Meeting Deirdre

20 Nov

Fifteen years ago I hired Deirdre Flynn to appear at a Q&A before a showing of Warner Bros’ 1938 version of Robin Hood at Carmel’s Outdoor Forest Theater. I owned a national consumer products business and was forever looking for fun ways to promote the products. When someone approached us to sponsor a film at the Forest Theater, I agreed, providing, I cautioned, it was Robin Hood and providing they let Flynn’s daughter Deidre introduce the film after a Q&A on stage. They readily agreed, and after some doing, I managed to contact Deirdre through a Flynn website in Los Angeles. Nice guy ran it, forgotten his name.

About a month later she arrived in Carmel and it was a delight to meet her. She was soft spoken and friendly with no ego. It was apparent she’d had a hard life. We’d advertised the movie and the Q&A locally, and out of the woodwork appeared Deirdre’s former step sister, the daughter of Joanne Dru, whose father was Dick Haymes. I think we all got together for drinks first in town, and after a shy minute or two the women began to laugh and reminisce.

That night we got to the theater early and I spent some time with Deirdre talking about her dad. I asked whether he’d been a good dad, in her opinion. She said that he had, and that although she had nothing to compare it to, he seemed solicitous and concerned about her. According to Deirdre, from location Errol used to send her letters asking about her homework load, what she was reading, boyfriends. She said he’d sometimes add vocabulary words to the letters he sent, for her to look up and commit to memory. Well that’s something, I thought.

The whole affair of meeting Deirdre was bittersweet, because clearly Errol hand’t been the best father and it seemed sad that his beautiful daughter was drifting thru life as a consequence. The Q & A and movie were a huge hit, however. I remember two things. One, when the audience was told over the loudspeaker that before the film, there would be a Q&A with Errol Flynn’s daughter Deirdre Flynn, the audience actually gasped; they were that enthralled. Second, I was seated beside Deirdre and at the iconic moment in the film when Errol makes his appearance, leaping over the felled tree on his white stallion to the rousing Wolfgang Korngold score, the audience screamed and cheered, and I saw tears of pride and joy appear in Deidre’s eyes as she watched her father up there. I’ll never forget it.

One footnote. There was a raffle before the Q&A, and one lucky audience member received an autographed copy of Errol’s My Wicked Wicked Ways. For a lot of reasons not the least of which was that Flynn died when his book was still in galleys, they didn’t get an actual autographed first edition, but a 1984 paperback edition with an ersatz autograph. In my writing.

— TJR McDowell


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  1. Jack Marino

    November 20, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Hi, Mr. McDowell, I want to thank you for your kind words of me in your post. I remember your event with fond memories and you were very generous towards me and Deirdre when I drove her up to Carmel for your incredible showing of the ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.

    I don’t remember where I sat in the audience during the screening but on the drive back to Los Angeles the next day Deirdre said she had a great time meeting you and your lovely wife and was impressed with the reaction of the crowd for her father.
    Today, no one knows where Deirdre is she has become a recluse, I haven’t seen her in many many years. I heard she was still in LA somewhere and other rumors she lives in Las Vegas. I considered her a close friend all those years we knew each other and I have a lot of fond memories with her

    I hope you are doing well, I look forward of reading more of your post here on the blog.

    Warmest regards,

    Jack Marino

    • Gentleman Tim

      November 21, 2018 at 12:44 am


    • TJR McDowell

      November 22, 2018 at 12:40 am

      Jack! I apologize for forgetting your name, it’s been a while. Of course I remember you. And I remember that great movie you directed with William Smith in it. You were kind enough to ferry Deirdre up from LA. That was a fun night. Thx for your thoughtful comments. You and Deirdre seemed so close, it’s too bad you’ve lost touch. Hope all’s well, Jack!

      • Jack Marino

        November 27, 2018 at 12:56 am

        No apology needed, to tell you the truth I forgot your first name also !! It’s the age I guess! Thank you so much for your kind words about my film FORGOTTEN HEROES with William Smith. I hope your film you did with Luke Flynn got out there, I still have mine but I’m selling my DVD off my website. I could use the marketing expertise of your lovely wife, give her my best. I bet your son is now a fine young man helping his Dad. It was great to get in touch with you

  2. Gentleman Tim

    November 20, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Oh, how beautiful. Errol and Deirdre in Carmel!! Thank you for making that happen, TJR! And thank you, too, Jack!

    All the best to you, Deirdre



  3. David DeWitt

    November 22, 2018 at 2:48 am

    I believe I have seen a tape of this event. Deirdre seemed shy at first, if I recall, but soon warmed up to the attention. I don’t think she expected to enjoy it as much as she did. I wish I had met her. My friend, the late Professor Lincoln D Hurst, the film historian, also knew her well, as did Jack. Link and Deirdre would be on the phone in different cities and watch football together on tv. He used to drive around LA with her and listen to her stories about this or that place. Thanks for your stories!