Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Legacy of Errol Flynn: A Hot, New Star Named Sean in "Return of the Killer Shrews"

Sean Flynn, grandson of Errol Flynn, who was perhaps the most talented and flamboyant of the stars of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood.

My friend, the film director Steve Latshaw, has had so many of his investments in people mature and produce returns this year.  He is loyal and kind to all those he cares about, and a huge fan of those he admires.  These two aspects of his character came together recently when his friend, James Best (Dukes of Hazzard), got together with him for a remake of the hokey old horror film Killer Shrews (1959) and together they were able to hire 22-year-old Sean Flynn for the new film--Sean being the grandson of one of Steve's great Hollywood heroes, Errol Flynn.

Here's a speed-dating version of Errol Flynn's somewhat complicated personal life that will explain young Sean Flynn's lineage. Errol Flynn had three wives.  With the first, Lili Damita, he had a son named Sean--who grew up to be almost as handsome and talented as his father: he was also, possibly, even more reckless.  Seeking adventure as a war photographer, he disappeared in Cambodia in 1970.  No one is quite sure what happened to him in that turbulent war zone, but his body was never recovered.

Nora Eddington Flynn and Errol.  If you want to see her in another medium, she has a bit part in his film The Adventures of Don Juan (1948).  You'll see her at the very end, when she leans out of a carriage and asks him directions.  Adventures is one of his best films.

Errol Flynn's second wife was a young girl he met when his life was in one of its worst messes (court case, you can read about that elsewhere). Her name was Nora Eddington. They were married from 1943 until 1949 and had two daughters--Deirdre and Rory (b. 1947).  The Sean Flynn we're concerned about here is Rory's son, born in 1989.

If 22-year old Sean Flynn wants to see his grandparents, Errol and Nora, all he has to do is watch this movie.  That must be pretty amazing.

Errol Flynn also had a third wife, Patrice Wymore, to whom he was married when he died of a heart attack, in 1959, at the age of just 50. Flynn and Wymore had a daughter, Arnella, who herself died in 1998.

So the young Sean Flynn has quite an extended family--of which my friend Steve Latshaw has often felt a part, though he did not, until recently, actually meet the young man.  Steve has, for many years, belonged to a group of people who admire Errol Flynn (including some who knew him) and who gather annually to celebrate his birthday.

Talk about good karma coming around for you!  Somehow all this lead to the casting of Sean Flynn in Steve's new, hot, Return of the Killer Shrews, which is now in post production.

In addition to Sean Flynn the cast includes, John Schneider and James Best (Dukes of Hazzard); Bruce Davison, (Willard and an Academy Award nomination for Longtime Companion); Jennifer Lyons (Desperate Housewives); and Rick Hurst (Steel Magnolias and another Dukes veteran).

An even younger Sean Flynn in his Nickelodeon days.

Young Sean had an early career as a teen idol on Nickelodeon, and then took a few year off to grow up into a handsome young man. Through Steve's "Flynn connections," Killer Shrews was able to nab him for this funny, offbeat part.

Steve describes Sean as quiet, studious, and always reading, which isn't a surprise since his grandfather, though a wild man, was also a very brainy guy--the son of an internationally-known biologist.  Steve asked Sean if he'd ever read any of his grandfather's books (it isn't widely known--but he wrote three), and Sean said he'd only read My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1959) his grandfather's ghost-written and much abridged autobiography.

When the movie wrapped, director Latshaw presented the young actor with a first edition of My Wicked Wicked Ways, as well as copies of Errol Flynn's other two books,  Beam Ends (1937), the true story of  Flynn's adventures with some friends and a sailboat when he was just about Sean's age; and Showdown (1946) Flynn's only novel. Sean didn't even know these hardbacks were available.

In Hollywood, a town where loyalty and friendship are almost always based on who's hot and who's not, Sean Flynn has found a real friend.  Let's hope it pays big dividends for both of them.

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