8. Errol Flynn

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

It didn’t take long for Errol Flynn to establish a reputation as a swashbuckling leading man after becoming an overnight sensation in the 1935 film Captain Blood. A series of similar films followed, and Flynn established himself as one of the best action stars of his generation, combining a flair for impressively choreographed sword fights with a winning charm which made him hugely popular with female audiences.

Off screen, his reputation as a ladies’ man and his prodigious hard drinking soon became the stuff of legend. It didn’t take long for his womanising to mar his reputation, and in 1942 two under-age girls accused him of statutory rape. Although he was acquitted in a trial in 1943, the accusations left a dark stain on his image and by 1950, after a series of flops and vanity projects, his Hollywood career effectively came to an end.

His hard-drinking lifestyle caught up with him in 1959, with the autopsy revealing that years of drinking had led to degeneration and cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease. Even after death controversies surrounded Flynn, with further accusations of sexual relationships with under-age girls and even a biography which claimed he was a fascist sympathiser, claims which have been rejected as fabrications. Today, the expression “In like Flynn” stands as a legacy of his hedonistic lifestyle and status as one of Hollywood’s most notable ladies’ man.

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This article was first posted on February 5, 2014