Monday, March 29, 2010

Sean Flynn: Forgotten Swashbuckler

Today while reading the news there was an article about the possible discovery of the remains of Sean Flynn, the son of Errol Flynn. Sean Flynn became a forgotten swashbuckler, albeit mostly by his own choice. He wanted to pursue his own path as a photojournalist and war correspondent: a choice and pursuit that cost him his life.

Born in 1941 to Errol Flynn and Lili Damita, Sean would start acting, appearing in bit parts and TV spots, until he starred in The Son of Captain Blood, in 1961. (His father died of a heart attack in October of '59). He then went on to do a total of eight films before giving up on acting pursuing his career as photo journalist.

Sean Flynn lived as interesting a life as his more famous and infamous father, trying his hand as a big game hunter, guide, and game warden in Africa. Then as a photo journalist he saw the Vietnam War along Special Forces troops, as well as reporting in the Middle East during the Arab-Israeli war. In 1970 he went into Cambodia where it was believed that he was taken by Vietnamese Communist forces and likely met his end soon after those events. His body was never recovered and the truth about his disappearance and death was never really known. He was declared legally dead in 1984.

Father and son seemed to live mirrored lives in many respects. Both did acting as a way to make money. Though Errol Flynn seemed to relish his movie stardom, he was never happier than when he was on his boat Zaca. He spent time in Spain as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, and then later getting himself on the wrong side of the Castro revolution is Cuba.

Sean Flynn tired of movies or was bored. Or did he not want to follow in his father's path? As Errol broke from his own bookish father and eschewed academics did Sean wish to avoid following Errol? Avoid following the same scandal strewn path? Or did he not wish to stand in the Great Swashbuckler's shadow? These are just my speculations and musings. I personal think that all of the above might apply.

I hope the remains that were reported are indeed Sean Flynn. Though his parents are both long gone themselves, it may provide their spirits a bit more ease, his family that remains a little peace to have the mystery solved. Like so many that lost family in those jungles during those years of conflict who wondered what had become of those loved ones, maybe some semblance of closure can be found.

Perhaps Sean can also find that peace, and he and Errol are together on the deck of a spiritual Zaca, fishing poles waiting for a nibble or hands upon the wheel. A Caribbean breeze filling the sails, sending the schooner flying into the sunset, just like in the movies.

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