He often played a dashing hero on the screen but in real life, Errol Flynn was the original “Tassie Devil”.
British actor Stewart Granger said: “He was a bit of a sadistic devil, was Errol, but it was always done with such charm and sense of mischief that he was always forgiven.”
10. He originally wanted to call his autobiography ‘In Like Me’ due to his fondness for the phrase “in like Flynn”. An expression often used in the media and society based on his ability to seduce women. The publisher insisted on the more toned down title ‘My Wicked, Wicked Ways‘.
9. In 1941, he bought an eleven and half acre property on Mulholland Drive. He built a two-story colonial style ranch house and officially named it “Mulholland Farm”, privately the “playhouse”. Flynn had secret passageways installed with peepholes and two-way mirrors so he could spy on females as they changed into their bathing suits or used the shower in the bathroom. He also installed microphones that were connected to his den so he and his friends could listen to the women discussing the men.
8. He liked to embellish the truth about his life, claiming he had been educated in London and Paris. Or of his glittering film career in Australia, when in truth he had starred in one film, Charles Chauvel’s ‘In the Wake of the bounty’.
7. An 18-year-old Errol arrived on the Montoro in New Guinea in 1st October 1927 for adventure and in pursuit of gold. He sailed back and forth from Sydney to New Guinea for seven years. He moved from job-to-job including: cadet patrol officer, gold prospector, slave recruiter, dynamiting fish, bird trapper, manager of Kenobot coconut plantation near Kokopo, tobacco plantations, air cargo clerk, copra plantation overseer, a partner in a charter schooner business boat captain, pearl diver, gold prospector and diamond smuggler. Unfortunately, he spent more than he earned, leaving a trail of debts behind him.
6. Errol’s parties at Mulholland Farm were legendary. They were known to feature “live dance bands, nude divers, fencing exhibitions, and plenty of girls.” He also had a menagerie of animals.
5. On the weekend of Flynn August 2-3, 1941, did a photo shoot for Life magazine on his yacht the ‘Sirocco’ sailing around Catalina Island. Photographer Peter Stackpole wanted some girls on the boat and Flynn invited Peggy Satterlee. She was only fifteen but Flynn thought she appeared “could have passed for anywhere between twenty and twenty-five.” Peggy’s parents threaten to tell the police he had seduce their daughter unless they paid him $5000. Flynn refused to pay and they pressed charges. The police decided there was no case, visited the parents in Santa Barbara and persuaded them not to prosecute. Since the girl was very young and would be exposed to a humiliating scandal, the matter was dropped.
4. A year later, in September 1942, 17-year-old Betty Hansen she was invited to a party at the Bel Air mansion. Betty’s boyfriend urged her to sleep with Flynn in order to get a secretarial job at Warners. She claimed that he had seduced her. The Satterlee episode was revived by a new district attorney. On the 20th November, 1942 Flynn was accused of three accounts of statutory rape against Peggy (two) and Betty. The month long trial acquitted him of the rape but left his reputation and emotional state damaged. Following this, Flynn received two extortion attempts and he was also being watched by the F.B.I. He also had an affair with Linda Christian at the time, she later became Tyrone Power’s wife.
3. Errol Flynn’s friend director Raoul Walsh claims he played a prank on him, the day after John Barrymore’s death. Walsh apparently bribed a mortician to release Barrymore’s body to him because his friend that had arthritis would not be able to attend the funeral. Errol came home to find Barrymore sitting upright in a chair in his den with a drink in his hand. In ‘My Wicked, Wicked Ways’ Flynn stated: “As I opened the door, I stared into the face of Barrymore. His eyes were closed. He looked puffed, white, bloodless. They hadn’t embalmed him yet. I let out a delirious scream. My heart pounded. I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night.”
2. Flynn was expelled from Hobart High School (on three accounts). His father used his influence to get him into Sydney Grammar and SCEGS (Sydney Church of England Grammar School) but he was expelled after five months for being a ‘disturbing influence’. The reasons are not verified but suggestions of sexual relations and stealing.
1. Flynn was considered to be both misogynistic and a romanticist when it came to women, with an obvious eye for young women later in life. His close friend and house mate David Niven said: “a big turnover was the thing, with the accent on youth. Flynn’s attitude to women perhaps began with his strained relationship with his mother, Marielle. From age five, Flynn witnessed her affairs with other men and she abused him regularly.He was married three times, including a tumultous, often violent marriage to actress Lily Damita. He had countless affairs with women. Affairs with Hollywood ladies included: Olivia de Havilland, Joan Bennett, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Linda Christian, Lupe Velez,and Shelley Winter.
Reportedly his last words were “I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Anderson, N, 28 Sep, 1976, ‘Walsh remembers prank that scared Errol Flynn’, Beaver County Times, pp. 10
Caterson, S., 03 Jun 2009, ‘Genius for living driven by a lust for death’. The Australian.
Garlen, J. July 22, 2012, ‘Errol Flynn autobiography reveals dark side of star’s life‘, The Examiner
McNulty, Thomas, ‘Errol Flynn: The Life and Career’
‘Mysteries and Scandals: Errol Flynn‘, Youtube, viewed 19/6/2016
Meyers, Jeffrey, ‘Inherited risk: Errol and Sean Flynn in Hollywood and Vietnam’, Southbank Publishing:
Moore, John, ‘The young Errol: Flynn before Hollywood’, Trafford: , 2011