Mail Bag! Contemporaries of Flynn?

10 Jul

William Russo send me another interesting email, and I think it is worth publishing!

Dear David,
    Amazing what turned up from just a few references to MWWW. And thanks for the tip on the Earl Conrad book; I was able to order a copy from Amazon.
    There is another topic I would like to throw open. As a long time student of history (I detest the term “history buff”) I take particular interest in discovering what things or personages were contemporaneous within a given context. That is, when we study certain regions in a linear fashion, we fail to realize the full context of the surrounding world at that time. For example, long ago I knew a few things about Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana purchase. I also knew a few things about the French revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. But when I realized that Jefferson negotiated the purchase from Napoleon, I was stunned. I had never even considered them as contemporaries!
    So, I started to  wonder a few years ago, who might Erroll Flynn have crossed paths with? Some Googling came up with a few surprises. FDR and Eleanor, for one. Not surprising in the time frame, but interesting that Flynn merited such status. One connection that for some forgotten reason intrigued me, was, did Flynn know Hemingway? What little I found turned out to be even more intriguing. Based solely on comments from Hemingway; Hemingway, early on anyway, without having ever met him, seemed to have a low opinion of Flynn, considering him something like a dilettante and a clown. As time passed, I got the impression that Hemingway resented Fynn’s fame as an adventurer, didn’t want to acknowledge it, and may have been jealous that Flynn was living the life that he, Earnest Hemingway should be noted for. I think Hemingway wanted to be the model for the prototypical, honest, down to earth, man’s man adventurer, without promoting himself as such; except that was exactly what he was doing; promoting himself, which of course contradicts the image. He had the habit of overstating the importance of understatement as a demeanor. In any case he may or may not have met Flynn in Spain during the Spanish civil war. Though he walked out of a screening of  The Sun Also Rises in disgust, after a few minutes, he later commented that he heard Flynn had been pretty good. I did find a picture of the two, presumably from the mid 1950s, both old and grizzled, possibly taken in Cuba. I do not know the occasion or their dispositions.
    I was happy to discover that Erroll and Orson Wells, had a cordial relationship, including as drinking buddies; and that Flynn, the older of the two, regarded Wells as a somewhat wayward youth! I do know that Wells persuaded Flynn to let him use the Zaca as the yacht in Lady from
Shanghi. I know also that Flynn spent a short time with Fidel Castro in 1958 or 59 and I’m sure Castro thought that pretty cool, as did Flynn, in that it re-affirmed his belief that he was a legitimate journalist.
    So who other unlikely or notable personages crossed paths with our man Flynn?
Thanks, William! As I replied to you, it is more a question of Who did Flynn not meet?

— David DeWitt

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