Beverly Aadland in Perspective

19 Mar

Beverly Aadland passed on recently. Today, few know her name, but a little more than 50 years ago, she existed amidst a scandal that would have made for a downbeat last chapter to Errol Flynn’s life, except that his Cuban adventure was even worse! Flynn set eyes on shapely, leggy, natural-blonde dancer Aadland on the Warner Brothers lot while he was making Too Much, Too Soon. He was 48 at the time; he figured she was 18 or 20, but her driver’s license said otherwise. Or it would have if she had have been old enough to obtain a driver’s license.
Flynn had always liked younger women, which wasn’t such a problem when he was 25 and a girl, say, Olivia de Havilland, was 19. But when he passed 30 and then 40 and continued to like ‘em 18 or so, it started to get creepy. The funny thing with Flynn was that in the beginning, he found older women attractive, like the society dame he squired in Australia, and like Lili Damita, who claimed to have been born in 1905 but was probably older when Flynn hooked up with her in Paris in 1934—when he was 24 and she was at least 30. Lili became Mrs. Errol Flynn number one. Flynn also went in a big way for the boss’s wife, Dorothy Lamour look-alike Ann Warner, wife of Jack L. Warner. In fact, on his climb up the Hollywood ladder, there were lots of older women who Flynn used, and who used Flynn.
It seems to have been the cunning, manipulative actions of Damita as she steered toward divorce that caused Flynn to make a conscious decision to stick to younger, less sophisticated types. After all, control was the thing with Flynn—control and conquest. Younger girls fit the bill in both cases. Added to that, he liked to love ‘em and leave ‘em, and, on the way out the door, he was less likely to have a shoe or a flower pot thrown at him by a younger girl than an older one.
He was 15 years older than second wife Nora Eddington, whom he married in 1944, and almost 20 years older than his third wife Patrice Wymore, whom he married in 1950. It wasn’t a tremendous surprise, then, when at age 48 he would score with an 18 year old, with the complicating factor being that she was really 16, and an extra complicating factor being that they quickly formed a close emotional attachment. Oh, and one more problem: years of debauchery had left him a bloated wreck who appeared to be far older than 48, meaning that his paramour looked like his granddaughter.
Even today, historians and journalists sneer at the association between Errol Flynn and Beverly Aadland, which went against the social grain of the 1950s in all respects. Flynn himself wrote transcripts of the byplay between the older man and the young girl that was infantile on both sides and tinged with cruelty on his part, but there can be no doubt that Beverly adored Errol and became his caretaker in the last year of his life when he had driven everyone else away.  By now he was a brittle man who had survived many broken bones and a bad back. He had had a cancerous tumor removed from his mouth and perhaps a melanoma from his face. His lungs were shot from smoking and TB, and his liver from drinking. He had no money, was taking every TV appearance he could land, could no longer remember his lines on screen or on the stage, and couldn’t write when he used to be able to make a buck selling words. What a catch!
It was to Beverly’s credit that she stuck with him through the thick and thin of all that, and that she formed relationships with Flynn’s ex Nora and daughters Deirdre and Rory. Flynn’s October 1959 death was a nightmare for Beverly, played out on the world stage and what do you know; she reacted like an 18 year old and threw a tantrum and collapsed. But in subsequent days she pulled herself together and was sturdy through the funeral and aftermath.
Despite the notoriety of her association with Flynn, which led to a Mercury Records contract, TV appearances, and some discreet pictorials in men's magazines (see photo), Beverly Aadland had a hard life marked by diabetes and other ailments. Her passing at age 68 may go unnoticed, which signifies how much the world is changing and how far the flamboyant Errol Flynn, number-one Hollywood bad boy, has himself receded into the pages of history. But back in the day, the Flynn-Aadland scandal matched anything that today’s stars can offer, and at a time when America was far less shock-proof and, in fact, ready to send them both packing.

— Robert Matzen


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  1. Anonymous

    March 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Nice article and its great to see your name once again associated with Flynn! Kudos!

  2. Anonymous

    March 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Robert! Great article, my friend! I'm very happy to see you here on the blog and writing so well! I saw a picture of Errol dancing with Ann Warner but holding her gingerly, and with his boss capable of ending his career on a whim, I bet he kept his thoughts to himself!

  3. Anonymous

    March 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    “But when he passed 30 and then 40 and continued to like ‘em 18 or so, it started to get creepy.” Ahem………

  4. Anonymous

    March 20, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Made for each other . . . . Was there a photo attached? Did I miss it?

  5. Anonymous

    March 22, 2010 at 2:52 am

    I don't know, she doesn't seem like such a remarkable character. I get the impression she was several years older than she stated she was. And she stuck with him through thick and thin? Hmm, believe it was more like Patrice did.
    Also, I never read anything about Ann Warner other than SHE found him attractive.
    Just my impressions.

  6. Anonymous

    March 22, 2010 at 3:09 am

    I don't think so. :) You don't make the best judgment calls when you are sick and severely addicted. :( It strikes me as rather sad.

  7. Anonymous

    March 22, 2010 at 3:10 am

    How's your book coming along?

  8. Anonymous

    March 23, 2010 at 5:06 am

    Elayna! Would you please contact me via the Contact Us link on the main page of the blog? Use the email address you find there. I have a question to ask you…

  9. Anonymous

    March 23, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I think I emailed you. :)