INHERITED RISK: Errol and Sean Flynn in Hollywood and Vietnam

Jeffrey Meyers, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7432-1090-4

The sins of the father resurface in the struggles of the son in Meyers's rollicking double biography of the charismatic movie star Errol Flynn and his equally handsome son, Sean. The life of the elder Flynn is, of course, well known. A native Australian, Errol worked as a gold prospector, pearl diver and correspondent for the Sydney Bulletin before being "discovered" by a Warner Bros. agent. He took America by storm with such classics as Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk. A "Byronic figure," he seduced hundreds of women, brawled with bums and stars alike and consumed astonishing amounts of drugs and alcohol. Inevitably, Sean's much briefer biography suffers by comparison. Only in intermittent contact with his father, Sean grew up to be a B-movie star in Europe in the early 1960s (including a stint as the "Son of Captain Blood") before becoming a freelance photographer in Europe and Vietnam. Both men came to sad, gruesome ends: Errol wasted away from substance abuse; Sean was captured at a Vietcong checkpoint and later executed. As a biographer of Humphrey Bogart, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others, Meyers is well-equipped to chronicle the fabulous self-destructiveness of the devil-may-care Errol and his dashing son. Despite an obvious affection for his subjects, he doesn't shrink from exposing their less attractive features, including Errol's statutory rape trial (a scandal that brought "in like Flynn" into the popular lexicon). Despite the odd structure—Errol's hefty life is sandwiched between thin sections about Sean—Meyers offers an entertaining, disheartening look at two fascinating men who flew too close to the sun. Agent, Clyde Taylor. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/22/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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