“The only real wives I have ever had have been my sailing ships. Up front, on the prow of the Zaca, there was painted, appropriately, a rooster, a crowing cock.”
- Errol Flynn (1)

 

This article attempts to map some of the complexities and key elements of Hollywood actor Errol Flynn’s relationship with Tasmania, and is informed by my work as a researcher and producer of the television documentary Tasmanian Devil: The Fast and Furious Life of Errol Flynn (2007) (2).

From the very start of hisHollywood career, Warner Bros.’ publicity machine, for some unknown reason, continued to suggest that Errol Flynn was Irish, and were never really interested – even deliberately deceptive – in informing the public that he was Australian. Flynn never returned to Australia after arriving in Hollywood in 1934, and there was never any attempt to ask him to play stereotypical “Australian” characters in the way that Peter Finch or Rod Taylor would sometimes be called upon to do (despite occasionally playing nominally Australian characters in films like Raoul Walsh’s 1942 Desperate Journey). That being said, Flynn never adopted an English accent or referred to Britain as his “motherland”. In films such as Captain Blood (Michael Curtiz, 1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (Michael Curtiz, 1936) or even The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, 1938), Flynn’s accent frequently sounds distinctly Australian, and is certainly not Irish. In his autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn credits Warner Bros.’ Chicago representative Sam Clarke with the decision to recreate his national identity:

It was he who came up with the idea that I should be billed as an Irishman from Ireland. He had me photographed as a motorcycle cop. That fitted into the American conception of what an Irishman fresh in from Ireland should look like and be… Nobody knew or cared that my whole life was spent in Tasmania, Australia, New Guinea, England. From then on, for a long time, nobody believed me when I talked of that background. They didn’t want to hear of it. They wanted me to be Flynn of Ireland. (3)

Perhaps, even more bizarrely, the MGM public relations machine advertised, almost contemporaneously, that the Anglo-Indian Merle Oberon (who most famously starred alongside Laurence Olivier in William Wyler’s 1939 Wuthering Heights) was Tasmanian, presumably in an attempt to explain what was referred to as her “exotic” appearance and to fudge her actual ethnicity. The assumption here, presumably, was that the general American public would know little of Tasmania. Merle Oberon was even brought to Tasmania in 1978, a year before her death, for a Lord Mayor’s reception, where she finally admitted she was not Tasmanian (4).

Contrary to Warner Bros.’ suggestions, Flynn was in fact born in Hobart and stayed there until he was 13 when the family moved to England for two years. Flynn, after two very unhappy years at an English boarding school, returned to Hobart and finally was moved to the Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SCEGS) at the age of 17. By the age of nineteen Flynn had relocated to New Guinea and, after a few years of shady exploits, left in 1933, and was never to set foot in Tasmania or Australia again. Yet in a 1957 interview with former CBC freelance reporter Tony Thomas, conducted two years before the actor’s death, Flynn “corrects” Thomas when called Australian and says he is “Tasmanian actually” (5).

In the opening chapters of his fabulous, but notoriously unreliable, autobiography Flynn talks about his early formative years in Tasmania and identifies a number of issues that emerge as constants throughout his life:

My mother’s people were seafaring folk. She had an ancestor named Midshipman Young. He was the chief aide of Fletcher Christian of Mutiny on the Bounty, and had accompanied Christian to Pitcairn Island. Edward Young captured a sword from Captain Bligh and this sword remained in my mother’s family. It was handed down and the sword landed in our house in Tasmania where as a small boy I played with it… My father ultimately gave this souvenir to the Naval and Military Club at Hobart where it still hangs on a wall. I could choke him for giving it away. (6)

Flynn’s only film role in Australia before his departure was in the Charles Chauvel’s In the Wake of the Bounty (1933), an odd mixture of drama and documentary, some of which was re-used for the Clark Gable and Charles Laughton film Mutiny on the Bounty (Frank Lloyd) two years later. The National Film and Sound Archive holds Chauvel’s screen test with Flynn for the role of Fletcher Christian, and while Flynn’s subsequent performance leaves a lot to be desired, it did serve a purpose.

Most books, reviews and articles written about Flynn invoke the word “swashbuckling,” a stereotypical term we struggled, unsuccessfully, to avoid using when making our own film. Flynn’s persona is almost synonymous with the figure of the rebellious, devil-may-care pirate/rebel/outlaw, and in many of his best loved films – Captain Blood, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Michael Curtiz, 1939), The Sea Hawk (Michael Curtiz, 1940), Against All Flags (George Sherman, 1952) – Flynn plays a high-spirited, anti-authoritarian non-conformist ship’s captain, shouting commands or inciting rebellion from the rigging of a masted ship. Flynn’s comments in the above passage about his mother’s ancestry create some continuity between his own biological heritage, his first and only Australian film role, and his later Hollywood career:

A beach, Sandy Bay, was not far away and I was often there, swimming at the age of three. The beach was of hard brown sand, the water freezing cold. Mother was a good swimmer and she took me there very often. I have never been out of ocean water for very long since. (7)

In the course of the research for his 1975 book The Young Errol: Flynn Before Hollywood, John Hammond Moore (also interviewed for our documentary) interviewed surviving relatives, friends, and acquaintances throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. During his teenage years in Hobart, Flynn frequently went back to visit his parents’ relatives who lived at Manly in Sydney. Moore quotes from one relative Wallace Young, who remembers the young Flynn as being “uncontrollable”, and relates the following anecdote:

when Hammer’s [Flynn’s “grandfather” figure in his autobiography] five-masted schooner, the H K Hall, was in port, excited youngsters swarmed over the vessel. In short order the boy who would become Captain Blood a decade later was swinging in the rigging with loud shouts and much bravado. Summoned back to the deck, he sulked for a few moments; then, when no one was looking, he threw all the buckets used by the crew over the side. (8)

The known facts of Flynn’s childhood and teenage years paint a portrait very similar to the charismatic onscreen rebels he was to portray in Hollywood. It seems he was expelled from every school he attended, and as Moore notes (9), even though we know he attended the prestigious Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SCEGS) in 1926, his name and entrance number was struck from the official register following his expulsion. As Flynn declares in My Wicked, Wicked Ways, “My resistance to authority led naturally to incessant scoldings and thrashings” (10).

According to a classmate, Flynn was expelled following a number of incidents and officially because he had “a disturbing influence on the rest of the scholars”, but in truth it was because he was caught “rooting one of the maids” (11). Anticipating his later famous role in Adventures of Don Juan (Vincent Sherman, 1948), according to Jeffrey Meyers, even in his earlier days in Hobart, “Errol was the class Don Juan” (12). Hobart school friend Ila Andrews, who we interviewed for the documentary, remembers him as a “bit of a devil” and that “one or two of the teachers were in love with him”. According to Flynn scholar and biographer Thomas McNulty, during his years at Hobart High School, the 15-year-old Flynn, already over six feet tall, “went to work immediately – on the local female talent, not his school work. By now he was well acquainted with the pleasures of sex. But in spite of his active carnal pursuits he was developing strong reading habits, primarily due to his father’s influence.” (13)

While Warner Bros. was later to spin the fictitious story that Flynn boxed in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam in order to promote his roles in The Perfect Specimen (Michael Curtiz, 1937) and especially Gentleman Jim (Raoul Walsh, 1942), where he portrayed the Irish-American boxer “Gentleman” Jim Corbett, former Australian Prime Minister John Gorton, who also attended SCEGS in 1926, remembers Flynn as “a first class boxer” (14). It’s also worth noting in relation to Flynn’s natural athleticism and later film roles, Moore’s observation that Professor Flynn gave fencing lessons to locals in Hobart. In our interview with him for the film, Sir Christopher Lee, who has engaged in more onscreen sword fights than any other living actor, attested to Errol’s swordsmanship, except when he was under the weather, as was the case during the filming of The Warriors (aka The Dark Avenger, Henry Levin)in 1955.

Flynn speaks enthusiastically throughout his autobiography about the early years he spent around the harbours of Hobart and Sydney:

My primary interest became the sea. I listened to anyone who would talk of it, and I relished the occasional trips we would take across the Bass Strait to Sydney. So that the two main streams of thinking in the family were very much of this earth: the primordial creatures of the nearly impenetrable Tasmanian wilderness, and the eternal oceans… The smell of salt was in our house in the figure of my huge grandparent, the sea captain, who was my mother’s father. He was six foot four, and when he wasn’t at sea… he had brief intervals with us, in which the spray of the South Seas was in our rooms heavily.

… So one day I stowed away on my grandfather’s boat. He was well out to sea before I was discovered… Back home this latest episode resulted in a family conference. Where was I headed for? What kind of evil was I up to? How could I be controlled? For a while I went on to school, chafing, raring to be gone around the globe. (15)

When Flynn turned his hand to writing, sailing was again the source of his inspiration, and his first novel, Beam Ends, published in 1937, is essentially an autobiographical account of his journey in his first yacht, the Sirocco, up the coasts of New South Wales and Queensland to the shores of New Guinea where the boat was wrecked.

For Flynn, sailing represented freedom, and even at the height of his fame in Hollywood, when he was sick of dealing with the constraints of Jack Warner and the studio system, he would simply disappear on his yacht for days on end before coming back to work, invariably to negotiate a better deal. Indeed, contrary to the usual sailors’ superstition, when Flynn purchased his second yacht in 1938, he even named her Sirocco after his first smaller, but significant vessel.

In the above passages Flynn also identifies another very important aspect of his experiences in Tasmania – his father’s academic career and his interest in Tasmanian devils, Tasmanian tigers and the diversity of creatures to be found in the oceans around Tasmania.

The rapport was with my father… When school finished, I raced home to be at his side, to hurry out into the back yard where we had cages of specimens of rare animals. That courtyard was a fascinating place for a small boy.

Tasmania is the only spot in the world where three prehistoric animals, the Tasmanian tiger, the Tasmanian devil and the animal Zyurus, are found. Father has specimens of all of these in his cages, as well as kangaroo rats, opossums, sheep. I got to know these creatures very well, even the most savage.

… Occasionally I went with him on a trip in quest of one of these rare Tasmanian animals. We headed for the western coast, a difficult terrain, where there were huge fossilized trees. We hunted the Tasmanian tiger, an animal so rare it took Father four years to trap one… I tagged along, like a puppy, whenever he would take me. (16)

Flynn clearly enjoyed these academic research field trips with his father who taught at the University of Tasmania, and later in academic posts in Belfast, Sydney and London. The results of these explorations are still evident in the collections of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which houses skeletons and preserved remains of Tasmanian tigers, all discovered by Professor Flynn. It now seems extraordinary that Flynn’s family had a Tasmanian tiger (now extinct) in a cage at the back of the house. Indeed, the only remaining footage we have of this animal in the Hobart Zoo – used most recently in the successful Australian film The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim, 2011), starring Willem Dafoe – could possibly be the very same animal that belonged to the Flynn family.

Flynn also talks in his autobiography about his father’s oceanographic expeditions, although he gets the dates wrong. In November 1912 Professor Flynn – now Ralston Professor of Biology at the University of Tasmania – set off with Douglas Mawson on the Aurora for a month’s research in the waters off Macquarie Island, some 800 miles southeast of Tasmania (17). This trip was part of the larger Mawson Australasian Antarctic Expedition, still regarded as a very significant scientific undertaking. The young Errol, directly through his father’s academic work, inherited both a love for the sea and for expeditions.

These early scientific and oceanographic field trips with his father were re-enacted later in his life in Hollywood. At the height of his fame in 1947, Flynn decided to combine his love of sailing with an academic field trip with his father to Mexico. Flynn, now the proud owner of his beloved wooden-hulled 118-foot schooner the Zaca (18), the yacht he would later live on for some years, embarked on an expedition with academics from the Scripps Oceanographic Institute at La Jolla, now part of the University of California at San Diego. This was later documented in the 1952 Warner Bros. short Cruise of the Zaca, which is included as a DVD extra on the 2003 two-disc special edition of The Adventures of Robin Hood.

While I was researching and producing the documentary, I went to the Scripps Oceanographic Institute to look through the papers and ephemera of Dr Carl Hubbs, the academic who worked with Errol and his father. It was astonishing to find that many of Flynn’s private letters to Dr Hubbs were characterised by breathless excitement about new species of fish they had found. Flynn seemed to be taking more genuine pleasure in this expedition than his life in Hollywood, as well as the constraints of his failing second marriage to Nora Eddington and the burdens of family responsibility. Flynn of course decided to document his activities on film, which it seems he largely paid for himself with financial support from the Scripps Institute; although Warners would later claim ownership of the film due to Flynn being their “property”.

In the unseen outtakes for this film – which Warner Bros. would not allow us under any circumstances to licence for the documentary, even though they were previously unaware of their existence, and I and was the first person to view them and have them digitised – there is strong visual evidence that Flynn, like the young Tasmanian boy he describes in the above passages, was very relaxed and happy exploring the Mexican coastline and rock pools with his father and goofing around for the camera, although it has to be said that the voyage did unravel once Flynn was in serious party mode. Flynn filmed many of the sequences himself, even falling into the water to film a sequence of him swimming with some whales. Flynn was to produce another “documentary” called Deep Sea Fishing (also released in 1952) during this period which highlights his archery skills alongside Robin Hood friend and coach Howard Hill on the high seas; Flynn’s Robin Hood was over ten years earlier, but Flynn’s on and offscreen persona was still strongly linked with the heroic outlaw. While the filming of these shorts with Flynn on board the Zaca were useful to Warners in the promotion of Flynn as an action star, there is little doubt that for Flynn they revived something of the spirit of those early field trips with his father in the inland wilds and off the coast of Tasmania.

In his autobiography, Flynn describes his early life in Tasmania as being surrounded by exotic animals and the wonders of the natural world. According to the interview accounts given by his daughters Deirdre and Rory, Flynn named his large sprawling house and estate on Mulholland Drive, “Mulholland Farm”. The daughters both described the incredible menagerie of dogs, goats, cats, horses, monkeys and birds they grew up with. The ephemera collection in the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy in Los Angeles also contains brochures Flynn printed up for the mouse races he held for the children and regular visitors to the Farm like Gary Cooper, Hedda Hopper and David Niven.

According to David Bret, Professor Flynn’s trip with Errol to Britain in 1922 was to deliver the first consignment of duck-billed platypuses to the London Zoo (19). Another somewhat tangential and specifically Tasmanian echo of the Flynn story is Warner Bros.’ connection with the transportation of Tasmanian devils to Los Angeles. In researching the documentary at the National Film and Sound Archive, I located a very interesting passage within a 1939 Cinesound newsreel showing the Premier of Tasmania, Mr A. G. Ogilvie, sending the first shipment of live Tasmanian devils to the Los Angeles Zoo (20). By an unusual twist of fate the devils were being given to a representative of Warner Bros. to deliver to the zoo. The Premier expresses his hopes that the arrival of the animals at the zoo will encourage people to travel to Tasmania to see both more of the devils and Tasmania’s landscape. The connection was irresistible, and we decided it was the perfect footage to open our documentary film.

It seems highly likely that the research done by Professor Flynn in the 1920s and early 1930s would have had an impact on the interest in and knowledge of Tasmanian devils, both at home and abroad. Researchers David Owen and David Pemberton (21) argue that the character of the Tasmanian Devil, later developed by the Warner Bros. animation unit, owes something both to Errol’s reputation, his love of adventure and his father’s research. It was Warner Bros. animation director Robert McKimson who created the character (later called Taz) in 1954:

Why? North America has plenty of interesting and unusual wild animals. Furthermore, the real Tasmanian Devil has no recognisable “personality” and back then there was no antipodean Mark Twain to give it one – unless, of course, Errol Flynn did, through the legacy of his own dynamic, destructive, insatiable ways (three adjectives which closely fit Taz). (22)

While Flynn’s mantra in My Wicked, Wicked Ways seems to be to never to let the truth get in the way of a good story, it is a matter of fact that his early, and quite daring, sailing experiences on the Sirocco, and elsewhere, did provide him with a dress rehearsal for his later Hollywood roles. Just as Peter Finch or Chips Rafferty were able to draw on their actual wartime experiences in the making of films such as The Rats of Tobruk (Charles Chauvel, 1944), biographers Jeffrey Meyers, Peter Valenti, John Hammond Moore, and Lincoln Hurst – all interviewed for the documentary – make the point that Flynn, like any good actor, undoubtedly drew on his real-life of adventure in Australia and New Guinea when creating his onscreen characters.

Warners, however, frequently frowned on Flynn’s zest for life, and were extremely unhappy at his decision in 1937 to travel to civil war ravaged Spain in order to try his hand at being a war correspondent. Flynn was a hot property for Warners in 1937, and they were extremely nervous about their new young star being injured. As would be the case throughout his career, Flynn did precisely what he wanted to do, and to quote Meyers’ interview in Tasmanian Devil, “didn’t give a damn about what other people thought”. Flynn’s more serious aspirations lay in journalism and war correspondence – he was the only Hollywood actor to witness and report on the Spanish Civil War – and in the last year of his life he would be commissioned to write a series of articles on Fidel Castro for the Hearst-owned newspapers, and produced a documentary on Castro’s takeover of Cuba (23).

In My Wicked, Wicked Ways Flynn also paints an interesting psychological portrait of his formative years in Hobart in relation to his later famous sexual exploits in Hollywood:

From about four or five I began one long unending scrap with my mother. As she tells it today – I was a devil in boy’s clothing. I can only sympathize with her. I can readily understand she had a good case finding me unmanageable. I wish I could say that time had changed the situation between us. It has not. We have fallen out all our lives… Mother was quick to anger and she didn’t believe in sparing the rod…

I played regularly – or irregularly – with a little girl next door named Nerida. One day we exhausted our interest in bushrangers which is the Australian equivalent of cowboys and Indians.

She proposed that we play house, husband and wife. She prepared mud pies, I pretended to eat them. The inevitable happened and we went under the porch of Nerida’s house and played more seriously at husband and wife.

“I’ll show you mine and you show me yours,” I said. She was game.

Nerida’s mother nabbed us red-fingered and she promptly told my mother. I got a hell of a shellacking…. This time Mother locked me in a back room for two days. I learning then what a prison cell was like. I have hated ever since the prospect of being cooped up. (24)

According to Meyers and Flynn’s daughter Deirdre, who was also interviewed for our film, Flynn’s incredibly strained relationship with his mother – who apparently cheated on his father a number of times – formed a lasting impression on Flynn, and coloured his view of women throughout his life. Meyers goes so far as to suggest that Flynn decided to dump women and be cruel to them in order to avoid being hurt, as he had been by his mother: “Husband and wife both had flirtations and love affairs. Later on, in London, the teenage Errol turned up unexpectedly at his father’s flat and found him living with another woman. Errol’s unconventional attitude to marriage came from his parents.” (25) Flynn does express the view early in his autobiography that some of the happiest and least complicated memories of the time he spent with his mother involve swimming in the ocean. But his attitude to life is perhaps best summarised in a 1933 letter he wrote to his father from New Guinea in which he pledged himself to a life without restraint: “I am going to front the essentials of life to see if I can learn what it has to teach and above all not to discover, when I come to die, that I have not lived” (26).

Flynn goes on in this opening chapter to describe some other early influences from his Tasmanian days:

Mother played the piano. She sang, she danced. She talked three languages, German, French and English… Apparently she had theatrical ambitions which she concealed from my scholarly father. Once a motion picture group came through Hobart and Mother was paid to do a swimming bit. The professor didn’t know. He was too involved with his laboratory work to follow all her moves or keep pace with her gay, passionate nature.

Yet I have no awareness of having received from her any theatrical motivation. This came to me later on, in New Guinea, by misadventure.

We did have an inside track to local theatricals. My uncle, Oscar O’Thames, was one of the heads of J C Williamson Theatrical Company. Every now and then I got from him a free pass to the theatre to see some travelling show… One day I looked downward to the stage where there pirouetted a celebrated figure, Pavlova. Her dancing enchanted me. She seemed to me a vision from another world, and I fell desperately in love with her. I think it was from seeing the artistry of this dancer that I first felt an affinity for the world of art. (27)

 

In spite of his dislike for his mother, Flynn does acknowledge her influence on him in introducing him to the arts and, more specifically, his first brush with film production. Later in his autobiography Flynn picks up this theme again when an American documentary crew visit him on the Sepik River in New Guinea.

It would seem that precisely because of his notoriety, and especially his sexual exploits, Flynn has not been appropriately celebrated in relatively conservative Hobart or Tasmania, and one can only imagine how the city of Los Angeles might treat resources such as Flynn’s residences, all of which are standing and still in good order (28). I discovered that he has a foreshore park near Sandy Bay named after him (the Errol Flynn Reserve), but rather typically the state government tried to prevent to Hobart City Council re-naming the park in Flynn’s honour in 2005 (29). The park signage seems a poor and somewhat inappropriate way of acknowledging Hobart’s most famous son.

The Tasmanian Errol Flynn Society (30), who were very helpful to us during the making of the documentary, includes an interesting group of Australian and international fans, enthusiasts, collectors and scholars, who frequently meet at the appropriately named Drifters Internet Cafe in Salamanca Place, Hobart. This group also conduct guided tours for tourists who might be interested in seeing some of the houses Flynn lived in and the schools he attended. The group was especially active during the centenary of Flynn’s birth in 2009, and arranged for Flynn’s daughter Rory to come to Hobart for a series of public events. This included donating some new material to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and a star bearing Flynn’s name being laid outside Hobart’s State Cinema. Rory (who we had interviewed for our film), also came to Melbourne for a special screening of our documentary and The Adventures of Robin Hood at the historic Astor Theatre in St Kilda, which opened its doors in 1936, and was a venue for film premieres of some of Errol’s films.

It’s hard to say with any certainty what Flynn’s contemporary reputation was in Australia – for example, as reported in the Launceston Examiner on 18 March 1938, he failed to get into the top ten in Sydney’s Woman magazine poll of the most popular actors (31), although this was ahead of his US star ranking, and before his heyday following the enormous success of Robin Hood. But the contemporary response to Flynn was also quite conservative in Los Angeles it seems. Towards the end of his life, Flynn’s nomination for an Academy Award for his performance in The Sun Also Rises (Henry King, 1957) was mysteriously withdrawn. According to Rory, this was simply a case of politics:

Because he went to Cuba and met Castro. Of course, at that time, Castro was the freedom fighter trying to save Cuba and give it back to the people. But Hollywood was iffy about that, and didn’t like their actors being involved politically back then. So political things happened to my dad that he just had to live with. (32)

There seems little doubt that Flynn’s exploits at school in Hobart and Sydney, in New Guinea, and later in Hollywood, where the phrase “In Like Flynn” was coined, caused a friction reminiscent of the recent responses to Charlie Sheen. In his interview for the film, Meyers made the point that the highly intelligent Flynn got bored easily in Hollywood. Flynn’s daughter Deirdre declares that Errol got sick of Jack Warner continually putting him in action/adventure films where had to wear tights, ride a horse or swing a sword, and longed to act in more complex films or in Cary Grant-style comedies. His performances in films such as Too Much, Too Soon (Art Napoleon, 1958) or The Perfect Specimen clearly demonstrate he was capable of doing this.

As both an actor and a public personality, Flynn was ahead of his time. This is possibly why more books have been written, and more documentary films made, about Errol Flynn than almost any other actor from the golden years of Hollywood. There is no question that he loved real life adventure, and possibly valued it more highly than his film career. Had he stayed in Australia, Flynn certainly would not have had the life or the career he enjoyed in Hollywood, but perhaps none of this would have been possible without his early formative years in Tasmania.

Throughout his life, Flynn’s passion for sailing aroused in him an abiding interest in the idea of an “island paradise”, and he strived to find wealth and happiness in New Guinea, and then later Jamaica and Cuba. Indeed Flynn wanted to be buried on his estate in Jamaica, but perhaps out of spite, his widow insisted on the Hollywood funeral and interment which, as director Vincent Sherman observed, Flynn would have hated. And, having stood on the decks of his beloved Zaca, now beautifully restored, I can see why the ship meant so much to him, and why it is fitting that he died broke, with the Zaca his only real possession.

This article has been peer reviewed

Endnotes

  1. Errol Flynn, My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn, ed. Jeffrey Meyers, Cooper Square Press, 2003, p. 18. All subsequent quotations from My Wicked, Wicked Ways are from this edition.
  2. Tasmanian Devil: The Fast and Furious Life of Errol Flynn was screened at the Sydney Film Festival on 9 June 2007 and the Melbourne International Film Festival on 28 July 2007. The film was first broadcast on ABC TV on 18 October 2007, and has been repeated numerous times since then. The film has also been broadcast on BBC4 (9 April 2007), ZDF/Arte (Germany / France), AVRO (the Netherlands), YLE (Finland), DR TV (Denmark), and TV Ontario, Canada. The film is available on DVD through Umbrella Entertainment: http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/customsearch.aspx?SearchTerm=Tasmanian%20Devil&SearchCriteria=All&CategoryID=0.
  3. Flynn, pp. 189-90.
  4. See Maree Delofski’s television documentary The Trouble with Merle, which first screened in Australia on ABCTV on 22 August 2002.
  5. This interview was conducted by Tony Thomas for his radio feature on Flynn entitled Requiem for a Cavalier which was released on CD in 1992 together with the radio adaptation of The Adventures of Robin Hood. The comments about Tasmania appear in the full interview accessed with the help of his daughter Andrea during the making of our documentary, and are not included in the final program of Requiem for a Cavalier. Andrea was kind enough to allow us to use this audio outtake in the film.
  6. Flynn, p. 33.
  7. Flynn, p. 25.
  8. Quoted in John Hammond Moore, Young Errol: Flynn Before Hollywood, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1975, p. 16.
  9. See Moore, p. 28.
  10. Flynn, p. 26.
  11. See Moore, p. 27.
  12. See Jeffrey Meyers, Inherited Risk: Errol and Sean Flynn in Hollywood and Vietnam, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2002, p. 68.
  13. Thomas McNulty, The Life and Career of Errol Flynn, McFarland and Company, Jefferson, 2004, p. 10.
  14. See Moore, p. 26.
  15. Flynn, pp. 33-35.
  16. Flynn, pp. 30-31.
  17. See Moore, pp.11-12; Lincoln Hurst, Errol Flynn: The True Adventures of a Real-Life Rogue, Scarecrow Press, New York, 2009; Peter Valenti, Errol Flynn: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood, Westport, Conn., 1984; David Bret, Errol Flynn: Satan’s Angel, Robson Books, London, 2000, p. 1; Michael Freedland, The Two Lives of Errol Flynn, William Morrow, New York, 1979, p. 5; Meyers, p. 63; McNulty, p. 6.
  18. See the 2005 documentary In the Wake of the Zaca, produced and directed by Luther Greene, where the history of this large yacht is explored – the Zaca had been used for oceanographic expeditions earlier in its history, notably when it was owned by Templeton Crocker for his South Seas expeditions in the early 1930s, coincidently while Flynn was in New Guinea.
  19. Bret, p. 3.
  20. See the National Film and Sound Archive Catalogue, Title No: 276251, Title:PREMIER OF TASMANIA, MR A. G. OGILVIE PRESENTS TASMANIAN DEVILS TO LOS ANGELES ZOO, Cinesound Movietone Productions, 1939.
  21. See David Owen and David Pemberton, Tasmanian Devil: A Unique and Threatened Animal, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2005. Chapters nine and ten detail the Warner Bros. character that first appeared in 1954, and note that Warners’ trademark of the term “Tasmanian Devil” has created some problems for the use of the name in Tasmania and for the purposes of promoting tourism even since.
  22. See David Owen and David Pemberton, p. 153.
  23. Flynn produced two films in 1959, Cuban Story (Victor Pahlen) and a drama called Cuban Rebel Girls (Barry Mahon), starring his then girlfriend Beverly Aadland. Both contain valuable documentary footage of the Cuban revolution, and an amazing piece to camera by Flynn in Cuban Rebel Girls invoking all young men to stand up to tyrants in the region. Kevin Kline is to star as Flynn in a new film portraying the last yeas of his life, The Last of Robin Hood, in pre-production during 2013. See: http://pro.imdb.com/title/tt2450440/
  24. Flynn, pp. 25-29.
  25. Meyers, p. 64.
  26. Lines from Errol Flynn’s New Guinea notebook (1933), as quoted in Moore, frontispiece.
  27. Flynn, p. 29.
  28. See Moore, p. 13, who identifies the following Hobart addresses for Flynn’s family: 10 Darcy Street, 296 Davey Street (formerly Holebrook Place), and 60 Duke Street.
  29. See “Errol Flynn Reserve Wins Duel”, ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2005-04-15/errol-flynn-reserve-wins-the-duel/1551906.
  30. See The Errol Flynn Blog: http://www.theerrolflynnblog.com/2009/12/06/errol-flynn-society-of-tasmania-inc/.
  31. See “Best Films and Acting: Opinions are Varied”, Examiner [Launceston], 18 March 1938, p. 11: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/52197113.
  32. Taken from an interview with Rory Flynn recorded during the centennial celebrations. See Cinema Retro November 2009: http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/3955-CINEMA-RETRO-EXCLUSIVE-INTERVIEW-WITH-RORY-FLYNN,-DAUGHTER-OF-ERROL-FLYNN..html