"How did I ever wander so far afield of my youthful ambitions? What would have happened if I had not met the movie man Swartz and taken him up the Sepik River and later played Fletcher Christian in a moving picture made in Polynesia. Would I still be a bum in the land down under? would I have gone on and educated myself and made something of myself in England? What was I doing with a sword in one hand and a garter in the other?"
—Errol Flynn[1]
Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn
Biographical information
Birth Name Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn [2]
Born 20 June, 1909

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Died 14 October, 1959

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Nationality British Citizen

American Citizen

Residence N/A
Nicknames The Baron

Satan's Angel
The Tasmanian Devil

Gender Male
Eye Colour
Hair Colour
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)
Patrice Wymore (spouse)

(23 October 1950 - 14 October 1959) (his death)
1 child - Arnella
Nora Eddington (spouse)
(August 1943 - 7 July 1948) (divorced)
2 children - Deirdre and Rory
Lili Damita (spouse)
(29 June 1935 - 8 April 1942) (divorced)
1 child - Sean Flynn
Luke Flynn (grandson)

Career Information
Years Active 1933 to 1959
Most Notable Roles
Academy Awards
Emmy awards
Tony Awards
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Errol Flynn was born to parents Theodore Flynn, a respected biologist, and Marrelle Young, an adventurous young woman and descendant of a midshipman of HMS Bounty fame. Young Flynn was a rambunctious child who could be counted on to find trouble. Errol managed to have himself thrown out of every school he was enrolled in. In his late teens he set out to find gold, but instead found a series of short lived odd jobs. Information is sketchy, but the positions of police constable, sanitation engineer, treasure hunter, sheep castrator, ship-master for hire, fisherman, and soldier seem to be among his more reputable career choices. Staying one jump ahead of the law and jealous husbands forced Flynn to England. He took up acting, a pastime he had previously stumbled into when asked to play (ironically) Fletcher Christian in a film called In the Wake of the Bounty (1933). Flynn's natural athletic talent and good looks attracted the attention of Warner Brothers and soon he was off to America.

His luck held when he replaced Robert Donat in the title role of Captain Blood (1935). He quickly rocketed to stardom as the undisputed king of swashbuckler films, a title inherited from Douglas Fairbanks, but which remains his to this day. On-screen, he was the freedom loving rebel, a man of action who fought against injustice and won the hearts of damsels in the process. His off-screen passions; drinking, fighting, boating and sex, made his film escapades seem pale. His love life brought him considerable fame, three statutory rape trials, and a lasting memorial in the expression "In like Flynn". Serious roles eluded him, and as his lifestyle eroded his youthful good looks, his career declined. Troubles with lawsuits and the IRS plagued him at this time, eroding what little money he had saved. A few good roles did come his way late in life, however, usually aging alcoholics, almost mirror images of Flynn. He was making a name as a serious actor before his death.[3]

Trade markEdit

  • He is considered one of the greatest film swashbucklers of the sound period.
  • Usually had a moustache.


  • Ranked #70 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
  • Was tried for statutory rape in 1942 but was acquitted.
  • When banned from drinking on a film set, he would inject oranges with vodka and eat them during his breaks.
  • Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, in the Garden of Everlasting Peace.
  • On his mother's side, he was a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian and Edward Young, of H.M.S. Bounty fame.
  • The hit song "Errol", by Australian band Australian Crawl, was about him.
  • The phrase "In like Flynn," stems from his 1942 trial for statutory rape.
  • His son Sean Flynn appeared in a few films but didn't particularly like being an actor. He switched careers and was a freelance photojournalist during the Vietnam War. He disappeared with another journalist as they followed the US Army invasion into Cambodia and both were thought to have been captured and executed by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. He is the subject of the 1981 The Clash song, "Sean Flynn."
  • He was the great-great-great-great-grandson of HMS Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian, whom he portrayed in the film In the Wake of the Bounty (1933). He was also the 23rd great-grandson of Robert De Vere. In addition, he is the 15th cousin twice removed of Olivia de Havilland, who played Maid Marian, his love interest, in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
  • He was voted the 55th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#86). [1995]
  • His father was head of Zoology at the University of Tasmania.
  • He was voted the 26th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • It was during a "Parkinson" (1971) interview that his good friend David Niven revealed that during the filming of The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Flynn was busy on a horse during a break applying make-up with one hand whilst holding a mirror in the other. An extra seeing this assumed (like most of the people around) that he was gay, and decided to "pock" the horse up the behind with his lance - the horse bucked, throwing Flynn to the ground. He got to his feet and asked who had done that, the extra volunteered, thinking that this would only add to his embarrassment. However, Flynn dragged him from the horse and gave him a sound beating. They were the best of friends after that.
  • He met his second wife while she was working at a snack counter in a courthouse during one of his rape trials.
  • His father, Theodore Flynn, taught biology at Queens College, Belfast.
  • Warner Brothers' publicity department tried to claim that he was from Ireland, when he was in fact from Tasmania, the small island state of Australia.
  • He and Olivia de Havilland acted together in 9 films: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Dodge City (1939), Four's a Crowd (1938), Essex and Elizabeth (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) and They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
  • Although only 50, he succumbed to a massive heart attack at the apartment of Dr. Grant Gould in Vancouver while he was there to sell his yacht (The Zaca) to an old friend, George Caldough. The yacht was his "pride and joy", but due to financial difficulties, he was forced to sell it and had primarily lived on it during his final years. The autopsy showed he had the body of a 75-year-old man.
  • Although Australian, his genealogy shows both British and Irish descent.
  • He and director Michael Curtiz made some of their best pictures together, but he despised Curtiz (which was mutual) and the two fought constantly whenever they worked together. Ironically, his first wife Lili Damita was previously briefly married to Curtiz.
  • Declaring to his second wife that he wanted to experience everything in life, he began dabbling in opium in the late 1940s and quickly became a full-fledged addict. His opium addiction and the effects of the alcohol that ravaged his body over the years contributed to his premature death in 1959 at only age 50.
  • Mentioned in the song "Blood on the Rooftops" by Genesis.
  • His performance as Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is ranked #16 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
  • In 1980, author Charles Higham published a controversial biography, "Errol Flynn: The Untold Story," in which he alleged that Flynn was a fascist sympathizer who spied for the Nazis before and during World War II. In Disney's film The Rocketeer (1991), the major villain, Neville Sinclair, was a 1930s Hollywood actor who spied for the Nazis, an obvious reference to Higham's allegations about Flynn. The book also alleged he was bisexual and had affairs with Tyrone Power, Howard Hughes and Truman Capote. Subsequent biographies - notably Tony Thomas' "Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was" (1990) - have denounced Higham's claims as fabrications. Flynn's political beliefs appear to have been left-wing. He was a strong supporter of the Spanish Republic and a fervent opponent of ultra-conservative Gen. Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and was a supporter of Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba, even hosting a documentary titled The Truth About Fidel Castro Revolution (1959) shortly before his death. According to his own posthumous autobiography, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways", he admired Castro and considered him a personal friend.
  • He was granted a 4-F deferment during World War II due to his weak heart, exacerbated by bouts of malaria and tuberculosis. During the filming of Gentleman Jim (1942) Flynn suffered a mild heart attack.
  • His mother had Polynesian ancestry, from Tahiti, through her four great-grandmothers--the mutineers of HMS Bounty sailed from Tahiti to Pitcairn Island, taking some Tahitian women with them. As of 2005, there were an estimated 55 descendants of the mutineers still living on Pitcairn.
  • From his mother's side and through Fletcher Christian he is descended from an illegitimate daughter from an unknown mother of Sir Richard Neville, 6th Earl of Salisbury and 16th Earl Consort of Warwick, 181th Knight of the Garter, and through him from Edward III Plantagenet, King of England.
  • Probably his most uncharacteristic screen appearance occurred in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) when he sang and danced his way through a pub number entitled "That's What You Jolly Well Get".
  • In The Case of the Curious Bride (1935), one of his earliest films, his role consisted of lying on a marble slab as a corpse. There was also a flashback sequence towards the end of the film showing how Flynn was killed. The film in question has appeared at least twice on Turner Classic Movies during Errol Flynn festivals despite his very limited (certainly less than two minutes) screen time.
  • A chain smoker, in the last year of his life, he underwent hospital tests to see whether he had throat cancer.
  • Nearly died from food poisoning after eating uncooked ground hamburger meat mixed with raw egg yolk early in 1959.
  • In the early days of establishing his Hollywood career, he passed himself off as Irish in the belief that few people knew of Australia. He was born, educated and began work in Australia, later drifting between Papua New Guinea and Sydney (rumoured to have been a fighter for PNG) before stumbling on to acting. The Australian film In the Wake of the Bounty (1933) captured some attention for him in the States and so, owing enormous debts to the Australian Taxation Office, he moved to America. He said to the ATO, "I'm willing to forget if you are".
  • In the last two years of his life Flynn caused a scandal by touring the world with his teenage mistress Beverly Aadland working as his secretary.
  • Once stated that his only regret was his non-participation in World War II.
  • He was considered for Leslie Howard's role in Gone with the Wind (1939). He was also allegedly considered for the role of Rhett Butler, but Bette Davis (who was to play Scarlett O'Hara) vetoed the idea.
  • Became seriously ill with liver failure in the mid-1950s.
  • Had a vasectomy in 1955.
  • In his final years he suffered from Buerger's disease, acute inflammation and thrombosis (clotting) of arteries and veins of the legs, hands and feet as a result of his excessive cigarette smoking.
  • Best remembered by the public for his starring in swash-buckling adventure films.
  • Independent writer/director Patrick Stark is creating a dramatic feature about the last days of Flynn's life in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • The underlying causes of his death were myocardial infarction, coronary thrombosis, coronary atherosclerosis, liver degeneration, liver sclerosis and diverticulitis of the colon.
  • Though Flynn did most of his own stunts in Against All Flags (1952), he baulked at the one involving sliding down through a sail on a rapier blade, which was originated by Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); it was performed by a stunt double.
  • A recent Australian documentary on his life and career, narrated by Christopher Lee, included a film clip of Flynn being interviewed on his being nominated for the Academy Award for his critically acclaimed performance in The Sun Also Rises (1957). We are then told that the nomination "disappeared".
  • Mentioned in the Jimmy Buffett song, "Pencil Thin Moustache".
  • In the last year of his life he turned down an offer to star in a major swashbuckling series for US television, in which Flynn would play the same kind of character he had played in Captain Blood (1935), with younger stand-ins performing his stunts. "I knew it would be crap," he explained.
  • In his book, "My Wicked Wicked Ways", Flynn recounted that as a young man in Papua, New Guinea, he had many adventurous jobs as a gold prospector, slave recruiter, a diamond smuggler, and a manager of coconut and tobacco plantations, just to name a few. He also spent a short time as a cadet patrol officer until it was discovered that he had misrepresented himself. Unfortunately, his time in New Guinea came with a price. While there, Flynn contracted malaria, which would plague him for the rest of his life. It has been a matter of dispute as to whether all his stories of adventure were true, but many have concluded that even if only 25% percent were true, he certainly had an amazing life.
  • On arriving in Britain in 1933, he found an acting job with the Northampton Repertory Company, where he worked for seven months. However, it is disputed whether he performed at the 1934 Malvern Festival and in Glasgow and London's West End.
  • A British citizen, since Australian citizenship did not exist until the creation of the Commonwealth in 1949.
  • Portrayed by Jude Law in The Aviator (2004).
  • Dream project was a biopic about the notorious Australian-Irish outlaw Ned Kelly, which nearly got produced by Warner Brothers in the mid 1940s.[4]

Personal QuotesEdit

  • You once liked the blissful mobility, but then you wonder, who's the real you? And who's the chap on the screen? You know, I catch myself acting out my life like a god damn script.
  • They've great respect for the dead in Hollywood, but none for the living.
  • I do what I like.
  • I like my whiskey old and my women young.
  • [last words] I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it.
  • I can't reconcile my gross habits with my net income.
  • I intend to live the first half of my life. I don't care about the rest.
  • The public has always expected me to be a playboy, and a decent chap never lets his public down.
  • It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper.
  • If I have any genius it is a genius for living.
  • I felt like an impostor, taking all that money for reciting ten or twelve lines of nonsense a day.
  • Women won't let me stay single, and I won't let myself stay married.
  • I allow myself to be understood as a colourful fragment in a drab world.
  • I've made six or seven good films - the others, not so good.
  • My job is to defy the normal.


Date Film Role Notes
1959 Cuban Rebel Girls The American Correspondent
Goodyear Theatre (TV series) 'Doc' Boatwright 1 episode
The Golden Shanty
The Red Skelton Hour (TV series) 'The Duke' - Gentleman Hobo 1 episode
Freddie's Beat Shack
1958 The Roots of Heaven Forsythe
Too Much, Too Soon John Barrymore
1957 The Sun Also Rises Mike Campbell
Playhouse 90 (TV series) Captain Bidlack 1 episode
Without Incident
The Big Boodle Ned Sherwood
Istanbul James Brennan
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse (TV series) Francois Villon 1 episode
The Sword of Villon
The Errol Flynn Theatre (TV series) Don Juan / Himself - Host / John Morton 2 episodes
1000th Night of Don Juan - Himself/Host
Rescued - John Morton
1955 King's Rhapsody Richard, King of Laurentia
The Dark Avenger Prince Edward
1954 Let's Make Up John 'Beau' Beaumont
Crossed Swords Renzo
1953 The Master of Ballantrae Jamie Durie
The Story of William Tell William Tell Short film
1952 Against All Flags Brian Hawke
Mara Maru Gregory Mason
1951 Adventures of Captain Fabian Capt. Michael Fabian
Hello God Man on Anzio Beach
1950 Kim Mahbub Ali, the Red Beard
Rocky Mountain Capt. Lafe Barstow (CSA)
Montana Morgan Lane
1949 That Forsyte Woman Soames Forsyte
It's a Great Feeling Jeffrey Bushdinkle, the Groom Uncredited
1948 Adventures of Don Juan Don Juan de Maraña
Silver River "Mike" McComb
1947 The Lady from Shanghai Man in Background Outside of Cantina Uncredited
Escape Me Never Sebastian Dubrok
Cry Wolf Mark Caldwell
1946 Never Say Goodbye Phil Gayley
1945 San Antonio Clay Hardin
Objective, Burma! Capt. Nelson
1944 Uncertain Glory Jean Picard/Emil DuPont
1943 Northern Pursuit Corporal Steve Wagner
Edge of Darkness Gunnar Brogge
1942 Gentleman Jim James J. Corbett
Desperate Journey Flight Lt. Terrence 'Terry' Forbes
1941 They Died with Their Boots On George Armstrong Custer
Dive Bomber Doug Lee
Footsteps in the Dark Francis Monroe Warren II
1940 Santa Fe Trail Jeb Stuart
The Sea Hawk' Geoffrey Thorpe
Virginia City Captain Kerry Bradford
1939 Essex and Elizabeth Earl of Essex
Dodge City Wade Hatton
1938 The Dawn Patrol Captain Courtney
The Sisters Frank Medlin
Four's a Crowd Robert Kensington 'Bob' Lansford
The Adventures of Robin Hood Robin Hood
1937 The Perfect Specimen Gerald Beresford Wicks
Another Dawn Captain Denny Roark
The Prince and the Pauper Miles Hendon
Green Light Dr. Newell Paige
1936 The Charge of the Light Brigade Major Geoffrey Vickers
1935 Captain Blood Peter Blood
Don't Bet on Blondes David Van Dusen
The Case of the Curious Bride Gregory Moxley
Murder at Monte Carlo Dyter
1933 I Adore You Bit Uncredited
In the Wake of the Bounty Fletcher Christian


Notes and ReferencesEdit