Curmita marriage annihilated !?

18 Sep


Dear fellow Flynn fans,

if Lili Damita had ever been Mrs. Curtiz, was a recurring topic here.

Call me blogheaded, but I wanted to gather some additional preferedly conclusive information. Here is what I came up with.

1. Within the Vienna National Library a standard film encyclopedia (approximately eight bibles thick) can be found called “The great lexicon of film personalities” released in Berlin by Kai Wiesinger drawing from sources dating back to the 1930s. In the Curtiz column it states that he was married to actress Lucy Dorraine, while Damita`s next of kin was Errol Flynn.

2. The Budapest Film Academy had nothing but the internet entries in their archives.

3. An Italian biography called “Un ungarese a Hollywood” lists 1925 as a busy year, but with Damita as the Hu(ngaria)n’s leading lady strictly on a professional level.

4. Another lexicon: HALLIWELL`S Who- is- who- in movies lists Tiger Lil`s lovers such as Maurice Chevalier and  King Alfonso III of Spain, but no other groom than Errol. Curtiz` second wife Bess Meredyth is mentioned.

5. Furthermore I reached Mrs. Ilona Ryder, a teacher living in Canada, who is the grandchild of Michael Curtiz and daughter of his son Michael II. She had no personal knowledge of a legal liaison between the two Flynntimates. Let it be noted, that her father was born in the same year as the marriage was said to have taken place.

I admit to have always been sceptical of the Curmita claim, thinking Errol for sure would have mentioned such a relationship in his memoires. He was never beneath a quick quip especially concerning his first ex- wife and the director he loved to hate. Something like “What God has joined together, let no Tasmanian separate” comes to my mind.

Now where did this rumor start in the first place? Look no furtherrol than page 72 of the pocket book edition of Charles Hoaxhams “EF. The Untold Story”

…the actress Lili Damita, who married Errol and Errol`s best known director, Michael Curtiz.

Interestingly on page 96 he writes about our Hollywood hero and Mrs. Dynamita:

Yet they were in many ways incompatible. This was Lily`s first marriage and she wanted possession.

If need be to achieve 100% certainty and infinte clearity, two more sources should be consulted:

  • Bermingham, Cedric Osmond (1931). Stars of the screen 1931: A volume of biographies of contemporary actors and actresses engaged in photoplay throughout the world. London: Herbert Joseph. 
  • “Lily Damita”. Stars of the Photoplay. Chicago: Photoplay magazine. 1930.




— shangheinz

  1. Maria

    September 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Wonderful post!

    • shangheinz

      September 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Thanks Maid Maria, I am looking forward to your next latest on the greatest, too.

      • shangheinz

        September 20, 2015 at 8:55 am

        Thanks, Wagram, as I stated before, Errol, the good pirate that he was, left us many hidden hints on his biographical endeavors. There is still so much to discover. We need to read his memoirs like a treasure map!

  2. wagram

    September 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    What a great and interesting post. Above all,the research you’ve done is amazing! Thanks!

  3. Gentleman Tim

    September 19, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Superb work, researchheinz!

    Several questions, if I may:

    1) When Ms. Ryder says the Flynntimates had “no legal liaison”, do you know if she intended to include or exclude a romantic relationship, as well?

    2) Could it be that in 1925, Curtiz was overheard referring to Lili as “Hun”, which was mistakenly thought to be shorthand for “Honey”, thus leading some to erroneously conclude a romantic rather than strictly professional relationship?

    3) So, does this mean we are to belief half of what Hogham has to say, but not the other half? (P.S. It took me a long while to find a copy of his book at my local library. They wrongfully shelved it in the nonfiction section.)

    Based on your outstanding work, I will regard the marriage of Cur & Dam to be an unsubstantiated myth. Unless, of course, a photo arises of Marse Michael with a wound on his forehead like ones Lili periodically provided Errol. However, if I see evidence of such a wound on Curteez, then I’ll know he really was married to Tiger Lil’.


    Yet another Erben myth!

    • shangheinz

      September 20, 2015 at 9:15 am

      All our questions and more, Gentleman Gin, will be answered once Mrs. Ryder publishes her book about her grandfather tentatively titled “Here`s looking at you, kids”. She did visit Lady Livvie in Paris in 2006 and located the Academy Award the Hun (always equiped with a riding whip) got for Casablanca at David Copperfield`s lair. While an affair cannot be ruled out, the Curmita marriage is very much in doubt. Also the author of “The Casablanca Man”, who she communicated with, never would confirm a legal liaison either.

  4. daveboz

    September 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Charles Higham is NOT, I repeat NOT, responsible for the “rumour” of a Curtiz-Damita marriage.

    The “rumour” stems from a MISREADING of what Higham wrote.

    The passage in question is on page 72 of the paperback edition, in a paragraph about Hermann Erben.

    The first sentence of the paragraph states that Erben was working as a doctor in a film studio in Vienna.

    The second sentence reads: “There he [Erben] treated two people prominent in Errol’s life: the actress Lili Damita, who married Errol, and Errol’s best-known director, Michael Curtiz.”

    Just to make it plainer: Erben treated the actress Lili Damita, who married Errol Flynn, AND he treated Errol’s best-known director, Michael Curtiz.

    In no way is Higham saying that Curtiz and Damita were married.

    • shangheinz

      September 21, 2015 at 7:56 am

      You are right, Buzzard Dave, the sentence can only be misread into a marriage of the two, if taken out of context. And I think that is exactely what happened and where this misconception started.
      By the way, Erben could neither treat Lili nor Curtiz at a film in Vienna, since he had yet to take his doctor`s exam. See:…