Author Archive

Why not Ridley?

04 May

     Dear Errol Fans,

       Why not Ridley Scott?

           I see that he (Ridley) has a way of cutting through the 'bull' and telling the story as it is , or was. Whatever you think of him personally, you have to admit that he knows his stuff. Look no further than “Bladerunner”, one of the best films ever made.(in my humble opinion, that is) I do not have a problem with that as long as it is truthfull. I think we Errol fans tend to embrace the good and turn a blind-eye to the bad. That is par for the course for folks who are blinded by the “boilerplate” that was penned by journalists who were paid to ignore the bad and play up the 'good'. I believe a true story of Erroll's life with all the warts and  human weakness he had would be a blockbuster. I think it would be “R” rated. Errol is a combination of good, evil, saintly, and maybe a little wicked . This is a story of us all, whether we admit it or not.

         I admire Errol because he was his own man, and never apologized to anyone. This sort of man is hard to find these days.


— john


Hello Friends!

03 May

Dear Errol Fans,

      As Arnold might say; “I'm back.” I have been busy doing research for a project, but now that it is done, I'm keen to get back to the Blog.

     I have a question for the readers: I recently saw a trailer for the new 'Robin Hood' and it got me thinking. I would love to see a movie about Errol done by Ridley Scott. Something not at all romantic, but gritty, hard-hitting and all too realistic. Ridley has directed 'Alien', 'Bladerunner', 'Gladiator', 'Blackhawk Down', 'Kingdom of Heaven', American Gangster' and other wildly successful movies that have a certain “Theme” to them. Errol's story has enough highs and lows for ten Greek comedy's and tragedy's. The gritty reality of Errol's life is the stuff of legends. I believe people are much more sophisticated these days and will not tolerate a “cardboard hero” defeating “cardboard bad guys” as in the past. I believe this is a golden opportunity for a visionary film-maker to tell a no-nonsense story, and there is no lack of real adventure, action or romance in the true story.

     Errol was a man after all, not just a figure on a screen. His life was filled with all the 'day to day drama's' we all experience. He was neither devil nor saint, but something in between.(Like us all, I think) I think he has a story to tell that up to now, has not been told. We have mostly been told only the 'high points' and the “spin”.For an example, think of  the new 'James Bond' movies with it's much more believable and human lead actor. Something like that. I believe it would be a blockbuster if done correctly. Now mind you, some fans would be horrified and upset, and some even turned off by the film, but I think it might start a new generation of Errol fans who would find out what we all know: Errol Flynn was quite possibly the most intriguing person to come along in a hundred or more years, maybe ever.

      I'm sure you all have strong opinions and that is good. So tell me what you think.



— john


Re: Errol Country II

24 Mar

    Dear Errol Fans,

           I recently posted an article called: 'Errol Country II' and for some reason it will not show up on the main page. Even David and all his magic can't fix the bug. Instead of re-doing the entire piece, I will leave it as is. If you want to view it, simply press 'new articles' on the left of the Home Page. 'Tis a mystery. Maybe the ghosts of Folly mansion are unhappy.

                                          Thanks,  John

— john


Posted in Main Page


Errol Country. Part II

20 Mar

Dear Errol Fans,

          I apologize for being away for so long. I have been doing research work for a group of families that, curiously enough, have a link to Errol and are almost as fascinating. The group in question is the Mitchell / Tiffany / Bingham family. They are the descendants of the family that built and lived in the Folly Mansion in Port Antonio some 100 years ago.

         I myself came to Port Antonio in 1978 to see the Folly house as I had read about it in Nat. Geo. Magazine as a boy and laid awake at night trying to imagine what it was like in real life. I confess I didn't know much about Errol then. (That came later) I was instantly transfixed and vowed to find out as much as I could because the place was so incredible. That vow was put to the test when I simply could not find much of anything about the place except for a few fables and photos. I was stymied, and I hate that.

      Fast foreword 3 decades: I, quite by chance, stumbled upon a book; 'The Tiffany Fortune' and hit pay dirt. I contacted the Mitchell family in CT. and made fast friends with Alfreda (Alfie) Mitchell, who sent 2 DVDs with photo's that quite simply were not available anywhere. (They were scanned from a photo album and all were over 100 years old.) I will include some in this posting as I got permission from the family.

      Alfred Mitchell, from Salem, CT was a rich traveler who had been just about everywhere when he happened upon Port Antonio. He and his wife, Annie Tiffany Mitchell stayed at the then booming Titchfield Hotel and while there, fell in love with the area. Alfred decided to build a winter home on what was known as 'Folly Point'.(across the bay from Port Antonio) He purchased the land and set about building a Greek-Roman style villa in the winter of 1904-1905. It was a huge undertaking and cost a fortune, but Mr. Mitchell was happy with the outcome and built Horse stables, a 'Grotto' and Greek Cupola on the point to watch the breakers, and a large tropical garden on the property. It was a grand thing indeed. The house even had a steam-powered electrical generator in the basement and electric lights, which at the time, were the very latest luxury indeed. The mansion even had running water and a walk-in sauna bath on the lower level that measured 8' by 10' and 5' deep. Mr. Mitchell even had the first automobile in Jamaica, brought over by ship.(A huge Rolls-Royce touring car) Things were good indeed for the Mitchells. Their son-in-law; Hiram Bingham III was a notable South American explorer who discovered Macchu Picchu in 1912 and many other lost cities in the continent. In fact, the famous film-maker George Lucas was so inspired by Hiram that he used him as the inspiration for Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'(!)

        Not to be outdone, Hiram's Great-grandfather Hiram Bingham I was the main Missionary to settle the Hawaiian Islands in the 1820's and wrote a book;' A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands' which inspired the famous author James Michener to pen 'Hawaii' and pattern his character, Abner Hale after Hiram! I don't know about you readers, but to me, that is plenty impressive.

       Alas, nothing lasts forever, and in the spring of 1911, Alfred died at the ripe old age of 80. Annie stayed in the mansion for two more winters and sold the home and land to one of  Lorenzo Dow Bakers son's who kept it for 4 years before abandoning the property. The JA gov. took over the place eventually and it fell into ruin. There are rumors of the builders mixing salt water into the concrete and that being the reason for the roof falling in around 1935, but that rumor, like so many others, is completely false. First, N.Y. construction firm, James Wilkerson & Co. was a tried and true professional outfit that, because of the remoteness of the location, brought everything with them by sailing ship to construct the house.(including the water) Also the second floor was made from wooden beams. The concrete portion has held up remarkably well considering the location and the 100 years that have passed. Also the local people raided the house shortly after it was abandoned and ripped out the second floor columns which supported the roof, and generally took whatever was not nailed down.

      Errol was also fascinated by the mansion and planned to refurbish it and turn it into a resort. Nora refers to Folly house in her book 'Errol and Me' by saying her and Errol visited the 'old fort' at lighthouse point. I suppose it does look like a fort in some ways. Patrice Wymore Flynn told me at Errol's centennial birthday that her and Errol tried to buy the property but the JA gov. would only lease it to them, so they had the lease for a number of years.

       The old place is rapidly declining now and is fenced off from the public. That little bother didn't stop yours truly from scaling the 10 ft. tall fence and almost breaking my neck to get some photos. I took some 'before and after' photos using some of the old photos provided by the family and taking the 'after' shot from the same position. I tried to get the very same camera angle as the Daguerreotype camera that was used in 1910 but things like aperture size and focal plane are tough to duplicate exactly with my digital camera. I did my best though. What good luck that Alfred Mitchell was a camera buff  and took over 800 photos of the house and surrounding property!

       In closing: When I go there, I feel, or imagine I feel the traces of what it was like all those years ago, and how I am walking the same path as Errol did way back when. It sounds a little silly when you think about it but it makes me feel just a little closer to our hero. I'll leave it at that. 

            P.S. Note on photo 016. bmp Hiram III (standing) posed with the Mitchell family on the seaside porch of Folly only days before Alfred Mitchell's (on the left) death.


— john


Truth or Not?

28 Feb

     Dear Errol fans,

              I hope I have not been 'stirring the pot' too much, but I learned long ago that in the case of Errol Flynn, you just cannot trust what the media says. There have been rumors and legends and wild stories that after a time, were just took as truth where they very much were not. Sort of a case of 'if the shoe fits, wear it'. Or in Errol's case, 'If the story is outrageous enough, Errol must be responsible'.

            Case in point: Errol's funeral. The L.A. Times said that security was so tight that Jack Oakie, (Errol's friend) was kept out of the funeral due to tight security. Read Tina'a posting of the L.A times piece on Errol's funeral. But here is a picture of Jack being one of the pall bearers!(He's on the left) A neat trick, eh?

           This is why I question the fact that Patrice was at the funeral. The lady photographed beside Sean looks like Nora to me. Now I may in fact be 100% wrong, but I also may be 100% right.

          This is why I would like verification from those who were actually there. I was not, but Rory and Deidre were. I will bow to their recollection, be I right or wrong.

                                                       Thanks,  JOHN

— john


A New Errol, Patrice photo

24 Feb

         Dear Errol Fans,

                     I came upon this photo and have never seen it published before. It shows a tanned, and even sunburned loving couple enjoying life to it's fullest. It 's a shame we cannot save these moments forever. I think it is is a testament to lovers everywhere. And by the way, I think Errol was the luckiest man to ever walk the earth at that particular moment.


— john


Errol Flynn Country Pt. I

24 Feb

     Dear Errol Fans,

               I have decided to let you in on some of my cherished Port Antonio photos and will post them from time to time to show you readers just how beautiful the area is, and maybe share a part of the world that Errol and I have fallen in love with. Now don't get me wrong, I am not comparing myself with Errol, but let me tell you, he had latched onto something good. and I admire his taste in not just women, but locales.

      This chapter is about the marvelous Trident Castle, which is located just W. of the Blue Hole, about 6 miles from Port Antonio. I shamelessly bribed my way into the place some months ago and was very impressed, and I am not easily impressed. It is a palace of immense proportions, and I have never seen it's match in Jamaica. It was built by the same folks who built and run the Jamaica Palace Hotel just down the road.

       The Castle was not there when Errol was roaming around the area, but I think he would have approved. For those who want to stay there, it is easily done: Just be prepared for the $5000.00 US Dollars per night fare. (with motorcar, meals, boat, and airplane available) Tom Cruise had just departed when I arrived to take these photos, and his picture resides on the grand piano.

       The Castle is built on the cliffs and the view is, of course, first-class. A large pool is at the ready, as is a large, friendly staff. A party room, library, game room, and an immense gathering hall( just inside the front doors) are ready for just about anything. There is even a chapel on the grounds for the religious in the crowd. There are guard dogs to keep away the odd paparazzi that may wander onto the property.(always a plus!)

       As a certain T.V. Host would say, “Champagne Wishes!”


                                           Thank You,   JOHN

   P.S. I have some eye-popping video of this place and when I figure out how to put it on the blog, I will be more than happy to share it. The pitiful photos I provided just don't do it justice. It is really 'something else'!  J.T.  Check out the website too!

— john


Rafting down the Rio Grande

23 Feb

Dear Errol Fans,

     I thought I would tell you-all a nice story about a rafting trip myself and my wife Debbie took down the much heralded Rio Grande river in Jamaica. After all, there seems to be lots of pomp, history and romance connected with this excursion, never mind the 'Errol' aspect of it all.

     I want to set a few things straight before we get into the meat of the subject. First of all, Errol did not invent this mode of transportation.(although he resurrected it and brought it back into fashion) The prize goes to Lorenzo Dow Baker who thought it would amuse his guests to see the process that the bananas went through to get from the upper-most reaches of the Mtn. plantations to a point where they could be loaded onto one of Baker's steamships to make the outrageous profits that kept the banana trade flourishing.( there are photos taken of folks rafting down the Rio Grande at the turn of the century)

     On this particular trip, I decided to take Debbie my wife on a lavish trip starting at Negril and ending up at Port Antonio. This trip lasted a month. I wanted to show Debbie 'everything',(since she had never been to JA) so we went from one side of the island to the other. I was not planning to take the rafting trip at the outset because, having 'been there and done that', I thought it was just a little too “touristy”, and being a tourist is like a dirty word in my vocabulary. As usual, I was dead wrong. I had never been on that trip and had my own pre-conceived notions. (wrong again) But when I saw Debbie's enthusiasm about the trip, I gave in.

      Well, first off, it was cheaper than I thought at $35 US Dollars for both of us. Hmm, a good start. We then bundled into the taxi for the ride to Berriedale (which is a short drive from Port Antonio) for the starting point. The ride was breathtaking, with the Blue Mtn's in full regalia and lush jungle just eye-poppingly everywhere. We arrived at Berriedale where there is a dedicated cement staircase over the breakwater on both sides to ease the entry to the rafts. There we were introduced to our boat Capt. (Paul) and after settling in, we were off!

      Now my first mistake was assuming that the trip would be shaded by tropical ferns, plants, etc. WRONG. The tropical vegetation ended at the waters edge and the tropical sun was brutal, especially after being reflected off the water. The stream was calm and cool though and a splash of cooling water was just what the Dr. ordered when it got too hot. You could see where the river was a raging torrent in the rainy season.(Fall and Spring) and downright life-threatening. We went in the winter, and actually spent Christmas in Port Antonio. (The 'dry' season) We were poled to what Errol called 'Lovers lane'(303.jpg) where, as the legend goes, the raft Capt. would take a break and a swim whilst the overheated couple would do their damnedest to make the earth move. Paul poled us around it but I guess the magic just wasn't there, so we continued on.

       Debbie will kill me for revealing this, but about halfway through the trip, she said, “You know, this water is as pure as spring water. I think I'll take a sip” And before I could react, she had done just that. I shuddered to think of the potential 'bugs' in the sip, but I kept quiet. Well, lo and behold, about 5 minutes later, Debbie said, “I feel a little queasy” and then proceeded to projectile 'hurl' over the side. I tried to catch the fast action with my camera, (bastard that I am) but it was all over by then. Even to this day, it is still a touchy subject, and never fails to generate a grin, or more. (from me, that is.)

     The rest of the trip was very scenic and calming, and the overall trip was one not to be overlooked. It took about 2 1/2 Hrs. and I'm glad I did it. If you go there, you would be very much amiss not to take advantage of the experience. I got away with a raging sunburn and a very good memory. Debbie thought she had died and gone to heaven though and still talks about it to this day. I most enjoyed the scenery.

    At the end of the trip, we careened at a stopping off point where the taxi gathered the two hapless sun-burned tourists for the short ride back to the hotel for a brief shower and a long, long nap. Afterwards we look at the photos and Debbie thinks how romantic it was. I think of how sunburned my bald-spot got. Oh well, I never professed to be a romantic.

                             Thank You All,    JOHN

— john


Navy Island in Happier Times

06 Feb

Dear Errol Fans,

      I've managed to dredge up some photos of the Navy Island resort,the Admiralty Club at full swing, the interior of one of the cottages(with good friends) and even a copy of the brochure. These are all circa 1980 or so. It was called 'Vagabond Villa's at the time and the way you see it here it is how I will cherish it in my memory until the day I die. I hope you enjoy them. Note: The location of my “ghostly encounter” was(on IMG 0001) just before the 'bridge' across from 'orchid pond'. The interior photos of the cottage are of the 'Lookback House'. (so-called because when it was time to leave, you always looked back and wished you could stay)


— john


The Ghost of Navy Island

06 Feb

Dear Errol Fans,

        I want to relay a true story that I originally told to Steve and Genene Randall (the authors of the 'Tassie Devil' website) some years back, and they were kind enough to post it on the site.

       As I have said, I have been to traveling to Port Antonio since about 1979 and one of my favorite spots was the Admiralty Club at the now abandoned Navy Island resort. In those days, the place was a small paradise. There was a lovely little pocket sized beach on the W. side with a pier and a beach bar. You could dive off the pier, swim about 50 ft. and there the water became very shallow and there was a spot about 40 ft. in diameter where the water was only 3 or 4 inches deep with dazzling soft white coral sand underneath. You could lie down and feel the hot sun and cooling water at the same time. There were no waves larger than an inch or so and the view of the Blue Mountains in the distance was strikingly beautiful. I often said that was my most favorite place in the whole world.(And I have yet to find a better one.)

     A man named Harry Eiler owned it and lived in one of the Polynesian style cottages with a lovely view of the Titchfield peninsula. The Club had an 'Errol Flynn Room' full of posters and memento's, and even rare photos of Errol at the first Port Antonio Blue Marlin Tournament. (I've never seen it anywhere else or since) The restaurant and bar were top notch and the view was also first-rate. I took some friends I had met who were from Edinburgh, Scotland (Aiden and Charlotta Daye) to lunch there, followed by a day at the beach and they were very impressed.

     The next time I traveled there, everything had changed. The resort was closed down and a Hurricane had wreaked havoc on most everything. I walked up the stairs to the club to find the door wrenched open and walked in. It was heart breaking to see the Errol Flynn room stripped of all photos, trash strewn everywhere, windows broken, etc. Not wanting to see more, I left quickly and took the opportunity to try and find the 'Errol Flynn House' I had heard was on the E. side of the island. The road was still passable and I started walking.I took my time and looked into the now vacant cottages and marveled at the construction. They were basically large, round thatch-roofed huts with a telephone sized pole in the center holding up the roof. They measured about 30 ft. tall and 40 to 50 ft. in diameter. Partitions separated the living spaces and it looked like a very pleasant, spacious design.

          I continued on, basically gawking like a regular tourist, not knowing what I was looking for but looking anyway. At this point I came upon what looked like an outdoor church with an alter and pews set in the grass, opposite there was an enormous cottonwood tree and a large grass covered field beyond. It was at this point that the most uncomfortable feeling came over me that I have ever had. It was a terror, a chill that went right up my spine. The fact that it was sunny and calm made it all the more terrifying. I then noticed that I did not hear any birds chirping or any other sound.(which was very unnatural in that part of the world.) I tried to shake it off and continue, but two steps into it another wave even more (much more) powerful hit me with an almost physical force and I stopped in my tracks. This time I was afraid, very afraid. I felt chilled. I could not see anything but something was RIGHT THERE. I think it was almost like cold Death or something damn near like it. The hair on my entire body felt as if it was on end, and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember the overwhelming feeling of 'helplessness' I had, even today. Now note that I am not a superstitious man and I'm used to being on my own so this was not at all normal. After being frozen in place for what seemed to be an eternity, I turned around very slowly and started walking back the way I came, slowly at first, then broke into a full run. I did not stop or look back until I was back at the Admiralty Club pier, out of breath, wild eyed, and looking ever which way.

          I jumped in the water and swam to the mainland. (Where the Errol Flynn Marina is now) It was there I tried to get a little of my dignity back. I cursed myself for 'being afraid of nothing'(after all, I was a grown man of 23 yrs. and had been in plenty of 'close scrapes' and had come out O.K.) and gradually attempted to regain my swagger. The bad feeling seemed to fade and my heartbeat returned to something akin to normal. Later at the Scotia Inn were I was staying, I casually mentioned it to the lady of the house.(Miss Phyllis) I have never seen a black person turn gray before, but she did. She said the island was haunted and to never go there alone or at night. She was almost as afraid as I had been. She said the locals steer clear of the place for just that reason. I asked who the ghost was and she said many people think it is Errol Flynn's ghost. I don't know about that, but whatever it was, it was NOT friendly.

         Many years later I read about Ricky Nelson encountering an'evil spirit' in Errol's house in L.A.(which he bought) and how it was also malevolent. I then read about how Errol had taken Beverly Aaland to Navy Island and swore an oath of marriage at the foot of a large cottonwood tree, circled the tree and then lay down in the soft grass and made love.(just months before his death) I kept this little secret to myself for years before telling the 'Tassie Devil' folks. Now I'm telling you. Maybe it was all in my head, or maybe I was on sacred ground, who knows? I have learned by painful example to trust my instincts and intuition and I believe if I had ignored it, that something terrible would have happened. What I felt that day was real, and nobody will ever convince me different. I do know that is the only time in my life anything like that has ever happened.(thank Christ!) I have since made the trip again and I had no ill feelings whatsoever but let me tell you, it took all the courage I could scrape together to walk past that same place, even years later. I wrote in my travel manuscript:” Now there are no ghosts on my island”. That, I guess is a metaphor of sorts. One note though, even though I planned to, I cannot bring myself to stay the night there. After all, even a non-superstitious man has to draw the line somewhere!


— john