A page from an autograph album signed by one of the most handsome and romantic leading men in Hollywood, Errol Flynn, who will always be remembered as the archetypal swashbuckling, devil-may-care hero, a larger than life character whose flamboyant, hedonistic lifestyle was grist to the media mill. Born in Hobart, Tasmania, as a young man he moved to New Guinea, where he prospected for gold, smuggled diamonds and bought a tobacco plantation - which failed. A copper mining venture also failed, and in 1933 he left for England intent on becoming an actor. He got a job with the Northampton Repertory company, and the next year, whilst making a movie at Warner Bros. Teddington studios, was signed to a contract and shipped to America. On the transatlantic voyage he met his first wife, the French star Lili Damita. For his U.S. debut Warners teamed him with Olivia DeHavilland in ‘Captain Blood’ and it made stars of both of them. The director, Michael Curtiz, was responsible for shaping Flynn’s screen image, and over the next few years the pair made a string of successful movies. Although kept well hidden from the public so as not to tarnish his clean-cut screen persona, it was an open secret in Hollywood that Flynn ( who was reputedly 'hung like a donkey') had a voracious sexual appetite and enjoyed countless affairs, flings, and trysts with women. In November 1942 teenagers Betty Hansen & Peggy Satterlee accused him of statutory rape, but he was cleared of the crime, and the incident only served to enhance his reputation as a ladies’ man.
After America entered World War II Flynn was often criticized for his failure to enlist while continuing to play war heroes in movies. In fact he had attempted to join every arm of the services but been rejected. The studios failure to counter the criticism was due to a desire to hide the state of Flynn’s health. Despite being perceived as a virile, all-action daredevil, he actually suffered from an enlarged heart (which had already resulted in several previous heart attacks), recurrent malaria, tuberculosis and a drink problem.
By the 1950s heavy alcohol and drug abuse left him prematurely aged and bloated, and he was on the downward slope, living in Jamaica with his third wife Patrice Wymore. They separated in 1957 and Flynn started courting a 15-year-old aspiring actress, Beverly Aadland. During a trip together to Vancouver, British Columbia, to sell his yacht, he suffered a heart attack and died.
Errol Flynn #3
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