Coronado In the Days of Flynn

Errol used to sometimes stay in Coronado – an island immediately west of Downtown San Diego.  Most often, he stayed at the magnificent  Hotel Del Coronado, including while he was filming “Dive Bomber” in 1941, much of it at the North Island Naval Air Station, walking distance down the beach.  When he sailed to Coronado, he would dock at the Coronado Boathouse/Yacht Club, on the bayside of  “The Del'”.  In addition to being a prominent and highly regarded sailor in the area, Errol was also a very highly regarded player at the resort’s famous tennis courts.

“Dive Bomber” was filmed before the attack on Pearl, but San Diego was already booming with military activity, not only with defense manufacturing for FDR’s Lend Lease programs, but also (very correctly) in expectation of a major naval war in the Pacific.  This, combined with the movie’s superb first-of-its-kind color aviation filming – not to mention mega-star Errol Flynn, of course! – made the movie a big success.  Here’s a clip from one of the great, pioneering aviation scenes from the movie – with Errol’s plane flying by “The Del”.   In the upper right is Glorietta Bay, location of the Coronado Boathouse/Yacht Club, where Errol ofttimes docked the Sirocco & Zaca when he sailed to San Diego.


Flying Flynn


And here’s a recent evening shot of the Coronado Boathouse, not unlike it would have looked in the days of Flynn:


Coronado Boathouse


Another, this one somewhat similar perhaps to how the Sirocco would have looked sailing out of Glorietta Bay:


Sailing at Coronado


Researching Errol’s history in San Diego, I found this very rarely seen (and, I believe, never before published) autographed image of the dapper young Errol – signed for a female admirer from Coronad0 in 1941.  With the original photo (in opposite orientation, as pointed out by Robert) and the cover of the May 38, 1938 Life Magazine I believe it was published in (without autograph, of course.)  I believe a copy of this Life Magazine is buried in a time capsule below the site of the 1938 World’s Fair, with the intent of being opened in 2938.


Errol in Coronado, 

Original Errol        

Life Cover


And you know who, filming on the beach at The Del:

Marilyn at the del


Coronado’s La Avenida Cafe, much as it looked in Errol’s day.  A favorite place to dine for both Errol and Marilyn, with the magnificent “El Dia del Mercado” mural by Ramos Martinez.


La Avenida Cafe


As it looks today, as the “Bistro of Asia”:

Bistro of Asia





— Tim

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