“Errol Flynn was The Man – The Man in Havana””

16 Apr

I had the wonderful fortune this week to spend time with a prominent member of Miami’s Cuban American community. In his late seventies now, he grew up in Havana and was very familiar with Errol’s legendary times in pre-Castro Cuba. In fact, he saw him on one very memorable occasion at the Havana Hilton, in a scene somewhat reminiscent of Dodge City.

After we first met and he mentioned his time in old Cuba, I eventually asked him if he ever remembered hearing “anything about Errol Flynn?” Instantly,he broke a big smile and said “Errol Flynn? Errol Flynn was the man in Havana. Everyone knew when Errol Flynn was in Havana. Everyone. And the women, they all loved him. He couldn’t go anywhere without women chasing him. And he was the man for all of the men. Nobody was bigger than Errol Flynn in Havana. It was the perfect town for him.”

I asked if he had ever seen Errol, and he had, the first time being quite amazing. He believed it was in either ’57 or ’58, shortly after when the Havana Hilton opened. His uncle took him to see the hotel and when they entered the nightclub area they witnessed wild commotion and a huge brawl. For reasons still unknown to him, Errol was fighting with someone near the bar, by the the dance floor. The show was stopped and there were “chairs flying”. He knew nothing more, no details of why this happened, nor who Errol was fighting. He believed however that it likely was over a women, because “all the women were always after Errol. He was older than, but still very handsome.”

He recalled too that Errol often drank at La Bodaquitos del Medio.

The other big thing he remembers, which he said was big news around town when it happened, was that Errol’s hotel room at the Hilton caught on fire and it was a ver big deal. That’s all he ever knew, again not how nor why.

He said that the Hilton was in not too long taken over by Castro’s guerillas, but his parents got him out of Cuba to the U. S. (via Jamaica) before that happened. He said he loved Cuba so much and didn’t want to leave, that Havana was so great for a young man, but soon it was all ruined, especially after Castro sided the Soviets.

He added saw Nat King Cole quite a bit, at The Flamingo, not ever the Hilton. He emphasized though that “no one was as big as Flynn, not Hemingway, not anyone, Errol Flynn was the man.”




— Tim


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  1. Maria

    April 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    What a great post Tim! Did you know about this person -or did you meet by chance? How many people are still around (well besides Mr. Castro) who would have that 1st hand knowledge! Thanks!

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks so much, Maria. I had absolutely no thought of meeting any “Flynn people” this week. I was helping to film a documentary completely unconnected to Errol. I just decided to ask this prominent former resident of Havana if he ever heard stories about Errol being in Cuba. (He was also part if the filming, but I had never previously met, nor did I know I’d be seeing him at the “shoot”.) I never expected he’d have any personal stories, and such great general recollections. But, as he said, of everybody that visited Havana, Flynn was “THE Man”!

      This might be Errol being interrogated after the big brawl (or fire) at the Hilton (Or, perhaps, this is just a clip from The Big Boodle, from about the same timeframe.)


      And here’s our Havana hero (apparently but unsuccessfully) trying to hide from fans behind his rather hip shades and having a few at one if his Habana haunts:


  2. daringthorpe

    April 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Great story Tim thanks for sharing. I guess you never know who you are going to meet, You lucky thing.

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 16, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks, daringthorpe. As I read what you said in your reply, I realized there’s probably a very rich vein of elder Cuban-Americans in Miami who have great accounts of Errol’s adventures in Old Habana! Maybe we all should start deliberately tapping that vein as best we can!

  3. shangheinz

    April 19, 2015 at 7:43 pm


    As of today, I subscribe to “Tim`s troves out of the Mongroves”. A story that takes us as near to Flynn as we`ve ever been!

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 19, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      ¡ Muchas Gracias, senor shangheinz ! These days I am assiduously exploring The Everglades. I hope ~ manana ~ to make poquito in-roads with some expatriatos who may witnessed or heard some of El Capitan Blood’s El Cubano adventures.

      I haven’t found much on Howard west of Broward. The ‘Noles seem to have no memory whatsoever of any Hills in the swamps, but I’ll keep travelling the Alligator Alley and Tamiami Trail in search of Flynniana. One thing for certain, they all remember Errol, if not his archer friend!

      Yesterday, I visited the metropolis of Ochopee (pop. 139) to see my friend (and local legend) Raiford Starke play at Jannie’s Crab House. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time (or incentive) to stp at the town’s other business, the Skunk Ape Research Institute. (From reading the promotional literature, however, it appears more people saw skunk apes in The Glades than ever saw Howard Hill!