Well after keeping the wreckage for another week here we are again strolling down Memory Lane whether you can sprint, jog or like me limp and remember our youthful days when we could run at through a cornfield and crashing with your girlfriend or boyfriend in the summer sun and hoping a combine wasn’t near.
I digress as usual, because the sun has gone down somewhere and so it’s time for a drink, but only for medical reasons. Does anyone remember the slogan “Guinness is good for you”, and when hospitals gave you a bottle of stout beer to help you rebuild? Think how much the NHS spends putting patients to sleep before an operation when old movie westerns took care of that by giving the patient a sip of whiskey and a gag to bite.
Errol Flynn. Photo: National Library of Australia
Today I reflect on the end of this legendary Hollywood star, Errol Flynn, who passed away at the age of 50. His motto was “Live your first half-century to the fullest, for the descent continues thereafter”.
Having surpassed that goal by a few decades, I still hope the best is yet to come, but only after one drink. In 1959 poor Errol was broke and his lifestyle had caught up with him in that he was addicted to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to keep enjoying life which is a very bad idea.
He went through several wives and a trial to have fun with underage girls, but he was acquitted. He would later say: “I prefer my old whiskey and my young girlfriends.”
Can you imagine a famous person saying that today? But at that time, the media was very different and the public perhaps more innocent.
Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in Santa Fe Trail, 1940
Errol made several films in Borehamwood in the 1950s and his co-star in two films directed by Elstree, Dame Anna Neagle, told me that he was difficult to work with because of his drinking, and the best scenes were filmed before a liquid lunch break. . If you visit McDonald’s in Borehamwood, this building was once the Red Lion and Errol pub and many other stars raised a drink or two there.
Errol died in an apartment in Vancouver while on a trip to sell his beloved yacht due to debt. The immediate cause of death was a heart attack, but his health was terminal anyway. I wonder if whoever owns this apartment today knows that a Hollywood icon died in the bedroom, lying on the floor? He was taken to the morgue for an autopsy, during which one of the pathologists decided to cut some warts from his penis as a talking point for future lectures. He was ordered to ‘tape’ them as another autopsy awaited the body in Los Angeles. Errol was returned to Tinsel Town in a coffin in a crate by train.
Errol Flynn’s coffin on the platform at Union Station in Los Angeles in 1959. In a dark suit and hat behind the coffin is Buster Wiles, Flynn’s double and friend. Photo: Los Angeles Times Archive
He was then buried in a famous Hollywood cemetery, which he hated, and it was some time before a simple plaque was placed on his grave. I would have liked to meet Errol, but as with Bogart and others before me, I certainly do not recommend his lifestyle to readers. In fact, I am embarking on a makeover. Can anyone tell me if there is vegan alcohol with the same kick so I can hit 50?
- Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree studios
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This notice was published: 2022-04-24 17:00:00