Archive for the ‘Shangheinz Shanties’ Category

The perfect speciwomen

18 May

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

what do you see in the picture above?

I know about you, but I see a yacht and I think it was Errol`s.

The smiling siren in front of course is Joan Blondell, his co-star in the 1937 screwball comedy “The Perfect Specimen”.

In her biography “A Life Between Takes” she remembers our Hollywood hero very fondly: “Sometimes we walked in Warner`s Sherwood Forrest, where Errol Flynn gleefully told me untold tales of his youth during the picture we were making.”

Rose Joan Blondell was born on August 30, 1906 (she herself claimed 1909) to a vaudevillain family on the Manhattan Upper West Side and made her stage debut at the age of four months in a play called “The Greatest Love”. Right from the start her father of Jewish- polish descend Levi Bluestein aka Eddie Blondell and her Irish mother Catherine “Katie” Cain, gave her more acting lessons than she saw schooling. Famous for their stage version of the then immensely popular newspaper comic strip “The Katzenjammer Kids” her folks toured the country relentlessly along with her sister Gloria and brother Ed Jr.

At age eight she was shipped to Honolulu and spent a year there, and then six more in Australia. Little Joanie`s upbringing during that time probably was outsourced to some charitable society like for example the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. The Elks still have a lavish estate on Hawaii, actually very near located to the former “Shangri- La” villa of Doris Duke, where Errol used to roam too. Up to this day the B.P.O.E is very engaged in youth programms, while their boy scout like kiddie club “The Antlers” was disbanded abruptly in 1947. Whatever the ties Blondell had with this hornoray organisation, they proved career defining. In 1931/32 a dinner in her honour was held at the Elk`s Club in Hollywood when she had been elected “Baby Star”. Furthermore she was one of the main hostesses of the Elk`s Motion Picture Electrical Pageant in LA on July 16th of 1936. This extravaganza saw dozens of carriages with local beauty queens dressed as butterfly winged fairies (the Victoria`s Secret formula) carted to the Coliseum, where the parade came to a bonfire end.

A Warner Bros. workhorse in terms of turnout, Joan was making 50 films from 1930 to 1938. Ten in 1931 and another ten in 1932. This cruelling schedule landed the hard working girl in hospital at the end of the year. Starring mostly alongside James Cagney, whom she had met while playing opposite him on Broadway in the show “Maggie the Magnificent”. The film adaptation of their play “Penny Arcade” retitled “Sinner`s Holiday” became the starting point of a lifelong friendship. Cagney stated that she was the only woman other than his wife he ever had fallen in love with. Plus he stated she possessed the most beautiful derriere in Christendom. He should know, when one night on stage a lighting mishap set her asset on fire. Cagney was caught in a laughing fit looking at what seemed like “…two giant owl eyes staring back at me!

Unlike the other contract players Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davies, Joan never gave Jack Warner a hard time for piss pour roles and overexposure.”It takes all the talent you`ve got in your guts to play unimportant roles. It is not degrading, just hard to do.” Even when pregnant she managed to produce six movies, sitting behind desks hiding her growing tummy. Her utmost professionalism and toughness as acrylic nails got her the inofficial title of Studio Dame of the lot. “I just sailed through things, took the scripts I was given, did what I was told. I couldn`t afford to go on suspension.” In 1952 she earned her first and only Academy Award nomination as supporting actress in the “The Blue Veil”. By then she had switched from wisecracking blondie to strong female characters like that of Aunt Cissy in “A Tree  Grows in Brooklyn” directed by Elia Kazan.

Married three times (often time co- star William Powell  being one of her husbands), she never quite found the happiness of those carefree comedies in private life. Clark Gable had proposed to her, urging her not to marry that jealous and violent other guy. He may have meant Mike Todd, the theatre and film producer, who allegedly in a fit of rage hung Blondell out of the window feet last. With doing so he passed himself on to Elizabeth Taylor. In 1972 Joan Blondell lifted the veil on some of her life`s miseries in a thinly disguised fiction novel called “Center Door Fancy”.

I wonder if the book also reveals one of movie history`s all time greatest mystery. If it was her who was on lips and mind of Citizen Kane at his deathbed. Joan entered the 1926 Miss Dallas pageant and promptly won. But she participated under a false first name. Wanna know what it was !?




— shangheinz


1000 anchor at Lock, Stock and Errol

11 Apr

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

member no. 1000 came aboard my Flynn FB site LOCK, STOCK and ERROL this week. If you fancy errolarities and flynnanigans, as well as vintage vignettes from this blog, you are on the right spot. To celebrate the shimmering spirit of all eternal Flynnmates worldwide, I posted a german gem of Errol Flynn video material here:…

Enjoy, rejoice and join,

— shangheinz


Flynn and the fiercest forehand

06 Apr

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

Francisco Olegario Segura called “Pancho” by friends and pros, had what many labeled the best forehand ever in the history of tennis.

Former World No. 1 Player Ellsworth Vines remembered it all too well: “(His) Two-handed forehand is most outstanding stroke in game’s history; unbeatable unless opponent could avoid it.”

Pancho, the eldest of  7-10 children (reports vary) was born in Ecuador on a raft on the way to the hospital on June 20th 1921.

Not only did he share Errol`s birthday, but also crossed rackets with him in later years in Spain.

“I used to play at midnight in Madrid for 1000 dollars. Errol Flynn would send a chauffeur to pick me up.”

After an exceptional career on the lawns all around the world, considering he had suffered from rickets and malaria from an early age, he settled in the US and taught many flynntimos his most deadly shot at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club.

Ava Gardner, Kirk Douglas and Shelley Winters, just to name a few, honed their tennis court skills with this great character known for his humor, relentnessness and  longevity.

He retired at 49 at the US open and died at 96 with fond memories of mentoring Jimmy Connors and to a lesser extent the son of Dean Martin to felt ball stardom.




— shangheinz


Spongerob Errolpants

26 Mar

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

in January of 1947 the National Geographic Magazine published an article called “The Errol Flynn of Sponge Divers”.

The Errol of this and the Flynn of that were honorary titles at the time. But in the case of one exceptionally dangerous profession we can well picture our Hollywood hero genuinely taking a liking to the complimentary comparison.

World traveller and life time adventurer that he was, I wonder if he read this article and got the idea for the movie “MARU MARU” then and there, or if the namesake hotel in Tanzania did the deed.

Take a deep breath and dive in here yourselves:…




— shangheinz


Stuntmen, stand-ins and stooges VII

02 Mar

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

the most gentlemanly stuntman of Errol was Patrick “Paddy” Crean. He doubled him in “The Master of Ballantrae” and “Against all flags”. An accomplished actor in his own right later in life with roles in “War and Peace” alongside Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn and  in “The naked Maya” with Ava Gardner, he is mostly remembered for his superb swordmanship. Until today a flagship workshop called “the Paddy Crean” is held in his honour in Canada. He reminisced about about Flynn fondly in his hard to find autobiography “More Champagne Darling” and gives quite an insight into the ill fated adventure (film) “The Story of William Tell”, where he was to appear as partisan pesant. The song in the end of the clip is most pleasant  for this class act choreographer naming both our Hollywood hero as well as this class act irish paesano.



— shangheinz


An effigy for Errol

17 Feb

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

I came across a curious item auctioned off last week bearing Errol`s (first) name.

The seller announced it like this:

Wonderfully expressive, signed vintage carved statue from Rose Hall, Jamaica, depicting a kneeling bearded gentleman with hands clasped around his middle. Solid, one piece carving from a dense, medium brown color wood, possibly mahogany, polished to a nice sheen, slight crack on base behind figure. Signed on underside of base, “Errol,” Rose Hall, Little River Ja(maica.) Coincidentally, the famous hotel in Jamaica, Rose Hall, is where legendary Hollywood actor Errol Flynn spent a great deal of time. Material: wood. Measurement: approximate 26″ (INCHES). Shipping: $100; different rate to Alaska, California, Hawaii & all International.

Now if it served him simply as a good luck charm, as epitome of virility or as a shield against evil spells we may never know, but it is attached to another Flynn film project of later years.

Our Hollywood hero contemplated making a movie out of  Herbert George de Lisser`s 1929 novel “The Witch from Rose Hall”. Mr. Lisser wrote for Jamaica`s The Gleaner and was the editor of the yearly “Rum Punch” publication about the island`s Who`s who and the How much…

In the book main character Robert Rutherford is sent to Jamaica to learn the planter`s business from the bottom. He becomes the overseer at Rose Hall. The owner, young widow Mrs. Palmer, whose three husbands have all died in suspicious circumstances, gets attracted to him. So does the housekeeper Millicent.

Read about fine line between fact and fiction here:

Annie Patterson: the “White Witch” of Rose Hall between Reality and Legend.

In April of 1957 a Gleaner article announced that the filming of “The White Witch of Jamaica” to begin the following year. Flynn would produce it together with director Marquis Warren from a screenplay by James Edward Grant (a John Wayne regular).

At first Vivian Leigh had been considered for the lead. Then it was Ava Gardner who took sole pole position. She had expressed interest in the project, since her long running contract with MGM would conveniently come to an end in 1958. The title of the movie had meanwhile expanded to “The White Witch of the Indies”.

On July 10th of `57 Errol wrote a letter to MGM studio head Benny Thaw to get green light for Ava`s particpation:

” I went with Grant to Madrid a few days ago to see Ava Gardner..Ava appeared extremely interested in this property, and doing it with me…I would like to ask you personally…if it is true that she will be free to make any deals outside of Metro in one year`s time. TWWOTI is perfect for her as a vehicle- so can you tell me if M. is of her opinion…that she will be free to contract for her services in about a year and two months from now. 

I shall certainly appreciate a personnal word from you, Benny. I hope  Life is as pleasant for you as it is for me here. Why don`t you take a look?” Sincerely EF

What sounded like a shoo in for success in terms of resurrecting an ailing career was not to be.

Maybe a rabbit`s foot would have brought more luck.





— shangheinz


The Flynn Connection

03 Feb

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

this week two time Academy Award winner (Best Actor in 1971 for French Connection & Best Supporting Actor in 1992 for Unforgiven) and fine Flynnmate Gene Hackman celebrates his 90th birthday.

Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California on January 30 of 1930 and attributes his choice of becoming an actor to our Hollywood hero:

“It was an Errol Flynn picture that did it,” Hackman said. He doesn’t remember the title of the Flynn film, which likely would have been 1938’s “The Dawn Patrol” (Gene has a poster of this film in the pool billiard room of his house) or 1939’s “Dodge City,” or maybe even “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938).

“Anyway, I’m watching this Errol Flynn picture, and all of a sudden I’m Errol Flynn. Then the movie’s over, I’m leaving the auditorium – still being Errol Flynn – and I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror in the theater lobby.

“And I stop cold. I’m looking at myself in the mirror, and I’m this little kid – I’m no more Errol Flynn than the man in the moon – and then I ignore the mirror image, and I’m still Errol Flynn – at least, that’s how I feel – and that’s where and when it dawned on me: If the movies can engender this powerful illusion of realism, then regardless of what I look like, I can be anybody I want to be. I became fascinated with acting, got a job working in a theater when I was old enough, about age 14, and never really wanted any other career.”

Soon thereafter though he joined the Marines at underage 16. His parents had divorced when he was quite young. It was up to his maternal grandmother Beatrice to raise him in Danville, Illinois. He worked as a field radio operator  with the Army in China and promoted himself to bouncer and barkeeper when he left the Corps after 4 years. “Dysfunctional families have sired a number of pretty good actors”

In his first small movie part he played opposite Warren Beatty in the film “Lilith” and seized the camera moment. Says Beatty: “…Gene was such a natural, honest, brilliant actor that made me good in our scene together. I remember thinking- I`m not going to do any other  movies without him.” True to his word he hired Hack for “Bonnie and Clyde” resulting in the man`s first Oscar nomination.

Things had been diametrically different when he joined the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse for a summer of games and plays very similar to Errol while in Northampton. He debuted in “The Curious Miss Caraway” and won the intern “least likely to succeed”- award then and there. Co- winner was his life long friend Dustin Hoffman, who decades later commented on those carefull days: “Man, stardom just isn`t as much fun as scuffling for jobs.” Both hapless hams would be sharing apartments in New York of the Sixties with equally untalented collegue Robert Duvall.

Gene Hackman refers to himself as a non- sentimental guy and is not sure where in his Santa Fe home he kept his two golden boys. He has few regrets and none whatsoever that he didn`t do “Silence of the Lambs”, neither as director or as an actor. Officially retired from the film business in 2008 he since is writing books (“Pursuit” in 2013) – another thing he has in common with Flynn. That and a archetypal attitude as far as heroic antics on and off screen are concerned: “The difference between a hero and a coward is one step sideways.

Party on Popeye,



— shangheinz


Mulholland nightfall

24 Jan

Read the rest of this entry »

— shangheinz


Shine on you jazzy diamond

20 Dec

Dear fellow Flynn fans,

Errol`s silver screen antics and his real life persona inspired the title of this saxophone classic. First to be heard on Zaca in Jamaica, then in the musical nightclubs around the world. Here is the story how all that jazz came aboard, ehm about…



— shangheinz


Issa Flynn!?

09 Dec





Dear fellow Flynn fans,

here is a photo showing Abraham Elias Issa, prominent hotel owner of Jamaica’s famous Myrtel Bank Hotel in the company of a couple  and a fella who looks like but doesn‘t grin like Flynn.

Is it a weary Errol or an Errorol (maybe one of these:…) ?

The lovely lady in the picture doesn‘t care, she seems to have made up her mind to make the most of the moment. Issa hosted the creme de la creme of stars  like Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, Walt Disney and Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner and Louis Armstrong at his destinct resort. He and our Hollywood hero were friendly, so there is a chance this is Ol‘ Errol with his hair parted very strictly. Real deal or heel- what‘s your educated guess…



— shangheinz