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Remembering Dickie Jones in “Virginia City”

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jul 9th, 2014
Jul 9


Remembering Dickie Jones in Virginia City



Miriam Hopkins with Dickie Jones in Virginia City (1940)



By Allan R. Ellenberger


Actor Dick “Dickie” Jones passed away at age 87 on Monday at his home in Northridge, California, a community north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. A few years ago I interviewed Mr. Jones for my biography of Miriam Hopkins, A Really Fantastic Bitch: The Life of Miriam Hopkins. Dickie Jones, as he was known when he was a child actor, worked with Hopkins in the 1940 film, Virginia City, which also co-starred Errol Flynn. For the short time we spent together, Jones was a delight. He’s one of the few costars of Hopkins that I interviewed that had only nice things to say about her. In fact, it upset him that so many of her coworkers have said negative things.


Below are excerpts of Jones’s involvement in the making of Virginia City:



According to eyewitness accounts, the location set of Virginia City was a war zone. John Hilder, a correspondent for Hollywood magazine, went with the cast to Flagstaff. He reported “tempers flared, and feuds raged. For one eventful weekend it appeared that the cast was about to choose sides—the blues and the grays—and re-fight the Civil War with bare hands, rocks or practical bullets.” Columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote that, according to his spies, several feuds were going on simultaneously. “Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart are feuding,” he reported, “Flynn and Miriam Hopkins are feuding, and Mike Curtiz and Miriam Hopkins are feuding.”


Dickie Jones, who played Cobby, was twelve-years-old and recalled there were no tensions on the set, especially between Miriam and Errol Flynn. However, he understood how there could be after working with Flynn a decade later in Rocky Mountain (1950). “He didn’t get along with his leading lady, Patrice Wymore,” Jones recalled. “They fought like cats and dogs and afterward, they got married.”


Errol Flynn was Jones’ favorite actor. To the young boy he was a professional and was never a “softie” about his work. “On the set he was all professional,” Jones said. “Behind the camera he was a fun guy. I didn’t socialize with him, so I don’t know about the other things that he did, or so they claimed, but I liked him.”


Jones was very fond of Miriam as well because she treated him as an equal. “She talked to me and not at me,” Jones said. “And we worked together. Never did she throw a tantrum while I was around. Some of them did.”


In one scene, Cobby falls from the wagon and is crushed by the turning wheels. Jones performed the stunt himself. “I went out of the boot of the wagon and off the back of the horse and rolling over, just dropped into the sand,” Jones recalled. “And then the camera rose up a little, so I was out of range, and that’s when they pulled me out before the wheels ran over the log that would simulate my body. That was the only catch in that shot—pulling me out before the wheels actually rolled over me.”





As Cobby lies dying in Miriam’s arms, which was filmed later at Warner Bros., he is swabbed with glycerin to simulate sweat as she gently mops his head. “I remember I’m trying to fake dying and Miriam’s carrying on a conversation, I think with the doctor, in the cramped quarters of the bed of the wagon,” Jones recalled. “And that went on for a long time with everyone’s long shots and close-ups, and that was a whole day just for that one scene. It was very boring for me.”


Jones was disappointed that some have spoken unkindly about Miriam. To a twelve-year-old boy, she made a great impression and, as far as he knew, she got along with everyone. “Maybe that was professional jealousy on their part,” he said. “A youngster can pick out someone that’s nice and someone that isn’t, and not just by their attitude and the way they talk.”


For performing his own stunt in the film, the director, Michael Curtiz gave Jones a large Concho belt made from silver and turquoise. The director knew that Dickie collected Native American artifacts and jewelry called “Pawn Jewelry,” and it was sold dirt cheap on the reservation. “You don’t get adjusted for stunt work,” Curtiz told Jones, “but I’m adjusting you for doing such a good job.”


Jones had the following the say about his other costars:



“He was a charming gentleman. He was very quiet. He was too busy reading the Wall Street Journal, making his fortune.”



“He was just a run-of-the-mill guy. He wasn’t pretentious or anything like that. In his early career, he was really struggling with his work and Black Legion (Jones also appeared in this film) was one of his first serious things. I look back, and I watch Virginia City and there he is with a little thin mustache and he’s the Mexican bandito with a broken accent. It broke me up. It was too phony.”



“There were a lot of times we were sitting around doing nothing and waiting. Michael Curtiz was a fanatic for clouds. He called them goobers. ‘We wait here ‘til the goobers to come,’ he would say. It made the film more picturesque with all the clouds floating around the sky out there in Arizona.”


“I enjoyed Virginia City very much,” Jones said. “It was fun to work on.”


Thank you Mr. Jones.



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.”



“Errol & Olivia” at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 11th, 2011
Apr 11


“Errol & Olivia: Ego & Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood” booksigning at Larry Edmunds Bookshop




By Robert Matzen


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Larry Edmunds Bookshop

6644 Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood, 90028





Stop by Larry Edmunds for a book signing with author Robert Matzen, for his book, “Errol & Olivia – Ego & Obsession in Golden Era Hollywood.”
Film trailers from the films of Flynn & de Havilland !
Errol Flynn poster gallery display!


Digging deep into the vaults of Warner Brothers and the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as other private archives, this book explores the complex personal and professional relationship of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Flynn, even 50 years after his death, continues to conjure up images to the prototypical handsome, charismatic ladies’ man; while de Havilland, a two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner, is the last surviving star of Gone with the Wind. Richly illustrated with both color and black-and-white photos, most previously unpublished, this detailed history tells the sexy story of these two massive stars, both together and apart.



Robert Matzen has appeared on BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4 and was the writer and director of George Washington’s First War, Pursuit of Honor, and When the Forest Ran Read. He is the author of Carol Lombard: A Bio-Bibliography and the co-author of Errol Flynn Slept Here. He lives in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.



Beverly Aadland Fisher Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 11th, 2010
Jan 11


Beverly E. Fisher dies at 67; Errol Flynn’s final girlfriend


Beverly Fisher, then named Beverly Aadland, costarred with Errol Flynn in his last film, 1959’s “Cuban Rebel Girls.” (Associated Press)


Formerly Beverly Aadland, she was 15 when her affair with the swashbuckling actor began. Two years later she was there when he had a fatal heart attack.


By Rong-Gong Lin II
Los Angeles Times
January 10, 2010


Beverly E. Fisher, who became famous at 17 as Beverly Aadland, the final girlfriend of 50-year-old swashbuckling Hollywood actor Errol Flynn, has died. She was 67.


Click here to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Beverly Aadland Fisher



Errol Flynn is in Again

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 20th, 2009
Jun 20


A century after his birth, Errol Flynn is in again


Errol Flynn

Sigh — our hero: Flynn with his schnauzer Moody on the set of “Never Say Goodbye” in 1945.


By Nick Thomas
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 21, 2009


Movie audiences have always embraced their swashbuckling screen heroes, and this year marks the centenary of arguably the greatest, Errol Flynn. Mostly, Flynn is remembered for portraying a free-spirited adventurer who dispensed swift justice to oppressors, while extending a gentle hand of chivalry to ladies in need. Born on June 20, 1909, in the southern Australian state of Tasmania, Flynn lived life hard off-screen, too. In just 15 short years, from 1935 until his death 50 years ago, he racked up dozens of classic performances and a professional legacy that endures.


These days, swashbucklers are more likely to be called “action heroes,” who trade in their sabers for guns, bullwhips or light sabers in franchises such as “Indiana Jones,” “The Mummy” or “Star Wars.” More recently, after plundering almost $3 billion at the box office worldwide, the success of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy suggests that sword-wielding adventurers have retained their charm. But whatever their title or weaponry, these characters are little more than reincarnations of dashing screen legends, such as Flynn.


Click here to continue reading



Errol Flynn’s 100th Birthday

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 20th, 2009
Jun 20


Errol Flynn


Errol Flynn






Hollywood Heritage Event…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 13th, 2009
Apr 13

Evening @ The Barn

Hollywood Heritage


Wednesday April 15th, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Hollywood Heritage “Evening @ the Barn



Co-authors Robert Matzen and  Michael Mazzone present






Inside the Lover’s Lair


Errol Flynn was one of the greatest lovers of Hollywood’s Golden Era, and his house, “Mulholland Farm,” became the most notorious in movie history. Robert Matzen and Michael Mazzone, authors of the coffee-table hardcover, ERROL FLYNN SLEPT HERE (GoodKnight Books, 2009), take you inside Mulholland Farm (demolished 1988), the legendary hilltop Flynn home that hosted wild Hollywood parties still talked about today-and the bodysnatching of then recently-deceased John Barrymore from Pierce Brothers Mortuary in Hollywood in 1942. The authors’ presentation will also include a short video about Flynn and Mulholland Farm.

Joining Matzen and Mazzone will be Steve Hayes, a friend of Flynn’s who spent five weeks as his houseguest at Mulholland in 1950. Hayes, a bit player in the 1950s, became a screenwriter, contributing the story to the feature film TIME AFTER TIME, and writing more than 100 hours of network television. Hayes documented his close association with Flynn, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and other Hollywood superstars in the two-volume GOOGIES: COFFEE SHOP TO THE STARS (Bear Manor Media, 2008).


Copies of ERROL FLYNN SLEPT HERE will be available for purchase and signing by the authors with partial proceeds benefitting the Hollywood Heritage Museum.



Evening @ the Barn  for “ERROL FLYNN SLEPT HERE” will be held Wednesday April 15th, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the

Lasky-DeMille Barn

(Across from the Hollywood Bowl)

2100 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068

Hollywood Heritage Members:  $5, Non-Members:  $8

Admission sold only at the door.

Doors open 7 p.m., show starts 7:30 p.m.

As always: FREE PARKING!  Refreshments Available.



To increase your chances of getting the best seats for ERROL FLYNN SLEPT HERE, please arrive early.  


Seating capacity at the Barn is, as always, limited to 120


Our fifth “Evening @ the Barn” will be in May, featuring Laurel & Hardy.  Exact date and details will be posted on the Hollywood Heritage website on the “events” page.



Errol Flynn Book…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 7th, 2008
Oct 7

Errol Flynn’s daughter recalls actor’s ‘family man’ side in self-published book


Rory Flynn at her father’s star on the
Walk of Fame (Old Books on Front Street)



October 6, 2008


Errol Flynn, who would have turned 100 next year, is known as a swashbuckling classic movie actor of films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood. Seven decades after those movies premiered, he is still remembered for both his acting and rakish good looks.


Flynn was known for his rowdy, behind-the scenes pastimes as well as his adventures on the silver screen. (After all, his autobiography is called “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.”) But the image of Flynn as a father and family man is the motivation behind “The Baron of Mulholland: A Daughter Remembers Errol Flynn,” a selection of photos and writings by his daughter – and Pender County resident – Rory Flynn, who is signing copies of the book at noon Saturday at Old Books on Front St. in downtown Wilmington (North Carolina).


“Errol Flynn and ‘family man’ aren’t usually used together,” Rory Flynn said. “But that’s how I remember him.”


The Baron was a popular nickname for Errol Flynn. And Rory recalls that life with him in Mulholland was “very ‘Mommie Dearest’ without the bad stuff.”


She remembers lavish parties, for both adults and his children, fencing matches between her dad and Gary Cooper and him recreating an Australian ranch at his California home.


Her book combines family photos with hand-written letters to showcase Errol Flynn’s life and that of his family. She self-published the 160 pages as a kind of scrapbook; it includes pictures given to her by her grandparents and the love letters written by Flynn to her mother, Nora Eddington.


Although Rory Flynn spoke with publishers, she said they wanted something different than what she had in mind. “I kept hearing from his fans that they wanted something like this, something personal,” she said. “I didn’t want to exploit my father, but offer something more to the fans than what was already available.”



The book also devotes several pages to Flynn’s son (Rory’s brother), Sean Flynn, a photojournalist captured and killed in Cambodia during the Vietnam War.


After years working as a model, Rory Flynn also became a photographer and has worked in that capacity on films such as “The Return of the Living Dead” and “Invaders from Mars.”


“I call myself the Ed Wood of still photography,” she said. “It seems I’m always working on these low-budget horror movies.”


Flynn’s family is still very much connected to Hollywood and the film business. Her husband, Gideon Amir, is a film producer. Son Sean Flynn is a singer/songwriter and star of the teen sensation Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon.


Although Flynn’s family has made their home in California for 21 years, they recently purchased nine acres in the Burgaw area.


“I looked on a map and knew I wanted to go straight across to the other side of the country from L.A.,” she said. She thought the mild North Carolina weather and Wilmington’s connection to the movie industry would be a good fit for the family – and hopes the book signing will be a way to meet people in her new hometown.


It might be a while before Flynn can really settle in, though. Since the book came out in 2007, she’s been on book tours and is planning several trips to her father’s native Australia as they prepare to celebrate his 100th birthday next year.


“My dad still has so many fans,” she said. “He is an icon, and he’s really been imbedded in Western culture.”



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