting on the southern bank of the River Seine across from the famous Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris towers the mythical La Tour d’Argent. A culinary and magical experience is presented to you as soon as you step off the gilded elevator escorted by a white gloved attendant. The restaurant sits high above the real world and as soon you enter the main dining room you know you are in for something special. Everything from the yellow glow of the candle lit room to its breath taking views and luxurious decor create a perfect ambiance to fully enjoy the French gastronomy you are about to undertake. The oldest restaurant in Paris, the Tour d’Argent claims to have opened its doors in 1582 where it was created as an elegant inn to cater to the high society and aristocrats of its day. It was built using stones from the region of Champagne France, which gave the edifice a silvery likeness thus giving the tower its name La Tour d’Argent (the Silver Tower).”

“Since its opening, the restaurant has had countless famous and infamous diners throughout its 400 year history. Louis XIV, Philippe d ‘Orléans and the Duke of Richelieu were amongst the early famous faces to have their favourite tables by the windows.”

“The Pixar animated film, Ratatouille, was loosely based on La Tour d’Argent.”

Errol Flynn was friends with its legendary owner, Claude Terrail, who was rumored to be romantically involved with both Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner.

— Gentleman Tim

 

We Welcome New Author Audie to the Errol Flynn Blog!

13 Jul

Audie, thanks for joining us aboard ship! We look forward to your comments and posts! Welcome aboard!

Zaca under full sail!

— David DeWitt

 
 

Mail Bag! More from Audie! Hollywood Censorship!

13 Jul

Audie writes back!

Thank you David,

The movie, “The Sun Also Rises” was a great addition the current the running of the bulls and we watched the provided link last night. The contribution was assuredly welcomed.

Interestingly enough, my husband and myself have become fans of Portuguese bull “fighting” or rather harassing the bull rather than killing the beast. The main characters in the ring is not the bull but rather the magnificence Lusitania horses that are Haute Ecole trained and seemingly love their faire. The “Suicide squad” is something you don’t see in Spanish bull fighting and dangerous but quite entertaining.

I found this on Open Culture with a blurb about our Boy:

“Another speech, however, passed without a murmur. After Errol Flynn’s character discovers the bodies of his friends, mutilated after hideous tortures by the Japanese, a newspaper correspondent spits out, “They’re degenerate, immoral idiots. Stinking little savages. Wipe them out, I say. Wipe them off the face of the earth.” Flynn says nothing in response.*

*Screenwriter Alvah Bessie, of later Hollywood Ten fame, had written a reply for Flynn’s character that said the violence was fascist, not inherently Japanese. But producer Jerry Wald cut it.

For reference, it can be found here:

 

and below:  then click the link “wrote a letter to a Jesuit priest”

 

Please use this of Open Culture information whatever you wish that might seem noteworthy to other Flynn fans (my very small contribution), if not already posted.
Enjoy,
Audie

— David DeWitt

 

Mail Bag! Errol Flynn Fan Since Age 11!

12 Jul

Received this wonderful mail bag item from Claudia Raab this morning and am sharing it with everybody!

Thanks, Claudia!

 

Hello David,

As an Errol Flynn fan since my 11th birthday when I saw „The Adventures of Robin Hood“ for the first time, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now. I still can’t get over how much information and interesting tidbits you and the other authors have gathered and presented there.

I’m nowhere close to being a “Flynn scientist” like you guys, but I’ve managed to visit some locations connected to him in one way or the other, mainly during my trips to the Southwest and the West coast (my favorite places to go on vacation).

I visited the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup last year which was mentioned in your blog two weeks ago, and took a picture of the sign at the door of the Errol Flynn room. Feel free to add it to your blog if you think it’s interesting enough! What I really liked is that the room next to Errol’s is named after his friend Ida Lupino.

I also visited Lone Pine with the beautiful Alabama Hills where parts of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “Kim” were filmed. The small movie museum there has several posters of Flynn movies as well as a coat that he wore in “Kim”. Thought you might like the photos (although you’ve probably seen it yourself).

Keep up the great work!

Best regards

 

Claudia Raab

(Munich, Germany)

— David DeWitt

 

We Welcome New Author William Russo to the Errol Flynn Blog!

10 Jul

We are happy to welcome our newest Author William Russo to The Errol Flynn Blog! Thanks for becoming part of our l ship’s crew, Wiliam! We look forward to your posts and comments!

 

— David DeWitt

 

Mail Bag! Contemporaries of Flynn?

10 Jul

William Russo send me another interesting email, and I think it is worth publishing!

Dear David,
    Amazing what turned up from just a few references to MWWW. And thanks for the tip on the Earl Conrad book; I was able to order a copy from Amazon.
    There is another topic I would like to throw open. As a long time student of history (I detest the term “history buff”) I take particular interest in discovering what things or personages were contemporaneous within a given context. That is, when we study certain regions in a linear fashion, we fail to realize the full context of the surrounding world at that time. For example, long ago I knew a few things about Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana purchase. I also knew a few things about the French revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. But when I realized that Jefferson negotiated the purchase from Napoleon, I was stunned. I had never even considered them as contemporaries!
    So, I started to  wonder a few years ago, who might Erroll Flynn have crossed paths with? Some Googling came up with a few surprises. FDR and Eleanor, for one. Not surprising in the time frame, but interesting that Flynn merited such status. One connection that for some forgotten reason intrigued me, was, did Flynn know Hemingway? What little I found turned out to be even more intriguing. Based solely on comments from Hemingway; Hemingway, early on anyway, without having ever met him, seemed to have a low opinion of Flynn, considering him something like a dilettante and a clown. As time passed, I got the impression that Hemingway resented Fynn’s fame as an adventurer, didn’t want to acknowledge it, and may have been jealous that Flynn was living the life that he, Earnest Hemingway should be noted for. I think Hemingway wanted to be the model for the prototypical, honest, down to earth, man’s man adventurer, without promoting himself as such; except that was exactly what he was doing; promoting himself, which of course contradicts the image. He had the habit of overstating the importance of understatement as a demeanor. In any case he may or may not have met Flynn in Spain during the Spanish civil war. Though he walked out of a screening of  The Sun Also Rises in disgust, after a few minutes, he later commented that he heard Flynn had been pretty good. I did find a picture of the two, presumably from the mid 1950s, both old and grizzled, possibly taken in Cuba. I do not know the occasion or their dispositions.
    I was happy to discover that Erroll and Orson Wells, had a cordial relationship, including as drinking buddies; and that Flynn, the older of the two, regarded Wells as a somewhat wayward youth! I do know that Wells persuaded Flynn to let him use the Zaca as the yacht in Lady from
Shanghi. I know also that Flynn spent a short time with Fidel Castro in 1958 or 59 and I’m sure Castro thought that pretty cool, as did Flynn, in that it re-affirmed his belief that he was a legitimate journalist.
    So who other unlikely or notable personages crossed paths with our man Flynn?
Thanks, William! As I replied to you, it is more a question of Who did Flynn not meet?

— David DeWitt

 
No Comments

Posted in Mail Bag