Story Behind the Dance

23 Oct

In the Following Photo:

1) Who is Olivia’s Dance Partner?

2) Who was Her 1st Date That Night?

3) To What Hit Song are They Dancing?


— Tim


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  1. zacal

    October 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    I have to believe she’s dancing with Errol. My guess about her “1st date” would be James Stewart. I have zero idea about the hit song. But I’m somewhat curious about the two wide strips of hair down the back of Errol’s (?) head. I’m also curious as to why EVERYONE isn’t watching them dance. I certainly would have stared.

    • Tim

      October 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      I too was struck by the rather blase’ dancers, zacal! Rather astonishing, particularly as Errol & Olivia were both already very famous names & faces at this point in their careers, circa 1938. This event may have been a British-related function of some type, explaining perhaps the reserved (lack of) reactions. Good thing the photographer had enough interest and sense to get the shot. … And Olivia certainly looks thrilled!

      I can’t say if there’s any notable reason for Errol’s hair looking as it does, but you sure have exceptionally strong powers of observation, zacal!

      Jimmy Stewart’s a very good guess, but incorrect. I believe he began dating Olivia in 1940 or so, after this particular photo was taken. Right number of syllables, though!


      Regarding the song being played (for what may have been their first off-screen dance), Olivia was on a radio show that same year with the man who made it famous. He also took Olivia to the races, according to what she later told Bob Hope on his radio show in October ’38. Hope humorously said he was taken there, too.

  2. Tim

    October 24, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Hint regarding the Song!

    It won an Oscar, and its flip side was also a hit, making it the first gold record for its legendary performer. Decades later the flip side was recorded by Elvis for another movie.


  3. Tim

    October 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Olivia’s “1st Date” that evening was in MGM’s Mutiny On the Bounty. After giving up Olivia to Errol, he ended up at the same event (a coronation ball, I believe) as Errol & Olivia with the beauty pictured below, said to also be from Tasmania:


    • David DeWitt

      October 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Isn’t this David Niven’s old flame from India?

      • Tim

        October 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        You are Good, David! Said by Hollywood publicists (and Merle herself) to be from Tasmania, but really from India!! David Niven’s gorgeous girlfriend – Merle Oberon – whose exotically beautiful eyes are praised in “My Favorite Year” – the poignant comedy about Errol Flynn, I mean Alan Swan, in one of his latter years.


  4. Rachel

    October 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Tim!
    I love that photo of Errol & Olivia dancing together! Too bad there aren’t other photos like it. :-)

    Anyway, I think David Niven was supposed to be Olivia’s 1st date that night. And I’ve heard the name of the song Errol & Olivia danced to, but I can’t remember it at the moment. I think it begins with an “L”. BTW, all this info on the Coronation Ball and Errol & Olivia’s time there can be read about in Robert Matzen’s excellent book “Errol and Olivia: Ego & Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood”.

    • Tim

      October 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Excellent, Rachel!!! Olivia’s original date that evening was Errol’s good friend and then housemate, the great David Niven. Of course, it was all a ploy by master trickster, Mr. Flynn, who was separated fro Tiger Lil at the time, living at Rosalind Russell’s place in Beverly Hills. Olivia was extremely reluctant and nervous about going out with Errol, apparently making this dance the first time they were ever photographed in public on a date.

      And very good with the song, too – the (second word in the) title does indeed being with an ‘L’! And Errol sometimes used to visit the singer’s racetrack when he stayed in La Jolla & Coronado.


  5. Tim

    October 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    The singer of _____ L______, used to travel to a lot of exotic locations with this fellow, at least in movies. They even humorously referenced Errol in one of those famous films.



    October 25, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Okay the clues lead to “Sweet Leilani”!–A. R.

    • Tim

      October 25, 2013 at 3:33 am

      Po’okela, A’R’ Po”okela!!- The Academy Award Winner from from Waikiki Wedding! Sung by the Bing! – with Blue Hawaii on the flip side. Out of the Pacific, and into Hollywoodland immortality, like Mr. Flynn himself – and Olivia, too.

      As they say on Oahu – Aloha, A.R.!

    • Tim

      October 25, 2013 at 3:43 am

      Po’okela, A’R’ Po”okela!!- The Academy Award Winner from from Waikiki Wedding! Sung by the Bing! – with Blue Hawaii on the flip side. Out of the Pacific, and into Hollywoodland immortality, like Mr. Flynn himself – and Olivia, too.

      As they say on Oahu – Aloha, A.R.!

  7. Tim

    October 26, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Just for the record – despite the somewhat dour appearance of the crowd, I believe Olivia recalls this photo as having been one taken at the Coconut Grove, where Errol took her after the Coronation Ball. Looks to me more like a flock of over-starched Reform Clubbers to me, though.

  8. Tim

    October 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Though the date of 1938 is referenced on occasion as the date of the Coronation Ball which Errol & Olivia attended, along with Niv & Merle, I believe mid-1937 MIGHT be a more accurate date. That would help better explain the jaded-looking crowd, too, perhaps – as Errol & Olivia had not yet reached the heights they were headed for. King George looks like he would have fit right in with those sourpusses, as they used to call such party-poopers in those days.


  9. Tim

    October 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    If you can make it through the ever-annoying Chilly Winters segment – or, much better, just skip ahead to the wonderful, stately Olivia at 3:10 – she brings of the story of her & Errol at the Coronation Ball and Coconut Grove – where according to Livvy the photo of Hollywood’s most beautiful & romantic on-screen couple was taken – and, for that night at least, the most best couple off-screen, too. (Hard to tell it was The Grove from that bevy of heavy-hearted hoofers.)

    At the end of this Dinah Shore interview linked below , Olivia very fondly/sentimentally recalls dancing to Sweet Leilani with Errol. And she tells the great story of Errol involving the dress, petticoat, and undergarments she’s wearing in the photo below, taken on the set of “Charge” In the background, you can see some of the famous Empty Horses!! (And you may almost hear what Olivia calls Errol’s “muffled laughter in the bushes” too!)

    … Don’t forget to “fast forward” through the Chilly Winters nonsense! (Having been exceptionally fast & forward herself, I sure she won’t file any formal objections to the EFB.)



      October 29, 2013 at 2:49 am

      What I find interesting about that Dinah Shore piece, is there is Shelly Winters sitting next to Olivia and in her autobiography, Shelly reveals that she and Yvonne DeCarlo went on a double date; she with Flynn and DeCarlo with Clark Gable. So I wonder if later on in that show if she makes mention of this?–A. R.

      • Tim

        October 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

        Maybe someone told the abrasively inelegant Miss Winters to shut up about that, A.R. – and/or edited her out. Let’s hope so. She’s so loud, self-centered and nauseating.

        Speaking of monsters, and this being the week of Halloween, Yvonne De Carlo ultimately became the legendary Lily Monster – not to be confused with the sometimes monstrous Lily Damita! Yvonne was quite exotically beautiful and talented:


        • ILIKEFLYNN

          October 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

          I am sorry! I don’t feel as you do about Ms. Winters, as I think she is a marvelous actress, worthy of her awards; especially for her performance in “A Place in the Sun!’ As for you and other detractors of Ms. Damita. Put yourself in her shoes. How would you feel if the love of your life treated you the way Mr. Flynn did her. Now this is not to say that she was an innocent, but let’s remember that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” and she was most definitely scorned. But after all she did have with Errol a good and decent son in the person of the late and tragic Sean Leslie Flynn!–A. R.

          • zacal

            October 30, 2013 at 11:20 pm

            I idolize Flynn but I have to agree with you, A.R. I once had a chance meeting with a biker at a gas station (across from the old location of Googies) who told me he went to school with Sean and had served in Vietnam. He said that Lili had offered him money (I remember it as 50,000, though I could be wrong) to go back to Vietnam and find Sean.(He declined.) Poor woman.

          • Tim

            November 1, 2013 at 5:59 am

            No need to be sorry, A.R. Just a difference of opinions.

            For clarification, I was speaking to the personal traits & character of Ms. Winters, not her acting skills, which I agree with you were quite good. Where I grew up -where Shirley used to visit before and after making it in Hollywood – Ms. Winters was not held in high regard. I’ll just leave it that. … On the other hand, she did save all those people in the Poseiden Adventure, and was a Very loving mother in Ma Barker!!

          • Tim

            November 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm

            With respect to La Dynamita, A.R & zacal, we’re presented with a scenario deserving of its own thread. There’s far too much to properly explore and evaluate here.