Ting Ling the Bell-Ringer … and Heart-Breaker

09 May

On the packet from Hong Kong to Macao, in May of 1933, Errol fell head over heels for a stunning Eurasian beauty named Ting Ling O’Connor.

The young women with Errol in the photo below may be Ting Ling, or his inspiration for the Ting Ling story. It certainly appears Flynn is tingling. Ting Ling, too.

Errol and Ting Ling headed straight for the notorious “Street of Happiness” – Rua de Felicidade – then the city’s main red light district. Since the mid-1800s, during the late Qing Dynasty, the area was packed with hundreds of brothels and opium dens, in addition to fan-tan parlors. Ting Ling seemed to know her way around the Street of Happiness quite well. It was the wickedest street in “the wickedest city in the Orient.”

Errol thought he had found “the love of [his] life”, … until he woke up the next morning and found that Ting Ling had snuck out of town. Worse, he learned she was a prostitute who played suckers for their money, apparently in cahoots with various casinos and gangsters. In fact, her name wasn’t Ting Ling O’Connor at all, he also learned. She used a series of aliases, her last before Flynn being Yok An Lee.

Errol was badly hurt (emotionally and financially) by Ting Ling’s betrayal, calling it “one of the worst heart drops that had ever happened to [him]”.

So it was back to Hong Kong for Erben and Flynn.

— Tim


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  1. Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

    May 9, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Beautiful. I wonder what her real name was. Do we know?

    • Gentleman Tim

      May 9, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      I do not know, Selene. With Flynn it’s often difficult to know such things with certainty. He may have made her up, she may be a composite character, or she may have been the real deal, or the real deal with Flynnsational embellishments. Then again, he (or editors and censors) sometimes held back colorful, even sometimes spectacular facts, meaning that the true story was actually even more amazing than what he initially wrote or survived into publication.

      • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

        May 9, 2020 at 6:11 pm

        Yes indeed. I know he was asked to tone the bio down and he said no, but I wonder what was taken out after he died.
        I wish his diaries were entirely published. As those were written for his eyes only. I know is not right. But it would clear and explain a lot.

        • Gentleman Tim

          May 9, 2020 at 11:18 pm

          Errol could embroider with the best of them, Selene, no bout adoubt. But that was just on of his many talents. The difference berween The Baron and other raconteurs is that his true life stories were even more astonishing than his most Flynntastic tales. No one but Flynn was in like Flynn. His vast and incredible array of unique talents, intelligence, charm, romanticism, athleticism, daring, record of adventures, humor, and panoramic popularity (Men wanted to be him; Women wanted to be with him”) was and still is unparalleled. No one has ever been like Flynn but Flynn himself.

          • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

            May 9, 2020 at 11:40 pm

            You are right.
            I do love his bio. His soul spills out of it. He was a wonderful man, and i do not personally like “in like flynn” he deapised that as well.
            He was a kind soul. Like pat said in an interview he was ” lonely, intelligent, a wonderful, sweet, warm human being”.

            • Gentleman Tim

              May 9, 2020 at 11:55 pm

              When I use the phrase “In Like Flynn”, I use it to refer to all the great things that made Errol uniquely cool and immortal, not any flippant, humorous, or crude misuse of it.

              • Selene Hutchison-Zuffi

                May 10, 2020 at 12:39 am

                Good. He was indeed special and unique. Wouldnt change a thing about him