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