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Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

“She Doesn’t Want to Learn”

25 Aug

Last Week of August, 1936

Peter Pry’s Notebook
Hollywood Citizens News

Errol Flynn, nearing completion of his starring role in The Green Light is spending his odd moments looking at palatial automobile trailers. He goes on vacation after the picture, and he wants a trailer so he and his wife, Lili Damita, can cook their meals. He plans to penetrate into the mountains, beyond the range of hotels and restaurants, so if they are to eat at all, the meals will have to be cooked. Lili has never cooked anything in her life and she doesn’t want to learn. Errol thinks it will be fun to have her cook. Apparently he isn’t considering his own stomach or peace of mind!

— Gentleman Tim

 

Welcome to Sherwood Lake

24 Aug

August 25, 1936

Harrison Carroll
Evening Herald Express

… Who comes closest to being the movie hero in real life? probably Errol Flynn. He was a good enough boxer to represent Ireland in the Olympics, his tennis is brilliant, and he is a fine swimmer. When Green Light was on location at Sherwood the other day, the troupe shot morning scenes on one side of the lake and afternoon scenes on the other. The rest of the troupe drove around in cars, but to Flynn, a straight line was the shortest distance between two points, so he swam the lake.

HISTORY OF THE LAKE
(Quoting Multiple Sources)

For many centuries, Lake Sherwood and the vast majority of Conejo Valley as a whole was inhabited by communities of Chumash Indians. This remained the case until the arrival of Spanish expeditions to much of California in the late years of the 18th century. At this point, Lake Sherwood and a substantial portion of the surrounding area was named Potrero Valley until California became the 31st state in 1850. Once this occurred, the land of Potrero Valley was sold and would eventually switch hands several times over the next 75 years, mainly to ranch owners and agricultural businesses. It wasn’t until the early 1920’s that the area now known as Lake Sherwood began to rise in popularity among residents of California, due mostly to the land being transformed into Sherwood Forest for the creation of the popular “Robin Hood” film that was helmed by legendary director Douglas Fairbanks. The 1938 film, The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn, also had a scene shot on location at “Sherwood Forest. (The attack on the treasure caravan scene.)

“These days everyone knows that Lake Sherwood homes are some of the most gorgeous in the Ventura County region. This small, upscale neighborhood is home to just over 1,000 of some of the wealthiest individuals in the country including David Murdock, owner of the Dole company. His estate spawns over 2,000 acres of land on a hill top. Prime Lake Sherwood real estate isn’t just for the typical rising stars in business either. This wealthy town has been home to countless celebrities and to this date attracts Hollywood stars like actor Jamie Foxx who follows fellow actors Sylvester Stallone, Sophia Loren, Tom Selleck and a caravan of other tinsel town elite in owning Lake Sherwood real estate. With such a rich history in wealth it might be hard to picture a Lake Sherwood without pomp and circumstance. But according to former locals of the area, there actually was a time when Lake Sherwood was just a really nice lake.

The story is that Lake Sherwood’s history goes back further than the 1922 Robin Hood movie accredited for giving it fame. It seems the neighborhood had rather tough beginnings in trying to solidify itself as a place where the rich call home. According to historian Miriam Sprinkling, the lake was formed when a rancher known as S.W. Matthiesson, who owned much of what is now Lake Sherwood and Hidden Valley, built a dam across four streams. Matthiesson had hoped the land would become a summer getaway for the wealthy to hunt and fish. However, this idea never caught on. It was Matthiesson’s son who eventually gave the okay for filming the Robin Hood movie years later in Lake Sherwood. The cabin in which Douglas Fairbanks was housed during filming is now a registered Ventura County historical landmark and the crest of The Sherwood Country Club proudly depicts Robin Hood.

Unfortunately, after the film was produced Matthieson’s son lost ownership of the lake to his wife during a divorce settlement (that doesn’t sound too gentry at all) and Mrs. Matthieson and her new husband Mr. Canterbury, decided to change the lake’s name to “Lake Canterbury”. Luckily, the name just never stuck. The two decided to begin a housing development project in the area and the real estate firm hired again changed the name to “Los Touras” by combining Los Angeles + Ventura. At this time, Potrero Valley was renamed Hidden Valley. So, what is exactly in a name, you ask? Millions. Until there’s a stock market crash. And in 1929 that’s exactly what ruined the Canterbury’s plans as they were forced to sell their property to none other than tycoon William Randolph Hearst. After the filming of Robin Hood by Fairbanks it was renamed Lake Sherwood.

— Gentleman Tim

 

Errol’s Affliction

23 Aug

Reached a sad conclusion recently after re-reading Earl Conrad’s ‘Errol Flynn – A Memoir.’ Almost hate to share it but here goes. I’d read the book 30 years ago as a young man and was fascinated by its behind the scenes look at the writing of My Wicked Wicked Ways, on which Earl Conrad collaborated with Errol the year before his death. More than any other source, it presents the true picture of Flynn, his genius for living, his many flaws, his peccadillos and quirks. Whereas ‘My Wicked…Ways’ was rousing and fascinating and wonderfully written, equal parts fact and fiction, the Conrad memoir really lays it out.

Fast forward 35 years during which time one of my avocations has been the study of psychopathy as well as  a concomitant ten year career as an investigative reporter. Re-reading Conrad’s memoir last week, it was perfectly clear that poor Errol was a  psychopath. There is no question. His behavior as described by Conrad is textbook, and would rank Errol high on the Hare Checklist, the accepted litmus test for diagnosing this condition. This is not to belittle Errol’s many talents and unique presence, but he was indeed a psychopath, an affliction that one is born with. There may be an inherited component, the jury is still out on this; it may stem from an under developed amygdala, a small gland in the brain that contributes to the development of one’s conscience and the ability to control one’s impulses. But Errol was one, in my opinion.

In some ways, believing this, makes me empathize with him (Flynn). One of the saddest observations made by Conrad in his book (beside the sheer sense of wanton self destruction exhibited by Errol) was that Errol was virtually friendless. This Conrad finds shocking, as I did, and Conrad liked Flynn and seems like a thoughtful and honest writer, so I believe him. Conrad observed that Flynn had countless fans and wannabe hangers-on and constant solicitations to invest in things or lend his name to organizations, but virtually no friends.

I know my observations are going to upset many Flynn fans. And these same observations don’t diminish Flynn the often brilliant actor, but at least for me, they explain a lot. I remember reading Conrad’s memoir for the first time in 1984 when I was an aspiring writer working at Omni magazine in NY. I was so taken with it that I contacted Mrs Conrad through her husband’s publisher -Earl had recently died- and as it happened she was visiting NYC. We met at the old Madison Pub on Madison Ave in the 80’s, and talked about Earl and Errol and I was pitching the idea of making a movie about the experience of writing the book. I remember how much she’d like Errol the few times they met, and recounted one story about having once owned a photo of Errol urinating on the side of the road in Cuba! I remember she was recovering from pneumonia and wanted to catch a cab to her hotel downtown, and so to save her money (since Madison headed uptown) I walked her through a snowstorm around the block to Lexington Ave so she could travel south (?) with the traffic. Which damn near killed her.

 

 

— TJR McDowell

 

Dinner at Cole’s

23 Aug

August 23, 1948

By Harry Crocker

Behind the Makeup
Los Angeles Times

On to Cole Porter’s. Cole had given a dinner honoring Jarmilla Novaina, Madeleine Carrol and Charles Brackett with the Arthur Rubinsteins and Errol Flynns among the guests.  Cole leaves tomorrow to stage his “Kiss for Katie” on Broadway. It will be wonderful to have more Cole Porter music in circulation.

Part of Porter’s future music included “Cherry Pies Ought to be You”, with a line referencing Errol. … It’s not clear whether Errol was drinking the night of Cole’s dinner party, but perhaps it had some influence on the Cherry Pie lyrics, though Rosemary Clooney may have been thinking something entirely different than Cole (or not), to which Sinatra warned her: “Watch out!”

— Gentleman Tim

 

A Top Piece on Errol’s Top-Piece

22 Aug

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – 1996/01/01: New Guinea Highlands, Near Tari, Huli Dancers With Ceremonial Wigs, Bird Of Paradise Feathers. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

August 21, 1937

WHAT THEY DO FOR INSOMNIA
Evening Herald Express

“Errol Flynn, old boy, tell us what you do for insomnia?”

After Errol had exploded and used a little language we convinced him we really meant exactly what we said, and he was surprised to find he did have an insomnia cure. Seemed it rarely is needed, but when it is he remembers a long tiresome trek he took in New Guinea one time, afraid to sleep because the local head-hunters seemed determined to add the handsome Flynn top-piece to their collection. Said Errol:

“It’s like counting sheep, only I count head-hunters.”

Headhunting History in New Guinea:

Headhunting was practised by many Austronesian people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Headhunting has at one time or another been practised among most of the peoples of Melanesia,including New Guinea. A missionary found 10,000 skulls in a community longhouse on Goaribari Island in 1901.

Historically, the Marind-anim in New Guinea were famed because of their headhunting. The practice was rooted in their belief system and linked to the name-giving of the newborn. The skull was believed to contain a mana-like force. Headhunting was not motivated primarily by cannibalism, but the dead person’s flesh was consumed in ceremonies following the capture and killing.

The Korowai, a Papuan tribe in the southeast of Irian Jaya, live in tree houses, some nearly 40 metres high. This is believed to be a defensive practice, presumably as protection against the Citak, a tribe of neighbouring headhunters. Some researchers believe that the American Michael Rockefeller, who disappeared in New Guinea in 1961 while on a field trip, may have been taken by headhunters in the Asmat region. He was the son of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

nypost-com.cdn.ampproject.org…

— Gentleman Tim

 

Nora the Adorable

20 Aug

Charleroi Mail
3rd Week of August, 1943

FLYNN YACHTING WITH APPRENTICE MACHINIST

Errol Flynn was yachting off the coast of Mexico Saturday with his newest girlfriend, a 19-year-old apprentice machinist from a Los Angeles airplane factory, Nora Eddington.

A nice girl she is, too, reported Flynn by phone from Acapulco, Mexico, and a fine companion for a fishing trip.

— Gentleman Tim

 

Whoopie for Sir Hubert

20 Aug

August 19, 2019

Harrison Carroll
Evening Herald Express

So many faces were red over an incident that occurred during the visit of Sir Hubert and Lady Wilkins to the Dawn Patrol set at Warners. The explorer and his wife came to visit the movie troupe on the invitation of Basil Rathbone.

They were introduced around and Errol Flynn pulled up his own chair for Sir Hubert. The explorer sat, then jumped up in amazement, for the cushion in the chair had burst in a loud buzzing.

The cushion was a rib that David Niven had prepared for Flynn — never expecting that Sir Hubert would sit in the chair first.

Regarding the remarkably beautiful and talented Lady Wilkins:

trove.nla.gov…

— Gentleman Tim

 

Forty Years Ago Today

19 Aug

Aug. 19, 1979: Beverly Aadland writes to Los Angeles Times, publicly revealing that she lived in Palmdale (in the Antelope Valley, north of LA), happily married and expecting her first child!

— Gentleman Tim

 

Adventure is Calling

16 Aug

August 13, 1936

Harrison Carrol
LA Evening Herald Express

Adventure is calling again to Errol Flynn.

Instead of sailing to Europe in a de luxe suite as other movie stars do on vacation, the young Irish actor is headed for the wilds of Borneo, where he and a friend will photograph background shots of The White Rajah, Flynn’s own story, in which he will star for Warner Brothers.

The unusual holiday will begin as soon as he finishes one more picture declared the actor yesterday, and will take him away from Hollywood for a period of three months.

As the expedition will penetrate into uncivilized country, the star’s wife, Lili Damita, will not accompany him.

His partner in adventure will be Dr. Hermann Erben, with whom Flynn once sailed up a savage infested river in New Guinea. At that time the thought of Hollywood never enter the actor’s mind. He was the owner of a pearling schooner that Dr. Erben chartered for the expedition.

August 17, 1936

Harrison Carrol
LA Evening Herald Express

Errol Flynn calls up to say he still has not given up hope of persuading Lili Damita to brave the wilds of Borneo with him.

— Gentleman Tim

 

“The Louse That Roared”

15 Aug

August 14, 1935

Winchell’s Daily Tattle
LA Evening Herald Express

By Walter Winchell

The Lili Damita-Errol Flynn honeymoon is over. It’ll be denied, but Lili is planning a Paris divorce.

—–

Winchell, aka “The Louse That Roared” – “not noted for accuracy”, nor concern for accuracy – wrote this winchell-worded letter to Lili in ’41, after Tiger Lil’ complained to him about an article he published falsely claiming Errol had been charged with statutory rape:

“Dear Mrs. Flynn, Thank you for your letter. The item was garbled by Western Union. I wired it to New York CIty from out of town. Best Wishes, Walter Winchell”

— Gentleman Tim