2014-04-03 / Columns

Tinseltown Talks

The Last Mrs. Errol Flynn

When Patrice Wymore died on March 22, 2014, at the age of 87, some were surprised to learn she was actually Patrice Wymore Flynn, third wife of the swashbuckling ‘30s film idol, Errol Flynn. When I interviewed her in 2009, she talked about their first meeting and eventual marriage.

The couple met on the set of William Keighley’s “Rocky Mountain” (1950), a Western filmed entirely on location in the spectacular New Mexico desert, on an Indian Reservation some 30 miles out of Gallup.

Wymore was the only woman in the cast (excluding Marianne Stone’s fleeting scene as a corpse in a stagecoach accident) and, despite Flynn’s reputation as a ladies’ man, she said the two were privately drawn together. She recalled bumping into Errol for the first time on the set.

“I was in the makeup department and was called to the phone,” said Wymore, from Jamaica where she had lived since the 1950s. “I rushed to get it and ran into Errol. My hair was up in rollers, my face was covered in cold cream – I looked a mess! And I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I’ll be fired immediately.’”

Errol Flynn and future wife, Patrice Wymore, look over the script in this publicity still for William Keighley’s “Rocky Mountain” (1950) Errol Flynn and future wife, Patrice Wymore, look over the script in this publicity still for William Keighley’s “Rocky Mountain” (1950) But she wasn’t, and their friendship grew. “Errol and I shared a trailer. He had the front end, I had the back, and there was a kitchen in the middle. We would meet over lunch, and so I got to know the man, as well as the actor. It was a gradual thing. He was very intelligent and had a wonderful sense of humor.”

One evening, however, Flynn caught her off-guard. “He asked me to his suite to rehearse a scene. We ended up talking about everything under the sun. It got to about midnight and I told him I had to go and get some sleep as I had to be up at 4 o’clock. I got to the door to leave, and he asked me to sit down again because he had something to say. He asked if I would marry him.”

Patrice Wymore. (Source, Collin Reid, AP) Patrice Wymore. (Source, Collin Reid, AP) Her response surprised him a little. “I said ‘you’ve got to be joking!’ But he was serious. So I suggested we should wait until we got back to Hollywood and to continue seeing each other for a while longer. I thought we might have had too much of the desert moon in our eyes!”

A few weeks before “Rocky Mountain” was released, Wymore did indeed become the third Mrs. Errol Flynn when the couple married in Monte Carlo.

“There were very few Hollywood people there as we really wanted a small wedding,” Wymore recalled. “I think we had about 50 guests, and about 150 press representatives! There was a civil service at the palace in Monaco, then the church service in a Lutheran church in Nice, where they declared a holiday – every shop was closed and everyone was out on the streets! It took all of the Gendarmerie to keep the crowds back. So our quiet, simple ceremony turned out to be a large function.”

The couple soon moved to their some 2,000-acre tropical paradise, with over three miles of private beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea on the northeastern coast of Jamaica, which Flynn had fallen in love with while sailing in the region four years earlier. They would later separate, but never divorce.

When Flynn died in 1959, Wymore inherited the property where she remained the rest of her life raising cattle and coconuts.

Although Flynn is remembered mostly for his flamboyant roles in movies such as “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Captain Blood,” Wymore said her husband always wanted more serious roles.

“He really was not happy being labeled as the cinematic swashbuckling hero,” she said. “He longed to prove himself as an actor, and he was a very good one. But I think he always underestimated his own abilities. Some of his films are not first class, but he never fell out of character in any of the roles. He just had that magnetic quality that only the camera can pick up.”

Remembering Flynn, the man, from their short decade together was clearly a memory she treasured all her life. “He could make a walk down a country lane into the most exciting experience you ever had.”

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 400 magazines and newspapers.

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