Archive for the ‘Prof. T.T. Flynn’ Category

To Those Who Knew Him When…

03 May

May 3, 1939
Wireless Weekly

Glamor Man of Screen

Errol Flynn Is Real Life Adventurer

An Unbiased Biography

To those Sydney people “who knew him when,” the screen success of Errol Flynn is just another adventurous lucky break of this incredibly adventurous but capable lad. Flynn’s “official” biography, as set down by himself and his employers, runs counter at several points to the facts of his life as he told them to his acquaintances in Sydney when he was basking in the first beams of the film spotlight after appearing in “In the Wake of the Bounty.”

Flynn is the son of zoologist Theodore Thomson Flynn of Queen’s University, Belfast. He claims to be of the same blood-stock that produced Fletcher Christian, the famous Bounty mutineer, and he claims to have played with Fletcher Christian’s sword as a youngster.

By the time he was thirteen, Errol had attempted running away from home three times. At eighteen he was a member of the British Olympic boxing team. At nineteen he was “hoofed out” of school in Sydney, and he claims he began sailing the Pacific islands as master of a 20-ton yawl. He claims to have guided a party
of film-makers through the New Guinea jungles, and admits having been in the lucrative “recruiting” racket there.

First Film Role

Flynn claims that his movie career began when the party he had guided remembered him, and asked him to enact Fletcher Christian in their film of the Bounty mutiny. His work before the cameras was completed within a few days. Having tasted life in the movies, Flynn decided that that was the life for him.

By his own methods of exploits he did his Job of “selling himself to the Hollywood producers so well that his first part in Hollywood was a starring role!

Worried Employers

Flynn has married Lili Damita and has made a terrific lot of money, has run away from work to enjoy a dangerous sojourn on the Spanish battlefields, has caused his employers a lot of worry and also made himself one of the most glamorous film stars ever known.

Natural successor to Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn is much more picturesque and more genuinely adventurous in his own off-screen life. At 30 he looks back upon exploits of the sort that most men believe are true only in fiction.

Errol Flynn, at 30, one of the big stars of Hollywood, was an adventurer who knew Sydney well only a few years ago.

But, with it all, he has made himself one of the top box office stars in Hollywood, and therein lies his laugh on the Sydney people who deride his smooth-sounding adventures as tall tales.

His weekly pay cheque is not a work of fiction!

— Tim


On the Sixth Day of Christmas 🎁x6

30 Dec

On December 30, 1959 ……

Professor Flynn gave to the world: My Son, Errol!

My Son, Errol

DASHING, swashbuckling Errol Flynn as he appeared with Eddie Albert in the film “TheSun Also Rises.” It was Errol’s charm, his father says, which got him into trouble. To most of the world the late Errol Flynn was known as a roistering, philandering lady-killer. But Errol’s father, in these revealing articles, says most of the stories about Errol were wicked, wicked lies.

By Professor Theodore Thomson Flynn, of London University

I was sitting in the lounge of Errol’s fabulous Hollywood mansion when two attractive girls told my son they would like to try the swimming-pool. Slip into your bathing-costumes in there, Errol said, nodding towards an ante-room. A few minutes later one of the girls walked past us without stitch on and without a blush. Her excuse was that she had left her swimsuit in the porch verandah. I was flabbergasted.

That girl was quite normal by Hollywood standards. She was only one of many girls who threw themselves at Errol. But she opened my eyes to the fantastic world in which Errol was living and the terrible temptations he was constantly facing.

Most of the stories published since my son’s death are wicked, wicked lies. He was more sinned against than sinning. That is why I welcome this opportunity to tell the real truth about Errol. His reputation as a lady-killer was built up deliberately it the beginning by studio publicity. Then the scandalmongers took over and every incident, true or false, involving a girl was magnified beyond proportion.

In 1939, when Errol was married to his first wife, Lili Damita, I took my wife and our little girl Rosemary to Hollywood. Errol had to make some public appearances in various towns in connection with a film and he took Rosemary along for the fun of it.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read in a newspaper, “Errol Flynn has been staying at a hotel with a 15 year-old girl whom he says is his sister.”

I knew my son better than any man or woman in the world. He was good, brave, and generous. Why, then, did he make such terrible confessions in his own life story, now being printed posthumously?

First, let me say that neither my wife nor I have read a word of that story but our daughter has read it and has been appalled.

What the public does not know is that for the past two years Errol knew that he was going to die. He never told us, but two doctors warned my wife that his heart was bad and to expect the worst. It seems almost as if Errol set out deliberately to destroy himself in these last two years. He changed completely. He was too brave to sit at home and mope. He stepped up the pace of his living. But he was not himself.

Yet 99 per cent, of the scandals in which he was involved were wished upon him. He was the innocent victim of his own harm.

My wife had an embarrassing experience one day in Hollywood through one of the young harpies who pursued Errol wherever he went. He was holding her arm as they strolled down Sunset Boulevard. Suddenly a young blond girl in a sheath-like dress, appeared from nowhere, threw Errol’s mother across the pavement, and linked her arm in Errol’s.

“Don’t waste yourself on old timers, darling,” she cooed. “Come up to my place. I have a wonderful show there. You won’t be disappointed.” Errol frowned and pushed her away, then took his mother’s arm again. The blond hussy stalked off, swearing to herself.

Errol’s love for his parents ran like a golden thread through his all-too-short life. He telephoned his mother only a few days before his death. Though he must have known that the end was near, he chatted away cheerily and sent his love to us both and to Rosemary. Not long before he died he was fixing up his fabulous house, Castle Comfort, standing in four estates comprising 4000 acres, in Jamaica, so that we could all be together again as we were in Hobart, Tasmania, where Errol was born on January 20, 1909. He was a happy, sunny little fellow, always getting into boyish scrapes.

Once he dashed away from his nursemaid on his tiny bicycle, scattering crowds on the busy street, shouting: “Get out of my way,” with the nurse in hot pursuit.

At four years old, he had his first “girl trouble” when he was invited to a children’s party at the home of the Bishop of Tasmania. Soon after he had gone, my wife received a phone call from the bishop’s wife. She said, “I am terribly sorry, Mrs. Flynn, but I will have to send your little boy home. We left him in the garden for a moment and he has tipped all the little girls into the ornamental fountain.”

Another time he ran away and was missing tor three days. We were frantic because a boat had just left Tasmania for Sydney and we thought he might be on it. But he had gone to the other side of a mountain near our home and asked for a job in a dairy. He told them, ‘”You only need to pay me five shillings a week, I never intend to marry.”

As he grew up everybody fell for him. He became a terrific athlete. He was passionately fond of fishing and swimming and was a superlative tennis player. He tried boxing, too, but it was more or less forced on him.

I had just bought him a boat, Sirocco, and he sailed her with four other lads to New Guinea, nearly 2000 miles awaOn the way they ran short of food and oil and they had no money to pay for more. Undismayed, Errol put into a small port and the five lads went ashore to try to raise some cash. Outside a boxing booth at a travelling fair a gorilla of a man called Battling Bilson was offering five pounds to anyone who would stand up to him for three rounds.

Errol’s companions looked at each other, then at Errol, who at six foot two stood head and shoulders above them. He ducked under the ropes. A cheer went up from some hoboes who had gathered round when Errol, stripped to his underpants, started a slogging match with the professional. Errol told me later, “I got the five pounds and we bought food, but I’d taken so many punches on the chin that I wasn’t able to eat for a week.”‘

I left my post as Professor of Zoology at Hobart for an appointment in Belfast. In the early ‘thirties, after the stock exchange slump when countless people lost fortunes, Errol joined us, having been forced to give up a tobacco and coconut plantation he had been running. He brought lovely presents to his mother and me. He had worked his way round the world from New Guinea, via Saigon, Singapore, Rangoon, Calcutta, Bombay, over to Cairo, and through the Mediterranean.

In Alexandria he landed in jail. He had been sitting in a cafe wearing his only clothes, a shirt and shorts, when a too inquisitive Egyptian policeman leaned over and pulled out hairs from the calves of his legs.

Errol was furious and said, “If you do that again you will taste my fist.” The man did it again. Errol spent two days in gaol for obstructing the police.

Errol had played in his first film before he joined us in Belfast. Australian director Charles Chauvel was impressed with Errol’s looks and had him play the role of Fletcher Christian in “In the Wake of the Bounty,” which was filmed in Sydney in 1932.

Life in Belfast was too quiet for Errol, by now an extremely handsome man in his early twenties. He went over to England and became theatre critic for a newspaper in Northampton. One day a player in the Northampton Repertory Company fell ill and Errol offered to take over his part. He had the satisfying job of writing his own critiques, and praised himself enormously. Soon after, Errol took part in a London show which flopped after two weeks. He became depressed until his mother suggested, “Why not
try films?” He did.

I drove him to Warner Brothers’studios at Teddington in a new Daimler I had bought. He was given a screen test.

He’s the goods>

When the casting director saw the results he rushed, breathless, to the managing director and gasped: “This guy Flynn . . .” “Another dud, I suppose,”” yawned the managing director. “Oh, no. This guy Flynn is the goods, Grab him quick.”

I was already on my way back to Belfast with Mrs. Flynn. Awaiting us was a telegram. “Selected by Warner Brothers and off to Hollywood next week. Love, Errol.”

Alas, they left Errol idle in the celluloid city. He wrote to me: “Dear Dad, They have put me in the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel. I am doing nothing.”

Yet he was marvelous to look at. They all said he was the most handsome man they had ever had in Hollywood.And his manners were perfect.
Inevitably, I suppose, women were attracted to him – often women of the worst type.They simply could not leave him alone.

One night when we were in Hollywood Errol took us to a party at David Niven’s house. They were joking about a conquest Errol was supposed to have made, but, in actual fact, Errol could not stand the lady in question. Errol left us and went home, but he, was back in no time looking white-faced and worried. He had found the lady we had been talking about occupying his bed. When he told her to get up and get out she refused. He then said, “I will put you out.” “If you try,” she said, “I will scream and say you have assaulted me.” Errol took the sensible course of leaving her and stayed with us that night.

The trouble is that pretty girls in small hometowns all over America are told by friends, and sometimes relatives, that they ought to be in pictures. They go to Hollywood, where they find glamor-girls are two a penny. Then they will do anything to get publicity-even forcing their way into a star’s bedroom. I once attended a cocktail party given by Errol at a New York hotel when a “film executive” brought in a little girl who could have been only 12 or 13 and looked a South American type. He tried to foist her on Errol all evening, but of course Errol would have nothing to do with her.

In the notorious court case when my son was charged with statutory rape, the girl afterwards admitted it was a put-up job and was sent to a mental home. But not all the women in Errol’s life were bad. His three wives – Lili Damita, Nora Eddington, and Patrice Wymore, all of whom have borne him children, were all nice girls. My wife and I know them well and are still friendly with all three. But when Beverly Aadland appeared on the scene, we moved out. It was the only time we felt apart from Errol. But let it never be forgotten that by that time he was no longer himself. My wife asked him what was making him unhappy and added, “I can only pray for you.'” But he would not tell he was too brave to allow us to share his burden. We knew he had been rejected for the United States Army because of his heart. We knew only too well.

Daring party

In 1951 Errol did one of the most daring things of his daredevil life. He invited his three wives to a party. What happened there shook me to the core. Hollywood, of course, is famous for its fabulous parties. But what film idol, other than Errol, would have dared to bring even one ex-wife, let alone two, to a party at which his newest wife was hostess?

I shall never forget that astonishing night. The setting was classic. A mansion looking down on the San Fernando Valley, with the customary appendages – swimming-pool, stables, tennis courts, and five cars.

But inside the house the set-up was dynamite. The two ex-wives – the stormy French girl Lili Damita and the fiery redhead Nora Eddington – were a startling contrast to the reigning wife, Patrice Wymore. My wife whispered to me that she felt sorry for Pat, who was so much younger and less sophisticated than the two ex-wives. To make things more difficult for Pat, her immediate predecessor, Nora Eddington, had previously ruled over the enormous establishment of which Pat was now mistress.

Things went smoothly for a while. There were no unseemly incidents, although Patrice did not seem particularly happy. A sensitive girl,
her feelings will be readily appreciated by most wives outside Hollywood. In the middle of the party my eyes nearly popped out of my head in disbelief when I saw Errol nonchalantly take the lovely redhead Nora on on his knee while his present wife, Pat Wymore, looked on. This was too much for me. I strode forward and said sharply to my ex-daughter-in-law, “This is no way to act: Get off at once and behave yourself.”

The guests watched with interest. What would Nora do? What would Pat do?

The atmosphere was electric.

Nora looked at me.

She must have sensed I was in earnest. She climbed off Errol’s knee rather shame-facedly and went to another corner of the room. Every-
body breathed again and the party chit-chat was resumed.

True buccaneer

Why did Errol stage this amazing party? Well, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision and it was typical of my son’s contempt for convention. He was born out of his century. He would have been, a true buccaneer in Elizabethan times. The party was one example of how he delighted in flouting conventions – in public, if possible. He was a warm, open-hearted person, with no deceit in his make-up. He said and did what he thought and the devil take the consequences. In spite of this he was a true gentleman.

As was perhaps inevitable, Errol’s three wives all tried to tame him and none succeeded. What he needed was a helpmate who would always be at hand to give him sound, down-to-earth advice, and even, when the occasion demanded, criticism. He did not get this and his marriages failed. Yet each of these three women had a profound effect in moulding his personality.

Errol was not much over 20 when he married Lili Damita, who was older in years and experience, When my wife and I met Lili just before the war, we liked her, but it soon became plain she had little in common with our son. Although Errol was working almost to physical exhaustion at this time, Lili, no doubt proud of being married to the most handsome man in the world, insisted on parading him around Hollywood’s night clubs and restaurants. When I visited Errol I was shocked to see him so desperately tired.

Errol’s first marriage broke up in 1943. Their son, Sean now in his late teens, is at high school in America. We love him dearly. He reminds us of Errol in his youth.

Near the end of the war Nora Eddington fell in love with Errol. So that she could see him every day she took a job in a tobacco kiosk that he used regularly. When I first met her after the war she was already installed as the second Mrs. Flynn in the Hollywood mansion and living in lavish style.

Nora was a mother’s girl. Although the £120,000 mansion had its full quota of flunkeys, she brought along her own mother as housekeeper.
I was appalled to find the house thronged with hangers on who were battening on my boy.

All this was very upsetting and at last it led to the break-up of marriage number two.

Nora, mother of Errol’s two children Rory and Deidre, is now married to Dick Haymes. When Pat Wymore took over, she was bewildered by the horde of strangers who would demand a bed or the loan of a car or a horse. She came to my wife for advice. “Get rid of these scroungers,”- counselled the elder Mrs. Flynn. Pat did.

NEXT WEEK: “Errol was the victim of those around him.” (Part 2 of 2)

— Tim


Tribute to T. T. Flynn, Ph.D.

24 Oct

October 11, 1883 – October 24, 1968

Tasmania’s First Professor of Biology…

Thank you very much to Philip for his previous posting of the audio above on the EFB.

— Tim


Happy Birthday, Mr. Flynn!

11 Oct

Born October 11, 1883, in Coraki, New South Wales

— Tim


Storm at Sea

23 Sep

September 22, 1946



Men, Women and Yachts Don’t Mix

Errol Flynn is reported by some quarters to be a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian, the man who started the mutiny on the Bounty. Mrs. Nora Eddington Flynn, his youthful bride, is believed in other quarters to be a direct descendant of Capt. Bligh, the commander of the Bounty. The other quarter in the case of Mrs. Flynn is John Decker, artist, who comes to this conclusion in explaining the “mutiny” on Flynn’s yacht Zaca while cruising the Pacific off Mexico. Decker and three others of the ship’s personnel left the Zaca at Acapulco, Mexico, because, Decker asserts, Nora had taken on some of the characteristics of a bucko mate in the old days when the clippers sailed around the Horn.

AMONG TILE SHIP’S COMPANY WHEN THE ZACA SAILED. This junket was a combination pleasure-science-professional affair. Flynn wanted to get away from Hollywood. He bought the Zaca last October, as a successor to the Sirocco, where there had been many gay parties which, perhaps, Flynn wanted to forget. To make it all serious, he was going to collect marine specimens. There were 17 aboard when the yacht sailed, and a representative group they were, indeed. There was Dr. Theodore Thomson-Flynn, Errol’s father, who is a zoologist and dean of the school of science at Queens college in Belfast, Ireland. And there was Prof. Carl Hubbs of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at La Jolla, Calif., a noted ichthyologist. Tanks, torch lights, tackle arid enough formaldehyde to pickle half the fish in the ocean. Prof. Hubbs could be dropped blindfold into any part of any sea and tell at once where he was by examining the local fish.
Ted Stauffer, a Swiss composer and erstwhile night club operator in Mexico City, was also aboard. Stauffer took along a camera, planning to make magazine pictures. Howard Hill, the famed toxologist, and Jerry Courmoyay also were present. They planned a color picture of the trip, featuring Hill s archery and the various flora and fauna encountered on the way. Chris Duke and Kurt Hartzog, two Hollywood bit players, were included in this part of the project.

DECKER CAN PAINT. And then there was Decker, really a great painter, who figured on getting a lot of marine life into color. Decker has painted some pretty queer fish in his time and this wouldn’t be a novelty. He hit on a highly-appreciated medium some years ago when he began copying the old masters and putting actors’ faces on them. Two of his most famous in this line are Queen Victoria with the face of W. C. Fields and the famed Blue Boy of Gainsborough with Harpo Marx’ pan. In serious vein, Decker has taken numerous prizes at exhibitions. There were also a professional captain and two working sailors, named Wally Beery (not the actor) and John Vincent. And, in addition, Nora.

NORA GETS HER SEA LEGS. They had been gone nearly a month when the ketch-rigged schooner hove-to at Acapulco, where almost at once it became apparent that there had been a clash of personalities aboard. The main narrative from now on is that of Decker.

THE CRISIS NEARS. It was while they were hanging around Socorro that Decker detected the growth of a quarterdeck manner in Nora. Once, he said, she directed the guests if you could call them guests to pick up their coffee cups after a meal on deck and carry them back to the galley. Another time, life went on, several of the ship’s company were sitting in the saloon and Nora said: ‘Everybody get up on deck.” Anyway, things came to a 5- head right there in Socorro lagoon. Seaman Berry dived into the water “with a spring harpoon gun. He was going after a shark. But instead of harpooning the shark he harpooned his own ankle. The harpoon has a nasty barb and the wound was serious. Dr. Thomson-Flynn and Prof. Hubbs operated on the leg and removed the weapon. However, there seemed to be some danger of infection and Decker finally persuaded Flynn, over Nora’s protests, to proceed to Acapulco, 1,000 miles away and the nearest spot for competent medical aid. So, once in Acapulco, Decker marched ashore with the wounded man, and stayed ashore. Duke and Hartzog, the film players, left with him. He emphasized that his relations with Flynn remained friendly.

FOUR-LETTER WORDS Nora’s comment on all this was that the amateur sailors expected to be treated as guests [rather than working crew.] This was very unsatisfactory, she remarked in a phone conversation with her father.

NORA AND ERROL, ABOARD HIS YACHT. Actor Flynn has always had a yen for the sea. “Women, men and yachts don’t mix,” he said. “Just as soon as Nora got her sea legs she took over command of the boat and started shoving everybody around. I’ve known her ever since she married Flynn but I never really had any conversation with her. The talks I had with Flynn were man talks, and she couldn’t enter into them, so I never really knew her until I went on this boat. “It’s too bad this little mosquito has come between Flynn and me. I can’t really lay my finger on anything important she did. It was a constant pin-pricking process calculated to wear me down. “She greeted me with lhe remark when I went aboard at Santa Monica: ‘You’re not serious about going on this trip? You must be kidding.’ I told her I was serious and I wasn’t kidding and her face fell a mile. “She began at once to make things disagreeable for me, blaming me for everything that went wrong, always yelling around the boat when anything was out of the way: ‘Oh, that’s Decker.’ ” The yacht stopped at Cedros Island, off the coast of Lower California, and then proceeded to the Revilla Gigedo Islands, southeast of the tip of Lower California and pretty well out in the Pacific. The serious fishing began at Socorro Island in that group. Dr. Thomson-Flynn and Prof. Hubbs are dedicated scientists. They have loaded the boat with dredges.

Decker insisted he was right in using four-letter words. Nora has won this time, anyway, if it was her aim to get Decker off the boat. Flynn plans to continue through the canal and to Europe. At present he is trying to assemble a crew of experienced hands for the trip across the Atlantic. All the fuss could be, of course, a vagary such as is often attributed to expectant mothers, who are known to ask for things like strawberries out of season and the like. Nora is expecting another child next March. And, anyway, her influence will soon be gone. She expects to leave the yacht in the West Indies and fly back to Hollywood.

— Tim


Zaca Cruises into San Diego

14 Aug

August 13, 1946

After Setting Sail Out of Balboa:

The Zaca cruised into San Diego to load dredges, seines, dipnets, lobster traps, gill nets, microscope, aquariums, sorting trays, jars, preservatives, and smaller paraphenalia, collected by prominent Scripps Institute Professor Carl Hubbs for the scientific explorations and studies on what later became known as “Cruise of the Zaca” Errol’s arrival was met with “a flurry of reporters” and a “feminine hubbub on the dock as girls from nearby Navy offices came to beg autographs from their hero.” The athletic actor was limping that day, having somehow sprained his ankle aboard ship on the way down from Long Beach. Errol signed autographs with a flourish while Nora watched with amusement and Professor Flynn remarked on “the depths to which humanity will fall.”

The reporters had already had a field day, by discovering from Nora that she was expecting a child and so would require a doctor on the voyage.

Zaca was manned by a crew of ten and also carried an artist (John Decker), three above-and below-water photographers, Flynn’s manager, Errol and Nora, and Flynn’s father.

Thanks to Betty Shor for her superb account of the Zaca’s scientific expedition from which the above info has been extracted!

These are the downton docks in San Diego, the foot of Broadway, circa the time of Zaca’s arrival. Lane Field (Home of the PCL Padres) is on the right and the Pacific Fleet’s Navy Supply Center (where the flock of Navy girls likely came from) is on the left.

— Tim


Setting Sail Out of SoCal

13 Aug

August 12, 1946 – Errol’s Cruise of the Zaca begins in Balboa, via La Jolla to Guadalupe Island, Mexico, then, per the map below, along the Baja to Acapulco, through the Canal and the Caribbean to Flynnland in Port Antonio, Jamaica.

— Tim


Cruisin’ with Professor Flynn

21 Jul

July 21, 1946 – New York Times
“Errol Flynn’s Father Here For Expedition”

“Theodore Thomson Flynn, Professor of Zoology at Queens College, Belfast, Ireland, and the father of Errol Flynn, screen actor, arrived yesterday on the United States liner Washington, which docked at Pier 62, North River, from Le Havre, Southampton and Cobh.”

Cruisin’ on United States liner Washington

Pier 62 – Now the Northernmost of the Chelsea Piers

July 29, 1946 – Los Angeles Times.
“Errol Flynn’s Father Arrives to Join Cruise”

The Flynn Family to Research the Tuna Family

Cruise of the Zaca

— Tim


Father Flynn’s First Visit to Hollywood

16 Jul

July 15, 1939

— Tim


A Mom and Pop Story — Starring Olivia de Havilland

22 Apr

April 22, 1938

Harrison Carroll

In Belfast, Olivia de Havilland spent a day with Errol Flynn’s parents. His father, a professor of biology at Queen’s University, still isn’t sold on Flynn’s acting career. He told Olivia he wishes that Errol would give up the cinema, return to Ireland, and take up a more serious profession.

Warners would be satisfied if he would even get off his yacht and return to Hollywood.

What was Professor Flynn thinking? Did the distinguished zoologist not study the biology of homo sapiens in addition to marsupials? What red-blooded Aussie human male in his right mind could ever quit this? Certainly not Virile Errol Flynn!

Making movies with Olivia was a very gracious thing.

And a very passionate thing.

Errol was right, and right on time, not to miss that train!

— Tim