Dazed Girl Mourns Wandering in Dark

Flynn's Companion Rescued From Harm by Sun Writer

from THE VANCOUVER SUN – Friday, October 16, 1959By PAUL KING, Sun Staff Writer

Hours after she had thrown herself on the body of her friend, Errol Flynn, in an attempt to breathe life back into his lips, Beverley Aadland refused to believe he was dead.

“He's alive,” she insisted. “They've taken him to the hospital, but he's all right. He'll be home again in the morning.”

I found Flynn's 17-year-old blonde travelling companion wandering down a road in British Properties, dressed in undergarments and housecoat. It was 10:15—three hours after the actor's death. She was almost invisible in the fog.

GHOST-LIKE FIGURE
As I pulled up at the George Caldough residence where Flynn and “Woodsey” Aadland had been guests, I noticed the ghost-like figure.

I parked and walked back to where I had seen her.

She had wandered farther down the road.

As I looked, another car came up the road. I saw her framed in the headlights. She was walking into its path.

“Woodsey,” I hollered. She didn't turn.

SAVED FROM AUTO
I ran to where she was and jerked her to the roadside.

The car rolled past. The driver hadn't seen her.

She looked up at me; her eyes were glazed but untroubled.

She was smiling. “What did you do that for?” she asked.

I realized she was hysterical. “What are you doing out here, like this?”

“I just wanted some air—it was so stuffy in the house.”

Then I told her I was sorry about Errol. He had been kind to me when I talked to him two nights before.

Her reply was casual.

JUST IN HOSPITAL
“I don't know why everybody is being so sorry. He's just gone to the hospital.”

I was walking her back toward the house. She was shivering. Then she started to laugh.

“Oh lookit the little puppy.”

A small dog had trotted out of the darkness and was whining at our feet.

“What's the matter little fellow,” she said, bending to pat it. “You're lonely aren't you baby?”

Gone was the harshness in her voice, the cocksure attitude of a vibrant young woman. She sounded like a lost, lonely child.

She refused to believe that Errol was dead. Her body was filled with the sedatives she had received at the hospital.

She had blotted the tragedy of the previous three hours from her mind.

We were nearing the house. The little dog padded alongside.

I said, “Just get some sleep now.”

BACK IN MORNING
The smile broke out again. “That's right. I just need some sleep. Errol's coming back in the morning you know.”

I nodded, but I couldn't speak.

We came into the light from the door.

And then she started to hum. A tiny sound in the night.

Ten minutes later she was asleep.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

ERROL FLYNN'S Confession

ERROL FLYNN'S Confession
“I Can't Fence Worth a Damn.”

from PIX ANNUAL Magazine – Winter 1958
By ROY BRITT

A MAN who enjoys a good laugh as much as a bad girl, Errol Flynn had the staid British in stitches recently with two letters to the editor of a weekly newspaper. A Scotch fencing instructor, arrested on fraud charges, tried to build up his standing as a solid citizen by claiming he had taught Flynn all he knew about sword play.

The Errol of Hollywood read about this testimony and dispatched this note to News of the World:

“I read with interest your article concerning a certain Donald Stewart who is now in the hoosegow and who reputedly taught me how to fence. Well! I have never met Mr. Stewart, which is a pity. If he had been in my company long enough to teach me how to fence, don't you think I would have been able to teach him how to stay out of jail?”

The paper then asked Flynn how he did learn the noble art of the foil, and the star thrust back this rapier retort:

“I really can't fence worth a damn. I just know how to make it look good.” •

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

AT 17 MY LIFE IS OVER

CAN A TEENAGE GIRL LEARN TOO MUCH ABOUT LOVE TOO SOON?

from MODERN SCREEN Magazine – February 1960

•The girlfriend really wanted to say, “Look, Errol Flynn is dead. The funeral was two weeks ago. He’s gone, Beverly. Sad, tragic, heartbreaking as it is, the man you loved and lived with for two years is gone. And it’s time you realize that now, and try to pull yourself together.”

But aloud she said, instead, “You’ve barely touched your salad, honey. Here I take you to lunch at—ahem, excuse me for bragging—one of the most expensive restaurants in Hollywood. And what do you do? You sit and look at your food like it was a decoration, a display… Now come on. Perk up and eat a little. This isn’t on any expense account, you know. This is on me, your old hard-working chum!”

Seventeen-year-old Beverly Aadland looked up from her plate. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just not too hungry.”

“I’ll make you pay for your share of this if you don’t eat,” her girlfriend said, laughing.

“I’ll pay, if you want,” Beverly said. She looked away. There were tears in her eyes.

Her girlfriend stopped laughing and sighed and reached across the table for Beverly’s hand. “I was teasing you-” she started to say. “Hey, what’s happened anyway to the gal who used to be able to take a joke and who could—”

“I think I’m pregnant,” Beverly said, softly, still looking away.

Her girlfriend squeezed her hand now.

“Yes,” Beverly said. “I’ll know for sure in just a little while. I have an appointment with the doctor. At two o’clock.”

She pulled her hand back from her friend’s and brought it up to her face to wipe away the tears that were there.

“There,” she said, “I’ve told you. What I’ve told nobody else… Are you surprised?”

Her friend nodded.

“I am,” she said. “Yes.”

Beverly smiled a little.

“It’s funny,” she said. “I’d thought it would be so different… I mean, here it is, the middle of the day, a bright and sunny day, in a restaurant, over lunch, a cold chicken salad, me in my black dress, my eyes still burning from all the crying, looking like I-don’t-know-what because I haven’t looked in a mirror for two weeks now—looking like I-don’t-know-what and caring even less… and—”

She shook her head. The smile was gone from her lips already. The muscles in her slender white neck seemed to be pushing hard against her skin.

“And what, Bev?” her friend asked.

“And I’d just thought,” Beverly went on, straining to get the words out, “that it would be so different… that’s all.”

She picked up a glass of water and took a sip.

She held up the glass for a long minute, looking into it, at the insipid and colorless water—silently, neither she nor her friend saying anything.

“I want this baby…”
And then, talking again, almost as if to herself, she said, “For two years I’d thought exactly how it would be, if and when this moment ever came, when it came time for me to tell… It would be night, I’d thought. I would be wearing something new, and special. I would be beautiful. And I’d joke with him for a while. And then I’d run into the kitchen, to the refrigerator, and grab hold of a bottle of champagne I’d had icing all that day, hidden behind a milk container or something. And I’d run back to where he was sitting and, holding the champagne up high, I’d say, ‘It’s time for a little celebration, my darling.’ He’d ask why, of course—‘And what is it we have to celebrate now, Woodnymph?’ he’d ask. And I’d make him try to guess. Till he did guess. And then we’d both begin to laugh. And he’d get up and kiss me and hug me and squeeze me, hard, so hard that I’d have to remind him to be more gentle, that I was very fragile now, that I was different now and had to be treated very tenderly. And he’d stop. ‘Yes, that’s right,’ he’d say, ‘you’re not a little girl any more, Woodsie, are you? You’re the woman I’ll be marrying someday soon, as soon as I get my divorce. You’re the woman who will be my wife, and the mother of my child. Aren’t you?’ And as I would say yes, happily, he’d take me in his arms again, only much more gently this time, much more tenderly. And we would kiss. That minute. The next minute. All night. Kiss and hold each other and make love, forgetting all about the champagne, all about everything. Everything but us…

“I had it all figured out, dreamed out, if and when,” she said, putting down the water glass. “It would have been so wonderful. Except that he died, before I even knew about the baby myself, or had a chance to tell him.”

She smiled again, a small and bitter smile this time.

“It’s all what I guess some people would call ironic, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Beverly,” her girlfriend asked, “are you sure? About the baby?”

“Pretty sure,” Beverly said. “I wake up sick. I hurt up here… I’m pretty sure.”

“And do you feel all right about it?” her friend asked.

“Do you mean how do I feel about it in my heart, a young, husbandless, loverless, broken-up girl like me?” Beverly asked back. “Do you want to know if I’m happy or sad about this? Ashamed or proud? Is that what you mean? Honestly. Is that what you mean?”

Her girlfriend’s face reddened and she tried to say something to explain.

“This baby—” Beverly said, after a moment, “—this is all I’ve got left of the only man who has ever meant anything to me, or ever will… I want this baby… More than anything else on earth.”

A waiter came over to the table now, as she said this, and he asked the two girls if they would care for something else.

“A brandy, Beverly?” her girlfriend asked.

“No, thank you,” she said.

“Coffee?”

“No,” Beverly said. She looked down at her watch. “As a matter of fact,” she said then, “it’s about time for me to be going. Two o’clock, the doctor said. It’s nearly that now… Do you mind if I go? Now?”

“No, not at all,” said her friend.

Beverly rose from her chair and began to reach into her purse.

“Forget about splitting anything,” her friend said. “I told you I was only kidding. Lunch was on me.”

“Thank you,” Beverly said.

Then she bent and kissed her friend, quickly.

“Excuse me if I was-” she started to say.

“Never mind,” her friend said. “I know how you must feel right now.”

Beverly turned, and began to walk away.

And her girlfriend, watching her, thought: “God, protect this poor lost kid….”

All that’s left of the man she loved
The doctor was a busy man. He minced no words. “Miss Aadland,” he said, after he’d completed his examination, “there is no way of telling immediately whether you’re pregnant or not. We just don’t know yet. It takes a laboratory report and that won’t be back here in this office till tomorrow. Tomorrow morning at nine. Now why don’t you go home and try to relax and give me a ring then? Tomorrow—nine o’clock. That’s all I can say to you now. Good-bye, Miss Aadland….”

Beverly stood at the door of Errol Flynn’s house. She hadn’t been here since that night, three weeks earlier, when they’d left for Vancouver, together. She’d thought, when he died, that she would never come back to this house. Not alone. Not without him.

But she did not feel alone now.

Inside her, she knew, somewhere deep inside her, lay the little germ of the baby that was hers and Errol’s.

It didn’t matter to her that the doctor she’d seen a few hours earlier had been evasive about the whole matter. Baby doctors, for all the humanity they tended, were men of science, she figured. They never said yes or no to anything, she knew, till they’d checked with their test tubes, their blood specimens, their rabbits and mice, their laboratory reports; till they’d scratched their graying heads and studied these reports and come to their ‘conclusions.’

Well, she thought now, let the men of science do their scratching, their checking.

But she—she was a woman.

And women knew these things, instinctively.

As she knew now.

That inside her, somewhere, lay that child of hers and Errol’s.

As she knew, too, that, though her lover and husband-to-be was dead and gone, she was no longer alone….

She opened the door and entered the house.

She flicked a switch that turned on all the lights downstairs.

She walked through the foyer, past the living room to the right, past the raised dining room to the left, to the sunroom in the rear of the house—the room that had been their room, complete with shining checkered linoleum and well-stocked bar and big fat TV and view of the pool, and with the old soft couch, where they used to sit—so close, so much of the time—still there, just like always.

She walked over to the couch now, and she sat.

After a moment—the room was quiet, too quiet—she reached for the little TV switcher that sat on the end table to the right, blew off some of the dust that had gathered on it, and pressed a button.

The television, across from her, lit up.

A man said something to her about a 1960 car. “Big, beautiful and roomy; a totally new idea in automobile styling,” he said. “Made for you!”

Beverly pressed another button.

A girl in a ruffled dress sat at a piano, playing something Schubert-like, candlelight playing on her face. She looked over at a man, who stood listening to her, watching her. He began to approach her—

Beverly pressed another button.

This time she got a Western, two men in big hats arguing, slurringly.

She pressed another button.

Another western.

Another button.

A cartoon lady, advertising bread.

Another button.

Another.

Another.

Till she rose from the couch, suddenly, the room quiet once more, the television off, and walked over to the bar, in the far corner of the room.

“My life won’t be over…”
Among all the bottles there, a small split of champagne had caught her eye.

She reached for it and took it from its shelf.

She struggled for a moment with the wiring and silver foil around its neck, and finally she opened it.

“My darling,” she said, aloud, as she reached for a glass and poured in some of the champagne, “—it’s time for a little celebration.”

She lifted the glass to her lips, and took a sip.

She shuddered.

“It’s warm, much too warm,” she said. “I know how you like it iced… but, you see, I’ve been so busy today, at the doctor’s… because, you see, we’re going to have a baby—Yes, yes, my darling—A baby. And it’s certain. Oh yes, of course it’s certain….”

Her hand began to tremble.

She let the glass she was holding fall.

It crashed to the floor, the wine splashing against her ankles.

She walked back to the couch.

She sat once more.

She closed her eyes.

“Darling,” she whispered, her voice breaking as she made her confession to the silent room, “—it’s almost certain.” She brought up her hand and ran it through her long blonde hair. “Only a phone call,” she said. “I have only to phone the doctor, tomorrow, and he has only to say ‘Yes, it’s true… And then everything will be all right with me again. And I’ll know that my life isn’t over.”

She fell back on the couch.

“Our child,” she said. “I’ll have at least that… It will grow inside me, and then it will come. It will get big. I will take such care of it, such loving care. And one day I will tell our child about its father—about how good and glorious a man he was. And when I am done telling our child, he will smile, proudly—and he will ask me to tell him even more about you, his father. And I will. And so you will always still be with us—with me, with our child.”

She nodded.

She brought her hand up to her stomach.

“Little baby,” she whispered, “I want you so much.”

And then, desperately, she tried to fall asleep, so that the morning would come that much more quickly….

Too hard from here on in
It was exactly 9:00 a.m.

Beverly picked up the receiver and dialed the doctor’s office.

“Hello?” she heard the busy-sounding voice ask.

“This is Miss Aadland,” she said. “Beverly Aadland… I wondered—“she started to say nervously.

“The report, yes,” the doctor said. “It should be here—among my papers.”

She heard the rustle of the papers; the short silence that followed; then the doctor’s impatient voice, calling out, “Nurse!”

Another silence followed.

Till, finally, the doctor spoke up again.

“Miss Aadland?”

“Yes,” Beverly said.

“Now, the report,” the doctor said, “yes. It’s negative.”

Beverly repeated the word after him.

“That’s right,” said the doctor. “You’re not pregnant.”

“That can’t be,” Beverly said. “There must be a mistake.”

The doctor told her that the report was conclusive. “The nausea, the other symptoms that you told me about,” he said, “are probably the result of the tension you’ve been undergoing these past few weeks.”

“But that can’t be,” Beverly said again, her hand clutching hard at the receiver. “There must be a mistake!

“Miss Aadland,” the doctor said—there was a different tone to his voice now; softer, friendlier—“let me tell you something, please… I think I know most of the facts of this case, more than the medical facts.

And I think I should tell you this. There is nothing more beautiful in life, for a woman, than to have a child by the man she loves. This I know. I have delivered many babies in my time, seen the expression on the faces of many new mothers right after the deliveries… But I have seen, too, the faces of mothers whose children arrived fatherless, girls who thought that this was what they had wanted—thought. And these girls—girls like you—they did not smile when the important moment came. For it was as if they had realized suddenly that it would be too hard from here on in—not for them—but for the little son or daughter they had just given birth to. As if they realized that from here on in it would be a life of continual explanations, of terrible incompleteness, of foisting a mother’s memories on a child who knows only the present, and does not, never will, understand a distant and far-removed past….

“Do you understand, Miss Aadland, what I am trying to say, to tell you?”

Beverly did not answer.

“Miss Aadland? Do you understand?”

“No,” Beverly said, finally.

“I know, I know,” the doctor said. “It doesn’t make much sense to you now, does it? But someday it will. Believe me….”

He said good-bye.

And they hung up.

And Beverly, looking around the room she and Errol had shared, felt cold suddenly, and she rose, looked down at the wrinkled dress she had slept in, picked up her purse and walked, slowly, alone again, towards the door.

Beverly stars in CUBAN REBEL GIRLS, Exploit Films.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

Errol & Beverly Arrival at Vancouver Airport Meet Caldoughs

ACTOR'S ARRIVAL in Vancouver a week ago was relaxed scene at international airport. Errol Flynn and protege Beverley Aadland (centre) were welcomed by West Vancouver hosts, Mr. and Mrs. George Caldough. Caldough and Flynn negotiated sale of star's yacht.—Deni Eagland photo

— David DeWitt

Yacht-buyer Active in Local Land Deals

'BOY PROMOTER'

from THE PROVINCE Newspaper – Friday, October 16, 1959

George Caldough, 30, host to Errol Flynn during the last days of his life is a self-styled “boy promoter.”

“Just call me an entrepreneur,” said the dapper, likeable West Vancouver resident who has a penchant for continental suits and bowler hats.

A resident of West Vancouver for the past three years, he lives in a sprawling ranch home on Eyremount Drive in the British Properties. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Caldough, 3751 Cypress.

“No, I'm definitely not a millionaire. In fact I'm far from it.

“I'm in the promotional business—in mining and oil. I have an interest in some companies in the Yukon.”

His Vancouver interests include real estate. He is sales manager of Mt. Baker Investments and is associated with Derek M. Gunderson in Centennial Holdings Ltd., a firm that bought nearly 100 acres of Crown land near Whytecliff at $95 an acre.

His biggest interest just now is taking over Flynn's yacht and hiring it out for charter. He signed a contract with Flynn a few days before the actor died.

The yacht, now moored at Majorca, near Gibraltar, is to be offered for charter in the West Indies. Flynn sold the 116-foot craft reportedly because he needed the money.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

HABANA HOSTELRY WHEN HE BAILED OUT WITHOUT PAYING HIS SCORE!

But he grabbed a million dollars worth of free publicity when he rode to glory by holding on to Fidel Castro's Beard.

from HUSH-HUSH Magazine – July 1959
By JEFF O'BRIAN

When swashbuckling Errol Flynn swaggered onto Click to EnlargeJack Paar's TV show recently he fizzled with all the effectiveness of a damp firecracker. He tried to present himself as a hero but a worse performance he has never given. As one columnist remarked, he “looked pretty silly.”

Flynn, the “reckless rebel” who cashed in on Fidel Castro's Cuban conquest, strode before the TV cameras with a cane in his hand a flag of Cuba draped around his neck. He followed this piece of horseplay with a confused account of his dashing exploits with the Cuban rebels. But all he managed to convey to his awestruck (he hoped) audience was the impression that his daring deeds in Cuba were so much ballyhoo.

Even before his touted appearance on the Paar show, rumours were rife that eloquent Errol's version of his valor should be taken with a grain of salt. And the TV fiasco confirmed these rumours.

Flynn arily passed around “exclusive” Batista cigars-but even Errol ought to know that, for a year before the wrappers were removed,Click to Enlarge those cigars were selling on New York's Eighth Avenue at two-for-a-quarter.

Now, without the wrappers, they're the only 5¢ cigars.

Perhaps audacious Errol is himself beginning to believe the fantastic stories he tells about his dare-devil exploits in Cuba. But there is one particularly amusing contradiction in the saga of Flynn, as related by Errol.

FAIR WEATHER FRIEND

In the first instalment of his widely syndicated, first-person memoirs entitled “I Fought with Castro,” Flynn refers to the “five day period” he spent with the rebel leader.

But HUSH-HUSH has another story by Lee Besler, staffwriter of the Los Angeles Mirror-News, headlined: Errol Flynn Views Cuban Rebel Battle”

This article begins: “Swashbuckling Errol Flynn told the Mirror News by telephone today from Havana that he has been with Fidel Castro and his rebel troops for two months.”

This statement was made in December 1958—but the Flynn memoirs were published in January 1959.

How come Mr. Errol Flynn suddenly changed his story? Or was it just a slip of the memory that reduced his stay with Castro from a boastful two months to a timid five days?

Since he's been palsy with Castro, the errant Errol doesn't want to be reminded that once he was also very palsy with the deposed Cuban dictator Fulencio Batista.

The other day Broadway columnist Lee Mortimer asked this significant question:

“Isn't Errol Flynn's East 57th Street apartment (in New York) full of autographed photos of Batista, whom he overthrew single-handed? (It is.)”

Surely Errol, the Robin Hood of the movie screen, doesn't belong to that unsavory group of people who jump on a bandwagon for their own advantage?

Seemingly he does, for while he now hysterically eulogizes Castro, he has only mocking remarks for his former pal, Batista. For instance, in his memoirs Flynn mocks:

“I remember the strictly ridiculous instance of having seen the former dictator at his home very bare-skinned in an unruly bath towel. I got a shock. Because you expect to see a be-medaled dictator in all his uniforms, and there he was, with his towel a little too short, and it kept getting loose, and he didn't look like a dictator then at all—and he doesn't now.”

Come, come, Errol, that wasn't a nice thing to say about the guy whose autographed photos, dedicated to you, are still hanging on your walls!

But nobody takes Errol's antics seriously—it just happens that the Cuban episode coincides with a time when his movie career has reached an all-time low. Conveniently, his brief encounter with revolution has brought the name of fightin' Flynn to the fore again.

The truth, however, is that even Fidel Castro is fed up with Flynn.

GIN FRIEND IN HOCK

Errol may deny it, but HUSH-HUSH can reveal that Castro was furious when a story spread that Flynn had been wounded. It was a phony rumour—spread by Errol himself! But since Castro had taken every precaution to see that the movie star didn't get hurt, that irresponsible story put a chill on Castro's friendship with Flynn. The only shot Errol had at the rebels' headquarters was out of a bottle.

Those who know the truth about Errol's Cuban capers suggest that if he ever does make that much-boosted movie it should be the untold story of his amorous antics in Havana. It should, of course, be a light comedy and one of the highlights should be the episodeClick to Enlarge which two American businessmen, Bob and John Keljakan, reported when they returned from Havana.

When Flynn left the Hotel Nacional on December 26 to join Castro he owed the hotel a $2,000 tab—which he couldn't pay! So the ever resourceful star left his curvy blonde girl friend, Beverly Wood, as security!

This was not much fun for Beverly, who was hard pressed for cash herself—and ham sandwiches in Havana during that troubled period cost $2 apiece.

Flynn, of course, has not boasted about that seamier side of his Cuban epic.

Not long ago, Flynn, in a jocular mood, said: “My attitude toward money is simple. I care nothing for it provided I have plenty of it.”

That is the real Flynn philosophy—it also obviously applies to his attitude toward publicity. He cares nothing about it so long as he gets plenty of it.

But flippant Flynn should try in the future to tell his tall tales more consistently—be consistent—even if they're consistently phony.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

ERROL FLYNN–Exit Laughing

from PHOTOPLAY Magazine – January 1960By SARA HAMILTON

He lived and died—just as he pleased. Errol Flynn, the last of the swashbucklers, marks the end of an era epitomized by the late Jack Barrymore, Errol's friend, and by so many other colorful individuals. Errol was the Don Juan of romance, of high adventure, of complete charm.

He was one of the handsomest men ever to hit Hollywood. His brown hair, blue eyes, patrician profile, the handsomest legs ever seen on a male, his more than six-feet of height, his beautiful accent, soft voice, quiet manner, magnetic charm, made him a target for women. And for hecklers and tourists anxious to prove themselves heroes by picking on the great Flynn. He knew this. He once said to an actor, a quiet young man of breeding, “No, Bobby, I won't join you all at Mocambo tonight. You see, wherever I go, trouble follows and I don't want you to share this problem with me.”

A few nights later, at this same nightclub, an out-of-town heckler—for no reason at all—heaved an egg at Flynn, who was quietly minding his own business, and once again the headlines blared.

His adventures, before he ever hit Hollywood as a young man, surpassed anything he ever did on the screen. Born in Hobart, Tasmania, the island south of Australia, he very early began trading with the natives of New Guinea, traveling up rivers on a boat. There was something very amusing about the way he acquired this boat, and something very comical about his deals, but the details, as he told them to me, escape me now. Anyway, they'll all be revealed in his forthcoming book, “My Wicked, Wicked Life.”

His rare good looks brought advice to become an actor so, as a British subject, he took off for England and the stage. His first role was that of a free-talking, slangy American. He shuddered when he told me about this. Other roles followed and at last he tried Hollywood. His first part was that of a corpse lying flat on the floor for the movie “The Case of the Curious Bride.” One of his early pictures, “Captain Blood,” made him world famous as a hero who conquered all enemies single-handed.

I can't remember exactly how or where I met Errol. I didn't know him at the time of his first marriage to Lili Damita, who won a million or thereabouts in alimony. They met on shipboard when Lili was on her way to Hollywood for the first time and whamie!—she took one look and flipped for Flynn. It wasn't a happy marriage. They had one son, Sean, a handsome boy, now eighteen.

I came to know him well and love him as a friend shortly after he married Nora Eddington. He met Nora in the courthouse during that dreadful ordeal when a 17-year-old girl accused Errol of rape on a boat he owned at the time. Nora, the daughter of a Los Angles deputy sheriff, was working behind the counter of the courthouse cigar store. Errol was acquitted by the jury.

He was a good friend. Actors and actresses, Panamanian rebels, notables, riff-raff, writers, artists all loved him.

His charm, his ability to see the humor in everything, no matter how threatening to his own security, was delightful. Only once, did he let down the mask with me. We were driving home from Palm Springs through a mean section of Los Angeles, when Errol pointed out a dilapidated old hotel, and said, “Ever know what it is to live in a hole like that, old girl?” Something in the way he said it, revealed to me that Errol had gone through much he never talked about. No one ever guessed that hurt and humiliation cut him deeply. No one.

One thing the world doesn't seem to realize is that Errol was a gentleman and something of a scholar. When I first knew Errol, his gentle father, a zoology professor, was teaching at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland. Errol himself became interested in marine zoology, and launched many expeditions with professors at Scripps College in California. They respected and loved Errol. His father visited Errol in Hollywood, often for several months at a time.

Errol was a rogue and a schemer. He'd go to any lengths to frustrate law enforcers, tax men, process servers. Not that he objected to them, personally, but it gave him a terrific kick to outwit legal-beagles.

He used to stop by my apartment on Olympic Boulevard on his way home from M-G-M, when he was making a movie with Greer Garson (I think it was “That Forsyte Woman”), to regale me with the elaborate schemes he'd concocted to outwit some legal action of some sort. I once said, “Wouldn't it be simpler, Errol, just to face it and get it over with?” He looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. “Old girl, what would be the fun of that?”

I remember, I had an interview scheduled with actor Richard Basehart one evening around six at my home, when who should burst in unannounced, but Flynn. “Mind if I take a bath, Sara me darling?” he said, and was off to the bathroom before I could open my mouth. In the meantime, Basehart, who had played a small part in one of Errol's pictures, arrived and there was Errol, wrapped in a towel, flitting from telephone to tub, making long distance calls and finally settling down for a drink. Basehart told me afterwards, it was the most wonderful, delightful evening he had ever spent. That was Flynn for you!

He had fallen in love with Jamaica and had his new yacht, the Zaca, brought from California to Port Antonio in Jamaica, where it was docked next to a private island owned entirely by Flynn. It was called Navy Island, and on its highest hill, still stood the old guns that had withstood pirates years before.

Errol insisted I fly with him and Nora to Jamaica to be his guest on the yacht. They were making personal appearances in Denver, at the time, and I was to meet them there. I remember my plane was late, held up along the way, and it was about two in the morning when I arrived. Flynn's agent was at the airport to meet me and under my hotel door was a note of welcome.

Next day, Errol insisted I make a hospital tour with him and Nora in Denver and the next day we took off, stopping in Miami for dinner.

Those weeks on the Zaca were unbelievable. It was moored in port because of litigation of some kind (wouldn't you know?), which delighted me, for I'm a poor sailor. Errol was a wonderful sailor.

We visited the banana boats that put in from England, toured the island in Flynn's car (I can't remember how it got there), swam in the unbelievably blue lagoons near the island, and Flynn even made a movie while there on his island. I acted in it. We all did. He directed it. I later saw it as a travelog and it wasn't bad. Thank heavens my walk-on was cut out.

We dined by candlelight on deck and, for some reason—it delighted Errol—the calypso singers all referred to me as “Miss Sara T.” A few years later, Errol brought me from Paris a suede notebook initialed in gold, “Miss Sara T.”

He lived and died—just as he pleased… believing: “After the first death, there is no other…”

I met Noel Coward through Errol in the Myrtlebank Hotel in Kingston. Our table in the dining room was always the mecca for visiting celebrities and tourists. I remember some Australian lads, who had arrived in port on a small boat, were broke and discouraged. They got in touch with Errol, who set them up with a party right on the dock, had them over to the yacht in Port Antonio for the day and gave them money to get them going.

Errol bought a pineapple plantation near Port Antonio that had a house of sorts on it. He and Nora and I went over it together, suggesting alterations and repairs, and here, some months later, he installed his parents. They later went back to Ireland, where Professor Flynn resumed his teaching job.

Later, back home, Errol and Nora invited me to be their guest for a weekend in Palm Springs, and in all my life, I've never had as much fun nor laughed as much. From the time we arrived at the Racquet Club, Clark Gable and his girl of the moment joined us. We were the envy of everyone there. It was just one of those weekends when everything happened. We played practical jokes and had a ball. Clark hated to see us go on Sunday evening. I remember, Errol and Nora and I stopped at a Chinese restaurant in some little town on the way home, and we telephoned back to Clark with some more crazy nonsense. Clark and Errol called each other “old Dad.” I never did know why.

I was having dinner at Clark's home one evening, some months later, when Clark told me he'd heard on the radio, Errol had an operation. I telephoned his home immediately. There he was—all alone. (I don't know where the family was.) So the next morning, early, I went up and stayed the day with him. I saw to it that he ate something.

Wherever he went, trouble followed. One of the funniest brawls he ever got into, was the time he kicked a New York cop in the shin and was promptly arrested. Humphrey Bogart, who was with him, tried to explain it wasn't all Errol's fault—but to no avail. He quarreled with his old pal Bruce Cabot in Rome, was constantly being sued by women for rape and assault. But he came up smiling. And what a smile.

In his dressing room, out at Warners, the wine flowed from 4 o'clock on and yet he never missed a scene. He was always on time and made no trouble on sets. Jack Warner loved him. Everyone did. You couldn't help it. He met Patrice Wymore, when she came out here to make movies, at Warners. Nora had divorced him and married Dick Haymes. Errol went back to Kansas (I've forgotten exactly where) to meet Pat's family and get married. They had one daughter, Arnella.

Errol slowly shed the Hollywood scene, after marriage to Pat, and went to Europe. But, when he came back to sign for “The Sun Also Rises” at Warners, he saw that across the way “Marjorie Morningstar” was being filmed.

In that picture, was a girl called Beverly Aadland, who had a small dancing role. She caught Errol's eye and 'tis said that, when Errol went to Mexico for “The Sun Also Rises” (he was absolutely marvelous in it), Pat heard that Beverly went along.

When Errol returned to Hollywood recently, for a Red Skelton TV show, Nora invited all his old friends to a party. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, though I wanted to see Errol. Nora said he was disappointed. Anyway, it seems that at the party, Beverly made a remark Nora resented and the fur flew. Flynn went home, taking Beverly with him. She later returned alone. Nora said the fracas took place in the parking lot and the reporters picked it up and exaggerated the story.

Beverly gave each of Errol's and Nora's children, Deirdre, 14 and Rory, 13, a pair of their father's cuff-links as a memento, and returned to Nora an expensive pencil she had once given Errol, marked “To E.F. from N.F.” Errol's women never forgot him. I believe Pat Wymore still loves him, too.

Deirdre always called her father The Baron. He was devoted to his children, and they loved him, too.

Recently, he was on TV with Bette Davis in an old movie, “Elizabeth and Essex,” and he was so handsome, you could hardly think of him as ever growing old. Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and all his other leading ladies, were his friends. So were Greer Garson, Pat O'Brien, Jack Oakie. And I am very proud to say that Errol was my friend, too.

I went to Errol's funeral with his daughters, Deirdre and Rory. As I stood there, with tears in my eyes, I remembered the words he'd written in a recent letter to me: “…I'll wager, Sara me darling, you knew better than anyone. I never gave a damn what was said of me, rightly or wrongly. When I was a somewhat notorious, resentful one 'round town, I figured I deserved all the brickbats that came my way; all the knocks, the lampoons, the festoons, the harpoons; but it was nobody's business—and what the hell could I do about it anyway? 'Better never deny, never protest, never counterattack.'”

And he ended the letter, “Do you think I might become a pillar of society?”

I knew the answer, even as I paid him my last respects. “No, Errol, you couldn't. Because if you had settled down, you wouldn't have been you.” And you, Errol, were something special.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

He Picked It Out Himself—

He Picked It Out Himself—
'A Wonderful Place to Die'

from THE VANCOUVER SUN Newspaper – Friday, October 16, 1959
By PAUL KING, Sun Entertainment Writer

“Vancouver would be a wonderful place to die.”

In the last newspaper interview before he died, Errol Flynn leaned across a smoky table in a Vancouver nightclub and uttered these prophetic words.

Two nights later he was dead.

The nightclub jaunt at The Cave Supper Club was the last “on the town fling” for the 50-year-old former pearl fisher who skyrocketed to the heights of Hollywood fame during the last quarter century by flashing a sword and a scintillating smile.

Flynn sat at the table with his good friends, Click to EnlargeGeorge and Dorothy Caldough, and his 17-year-old “protégé,” Beverley Aadland. He wore a grey suit and a crumpled blue tie.

“I love this town,” he said.

“The people, the mountains, the sea. I've travelled a lot, and I've lived,”—and he grinned, “and loved a lot—that's what I'm expected to say isn't it?—but I've seldom found a country as magnificent as this. It would be a wonderful place to die.”

Flynn smiled at the people who crowded his table for autographs.

His Little Game Netted Him Pens
“It's my pleasure,” he beamed at the women that shoved menus and folded napkins under his nose for him to sign. And he seemed to mean it.

Carefully adjusting the pens that the pack handed him he scrawled each autograph—”MY DARLING—FROM ERROL.”

“Excuse me for not rising honey,” he murmured to many. “My back isn't well.”

It wasn't. For the last two days a slipped disc at the base of his spine had caused excruciating pain whenever he walked.

To compensate for “my lack of manners,” he lifted the out-thrust female hands and kissed them. Many of them walked away without retrieving the pens they had given him. Errol slipped one in his pocket.

“It's my little game,” he laughed.

He talked of many things—movies, his past, his future, and Beverley.

Beverley: “I call her Woodsey—she reminds me of a little wood nymph.”

“And how do you know what a wood nymph looks like,” I asked.

Some Are More Than Some Are
“Ah-h my boy,” he murmured. “They all are—only some are more woodsey than others.”

“Woodsey” nudged him playfully. “Now Errol, that isn't…”

“I know honey, I know,” he nodded smilingly. Then his face grew serious as he stroked her shoulder length blonde hair.

“You're my ONLY Woodsey.”

He looked at me. “She's been so sweet for me. She's been in my last three pictures, you know. She makes me feel so alive again. For the first time in ages I've really wanted to live.”

Woodsey bent over and kissed his cheek.

“You will Errol,” she said softly, “you will.”

The band was crying in the background. Woodsey asked him to dance. He put his hands to his back and shook his head slowly. “Sorry baby… you know…”

As she waltzed off to the crowded dance floor with the Caldoughs', his face grew serious.

“I don't think I'll be taking Burma singlehanded anymore.”

He enjoyed my appreciation of his not-so-subtle joke.

Real Sweet Guy Jammed Things
But it was his invasion of Cuba (almost singlehanded) that captured the conversation next.

“I was one of the first down there,” he said quietly, reminiscing.

“I got to know Castro very well. I was writing about the revolution and helping out the other newsguys that came down.”

He suddenly looked up and pointed East.

“One of them was a reporter from Toronto, Bruce West, of the Globe and Mail. A real sweet guy. I found him sitting alone in a little bar one night—dejected and upset. He told me he'd tried everything, but couldn't get through the rebel lines.

“I made an effort to help him. Bruce got some good stories from then on, but when they appeared, Castro got mad—at me. I don't know exactly what his reasons were, but after that he wouldn't speak to me again.”

He waved his arms as if to dismiss the memory.

“It's probably just as well. Castro's become the top American heavy recently. Yesterday's hero—today's target.”

Bravest, Loveliest Women He Met
Did he feel the same way about his film career? “No, it's been on an upswing again since The Sun Also Rises. Darryl (Zanuck) gave me a chance to play myself. I loved it. I think the public did, too.”

As for his famous bullfighting scene with a cheque for a cape in the film, “That was my idea. Eddie Albert and I got horsing around and we did the bit just for fun. They shot the scene and as you know, it became sort of a classic.”

Beverley returned to the table. Another warm kiss on Flynn's cheek.

“She's starring in my last film,” he said, again stroking her hair.

And as I started to speak, he shook his head as if anticipating my question.

“No, I'm not in it—I produced and directed it. It's called Cuban Girl Rebels. I started thinking about it when I was in Cuba, and it's not about Fidel.

“It's my tribute to the girls who fought so bravely in the revolution. They were some of the bravest, loveliest women I've met. I hope I've done them justice.”

Was this his first directing job?

“Not at all—but my other efforts behind the camera were never given screen credits.”

Well, Don't Die, Take Some Air
And his future plans?

“I'm doing a CBS special on Nov. 5 with Irene Dunne, Pearl Bailey and Gypsy Rose Lee on Big Party.” He smiled, “it's one party I don't want to miss.”

As he spoke, his head suddenly flopped to his arms. “I'm sorry old boy—I don't feel well. Would you mind if we got some air?”

He put his hands over his ears to drown out the screams of the band, and rose slowly to his feet. He walked quickly from the room, oblivious to the curious eyes following his flight.

Softly he murmured, “I feel very strange all of a sudden.”

“Well, don't die just yet,” I replied. “Take some strong gulps of fresh air.”

He did—then wheeled into a nearby parking lot where he crouched by a wall and was painfully sick at his stomach.

The Caldoughs were waiting in the car when he came back. Errol climbed into the front seat beside George.

He was smiling again—that broad, eye-twinkling smile that has flashed from every cinema screen in the world for 25 years—Captain Blood, Robin Hood, Master of Ballantrae—and held out his hand. “Goodbye old boy. We'll see you soon.”

But he never did.

Newspaper company logos and mastheads are under copyright. Article text published without a copyright symbol is within the Public Domain.

— David DeWitt

Remembering Errol…

 

Errol Flynn the pensive playboy Who was Errol Flynn?

He it was who fought the evil-doers up there on the big screen when I was a kid growing up along the banks of the Snohomish River circa 1959. I was ten years old when the great swashbuckler died, and clearly remember the day he died because I distinctly recall saying aloud… Oh, I liked him! when I saw his picture in my father’s newspaper and read that he had died in Vancouver, B.C. the day before. Vancouver was in British Columbia, Canada–less than two hours drive north from where we lived in a little logging community that surrounded a tiny lumber mill resting on the edge of the Snohomish River, near Everett, Washington. Not far to the south was the big city of Seattle–farther south, somewhere, was Hollywood where Flynn lived, I thought then…

All Movie Stars lived in Hollywood, I thought.

Where else would they live?

 


 

As a ten year old kid, my friends and I would play Robin Hood in the marsh between our houses. This area was about an acre of tall grass with a layer of mud and water under it. In the center of it was a tall tree with willowy branches. Nearby this tree was a cement block that was part of the foundation of a house or building long vanished from sight.

This cement block was a perfect place to swing on a rope from the tree, and land Flynn-like on the cement block, saying loudly “…Welcome to Sherwood, Milady!” as the other kids stood watching.

We created bows and arrows from tree branches (long bows) and shot at cardboard targets in a Tournament–and went about robbing the rich to give to the poor…

There were terrific battles between the Normans and the Saxons–in cardboard armor. We had long stick swords with handles that consisted of a short block of wood nailed across the end of the stick where are hands took up these sharply pointed “swords”. It is amazing that nobody lost an eye or was impaled when we whacked each other’s cardboard armor to pieces but we all survived major injury.

It was disconcerting, however, to see the pointed end of a stick come tearing through your head armor (a small cardboard box with eye slits cut in it) and see the sharp tip whiz past your face… We were the Merry Men of Sherwood until dark and our Mothers called out our names to come home for dinner.

The day I read of Errol Flynn’s death in my Dad’s evening newspaper was a sad one for me and for the Men of Sherwood. But soon, I forgot all about him–and moved on to other childhood adventures. We built a two-by-four wide bridge across the swamp from the cement block to the edge of the sawdust pile–a distance of about a half block, for example. It was rickety, held up by posts driven into the soft swamp ground. We scavenged everything we needed from the sawmill nearby. It had tons of discarded stuff to use for our scientific and engineering feats.

The days moved by quickly during those hot summer days of 1959–we climbed the Willow tree, and jumped off–catching branches to break our fall into the swamp’s knee high muck. We sent expeditions into the surrounding swamp of green scrub, sticker bushes, and  thick-limbed trees to bring back scientific samples of flora and fauna. This was Stink Weed and Dandelions, and all manner of growing weeds. We boiled this up in Terry Sullivan’s mother’s pressure cooker in their kitchen and went out to play on the rooftop of the Sullivan’s garage. When we heard the explosion, it was nearly dark and Terry’s parents weren’t home, yet…

The mess was all over the kitchen walls, and their kitchen stank for a week. We got a real hiding for that one!  

Other days were spent riding our bicycles round the two roads that came down into the Mill area–my brother never could stop that heavy framed bike with its oversized tires, so he just crashed into the grass or alongside Dad’s car–or time was spent making tree houses. We had crewcuts in summer, collected bubble gum cards and seven up bottlecaps (to go to the movies when you turned them in) and wore blue jeans all the time with a t-shirt. You could put a playing card held with a wooden clothesline clip onto the wheel of your bike to make it sound like a motorcylce as the card fanned against the spokes!

TV was a little black-and-white set with an arial on the roof of the house. There may have been seven channels including the Canadian channels. Sundays, it seems to me, there were sci-fi movies like the BLOB with Steve McQueen in a starring role. And there were Errol Flynn movies like Robin Hood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and Dodge City. Red Skeleton was on, and Milton Berle…

I remember seeing Errol on The Red Skeleton Show. He played a bum and held up the remains of his yacht–a porthole!

Errol had a huge effect on young boys of my generation. He was the swashbuckling hero we all wanted to be! He sailed the Seas, he found Adventure and Treasure, and love–that part we could do without. He was always kissing GIRLS!

But he sure could swordfight! He could shoot arrow-after-arrow like you’d pull the trigger on a gun! And every one found its mark!

 


 

As the years passed I forgot about Errol Flynn.

I was in my twenties before he became interesting to me again. I had been reading some biographies of various people–adventurous people like Jack London, Frank Buck, Robb White, and Martin & Osa Johnson. Hemingway fascinated me. It was while reading about Hemingway that Errol’s name came up. Errol Flynn! There was a reference to something Flynn said in a book called “My Wicked, Wicked Ways”. I wonder if I could find that book anywhere, I thought.

It turned out that it was still very much in print and there was a paperback copy of it at my local bookstore. Then began some of best reading I have ever come across in an autobiography. This story had it all… intrigue, mystery, adventure, laughs, tears… and it was all true!

Wasn’t it?

 


 

Well… What wasn’t true made a hellova story, and what was true was not always just a colorful story. You might read “My Wicked, Wicked Ways” as  a terrific novel–or a tall tale, yet, here is a legendary character that captures the spirit of adventure in the hearts of all young people who share the feelings of a young man who takes on more than he can chew at times but has his fill nonetheless of what life has to offer… he drank his fill both literally and figuratively of everything most others only dreamed of or read about in glossy magazines. He was kind, cruel–generous, mean, unpredictable, tormented, creative, foolish, brave, gullible, and had a genius for living larger than life. He was intelligent, self-educated–a businesman, an internationally recognised actor, a writer, an explorer, a raconteur, a drunk, an addict. His life was a Shakespearean drama…

He was a lot of things to many people and he was less to himself than should have been. He was and is the quintessential bad boy–but he wasn’t nearly as wicked as he was thought to be by those who didn’t understand him, or those who envied him. He was dangerous. He was cultured, he was a joker, he was… curious.

He was a scientist, of sorts… that is, he knew the real world and wanted to understand it. To experience it. All of it.

And for nearly fifty years, he did.

 


 

 

— David DeWitt