Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
October 14
October 14, 1959
Errol Flynn dies

On October 14, 1959, the greatest swashbuckler of them all, Errol Flynn, passed away all too young at the age of only 50. The rakish actor had been on a steady decline in the 1950s, as his career hit the skids and his health deteriorated. As he had grown older, Flynn had gone out of vogue as a leading man and he had become increasingly marginalized within the industry. And to make things worse, his years of smoking and drinking had taken his toll, as he suffered from liver failure, Buerger's disease (inflammation and clotting in his arms and legs caused by massive nicotine intake), and underwent tests to ascertain whether he had throat cancer. Flynn had, in fact, nearly died earlier in 1959 when he got food poisoning from a bad hamburger, but his end actually came in much more typical Flynn style. In Vancouver to sell his beloved yacht Zaca to millionaire George Caldough, Flynn cancelled his trip to the airport due to ill health and ended up at the house of Dr. Grant Gould, a friend of Caldough’s (and also the uncle of pianist Glenn Gould.) There, a spontaneous party broke out, with Flynn at the center of the action, drinking heavily and entertaining everybody there. Once again feeling unwell, Flynn retired to bed saying, “I shall return.” He was discovered an hour or so later, having suffered a fatal heart attack. When he was buried in the Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles, his drinking buddies put six bottles of whiskey in the coffin to tide him on his way.


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