Errol at the Hotel Del?

08 Aug

Hello All Flynn Fans & Experts,

In researching Errol’s history on Coronado Island, California, I have been able to positively document that he regularly visited the island with the Sirocco.  And, of course, he’s known to have filmed “Dive Bomber” there during 1941.  However, historical records appear to be devoid of any (off-the-set/”out-in-town”) photographs.  I believe, though, that I may have made a possible connection between the great photo below and the Hotel Del Coronado.  If so, this would be wonderful for San Diego & Coronado historians.  … Before making a final conclusion, however, I would like to inquire with all the experts, fans and insiders out there whether they might have any information or insight concerning the history and/or provenance of this terrific photo!?!  And, if it’s from another location, that, too, would be great to document!


Errol at the Pool


For the record, my initial belief is that this may have been taken in or around the Spring of ’41, while Errol was filming “Dive Bomber” on Coronado.

— Tim


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  1. Tim

    August 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Here’s some relevant beachside photos of the Hotel Del. Please note the Northwest corner “tower” in the above images of the hotel, including in the photo of Errol leaving the pool. … There has been some renovation to the Hotel Del through the last 125 years, but these tower images are sure very similar! Moreover, this Queen Anne Revival architecture is particularly rare on beaches.

    What do you think? The same location as where Errol was photographed??…………

    • Tina

      August 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      That is by far the best sleuth work ever!
      If one visualizes the picture below in ground level view it most certainly is the Hotel Del Coronado.
      In Errol picture top right you can see the gable roof of the Hotel, seen on your 2nd picture (large) on the very top left which is right in line, as seen on Errol’s picture and so is in line the low building to Errol’s right. 100% proof!…

      • Tina

        August 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm


        • Tina

          August 8, 2013 at 8:15 pm

          David the EDIT Button is still missing? Any News?

      • Tim

        August 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        Thank you so much, Tina. And thank you, too, for that tremendous photo editing you’ve done featuring the pool, pool bar, tennis courts, and Northwest corner of The Del! That really does appear to lock it down!

        By the way, Errol – as you can imagine – was a renowned tennis player on those famous courts. Here’s a link describing a recent book about the many stars who palayed upon them – with Errol the most stellar of all!…

  2. Tim

    August 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Regarding my belief that this photo of Errol leaving the pool may have been taken during or very close to the filming of “Dive Bomber” on Coronado, i.e. in the Spring/Summer of 1941, I offer the following images known to have been taken during filming. Please note the haircut, sideburns, mustache, general build and coloring.

    What do you think?




    • Tim

      August 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Here’s one brief article confirming the presence of both Errol and the Sirocco in Coronado – from a local newspaper dated Thursday, March 27, 1941 – during filming of “Dive Bomber”:

      [Please find a working link for the document?]

      By the way, for everybody, did you know that you can make text links in your comments?

      You can post a comment and then use the edit button to get into the Edit Comment page. On this page in the toolbar is a “link” button. This opens a popup that allows you to enter the long link you want to post, then use the Title bar to create a text link. Just click Add Link when you are done!

      Text Link

      You can also use a site called… to shorten those long ugly urls!

      • Inga

        August 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        I think it’s quite possible, Tim. Is this link up here the one you intended??

        • Tim

          August 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm

          Thought I had the article posted, Inga. I apologize and I’ll try again later today. It’s not from an online link, but rather a scan of an old newspaper.

          Thanks for letting me know.

          • Tim

            August 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

            March 27, 1941


            • Tim

              August 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm

              And, though not in Dive Bomber (rather, a Royal Canadian Air Force flying instructor), Patrick Knowles stayed at The Del part of the time Errol was there – and apparently left with Errol’s hotel towels!

            • Inga

              August 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

              What a pity it’s so small, but great find again, Tim!

              • Tim

                August 11, 2013 at 12:45 am

                Thanks, Inga. I’m working to get a bigger & better image of both the article (and another article), as well as the photo of the Glorietta Bay dock in the Southern California Pictorial LIFE article below. We may be able to confirm the long two-master is the Sirocco. The timing of this circa 1941 photo could be perfect – maybe not even accidental. I shall dig deeper and see what can be found!!

    • Tina

      August 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Tim;
      I just watched Dive Bombers – TCM played it on Wednesday, August 7th. Love the movie!

      By the way, I thought maybe we could schedule an “ErrolFlynnBlog” convention at the Hotel Del Coronado it’s only about an average of $400 a day. Would be great fun swimming in the pool and having a game of tennis.
      Here is a picture of today’s hotel!


      • Tim

        August 11, 2013 at 12:56 am

        I would certainly meet all there who can make it, Tina! It’s a magnificent place and locale!! Trying now to learn the exact suite Errol stayed in! (from which Patrick Knowles took the towels!)

  3. Tim

    August 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Here are several images from the “Southern California Pictorial LIFE” magazine depicting the Hotel Del Coronado and the Coronado Yacht Club docks, circa the time of Dive Bomber. The Hotel Del image encompassing the pool and Morthwest tower serves to further confirm the photo of Errol coming out of the pool was indeed taken at The Del. Even more fascinating, but not at all certain, is the photo of the CYC in Glorietta Bay. There appears in that photo to be a yacht similar to the Sirocco. Can any Sirocco experts (with magnifying glasses) confirm or deny if that’s the Sirocco!?!


  4. Robzak

    August 10, 2013 at 6:34 am

    To set the record straight:

    –The Sirocco was obviously in Coronado during filming (as the article indicates) but Flynn likely had it delivered there, since he left by land for San Diego the day before.
    –The aerial footage for “Dive Bomber” was done by a second unit at a different time than principle photography on the ground, so it is unlikely that the Sirocco was around when the scene from which the screen grab was taken was filmed.
    –The pool candid is indeed from the Hotel Del Coronado (as my attached “Then & Now” image shows) but was taken in 1938.…

    From “Errol Flynn-An Illustrated Life Chronology”

    • Tim

      August 11, 2013 at 1:16 am

      Thank you, Robert. Great to get further agreement and confirmation regarding the Sirocco’s presence and the photo of Errol at the Del!

      Do you happen to know the exact or approximate date the photo of Errol at the pool was taken? If so, I can work to further detail his history in Coronado and maybe even find his name in the hotel registry, which I plan to review this week.

      Likewise, do you know when the Dive Bomber aerial scenes including the hotel was filmed?

      Of course, though it’s rather insignificant to the bigger story of Sirocco being in Coronado during Dive Bomber, there remains the possibility that Errol sailed down to San Diego (a week or so) earlier with the Sirocco – UNLESS your chronological findings or other facts prove otherwise. Do you know where he was a week earlier than the news account, i.e., from about March 20th to 25th? In Hollywood?*

      And, finally, do you know who W. C. Kell was, Robert??

      I would purchase/look at your chronology, but, to my knowledge, it is not publicly published or available???

      P.S. Have found another of Flynn at the Del! Before I post it, do you have any further relevant photos you’d like to post??

      • Robzak

        August 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

        The date for the Del swimming pool photo is during the week of the 4th of July (7/3-7/10) when shooting of “The Sisters” was on hiatus. I have other photos from that occasion, including one of Flynn in the pool with Patric Knowles.

        Not being specifically pertinent to the daily life of Errol Flynn for The Chronology, I hadn’t noted dates for second unit production while researching at the WB Archives. Second units often film scenes like these before or even after principal photography.

        From March 20th to the 25th (except for Sunday the 23rd) Flynn was on Navy Island filming his first scenes for “Dive Bomber.” He would occasionally have his boat crew deliver (sail) the Sirocco (and later Zaca) to a location at which he would be. This was probably the case in March of ’41, since, as usual, cast and crew met at WB Studios and were driven to locations, as was done with Flynn the day before the start of filming “DB.”

        I am not familiar with a W.C. Kell.

        “Errol Flynn-An Illustrated Chronology” is not yet available to the public, but several blog members here have seen it.

        • Tim

          August 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

          Thanks so very much, Robert. What a big help!

          Armed with this superb contribution, I am within minutes reviewing old Coronado microfilm surrounding these dates in 1938. Not sure Errol’s presence would be documented, but it’s certainly possible, as he was already such a popular & luminous celebrity, respected local sailor, and acclaimed star on the Hotel Del’s tennis courts, as will be evidence in a forthcoming photo I received last night from a local historian.

          Tomorrow I hope to (again) visit State archives in San Diego, this time to examine Hotel del registers to see if and when Errol or any of his famed associates, including Patric Knowles, may have been registered, and in excatly what suite(s).

          • Inga

            August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm

            What an extensive research work – chapeau to the two of you!

            • Tim

              August 12, 2013 at 11:01 pm

              Thank you, Inga – and thanks for all your help & support with this!

  5. David DeWitt

    August 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    This is a comment our friend Topper who has been trying to get onto the blog but due to technical difficulties I am posting his thoughts for him:

    I can shed some information on some items that are posted…but I just can’t get there from here so…

    I am sending you some stuff.

    There are comments about Flynn at Coronado Island and they all revolve around Dive Bomber.

    Here are two pics (sorry about the quality) of him that appeared as fillers in: left pic – Photolay magazine December, 1938…and right pic – Photoplay Feb.,1939…well before the film. He did spend time there on many occasions.


    • Tim

      August 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Awesome, Topper!! Thanks so much! And thanks, David, for posting it!

      I wonder where Errol encountered more sharks – in the South Seas, or in the Hills of Hollywood??

      • Tim

        August 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm

        I found last night a contemporaneous news article (June 1938) reporting that EF was coming to Coronado for the purpose of the “new sport of water skiing”. I’ll post this as soon as I can scan the microfilm.

        Errol being such a pioneer, and an expert in all things aquatic, he was already in 1938 an expert water skiier, even though the few people had ever witnessed the sport by then.

        (A friend of mine used to be president of Mango records in Jamaica, given the position by her famous friend, Chris Blackwell. Blackwell had a strong connection to Errol through his legendary parents, and has told the amazing story of the first time he saw waterskiing – in the 50’s. It was Errol Flynn skiing to the Golden Eye Estate in a suit! – with a cigarette in a holder clutched in one hand, and his dauchhound under his arm!!!! And when he got to shore, appearing to be completely dry, he immediately, without missing a beat, accepted a martini all prepared and waiting for him! … There’s been no one like The Mighty Flynn!!!)

      • Tim

        August 12, 2013 at 11:44 pm

        By the way, Topper, just confirmed yesterday – making this story even better – that when these photos were taken at the Hotel Del Coronado, Robin Hood was playing at the Coronado Theater!!!

  6. Tim

    August 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    And here’s another nugget from Coronado historian, Joe Ditler!

    Errol was friends with a legendary San Diego character named Captain Howard Thomas, who used to tell amazing stories about Errol’s adventures. Though the Captain was a known legend, years later sometimes people would doubt his connection to Errol – until Patrice came to stay with him and his wife, “to hide from the press” following Errol’s death!

    In the Captain’s very last days, on his deathbed, he used to watch Flynn movies and tell friends about Errol! Here’s a tremendous photo and account of the legendary Captain Thomas. No wonder Errol liked him!…


  7. Tim

    August 16, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Thanks to Robert’s dating of the photo of Errol being at the pool in early July of 1938, I’ve found further evidence confirming Errol’s coming to the Hotel Del Coronado in that timeframe. … I haven’t been able to make a good scan of it yet, but here’s a transcription – from the “Coronado Citizen”, June 30, 1938:


    Film Star Will
    Week-End Here

    Errol Flynn, who is being seen this week in the film “Robin Hood”
    at the Coronado Theater, expects to to spend this week-end at
    the Hotel Coronado and enjoy the new sport, water skiing. He is
    an expert at it, it is understood.

    Thank you Robert!


    ALSO, I have also found reports of Olivia & Lili staying (later) that summer at the Del,
    Olivia & Lili!! – and possibly, but not certainly, at the same time – depending on how long
    Olivia was there for filming (“Wings of the Navy”) …

    Here’s the local (August 4, 1938) news clip regarding Olivia’s presence on the Coronado:




    Olivia de Havilland is making a picture for Warner Brothers on North Island.
    She had lunch in the B.O.Q. the other day, and now there are quite a few
    aviation cadets who have framed autographed pictures on the wall at which
    to look and sigh.

    No doubt! But from the looks of this photo from generally around that time, Olivia herself looking, sighing and longing at Errol:



    And then, exactly two weeks later, a photo of the French spitfire herself, shows up in the paper, looking magnifique’ in avery alluring (especiall in 1938) two-piece bathing suit on a patio overlooking the Hotel Del’s pool, flashing a huge and happy smile!!!

    Wish I could post the photo of Lili. It’s a great one! But, haven’t been able to scan a worthy copy yet, but I’ll keep working on it! But here’s how the title & caption read:




    Lily Damita finds the Hotel Pool a delightful spot


    P.S. I don’t know if Errol made it to Coronado during Olivia’s and/or Lili’s time there. But Lili does look very happy!

    P.S 2 Found a hilarious account of Arno at the Del! Will try to post that soon!!