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Errol Flynn’s unpaid debt

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 22nd, 2014
Jun 22


Errol Flynn had ‘unpaid debt’ to Northampton menswear shop




Errol Flynn acknowledged his debt to the menswear shop in a letter, but said he was “unable” to pay it


Details of a debt owed by Errol Flynn to a Northampton menswear shop have emerged, 53 years after his death. The Hollywood star became a regular customer at Montague Jeffery while acting in the town in the mid-1950s. Manager Jonathan Williams unearthed a letter from detectives hired to track down Flynn, and one from the star acknowledging he owed the shop money. Flynn’s letter said he was “unable”, not “disinclined” to pay, but there are no known records to show he did pay.


Flynn started his acting career in Northampton after leaving his native Australia, before shooting to stardom in Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s. However, while back in England in the 1950s he worked in the theatre there, and became a regular at the Montague Jeffery shop.

“He used to drink at the pub opposite the shop, which was next to the theatre, so [it was] very handy,” Mr. Williams said.


The letters, showing Flynn was not the ideal customer, were found when Mr. Williams decided to search through the shop’s archives. “The new cinema, named after Flynn, had just opened in Northampton and we knew we had connections to him too,” he said. One letter shows Montague Jeffery, Mr. Williams’s great grandfather, hired a firm of detectives to track down Flynn. “Flynn had moved to London by then, and an agency called MacCormack’s was asked to find him and issue a summons for the debt,” Mr. Williams said. However, the agency was unsuccessful and wrote to the shop saying access to the studio where he was working was “absolutely out of the question”.


A detective agency was hired to track down Flynn and recover the debt.




Flynn acknowledged his debt in a letter to the agency, saying: “If you would care to wait about a week longer I will be able to pay your account in full. The only reason it has not been settled previously is inability, not disinclination. Yours etc, Errol Flynn.”





Mr. Jeffery had handwritten the date January 1955 at the top of the letter. “My grandfather – who also managed the shop – showed me the letter when I was very young, and said, ‘Don’t ever get rid of this,'” Mr. Williams said. “We have no idea what Flynn purchased to run up a debt, and unfortunately we don’t know how much it was. We don’t have anything to show he paid it, either. It’s just rather nice to have this quirky piece of history linking us with him.”



Hollywood Stars and their Telephones

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 18th, 2011
May 18


Hollywood stars and their telephones




By Allan R. Ellenberger


Private telephone lines refused to remain private for very long and added to the problems of Hollywood stars who attempted to keep their home life apart from their film careers.


At one time, someone, wishing to “have some fun” at the expense of actor Lew Cody, published his private telephone number. The next day the telephone company, unable to handle the calls into the Cody home, rushed an emergency crew to his Beverly Hills house to install a new system.


Nils Asther’s private telephone number was given out by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio to a caller who posed as a friend. Before long Asther was deluged with strangers calling him at all hours of the day and night. He had to change his number.


Few screen stars had their telephones listed, but when they did it was a “blind” number that led to secretarial offices, a personal telephone always was listed confidentially or under another name and address that could not be traced.


John Gilbert had a regular house telephone, but had a private phone in his study which he answered himself. Greta Garbo’s telephone was listed to her housekeeper, who was given the names of persons she expected to call.


Ramon Novarro’s home number was under his family name of Samaniego, and Norma Shearer’s home telephone was listed as an address only.


If one happened to get Lon Chaney’s number by mistake and asked whose home it was, one would be told: “This is Oxford so-and-so. Who is this, please?” Beyond that one would gain no inkling of the subscriber’s identity.


Bessie Love had two telephones, one for her household needs and a private line for herself. William Haines also had a private line, and Buster Keaton’s house had an elaborate extension system so he could pick up the phone wherever he happened to be.


All of the private lines had cutoff keys so that a star, leaving the house or retiring for the night, could disconnect the telephone, a no-answer signal informing friends that they were not available.


Despite all the privacy precautions, however, the number leak out to salesmen and canvassers and the average life of a private number in Hollywood was estimate at about four months.



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