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Flynn Flam

July 10, 1988|Pat H. Broeske

OK, so what's the real story on Errol Flynn?

Back in 1980, celebrity biographer Charles Higham shocked readers with "Errol Flynn: The Untold Story." It claimed, among other things, that Flynn had been a Nazi and a bisexual--whose sexual appetite led him to Mexico for the procurement of young boys.

Film enthusiast William Donati was so upset by the allegations that he started his own research. It led him to Flynn's former buddy and stunt double, Buster Wiles. The result: "My Days With Errol Flynn," co-authored with Wiles, due shortly from Roundtable Publishers.

"We certainly don't depict Flynn as a saint," said Donati. "I don't think there's any doubt that drinking led to his downfall. And he certainly had a colorful romantic life." But: "His romantic life didn't include other men."

As for the purported Nazi links, Donati said that a back-of-the-book segment titled "The Flynn Controversy" will refute Higham's claims.

In addition to going through thousands of declassified government documents, Donati traveled to Vienna to interview Dr. Hermann F. Erben, a friend of Flynn's who did, in fact, work for the Germans. Donati said his conversations with Erben "aren't anything like what's in the Higham book," and said that Higham had used another journalist to conduct the Erben interview for his book.

Reached just before heading off on a publicity tour for his current tome, "The Duchess of Windsor," Higham wasn't amused by news of this latest Flynn bio.

"I couldn't possibly comment on this other Flynn book until I have seen it.

"But, I wonder why we are talking about this at all. The Flynn case is closed. My book was exhaustively documented. I would also stress to you that I am a serious person and a thorough scholar. "

He added, "Who is this man, anyway, who was written this new book? What makes him qualified to do it?"

To this, Donati retorted, "I'm nobody. I'm the first to admit it. I've held lots of different jobs and my background is basically academic. (He told us he has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Memphis State, a master's in Italian literature from UCLA and that he attended Columbia College, the motion picture and TV production technical school in Hollywood.)

Added Donati: "Let's just say that Higham had his say, and now we'll have our say."

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