Oh, Olivia.

14 Apr

Attributed to Olivia, 1978, in a discussion about the most legendary drinkers in film history:

“During filming of “The Swarm”, 1978, a disaster film about killer bees, starring Michael Caine, Henry Fonda, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Fred MacMurray, definitely some guys who knew something about putting them down. One day they were joined for lunch at the Warner Brothers commissary by the quiet Olivia de Havilland. There were complaints that no booze was being served. “That’s because of Errol Flynn”, said de Havilland. “He used to get so drunk he couldn’t work, so Mr. Warner said no more booze.”

The men wanted to hear more about the famous swashbuckler. “Oh my God, that Errol Flynn was something. Do you know he once got so drunk he wagered a film crew $500 that he’d have his way with me.” The men could see she was a lady and the incident must have been embarrassing for her. Olivia grinned mischievously “Oh it was, it was. And you see that tree on the hill out the window. That’s where he won his bet!”

ca. 1939 --- Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in a publicity shot from the 1939 film . --- Image by ?? Bettmann/CORBIS

ca. 1939 — Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in a publicity shot from the 1939 film . — Image by ?? Bettmann/CORBIS

— Tim


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  1. Sergio

    April 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Do you think this is true? I thought the Flynner never touch her in that way outside of a kiss? She was to proper for this sort of thing, especailly when he was married and after the Lili divorce, Olivia was already either engaged or married to someone else…. Do you have more to this GT, I sure would like to read…. thanks for sharing….

    • Gentleman Tim

      April 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      This rather stinging story from the set of The Swarm is definitely an outlier, Serge, contrary to all other accounts attributed to Olivia. I believe it may have been first made public by Michael Caine.

      Personally, I believe it’s extremey unlikely that Olivia de Havilland would have made love so wildly and somewhat publicly under a tree visible from the WB commissary. I can, though, see her telling this as a (very humorous) joke for her Flynn-admiring co-stars, with one of them subsequently (and rather swarmingly) raising some Caine with it. After all, this horror(ible) movie did itself play pretty fast and loose with “facts”:



  2. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    The version from Hollywood Stories:…

  3. Gentleman Tim

    April 14, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Olivia’s denial!…

    “First, however, let Miss de Havilland put the record straight about Errol Flynn.

    “So much nonsense has been written. I am always being misquoted…. We were lovers together so often on the screen (eight times) that people could not accept that nothing had happened between us.

    “Even in the autobiography of a rather nice British actor, I am misquoted. You know whom I mean? Tall, blonde, blue eyes. Must be about 60 now.”

    “Michael Caine? “Yes, that’s him. We were in that terrible movie about bees (The Swarm, 1978). A truly awful movie. But I wasn’t stung by the bees – I was stung by misquotes. There was a British journalist helping Michael Caine with his book and one day they asked me about Errol Flynn. I said that nothing had happened, against everyone’s expectations, but I pointed to a hillside and said that I did remember a rather memorable picnic on just such a hill with another man. In the book the words ‘with another man’ disappear.”

    So much for Olivia ever again appearing in Bee movies.


    • Sergio

      April 15, 2016 at 2:40 am

      Nice piece on Olivia GT; Golden-girl-divine -Olivia…..I enjoyed it very much – one I never read…Thanks for the find and sharing it…

  4. twinarchers

    April 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I think at some point early on they did get together but that is just my opinion. Those two at the beginning were quite a perfect match but….