NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Far off the radar screens of booksellers are two revealing inspections of well-known Hollywood celebrities.
One of them is “The Baron of Mulholland: A Daughter Remembers Errol Flynn,” a fascinating book by Flynn’s daughter Rory (who also is the mother of “Zoey 101’s” 18-year-old Sean Flynn, a.k.a. Sean Rio).
Hollywood’s great swashbuckler became equally legendary for his rascally offscreen behavior, his pursuit of women and affection for partying and booze. He died in 1959, aged 50.
But Rory’s book reveals a side of Papa the public has not been exposed to before, with much of her information delivered via reproductions of handwritten letters from Flynn to his wife, Nora Eddington (Rory’s mother), and to Rory herself. Also, there’s correspondence from and about her half-brother Sean Flynn, a promising photojournalist who disappeared while covering the Vietnam War.
Rory, a former model, also gives many no-holds-barred opinions about life with father (he apparently was much more of a family man than was ever hinted) and the family dynamics after his death. These are all richly illustrated with numerous photos that have never been published before, many of them taken aboard Flynn’s famous yacht, the Zaca, which Orson Welles borrowed as a major setting for his film noir classic “The Lady From Shanghai.”
Among the revelations: Stanley Kubrick was interested in Flynn playing Humbert Humbert in “Lolita,” but Flynn, despite his wilting career and eagerness for the role, said he would only do it if Kubrick would cast Flynn’s girlfriend in the title role, which the director would not do.
The book is published by Xlibris, an Internet based print-on-demand publisher.
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Also recommended: “Anna Lee: Memoir of a Career on ‘General Hospital’ and in Film” (via McFarland & Co.), about the teeter-totter life and career of one of John Ford’s reliables, the beautiful British-born Lee.
Despite appearing in such Ford landmarks as “How Green Was My Valley,” “Fort Apache” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” — as well as “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and “The Sound of Music” — Lee became best known for her 26 years as the classy Lila Quartermain on ABC’s “General Hospital.”
This book began as an as-told-to autobiography with Barbara Roisman Cooper, and thanks to Cooper’s tenacity, it went on to completion and publication after the actress’ death in 2004 at age 91. Lee had much to tell since her life on the soundstages of England and Hollywood included working opposite the likes of John Wayne (three times), Paul Robeson, Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Julie Andrews and others.
She also struggled with health issues, eventual confinement to a wheelchair and a contract situation at ABC that ended her check-ins to “GH.” And she had husbands who included director Robert Stevenson (a disaster) and writer Robert Nathan (a success). Most appropriately for a book about a genuine Ford heroine, the foreword is by another feisty, formidable beauty from the Ford film family, Maureen O’Hara.