Monday, 21 July 2014

Famous actors and actresses whose lifestyles killed them        (Part 1)     

It is a very sad commentary of life that many people who had created great accomplishments during their lives actually destroyed their lives by the manner in which they lived.

Errol Flynn

This incredible actor was born in Tasmania on June 20, 1909 where his father was a lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Errol Flynn later became a naturalized American citizen in 1942. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films and his playboy lifestyle.

After early schooling in Hobart, from 1923 to 1925 Flynn was in England receiving his education at South-West London College, a private boarding school in Barnes, London, and in 1926, he returned to Australia to attend the Sydney Church of England Grammar School  where he was the classmate of future Australian Prime Minister, John Gorton. He concluded his formal education after being expelled from Shore for theft, and according to his own account—having been caught in a romantic assignation with the school's laundress. After being dismissed from a job as a junior clerk with a Sydney shipping company for pilfering petty cash, he went to Papua New Guinea at the age of eighteen, seeking and failing to find his fortune in tobacco planting and metals mining. He spent the next five years moving between the New Guinea frontier territory and Sydney.

In early 1933, Flynn appeared as an amateur actor in the Australian film In the Wake of the Bounty, in the lead role of Fletcher Christian. Later that year he headed to England intent upon pursuing a career in acting.   

Shortly after his arrival, he secured a job with the Northampton Repertory Company at the town's Royal Theatre (now part of Royal & Derngate), where he worked and received his training as a professional actor for seven months. He also performed at the 1934 Malvern Festival and in Glasgow and London's West End on occasion.

In 1934, Flynn was dismissed from Northampton Rep. after a violent fracas with a female stage manager, which involved her being tumbled down a stairwell. He later then headed to the Warner Brothers/Teddington Studios in Middlesex where he had worked briefly as an extra in the movie I Adore You before he moved to Northampton. With his new-found acting skills, he was cast as the lead in Murder at Monte Carlo (currently a lost film), during the filming of which he was signed on by Warner Bros. resulting in him emigrating to Hollywood as a contract actor.

Flynn was an overnight sensation in his first starring role soon after arriving in Hollywood, Captain Blood (1935). Quickly typecast as a swashbuckler, he followed it with a succession of films over the next six years that re-invented the sophistication of the action-adventure genre, most of them under the direction of Michael Curtiz, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936),The Prince and the Pauper (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)—his first film in Technicolor and what would become his synonymous role, The Dawn Patrol (1938) (in his closest onscreen performance with his friend David Niven), Dodge City (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and The Sea Hawk (1940). I saw all of those movies. He always had a thin mustache in all his movies. There was no doubt about it. He was an extremely good-looking man which of course certainly attracted female movie patrons.  

Flynn co-starred with Olivia de Havilland a total of eight times, and together they made the most successful on-screen romantic partnership in Hollywood in the late 1930s-early '40s in Captain Blood(1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four's a Crowd (1938), Dodge City (1939), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Santa Fe Trail(1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (1941). While Flynn acknowledged his personal attraction to de Havilland, assertions by film historians that they were privately romantically involved during the filming of Robin Hood that had been refuted by de Havilland. In an interview for Turner Classic Movies, she said that their relationship was platonic, primarily because Flynn was already married to Lili Damita who was a very beautiful woman who was a movie actress. She and Flynn were married in 1935 and they had a son who later was a freelance photo journalist for Times and was killed in the Cambodian Civil War (Khmer Rouge Reign).

She and Flynn were divorced in 1942. She later remarried and died of Alzheimer's disease on March 21, 1994, in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 89. She was interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, her third husband's hometown.

During the shooting of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) Flynn was co-starred for a second time with Bette Davis, but their personal relationship was quarrelsome off screen, causing Davis allegedly to slap him across his face far harder than necessary while filming a particular scene in the movie. Flynn thought that the cause of Davis' wrath was her being romantically interested in him, a feeling he claimed was not reciprocated on his part. Other reports said Davis was upset to be sharing equal billing with a man she thought was not a real actor but just playing the same dashing adventurer time after time. Olivia Hamilton recounted a story where she visited Davis and they watched a private copy of Elizabeth and Essex; halfway through Davis brought her hand crashing down on her chair arm rest and declared, “Damn it! The man could act!”

In 1940, he was voted the 4th most popular star in the US according to Variety and the 7th most popular star in Britain.  Probably the women votes represented the majority of the votes. He was at the zenith of his career.

When Flynn became a naturalized American citizen on the 15th of August 1942 and for this reason, he also became eligible for the military draft, as the United States had entered World War II eight months earlier. Grateful to the country that had given him fame and wealth, he attempted to join the armed services but he had several health problems.  His heart was enlarged, with a murmur, and he had already suffered at least one heart attack; he had recurrent malaria (contracted in New Guinea), chronic back pain (for which he self-medicated with morphine and later, with heroin), lingering chronic tuberculosis, and numerous venereal diseases. Flynn, who was famous for his athletic roles was promoted by the movie studio as a paragon of male physical perfection. Nevertheless, he was classified 4-F – ‘unqualified for military service’  because he could not meet the minimum physical fitness standards required to enter the armed forces.  This created a public image problem for both Flynn and Warner Brothers as he was often criticized for his failure to enlist in the Armed Forces for war service as many other Hollywood actors of service age had, and yet while not apparently enlisting.  
He continued to play war heroes in flag-waver productions such as Dive Bomber (1941), Desperate Journey (1942) and Objective Burma (1945). The Studio's failure to counter the criticism was due to a decision on its part to conceal the state of Flynn's health as he was an expensive asset.  In the late 1940s his fee was $200,000 a film. In today’s money, that would be $2,590,000.

The gossips also took note of his very close friendships with Marlene Dietrich, Dolores del Río and Carole Lombard. Lombard is said to have resisted his advances. She had already met and fallen in love with Clark Gable, but she liked Flynn and invited him to her extravagant soirees. 

In the late 1950s, Flynn met and courted the 15-year-old Beverly Aadland at the Hollywood Professional School, casting her in his final film, Cuban Rebel Girls (1959). According to Aadland, he planned to marry her and move to a new house in Jamaica but he died of a heart attack before this came to pass. It is unusual for a man who by then was in his late forties to be courting a 15-year-old teenager.                                                                                                               
The term “In like Flynn” refers to Flynn who already had a reputation for womanizing, consumption of alcohol and brawling. His reputation included freewheeling and a hedonistic lifestyle that finally caught up with him in November 1942 when two under-age girls, Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee, accused him of statutory rape (sex with under aged girls).  The trial took place in January and February 1943, and Flynn was cleared of the charges after a successful aggressive defense by his lawyer who had castigated the accusing girls’ morals and characters. According to etymologist Michael Quinion, the incident served to increase Flynn's reputation as a ladies' man, which led to the popular phrase “In like Flynn”.       
Although Flynn was acquitted of the charges, the trial's sexually lurid nature described day by day by the media, created a notorious public reputation of Flynn as a ladies’ man which had by then permanently damaged his screen image as an idealized romantic lead player, that which Warner Bros had expended so much time and resources establishing that image in the eyes of female movie going audiences.

Flynn, in financial difficulties, flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on 9 October 1959, to finalize the sale of his beloved Zaca, a 118 foot luxury sailing yacht that, according to legend had been fitted with the rigging from Canada’s famed Bluenose  to try to lease his yacht Zaca to Vancuver businessman George Caldough. After spending several days at Caldough's home at 1026 Eyremont Drive, on the 14th of October, Caldough was driving him back to the airport for a Los Angeles-bound flight when Flynn began complaining of back and leg pains, which had been getting worse for 2 days. He was taken to the Vancouver home of Caldough's friend, Dr. Grant Gould, at Apartment No. 201, 1310 Burnaby Street, seeking pain-killing medication before the flight. Flynn had difficulty negotiating the stairs to the apartment as his legs were troubling him and was in considerable discomfort, but in good spirit, and after receiving a pain relief injection for what the doctor diagnosed as the symptoms of degenerative disc disease (Flynn was suffering from spinal osteoarthritis at this time).

Flynn began regaling those present with extended stories about his life, but refused a drink when offered it. After receiving a leg massage and manipulation while lying on the floor of the apartment's bedroom, the doctor suggested that he rest his leg there for a while before attempting to walk on it again, Flynn responding that he felt “ever so much better.” At this point, he was left on his own on the bedroom's floor to rest while the doctor retired to an adjacent room to re-join the other members of the small traveling party Flynn had arrived with consisting of Beverly Aadland, Caldough and his wife; and two friends of the doctor's—Mr. and Mrs. A.D. Cameron – whose social visit had been interrupted by Flynn's impromptu medical stop-over.

After 20 minutes (6:45 p.m.) Aadland checked in on Flynn and discovered that he wasn’t responsive or breathing.  He had suffered a heart attack and was unconscious. Despite receiving immediate emergency medical treatment from the doctor and a swift transfer to the Vancouver General Hospital by ambulance, he didn’t regain consciousness and was pronounced dead there at 7.45 p.m. 

There are many conspiracy theories about Flynn's death on the Internet. However, this account of his death appears to be accurate as Mr. Flynn's personal lawyer, Justin M. Golenbock, related an almost identical story of Mr. Flynn's death to his children in the late 1960s. The cause of death, based on this story, was most likely pulmonary embolism (and not a heart attack) caused by a deep venous thrombosis in one or both of Mr. Flynn's legs. 
Errol Flynn’s body was turned over to the Vancouver Coroner's Office which performed an autopsy, and then legally released to the next of kin for dispatch by railway transit to California. The results of the autopsy revealed a number of ailments including heart disease and degeneration and cirrhosis of the liver. Years of alcoholism had apparently taken a toll on Flynn's body and an unnamed official from the Coroner's Office said that Flynn’s body was that “of a tired old man—old before his time, and sick.”

Errol Flynn died broke. A filmed-in-Italy production of William Tell had been a catastrophic financial loss for him.  He was in trouble with the IRS regarding unpaid taxes and there was a succession of wives demanding back alimony. When Flynn encountered a press scrum after he arrived at the Vancouver Airport, a local reporter asked him why he constantly seemed to be surrounded by underage girls. Flynn shot back “because they fuck so good.” It would seem that having sex with women, even under-aged teenaged-girls was on his mind a lot.

The reporters were shocked at Flynn’s haggard, bloated condition. Of course, they could had no idea of how truly riddled with disease their visitor from Hollywood had become.

The most notably damaged organ, it turned out, was Flynn’s penis, which was covered by enormous genital warts that look like large brown scabs. The warts were so large, in fact, that the city’s chief pathologist, Tom Harmon, removed them and preserved the specimens in formaldehyde with an eye of having them serve as a teaching aid to future generations of British Columbia doctors. Incidentally, despite the exaggerated rumours that his penis was a colossal size is merely fiction. It was no larger or smaller than the average man’s penis. No. I didn’t see it. I am going by the pathologist’s observation. I suppose with all those huge warts covering his penis, oral sex by women wasn’t an option for him. To this day, a piece of Flynn might still have resided in Canada if the bizarre act had not been caught by the coroner—who immediately scotch-taped the warts back into place. Genital warts are caused by specific strains of the Human Papilloma Virus. The virus is highly contagious and is a common sexually transmitted infection. Warts spread by this kind of infection typically appear as a small bump or group of bumps. These bumps can vary significantly in both size and appearance and can be small or large, raised, flat, or in the shape of cauliflower.  What amazes me is that he didn’t go to a doctor earlier and have them removed.
There is no doubt in my mind that Errol Flynn’s lifestyle is what killed him at his early age of 50. 

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