10 Feb

But he grabbed a million dollars worth of free publicity when he rode to glory by holding on to Fidel Castro's Beard.

from HUSH-HUSH Magazine – July 1959

When swashbuckling Errol Flynn swaggered onto Click to EnlargeJack Paar's TV show recently he fizzled with all the effectiveness of a damp firecracker. He tried to present himself as a hero but a worse performance he has never given. As one columnist remarked, he “looked pretty silly.”

Flynn, the “reckless rebel” who cashed in on Fidel Castro's Cuban conquest, strode before the TV cameras with a cane in his hand a flag of Cuba draped around his neck. He followed this piece of horseplay with a confused account of his dashing exploits with the Cuban rebels. But all he managed to convey to his awestruck (he hoped) audience was the impression that his daring deeds in Cuba were so much ballyhoo.

Even before his touted appearance on the Paar show, rumours were rife that eloquent Errol's version of his valor should be taken with a grain of salt. And the TV fiasco confirmed these rumours.

Flynn arily passed around “exclusive” Batista cigars-but even Errol ought to know that, for a year before the wrappers were removed,Click to Enlarge those cigars were selling on New York's Eighth Avenue at two-for-a-quarter.

Now, without the wrappers, they're the only 5¢ cigars.

Perhaps audacious Errol is himself beginning to believe the fantastic stories he tells about his dare-devil exploits in Cuba. But there is one particularly amusing contradiction in the saga of Flynn, as related by Errol.


In the first instalment of his widely syndicated, first-person memoirs entitled “I Fought with Castro,” Flynn refers to the “five day period” he spent with the rebel leader.

But HUSH-HUSH has another story by Lee Besler, staffwriter of the Los Angeles Mirror-News, headlined: Errol Flynn Views Cuban Rebel Battle”

This article begins: “Swashbuckling Errol Flynn told the Mirror News by telephone today from Havana that he has been with Fidel Castro and his rebel troops for two months.”

This statement was made in December 1958—but the Flynn memoirs were published in January 1959.

How come Mr. Errol Flynn suddenly changed his story? Or was it just a slip of the memory that reduced his stay with Castro from a boastful two months to a timid five days?

Since he's been palsy with Castro, the errant Errol doesn't want to be reminded that once he was also very palsy with the deposed Cuban dictator Fulencio Batista.

The other day Broadway columnist Lee Mortimer asked this significant question:

“Isn't Errol Flynn's East 57th Street apartment (in New York) full of autographed photos of Batista, whom he overthrew single-handed? (It is.)”

Surely Errol, the Robin Hood of the movie screen, doesn't belong to that unsavory group of people who jump on a bandwagon for their own advantage?

Seemingly he does, for while he now hysterically eulogizes Castro, he has only mocking remarks for his former pal, Batista. For instance, in his memoirs Flynn mocks:

“I remember the strictly ridiculous instance of having seen the former dictator at his home very bare-skinned in an unruly bath towel. I got a shock. Because you expect to see a be-medaled dictator in all his uniforms, and there he was, with his towel a little too short, and it kept getting loose, and he didn't look like a dictator then at all—and he doesn't now.”

Come, come, Errol, that wasn't a nice thing to say about the guy whose autographed photos, dedicated to you, are still hanging on your walls!

But nobody takes Errol's antics seriously—it just happens that the Cuban episode coincides with a time when his movie career has reached an all-time low. Conveniently, his brief encounter with revolution has brought the name of fightin' Flynn to the fore again.

The truth, however, is that even Fidel Castro is fed up with Flynn.


Errol may deny it, but HUSH-HUSH can reveal that Castro was furious when a story spread that Flynn had been wounded. It was a phony rumour—spread by Errol himself! But since Castro had taken every precaution to see that the movie star didn't get hurt, that irresponsible story put a chill on Castro's friendship with Flynn. The only shot Errol had at the rebels' headquarters was out of a bottle.

Those who know the truth about Errol's Cuban capers suggest that if he ever does make that much-boosted movie it should be the untold story of his amorous antics in Havana. It should, of course, be a light comedy and one of the highlights should be the episodeClick to Enlarge which two American businessmen, Bob and John Keljakan, reported when they returned from Havana.

When Flynn left the Hotel Nacional on December 26 to join Castro he owed the hotel a $2,000 tab—which he couldn't pay! So the ever resourceful star left his curvy blonde girl friend, Beverly Wood, as security!

This was not much fun for Beverly, who was hard pressed for cash herself—and ham sandwiches in Havana during that troubled period cost $2 apiece.

Flynn, of course, has not boasted about that seamier side of his Cuban epic.

Not long ago, Flynn, in a jocular mood, said: “My attitude toward money is simple. I care nothing for it provided I have plenty of it.”

That is the real Flynn philosophy—it also obviously applies to his attitude toward publicity. He cares nothing about it so long as he gets plenty of it.

But flippant Flynn should try in the future to tell his tall tales more consistently—be consistent—even if they're consistently phony.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt


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