At the Zoo

20 Oct

Taz sign

Something Tells Me Errol was At The Zoo …
I do believe it. I do believe it’s true!

Continuing my investigation into the Mighty Flynn’s travels & explorations in and around San Diego & Baja, I began research this past week into whether Errol ever visited or interfaced with the world-famous San Diego Zoo. My instincts tell me he did. So, without any not documentary evidence, I decided to visit the Zoo myself and see what I could see (and possibly meet who I could meet) that may help guide me in my search.

Lo and behold, immediately after entering the front gate, I was confronted by a series of sign proudly and prominently announcing that the Zoo was, for the first time in its illustrious history, building an area for and opening a major exhibit featuring Tasmanian Devils – just past the laughing kookaburras, next to Koalafornia, behind the Warner Building (no relation, they say)!

What better omen could I possibly hope for than a sign announcing the Taz Devil – an animal greatly popularized by Warner Brothers cartoonists – who, I believe, were inspired by Errol (stemming partially from his humorously and extraordinarily voracious appetites and nocturnal ways perhaps) in their creation of the Taz Devil character, before which few ever heard of the Tasmanian Devil. Perhaps others, including our marvelous expert zacal, can add to that history.

— Gentleman Tim


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  1. Lollie

    October 21, 2013 at 2:49 am

    They are such cute,funny little animals. :)

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  2. Tim

    October 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    The Tasmanian Devils are here in the USofA, and they’re said to be “enjoying themselves” and “already rearranging the furniture”!! Here’s the story with some fascinating info about why they behave the way they do – to avoid extinction! Much like Errol himself perhaps! – (contrary to the account below, EF was the first “Taz Devil in The States!!)…


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  3. Karl

    September 10, 2017 at 1:13 am

    I’m a little late to the fair on this one, but I knew I had it somewhere… I was going through old Flynn stuff and happened upon this correspondance dated 2/9/04:

    Dear Warner Brothers-

    I am a big fan of your movies and animation and have been to the museum several times- IT’S JUST GREAT!

    In one of my visits, I had the opportunity to speak with a lovely older gentleman, on the first floor of your museum.

    He indicated how he had been a WB employee for many years. He spoke, in particular of having met Errol Flynn so you can just imagine that he’s been around for quite some time.

    We soon got on the subject of the Tasmanian Devil and we BOTH wondered if he had been created in honor of Errol Flynn. So I was just wondering if anyone in your animation or history department would know the answer
    to this question.

    And thank you, in advance, for whatever help you can provide with this Tasmanian Devil question.

    And from Warner Brothers came this response:

    The following response came from our Warner Bros. Studios archivist.

    Hope this answers your question.

    “the cartoon character was not based on Flynn…..the writers were just trying to come up with a one shot character that ate a lot and was somekind of a creature which would fit into the cartoon they were working
    on. Once the cartoon was done, the character was forgotten until Jack Warner much later mentioned to someone in the Cartoon Dept. how much he liked that crazy character that growled all the time and ate
    everything…..that’s how the Tasmanian Devil came to star in his second cartoon and then he just continued on.”

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    • Gentleman Tim

      September 10, 2017 at 7:10 am

      Thank you for that great, new information, Karl. I find this a Fantaztic topic. The devil’s in the details.

      The Warner Brothers letter is certainly unequivocal, but I have to be skeptical of their response. After all, the most famous “Tasmanian Devil” in the world when the cartoon was published and copyrighted in 1954 was Errol Flynn. Very few in America had ever seen or possibly even heard of a Tasmanian Devil before the cartoon. Errol, however, was calling himself that in Hollywood for years before.

      True, it’s been said, as in the quotes below, that the cartoon figure was not inspired or named after Errol because Errol had already left Warner Brothers. Well, actually, I think that may well prove the opposite, that Warner’s would NOT have put out the cartoon if Errol still was with the studio. Moreover, if Jack Warner ever made it known that Errol was the inspiration, Flynn would most assuredly, IMO, have demanded a hefty, advance cut of the action and copyright. At least, that’s my thinking. (And, circa ’54 especially, JW probably felt like sticking to Flynn anyhow.)

      What makes me believe Errol was some sort of inspiration even more is the fact that the creator of Taz Devil, Robert McKimson, most definitely knew of Flynn and Flynn’s unparalleled attributes and reputation. In fact, McKimson, who was only a year younger than Errol, lived and worked in Hollywood and at WB, and was the cartoonist most responsible for the design of Bugs Bunny, Errol’s co-star in Rabbit Hood. He definitely knew Errol! – including his voracious appetite (for sex, something they couldn’t directly depict in a children’s cartoon) and his great ability to cause chaos and commotion. Perhaps most important of all to note is that cartoonists, especially on the level of McKimson and his WB colleagues, have preeminent creative thought processes, which, IMO, would have assured they did not miss and were not to some extent influenced by the Flynn connection …

      Additionally, it should be noted that both Taz Devils were nocturnal creatures, and, according to this cartoon, both liked wild ducks.

      All circumstantial evidence perhaps, and would be hard to prove in a copyright trial, but, nonetheless, I think the Tasmanian Devil was inspired by the Tasmanian Devil.


      “Tasmanian Devil” by David Owen and David Pemberton is a well-illustrated and researched overview of the natural and human history of the largest living marsupial carnivore.”

      “A chapter of course is spent on the history of the famous Warner Brothers cartoon character Taz. Some have speculated that Warner Brothers studios had another Tasmanian in mind when they created the character, Errol Flynn, who worked for the studio.* Errol Flynn in his autobiography even titled the first chapter “Tasmanian Devil, 1909-1927″.

      Robert McKimson based the character on the real life Tasmanian devil, or more specifically its carnivorous nature, voracious appetite, and surly disposition. Owen and Pemberton suggest that the character of the Tasmanian Devil was inspired by Errol Flynn. The most noticeable resemblance between the Australian marsupial and McKimson’s creation is their ravenous appetites and crazed behavior.”

      “It would seem [however] that that was merely coincidence as the authors provide the history of the development of the character (for all his fame only five Taz cartoons were made between 1954 and 1964 until his 1990 resurrection) and of the legal battles involving the character (Warner Brothers had trademarked the name Tasmanian Devil, a fact that has bothered and hampered many Tasmanians’ use of their iconic animal in economic matters and in promoting tourism).”

      “* And was the son of Professor Theodore Thomson Flynn, a pioneering 20th century mammologist, and world expert on Tasmanian Devils.”

      Cartoonists loved to caricature Flynn!


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      • shangheinz

        September 10, 2017 at 4:14 pm


        When it’s back to school for everybody else, King Karl and Trovator Tim take us for a stroll to the Warner Zoo. Love it. Let me contribute with a pic of the Tasmanian daredevil having a bad hair day. Errol looks like he just hatched out of a kangaroo’s pouch here.

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        • Gentleman Tim

          September 10, 2017 at 6:14 pm

          fantaztic photo, marsupiheinz. while we’re all hopped up on this. devilish topic, here’s a rather curious glimpse of errol glaring as though he had just seen a she-devil. i believe it’s from the second night of his honeymoon with lili la devilita



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          • Gentleman Tim

            September 10, 2017 at 6:48 pm

            Plus, they were both a couple of wild, crazy, and swinging guys.



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          • shangheinz

            September 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm


            Gentlelock Tim, the golden bad boy of Hollywood knew from the moment he laid hands on Tiger Lil’ Divinita that his hair would never be the same.

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            • Tina

              September 14, 2017 at 3:09 am

              Dear Heinz:
              What a lovely picture of a very beautiful woman!
              If she only could have been half as nice and gentle as she was beautiful! I wonder if her claws ever were photographed?

              Maybe they looked like this?


              Or this lovely busi cat Tiger’s claws?


              How is Vienna?
              Take care!

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              • shangheinz

                September 14, 2017 at 8:23 pm


                Dearest Tina Lil’ everything’s honkey donkey in Ol’Vienna. Here’s another shot of Mrs. Flynn I. from renowned Viennese photo studio Menasse. Errol was clay in her fangs, but very willing in the beginning. She was instrumental in his formative years in Hollywood being more of a fashion icon than actress. Take care and make yourself heard here!

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                • Tina

                  September 18, 2017 at 6:19 pm

                  Dear Heinz;
                  I agree she was quite the looker, an attention seeker and help to Errol at the start. Errol was in awe of her too but only so long. I would say the champagne bottle knocked finally some sense into his head. Its the relentless and vicious pursuit for money to bleed Errol dry was way overdone! But they say: “A women’s Wrath…..” and she was it!
                  Also, thanks for your encouragement but time is the problem including other responsibilities, but will see!
                  Take care!.

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