Errol Flynn wasn’t a Hollywood invention. He was born to adventure: on June 20, 1909, in Hobart, Tasmania. The son of a well-heeled Australian zoologist and marine biologist, the young Flynn caught wanderlust early. At 16, he sailed to New Guinea … on a search for gold!
In 1930, he sailed again with three friends on a wild, seven-month sea voyage. He managed a tobacco plantation, wrote for the Sydney Bulletin. But he was interested in acting, and in short order Hollywood was interested in him.
Flynn was the perfect replacement for actor Robert Donat in Captain Blood. Errol was lanky, athletic, dashing: the first — and arguably still unsurpassed — great swashbuckling hero. Warner Brothers studio executive Jack Warner himself called Flynn “all the heroes in one magnificent, sexy, animal package.” With roles from Don Juan to Robin Hood in nearly 60 films, no one else has ever captured the role of gentlemanly adventure hero with such wit and such grace.
Flynn’s adventures didn’t end in Tasmania. (Remember “in like Flynn”? ) Yet while a Casanova offscreen, he proved himself a real actor, successfully breaking the mold of costumed adventurer, with terrific performances in films like “The Sun Also Rises.”