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Storm at Sea

23 Sep

September 22, 1946

LOS ANGELES

SPECIAL TO THE MINNEAPOLIS TRIBUNE

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.

— Gentleman Tim

 

We Welcome New Author Laura Miceli to The Errol Flynn Blog!

23 Sep

Great to have you with us Laura!

— Boss Boy

 

Barrymore Tights Painting by John Decker!

22 Sep

“Subject of painting, John Barrymore was the kingpin of Hollywood’s Bad Boy Club, “The Bundy Drive Boys.” His legendary exploits along with cronies Errol Flynn, W. C. Fields, and Hollywood’s madcap artist, John Decker, are detailed in the book, “Hollywood’s Hellfire Club,” 2007, Feral House Publishing. This painting is by Decker who portrays Barrymore putting on his tights before a stage performance. Painting is Oil on Board, 22″X28″ housed in a non-vintage frame, with overall outer dimensions of 29 1/2″X 35 1/2″.”

WorthPoint

 

— David DeWitt

 
 

Around the Horn

22 Sep

September 20, 1935

Los Angeles Times

I Cover Hollywood

By Lloyd Pantages

There is a very exclusive club on the Warner Brothers’ lot called “The Cape Horner” and to become a member you must have rounded the Cape at some time or another. So far the roster includes Errol Flynn, Lionel Atwill and Warren William. That IS exclusive.


Back in the days when wooden ships sailed the old trade routes, rounding Cape Horn was an infamous part of many sailors’ lives.

In 1933 a group of sea captains that had all sailed Cape Horn established the Amicale des Capitaines au Long Cours Cap Horniers (AICH). Their aims remain the same today:

“To promote and strengthen the ties of comradeship which bind together in a unique body of men and women who embody the distinction of having sailed round Cape Horn in a commercial sailing vessel, and to keep alive in various ways memories of the stout ships that regularly sailed on voyages of exceptional difficulty and peril, and of the endurance, courage and skill of the sailors who manned them.”

For those who want to join the club!

The AICH welcomes new Cape Horn sailors and honours them with a token certificate of achievement. To be eligible for this certificate one must show perseverance and actively participate in the ship’s watch system for an extended period of time on a sailing ship rounding Cape Horn by sail from 50° South in the Pacific Ocean to 50° South in the Atlantic Ocean (or vice versa). The length of the voyage should be at least 3000 miles under sail alone.

A sailor that rounds the Horn is entitled to wear a gold loop earring. Tradition has it that this should be worn in the ear that faced the Horn as it was rounded.

There are immense privileges to sailors who have rounded the horn. They include being allowed to dine with one foot on the table. If one has rounded the Cape of Good Hope as well then such a sailor would be permitted to put both feet on the table.

In terms of tattoos, one may obtain a tattoo of a fully rigged ship once a true rounding of Cape Horn has been achieved.

And finally, in order to be able to “spit into the wind” one would need to have made three true Cape Horn roundings.

One of the true Cape Horners was Captain James Cook, master of the Endeavour 1766-71 who sailed around the Horn in both directions.

A question remains, however: i.e. when exactly did Errol ’round the horn?

— Gentleman Tim

 

San Antonio at the Now-National Historic Landmark Walker Theater

21 Sep

From the Indianapolis Recorder, Indianapolis – September 21, 1946

— Gentleman Tim

 

The Fidler-Flynn Fiasco of ’41

20 Sep

HOLLYWOOD –

On September 20, 1941, Errol engaged in one of the most notorious nightclub fights in Hollywood history when he slapped gossip columnist Jimmie Fidler, whose wife then stabbed Errol in his ear with a fork. Below are excerpts and summaries from various accounts of :

“All the blood came from the veins of Flynn. He charged that Fidler’s wife, Bobbie, stabbed him in the ear with a fork. Movie celebrities at surrounding tables in the Club Mocambo verified his story of Mrs. Fidler’s use of her fork as a fencing foil. The Fidlers were sitting with Samuel Zagon, Hollywood attorney, and his wife, when Flynn and Bruce Cabot walked into the celebrity-jammed room. Flynn spied Fidler, called him names, and started to poke him. Tables were overturned. Fidler’s coffee was decorating his shirt front. His wife was screaming. Blood was squirting from Flynn’s ear lobe and a dozen men were grappling with the fighters. The scene resembled the riot of stunt men in the night club sequence of many a Flynn movie. The manager was about to cell the cops when Phil Ohman’s band struck up “the Star Spangled Banner” and all hands stood at attention, dribbling blood, sweat, and rose buds from the overturned vases of one of Hollywood’s most expensive drinkeries. The gladiators retired to pose for photographs and issue statements.”

“I put my left fist up against his chin and gave him a slap with my right hand on the side of the head. I said ‘You’re not worth a fist.’” But then “his wife became angered and I tried to hold her to one side, still gripping Fidler, but finally she jabbed at me with a fork, which would have stuck me in the eye had I not turned my head. Instead it pierced my ear. I must say that I admire Mrs. Fidler, God bless her. She has the courage to try to defend her husband — much more courage than he himself has.”

“I slapped him. In Ireland that’s tantamount to the worst insult a man can give another man … I want to add, however, that [Mrs. Fidler] showed bad etiquette and used the wrong fork — she should have used the entree fork.”

“Fidler claimed Flynn had come over to the table, ran his mouth, tried to punch him, lost his diamond cuff links in the process, accused Fidler of stealing said cufflinks, gone back to drinking, taken a lady to the dance floor, passed his seat on the way there, and up and tried to punch him again.”

“And when things were just about to get real, the band leader started into “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Like the Cafe Trocadero and Ciro’s, the Mocambo was a world-famous nightclub on the Sunset Strip catering to celebrities. Located at 8588 Sunset Blvd. [map], it opened on January 3, 1941, featuring Mexican-themed decor said to have cost over $100,000 (about $1.6 million today) and dominated by glass-walled aviaries that housed live macaws, cockatoos, parrots and other birds.

During its 17-year run, the Mocambo was the scene of a number of celebrity brawls. In 1941, a movie agent named William Burnside cold-cocked restaurateur Michael Romanoff there, for reasons now forgotten. “I wish they had let me go just for a minute and I would have annihilated him,” Romanoff said later. In October that year, Errol Flynn punched Los Angeles Times columnist Jimmy Fidler at Mocambo in retaliation for purported derogatory comments Fidler had made in his column.

Phil Olman was a premier pianist, first in New York performing and recording with George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Paul Whiteman, et al. Then he left for the left coast, where he specialized in teaching actors and pianists how to play piano in Hollywood films, in addition to recording and playing the top celebrity nightclubs. He is known for songs like “I Love a Parade”, “Penthouse Serenade”, “Funny Face”, “Each Time You Say Goodbye [I Die a Little]”, and many, many more. Unfortunately, I could not find any recordings of him playing the Star-Spangled Banner!

— Gentleman Tim

 

A Hamilton Quiz

19 Sep

What movie starring Errol includes a scene from a play about Alexander Hamilton?

Added Saturday, September 19 @ 11AM:

Glimpses of the the following Hollywood hotspots were also shown in this major black-and-white feature film.

Added Saturday, September 19 @ 7:30 PM:

A scene was filmed here:

— Gentleman Tim

 

Robin in Oregon

17 Sep


This Weekend, Friday and Saturday, 6PM, September 18 and 19, 2020.

It’s yesteryear once more out in Oregon! See Errol swashbuckle his way to victory over the Sheriff of Nottingham at the historic Granada Theater in The Dalles, 84 miles east of Portland. The theater is showing old movies in a new way: as dinner theater with food matching the themes of the movies. It’s a cinematic and dining time machine!

www.granadatheatrethedalles.com…

— Gentleman Tim

 

Errol Enjoying Italy — Shortly Before the Fall of ’53

16 Sep

Shortly Before the Fall of William Tell

September 12, 1953

And September 16, 1953

— Gentleman Tim

 

At the TTFF Today

15 Sep

September 15, 2020

Errol Flynn’s Ghost: Hollywood in Havana, in Trinidad + Tabago

Errol Flynn’s Ghost: Hollywood in Havana

— Gentleman Tim