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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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March 28, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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Actor Errol Flynn found Catalina Island to his liking However, the actor ran afoul of the Avalon leash law STAFF REPORT (Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of a historical article from the archives of the Catalina Islander.) A Hollywood "legend" with a less-than-cheerful history was known to take recreation at Santa Catalina Island where an incident he considered recreational got him into trouble in the 1940s. Errol Flynn was born of Irish parents on the Australian island of Tasmania in 1909 and was raised in Hobart, Tasmania, and around Sydney on the mainland. By his early teens Flynn was already displaying rare skill at finding trouble. He showed little interest in aca- demics, though he developed a love for books and reading, and he was expelled from several schools. Setting the tone for his later life, he displayed a proclivity for two activities fighting and romantic escapades. By the time he was 17, he had left home to join a gold rush in the New Guinea Territory. For nearly five years Flynn bounded around Queensland and various Pacific and East Indian islands. He was a constable as well as a miner in New Guinea, ran a copra plantation on New Ireland, Errol Flynn in publicity shot. raised tobacco on still another island. In between he was a sailor guide, semipro boxer and general roustabout. Flynn also was involved in cockfighting in the Philippines, slave-running back in New Guinea and "fraternization" with local girls wherever possible. Sometime during these years Flynn crossed paths with a Hollywood producer whom later contacted him about acting in a film, never minding that he had no training as an actor. In his autobiography, "My Wicked, Wicked Ways," Flynn described his attitude toward life, which he applied to the Hol.lywood experience as well. "I had the gift of gab, or blar- ney, and could talk my way in or out of a situation, or if necessary, fight my way in or out." Though Flynn's own approach to life was basically devil-may-care and sin- ful, he came from a family of some cultural attainments. His father was a renowned marine biologist. Flynn received a fairly good self-education by reading widely and did possess a more urbane side. Soon Flynn had embarked on a film career that would last a quar- ter-century. Though his earliest films used him as little more than a pretty face and his acting skill was con- sidered marginal, he showed suf- ficient screen charisma to become a popular box-office attraction. With the release of "Captain Blood" filmed on Catalina in 1935, Flynn became a star of the first magnitude. He had three tempestuous marriages and was the father of four children, a son, Sean, and three daughters, Deidre, Rory, and Arnella. His unwise escapades over the years made headlines many times. There. were drinking binges and fighting in public venues, usually restaurants and bars. Flynn sailed the Sirocco to Catalina many times. The boat was named for the wind off the Sahara that blows across the Mediterranean. He bought the 76-foot sailing ship in 1938 for $25,000 and sold her for $20,000 in August 1943. Two years passed, World War II ended in 1945, and when the seas seemed safer, Flynn replaced the Sirocco with an even grander vessel, the Zaca. Besides Avalon Errol Flynn ("Robin Hood") and Howard Hill (archer extraordinaire) bag a boar somewhere in the Catalina interior. Bay, there were several secluded coves along the island's leeward side where Flynn liked to drop anchor. One came to be known by locals as "Sirocco Gulch." One day, Errol Flynn got smart with someone who was not about to put up with it--Avalon's own Judge Ernest Windle. Flynn was out on the Steamer Pier with his unleashed dog when it started a fight with another dog, which was on a restraint as required by city ordinance. The judge, initially in the role of private citizen, informed Flynn that he must leash his dog or leave. Flynn essentially told Windle to "take a hike." The judge then assumed his official capacity, informed the Irishman who he was and fined him. Flynn later apologized to the judge, something he did not always do. Errol Flynn died in 1959 at age 50. His career was ruined, and his life was almost certainly cut short, by his inability to say "no" to some of his weaknesses. THE CATALINA ISLANDER