The Colonel

20 Sep

Hey guys:

It was brought to my attention by Karl that few know that one of Flynn's nicknames was the Colonel.  More people used the Baron of Mulholland — which though no one is sure I think came from Jack Warner originally when he said something like Flynn was living like a goddamn baron up on a mountaintop!

Colonel was an early nickname.  Alan Hale was Sarge and Big Boy Guinn Williams was Corporal.  It may have originated on “Charge”.  I can't recall offhand if Hale or Big Boy was in “Charge” but it they were, that might have started the trend.

It also may have started with Niven back in the Dawn Patrol era — or on Died WTBO.  I never asked and never remember anyone mentioning it.

I called him Colonel somewhat jokingly (derisively in a good-natured way) and he once called David Niven the Major — but Niven and he were together by 1949-50, so though I met David and was at his Pacific Palisades house (The Pink Palace) I never saw them together.  But Flynn genuinely liked him.  And Ty Power too — when the three of them chummed around together.

Anyway, that's the story behind the Colonel.


— ivan6gold


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  1. Anonymous

    September 20, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Interesting info, Steve. Wonder when the appellation did begin.
    Btw, neither Hale nor Williams was in Charge.

  2. Anonymous

    September 20, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I don't know. But Karl says there's mention of it in MWWW. Maybe Niven had something to do with it. Sounds like something he'd say. And they did live together in the early years. Then, too, Patric Knowles was in Charge, so maybe he was involved. When I was host at Phil Ahn's Moongate Restaurant in Panorama City (he was a famous Korean actor who was in the Kung Fu series with Carradine) Patric came in with family and friends often. Wish I'd asked him. He knew a lot about Errol. Best, Steve.

  3. Anonymous

    September 21, 2008 at 1:11 am

    David Niven was a fave of mine, Steve! I wrote to him about the Higham charges and he wrote back that “No words are too harsh for this kind of bastard!” A wonderful story-teller and writer, I loved all of Niven's films and cried like a baby when I'd heard he died. He wrote to me twice from Gstaad and from Chateau-D'oex so that I am the owner of letters postmarked from both of his homes! He was an amateur artist, as well – did you see any of this paintings in the Pink Palace?

  4. Anonymous

    September 21, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Very interesting stuff, Steve. Here's a possible game: Flynn loved nicknames for those in his inner circle. In addition to the ones already mentioned (Colonel, Sarge, etc.), how many more can we think of? Here are just a few:
    Deirdre: Sam
    Beverly: Woodsie
    Raoul Walsh: Uncle
    Jack Eddington: Honey
    Patrice: Cowpoke
    Ida Lupino: Little Scout
    Hermann Erben: The Doc
    Any others?

  5. Anonymous

    September 21, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Yes. “Gammie” or “Gammy” (never saw it spelled) for Marge Eddington; “Legs” for my first wife, Gloria. And occasionally, once he was in his cups, “The Earl” for me. This was after Gloria mentioned how she'd coined a fake title for at a Bel Air Party “The Earl of Richmond's son.” Peter Lawford was there and his mother and Clifton Webb. It haunted me for a while. ON the set at MGM in ROgue's March, I think, Richard Greene (Brit heartthrob and Robbin Hood TV hero) and Pat Ahearne, brother of movie star Brian Aherne, kept the joke up so that I was constantly afraid Peter or the director or someone would find out I was lying (it wasn't my idea in the first place) and my Metro career woukld be doomed. They never did fortunately. This is all in my books, as I found it amusing when looking back on it. Steve

  6. Anonymous

    September 22, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Let's see:
    Betty Hansen: SQQ (San Quentin Quail)
    Peggy Satterlee: JB (Jail Bait)
    Lili Damita: Tiger Lil
    Greer Garson: Red
    Irene Ghika: the Geek

  7. Anonymous

    September 22, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Steve and David,
    Excellent! I'm sure there were others, but off the top of my head that pretty much exhausts my recollection of Flynn nicknames. “Gammie,” btw, is a not uncommon substitute for “Grannie” when small children have a hard time saying “Grannie.” “Gammie” (Marge Eddington) was young Rory's version of “Grannie,” and it stuck – Errol always referred to her that way.

  8. Anonymous

    September 29, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    We haven't met yet but I do know you'vebeen working onan EF book for a long time. If I can ever help with any perplexing questions — like where did “Colonel” come from, or something about the house or EF's personal feelings on some matter (Christ, I heard plenty of them while living there as his house guest) — don't hesitate to ask. David has my email. Best, Steve