Errol Takes a Dive

27 Jun

I had the great fortune this evening to meet with my cousin Bob, whose father, my Uncle Gene, was the man who told me back in the early Seventies about Errol Flynn giving him and his shipmates in San Diego a show they’d never forget.

Here are the details, all (again) verified tonight. Uncle Gene was in San Diego with his ship (the USS Duluth, I believe) twice, once in ’45, on its way to fight in the South Pacific, and again returning from the war, either in ’45 or ’46. During one of the ship’s cruises through San Diego Harbor, they passed Errol in a boat (possibly the Sirocco, but, for some reason, it is believed he was actually on a Navy ship of some type.) The sailors were mightily impressed to see Flynn, and gave some big cheers. Errol, in turn, gave them a big smile & wave, then – to their extreme delight – stepped away from a Naval officer he was apparently speaking with, took off his shirt and shoes and dove off the ship! My Uncle Gene – a very no-nonsense guy, who embellished less than anyone I’ve ever known (if ever at all) – said it was an absolutely incredibly impressive dive, to which everybody hooped & hollered – and talked about the rest of their tour (and surely beyond.)

That was the Errol Flynn that so impressed my Mom & Dad’s generation, men and women alike.

Here’s what San Diego Harbor looked like in those days. Errol’s dive most likely took place right between downtown and the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, which can be seen in both the second & third images, and where he filmed Dive Bomber. Errol often stayed in San Diego, from where he would also travel to Mexico. The fourth photo is of Errol signing autographs for sailors on North Island (Coronado)




— Tim


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  1. Lollie

    June 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

    What a great story Tim! Wow imagine seeing Errol do that,and your very own Uncle did.Nice! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 28, 2014 at 12:20 am

      Thank you, Lollie. Isn’t that great! Growing up in a New York Irish neighborhood, I was already a big fan of Errol Flynn as a young boy by the early Sixties, and had heard legends about what an incredible athlete, fighter and adventurer he was. (Having seen Blood, Hood, Boots & Gent Jim, all of us kids knew, too, how the ladies loved him.) BUT, actually hearing such an awesome first hand account was fantastic – especially so from somebody who NEVER boasted or exaggerated stories, indeed rarely told any. …So, Thanks Uncle Gene, wherever you may be!

      By the way, Lollie, I remember Uncle Gene telling me only three things about his time in the Navy – seeing Errol Flynn, seeing the San Diego Zoo (he was a great animal lover and raised many championship racing and homing pigeons), and seeing Sydney! ( not Greenstreet! Australia!!)


      • Lollie

        June 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Wow! He sounds like a good man Tim,those are 3 of my favourite things too – Errol Flynn,Animals & Australia. :D

  2. Maria

    June 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Love It! Thanks for sharing Tim. Maria

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 28, 2014 at 12:34 am

      My great pleasure, Maria. Thank YOU for reading & enjoying it!

  3. shangheinz

    June 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Divin’ like Flynn. Ty Tim!

    • Gentleman Tim

      June 28, 2014 at 12:04 am

      That’s great, slangster! Btw, knowing that you are a wordsmith of exceptional knowledge, I need to know what exactly you mean by “Ty”. Me being a Babe Ruth fan, I’m sure hopin’ it’s not a reference to Cobb. I’ll need to check the latest net slang. Let me see?…


      • shangheinz

        June 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        Dear Babe Ruthless, you hit the curveball right outta the blogpark. I am a basball fan too and Ty Cobb is no stranger to me. Famous for breaking up the double play with forwarded cleats, this hitting machine wasn’t taking garbage from nobody. Matter of fact I have been playing ball semi professionally (after work and on weekends) in the Austrian Baseball League for 15 years. If you googled me, I still could pop up as Bulldog, Buck, Lawnmower, Cub or Bandit somewhere. Slidin’ like Flynn for me was the thing.

        • Gentleman Tim

          June 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm

          shangman, you are Amazin! Amazin like Flynn!!
          Hopefully, in addition to Slidin Like Flynn, I hope you’re Swingin Like Flynn, too!!!

          I’m gonna have to follow Der Osterreichische!

          Babe didn’t swing too bad, either. Here’s a song I wrote for him a few years back. His grandaughter Linda sings harmonies on the bridge (the musical bridge, not the Brooklyn Bridge.) A couple of months back, I had the great honor of escorting his daughter Julia for three days in Florida. She’s 98 years young!!

          Babe Ruth!!! King of ‘Em All:…

          • Gentleman Tim

            June 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

            And the “flip side”:

            Babe Ruth – World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fam…:…

            • Gentleman Tim

              June 29, 2014 at 1:59 am

              Here you go shagheinz:

              • shangheinz

                July 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm

                Dear Tim Player,
                a big thumbs up for spicing up this blog. May I suggest you step up to the plate and investigate on Errol’s participation in the Hollywood celebrity baseball games!? PS: I had the great pleasure to meet Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Enos Slaughter (my kinda player) when they attended the opening of a ballpark here in Austria in 1993.

                • Gentleman Tim

                  July 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm

                  Berra, Ford & Slaughter. Ver Kool! That’s one heck of a law firm. One of the best. Known for always wearing identical pinstiped suits.

                  … I live very nearby to Whitey (the pitcher, not the often castigated category of Causasions), but few ever see Slaughter (the outfielder, not the bloody act of destruction.) Congratulations on doing so! I know a lot of big fans (myself included) who never have and, now with Enos gone, never will.

                  Looks like that was too much spice for someone! They removed all 57 Varieties, Sir Heinz. … It’s like a game of pickle trying to catch-up with whoever took it down:


                  • shangheinz

                    July 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

                    Dear Utilitim,

                    Versatility is your virtue. He who is able to think out of the box, is likely to be cut back to size. Heck, sometimes I want to comment and report my comment at the same time! Matter of fact we don’t take a box seat to anybody and will always be having a ball. Say, ain’t it so?

                    • Gentleman Tim

                      July 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm

                      Replying AND reporting! Know exactly what you mean, Sir Shag!

                      Must say is so, Joe! Speaking the truth AND following the rules are oft-times competitive activities. Brush back pitches and bean balls are all part of the game, life in the Big Leagues. Even the best of us can’t hit a homer every time at bat.

                      Regarding your question of Errol & The National Pasttime, I have long tried to figure if The King and The Baron ever met. My conclusion: probably not. Babe’s days in the Majors ended in ’35, just as Errol’s were beginning. Just about everybody who was anybody in Hollywood in the ’20s & early ’30s went to see Ruth, but that had faded before The Flynnster’s time. Interestingly, Babe, though he often stayed in LA (near what’s now called South Echo Park & dated a bunch of starlets) had no virtually no idea who Fairbanks , Pickford, Cooper, or any of them were anyhow – because he basically never watched movies (to protect his eyes from the flicker), read much of anything (also to protect his eyes and perhaps), and had such an Incredibly busy life himself. He wasn’t much impressed by the typical Hollywood star, anyhow – though I’m sure he would have enjoyed Flynn, admired his athletic talents and adventurous ways, and his success with the women.

                      Flynn did apparently know and impress Bob Considine, a top sports writer and one of Babe’s best friends, though. Can’t find it now, but do remember an article by Considine from ’41 or so, mentioning Errol’s tennis talents, and that he was a good guy.

                      As far as celebrity ball games after Ruth’s heyday, I’ve never seen anything revealing Errol went to any, though I do recall reading once that he did very occasionally attend a baseball and football game. … For the most part though, he was off sailing and adventuring elsewhere. As you know, though, he did play some cricket as a kid, and with the British Hollywood Raj:


  4. timerider

    June 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    My dad was on the USS Van Valkenburgh a tin can that sailed from California to Iwo Jima, Okinawa and almost sunk before anchoring in Nagasaki bay after the bomb. Dad and his ship mates swam in the bay not knowing much about radiation! They all were inspired by Errol and many other action heroes of the day. Errol was able to inspire at least two generations as he was a real icon for me as a kid!

  5. David DeWitt

    June 27, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Here is a new comment image uploader. I hope this makes things easier for some of you that have been having problems. Write your commernt, browse for an image and click Submit Commet!

    • Lollie

      June 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Hi David, Most of the photos already posted on all threads unfortunately don’t seem to be showing anymore? : /

      • David DeWitt

        June 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

        I’ve gone back to the old image embedder. For some reason it doesn’t always work for everybody, and we still end up with ugly looking code. Not all plugins work well with every theme or browser. The last plugin gave everybody problems but worked great for me.