In Memoriam: Bud Ernst — Flynn’s First Buddy in Hollywood

14 Apr

He Died 70 Years Ago This Week

From My Wicked, Wicked Ways:

“It was the beginning of 1935. I bought a little car. Often I went for a spin with a big fellow named Bud Ernst.
He was six foot five, weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds. He was a flier, a fun guy.”

“He was my first and long-time friend in Hollywood. … We certainly had memorable times together in my early days behind the fog, smog, and grog curtain of Hollywood. How many words would you like on the shock a man gets when his dear friend, a roistering, Falstaffian ruffian, suddenly goes out, buys himself a 16-gauge double-barrel shotgun, some cartridges, and blows the top of his head off.”

Report in the New York Times, April 11, 1950

On June 20, 1935 – a date that will live in Flynnfamy – Bud flew Errol and Lili to Yuma to tie the knot. Five days following, he flew himself and Lyda Roberti to do the same.

One of Errol and Ernst’s “memorable times together in the early days”:Adventure at Asuncion Bay

Bud’s father, Hugh C. Ernst, was the brilliant business manager for the phenomenally successful bandleader Paul Whiteman, who had a major role in the 1924 first performance (by George Gershwin and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra at Aeolian Hall in New York) and subsequent popularizing of what many believe to be America’s most important musical composition, Rhapsody in Blue. After managing Paul Whiteman, he became a major executive with NBC. Through his father, Bud grew up “knowing everybody” in the world of music and radio.

Bud was director of the pioneering and hugely popular radio show “Queen for a Day”. Here’s one of the the show’s broadcasts, from February 1950, less than two months before Bud’s death:

Queen for a Day

— Tim


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  1. Ralph Schiller

    April 18, 2020 at 12:33 am

    Thank-you Tim. Lyda Roberti, a beautiful, talented comedienne/singer originally from Poland, was rapidly becoming a major film star. Producer Hal Roach signed her to team with Patsy Kelly, as a replacement for Thelma Todd in a feature film comedy. Unfortunately Lyda Roberti died from a coronary heart attack at age 31. It was our loss. Ralph Schiller