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The Last Sad Rites of Errol Flynn

06 Feb

Dear Errol fans,

        I have been besieged with negative comments as to why Errol was not buried in Jamaica as was his wish. Most of the comments blame Patrice Wymore Flynn and think she had a plan for an 'evil last payback' of some sort to punish Errol for any and all wrongs that she thought Errol had dealt her. The real reason could be not further from the truth. Errol died in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. That very fact had everything to do with how the events turned out. First; the Canadian law follows British law, i.e. Anyone who loses their life in Canada who is a foreign national is subject to an autopsy.(for obvious reasons) That being done, the remains are lawfully shipped to the deceased lawful address, (this being Los Angeles County, CA. i.e Errol's legal residence) Errol's remains stayed at the Vancouver Morgue for two days until Errol's friend came to claim the body. The remains were then put on a train for the trip to L.A. That trip took four days in an unrefrigerated baggage car, at which it was turned over to the proper authorities.

                The L.A.County Health Dept. then at some point filed an 'immediate burial writ' and the the remains were then buried at Forest lawn within 24-48 hours. Note that this was 1959 and the threat of Cholera and Typhoid Fever was a very real concern. The authorities did not care who it was, only that the public good was to be protected. The story that friends put several bottles of liquor in the coffin at the wake is simply not true. ( It made for good pulp press though) The fact is: Due to the circumstances, the L.A. coroner filed a “closed coffin” order and Errol was buried in that manner. Also, for Errol to be re-buried in Jamaica would have been a logistical nightmare. In L.A. County, a dis-internment order was almost impossible to get. (unless the asking party was the police) There had already been an autopsy (in Vancouver) and no foul play was suspected. Indeed, the results pointed to a massive heart attack, liver cirrosis, and a laundry list of other ailments.(In fact it seems incredible that he lived as long as he did.) To request it for any other reason would have involved a court hearing, etc, that most probably would have dragged on for months. Let's say for argument's sake that it was actually done: The coffin would have to be encased in a airtight container, shipped by boat or air plane to Kingston, JA where customs would have had the final say. Let me tell you,(as I have extensive experience in JA goings-on) Bringing a body into a country such as JA for re-burial would have been another nightmare. All kinds of health concerns would have delayed the transfer, and the coffin would have most likely sat in the air-freight warehouse at the Kingston airport for two or three months while the bureaucracy slowly ground on, and even then, it would be a 50-50 chance that the remains would have been accepted. Let's not forget that the Jamaican people are very superstitious.(and still are.) They call ghosts: 'Duppies' and believe that have great powers, and there is no 'Duppie so evil' as one who is denied his final resting place. This belief exists to this day.(even in 2010)

       To put it all in perspective, Errol lived a great life, and when he died, the portion left behind was not Errol, but just a shell for a soul. (at least, that's how I see it) As for me, when I pass on, I don't care what they do with the body. Hell, get rid of it in the cheapest way possible! What has made me me, is gone to another place.

         Also, I have heard that there is a rumor that Patrice sent yellow roses to Errol's grave as a 'spiteful last insult'. Patrice at that time was almost penniless, and only had the property in JA and was in no position to do anything. The truth is, Errol's friend Bud Abbott (of Abbott and Costello fame, and a close friend) called a local florist and ordered an enormous amount of roses to be sent to the grave site. The florist was short of red roses, but had a line on yellow roses and did not think it would matter, so that is what was sent, much to the later embarrassment of Mr. Abbott.

         I have often said that there is nothing more bitter and chastising as the pure truth, and I believe this is yet one more example. I hope I have not turned away any readers. There is so much more good in Errol's life that remains to be written, and I intend to do it,(with you readers support.) Errol was, at his core, just a man, a human being with all the faults and warts we all carry. He was a great man in his own way, and to quote Shakespeare; “Here, was a Caesar, When comes another?” It is easy to think of him in Hollywood terms, but Hollywood is make-believe. Errol was the real thing. And rather than to hide his true feelings due to some 'political correctness',(a term coined by Josef Stalin) he was his own man and 'let it all hang out' and if you accepted it, fine, if not, you could go to hell. In my humble opinion, that is the attitude of a real man. That is what made him the legend that he was and still is. That, my friends, is how I view him and I admire him all the more for it.

                                                  Thank You All,  John

         

— john

 

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  1. Anonymous

    February 6, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Were the roses on his casket also yellow? Do you know why he wasn't cremated and his ashes taken to Jamaica? I think his final resting place is quite lovely. Good thing there were no hang ups for the train, that sure would have created a mess for the funeral. Thanks John.

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  2. Anonymous

    February 6, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Dear John;
    This is a very nice article and thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts with us. The last paragraph of your article carries my full sentiments and your quote of Shakespeare is divine – no words fit better.
    Tina

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  3. Anonymous

    February 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Kathleen, Now that is one thing I don't know. I have tried and failed at finding photos of the funeral et- al. That, I guess is not surprising as it would be very rude to take a photo during the Wake ceremony. (although it has been done plenty of times with other celebrities) My guess is that with all of Errol's buddies that were present, such a broach of etiquette would have earned the guilty party a 'butt-whipping' of major proportions and the camera broken over his head. As to the cremation question, I have no idea if it was a religious decision or it just never 'came to mind'. I agree that importing the ashes would have been much less of a problem, but with Jamaica, you can never tell. The rule in JA as I have seen a dozen times is 'Money greases all the skids'. and bribes are an accepted way of life.(as long as the bribe is not too big) It's not that much different from the US, only the bribe here is called, “Attorney's Fee's. JOHN

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  4. Anonymous

    February 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    A pic from my Then & Now series, this grouping concerning the funeral:
    www.theerrolflynnblog.com…

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  5. Anonymous

    February 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for the pictures. I note they were all taken outside the church, and the pall bearers look none too happy to be photographed. The casket was covered with roses and if they say they were yellow, I will take them at their word. They would show up much darker if they were red in the B&W film. I learn something new everyday! Thanks again!

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  6. Anonymous

    February 10, 2010 at 12:05 am

    You are welcome, FFF.
    R

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  7. Anonymous

    February 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    John, thanks for all that. I would demur on one point, however – Flynn's body was hardly just a shell for his soul – Flynn was such a sensual man, such a physical being, that it's impossible for me to imagine some Flynn “soul” divorced from that Flynn form and floating about disembodied in the ether. He pretended that his face had gotten in the way of his becoming who he truly was, but I've never bought that line, which smacks of alcoholic self-pity. More to the point is when he mused, in WICKED, as to whether or not he would have had the same spirit had he been an ugly little dwarf – his implicit assumption being that he would not have. How can one even begin to conceive of a repulsive Errol Flynn? Beauty is always conscious of itself and he was certainly no exception, using his looks to his advantage. If his face and form did in fact defeat his ultimate ambition in becoming, say, a writer, then that's who he essentially was – his face and form. It dominated his character. I think we mere mortals like to think that body and soul are separate entities, that our character or our spirit is superior to our outward form, but with Flynn they were so intertwined as to be inseparable. Cheers, Kevin

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  8. Anonymous

    February 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Kevin, I think you may be right. I used that expression in the thought that the Soul goes on and the body remains as : “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust”. (someone said that) Also, My wife is an R.N. and in her first year as a student they had to dissect a cadaver, and the teacher said for those who were sqemish about the whole affair,”Remember that the person who made this a human being is gone and what remains is only a shell” Thanks for the thought, John

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  9. Anonymous

    February 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    John;
    Please clear this up for us. In William Donati's book “Ida Lupino: A Biography” he maintains that at the services (wake) for Errol Flynn in 1959, Patrice Wymore had the casket open. According to the author Miss Lupino came to pay her respects and was horrified that Errol Flynn's body was available for viewing. She quickly begged Patrice Wymore to close the casket which she did for the rest of the services.
    Well does Donati have it right or not?

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  10. Anonymous

    February 12, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Finally the truth, along with everyone else I thought it was the actions of a woman scorned,how far from the truth it all was, well wherever his spirit ,soul maybe now I hope it is peaceful and at rest and having as good a time as he had in life.

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  11. Anonymous

    February 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Ralph, I believe Donati has it wrong. Patrice did not attend the service, and the casket was closed at the wake. I hope this helps, JOHN

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  12. Anonymous

    February 19, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Photos show Patrice arriving for the service with Errol's son, Sean. Lili, Nora, and Beverly did not attend.

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  13. Anonymous

    February 22, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Hi Robert;
    Photos also show that Deidre and Rory were at the funeral – am I right?

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  14. Anonymous

    February 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    John;
    Thanks so much for getting back to me. I look forward to reading further articles from you.
    Ralph

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  15. Anonymous

    February 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm

     
  16. Anonymous

    February 24, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I believe I've seen footage of her leaving the church escorted by somebody.
    I “think” it's from the Adventures of Errol Flynn documentary.

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  17. Anonymous

    February 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Are you sure it is Patrice? After-all Nora and Patrice were almost twins. I suppose the Obituary would clear things up. If it is Patrice, I stand corrected. If not, I stand. Do you have the photo? If so, can you post it?
    John

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  18. Anonymous

    February 24, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I have that video and will check it out. But as I have said, Patrice and Nora looked almost like twin sisters, and even Nora said so in “Errol and Me”. If I am wrong, I will be the first to admit it though. I can't be correct 100% of the time.
    Thanks, JOHN

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  19. Anonymous

    February 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Mr. Robzak, I have looked at the photos in the newspaper and the person sitting next to Sean dressed in black does not look like Pat. It looks like Nora to me. You can see the resemblance to her older daughter(wearing sunglasses) Pat and Nora looked an awful lot alike in those days. It just looks like Nora to me. I could be wrong of course, but considering all the mis-information I have run into while researching Errol, nothing would surprise me at this point. I have an idea. Why not contact Rory? She was there and about 15 yrs. old at the time. If anyone knows, she does. After all, I am only looking for the truth. John

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  20. Anonymous

    February 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    It's Pat, John. She had legal jurisdiction concerning her husband and organized the entire funeral; Nora did not attend, and if she did, her daughters would not have been shown arriving with a chaperone.

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  21. Anonymous

    February 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Hmm. I'm not convinced. It looks like Nora to me, and since neither one of us were at attendance, there is only one sure way to clarify it. Why not contact Rory? David has her contact info, and if anyone knows, she does. Also, Pat would not have to be present to organize the ceremony. (any attorney could handle that) Mr. Robzak, I learned a long time ago that in matters involving Errol Flynn, never take the 'standard story'. I think that fully 80% or more of the lore involving him is either a mistake, or outright made-up stories, and after a time, they were just accepted as the truth. I have no agenda except finding said truth and if I am wrong, them so be it. That just puts me one step closer to the reality of the situation. I will go with whatever Rory or Diedre say. John

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    • Tony

      June 14, 2017 at 1:25 am

      Hi,

      I came across this post here only a few minutes after seeing this picture of Nora in 1959 on a web page by Deirdre. I don’t think that Nora looked anything like Pat in 1959, so it should be easy to tell who was at the funeral.

      www.tumblr.com… flynn" alt="a> flynn" />

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