Errol Flynn could dance, insists Julie Newmar

Dance · Film
Julie on set in gold head-to-toe makeup applied by makeup man Antole Robbins, Flynn observing at rear c. 1952

Beyond his many physical gifts that made him the most derring-do of screen actors to famously do his own stuntwork, the long-legged Aussie-born movie star, Erroll Flynn (1909-1959) could also dance. Who knew? It was a gem of a factoid shared in an interview with dancer/Cat Woman, Julie Newmar. She is someone who would know, she worked with Flynn on a project in Cuba, we are not yet certain its title.

“I want to tell you something else,” Julie told me. “Something he’s never been given credit for. This person is a non dancer. But he was a natural. He was born on the island of Australia, and that was Errol Flynn. If you can find him doing a song and dance number; I have never seen such a natural dancer, singer. He is known only as an actor, his timing was out of this world, his instincts were better than dancer-dancers.”

Errol Flynn, dancer
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Debunked! Bunker Hill, unblemished, in new book


By day, it wasn’t an ‘urban underbelly.’ It was Anytown USA, a hustle-bustle neighborhood of oversized Victorian homes with porticoes and porch swings; corner grocery stores, playgrounds and bus stops. It was the terminus of the charming funicular, Angel’s Flight, that shuttled workers to and from their downtown Los Angeles jobs. By day, the flattish hilltop community was flooded by California sun. After sunset, it was a town transformed. That’s when the bars, the broads, and the bad-boys, the losers and the lost ones, skulked the streets creating a mythic identity of L.A. Noir forever linked to old Bunker Hill.

This urban saga is on offer in a new thinnish tome, Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir. The author is Nathan Marsak, a Los Angeles historian and preservation advocate.

Marsak tells the story of the district’s inception in the mid-19th century to its present day. Once home to the wealthy living in Los Angeles’s ‘first suburb,’ then the epicenter of the city’s shifting demographics, Bunker Hill survived its attempted erasure and reemerged as a hub of arts, politics, business, and tourism. It went from bad boys to ballet boys.

photo courtesy nathan marsak

We asked a friend of artsmeme, Chris Nichols, an author, cultural historian and bright light behind the “Ask Chris,” column of Los Angeles Magazine, to give us his reaction to the book.

I liked the book a lot. Nathan Marsak is brilliant and funny. He manages to weave several interconnected stories about politics, urbanism, art, film noir, redevelopment, as well as a straight history of how this neighborhood came to be — and how it came to be destroyed. The destruction of Bunker Hill is a great Los Angeles myth which everyone approaches with some intrinsic bias (like the history of Dodger Stadium) and Marsak does a good job of being impartial. He’s passionate, but not placing blame on any one person or side. He obviously spent years on research and you can tell. He talks as though he were there — and that’s my favorite kind of historian.

Chris Nichols, on ‘Bunker Hill Los Angeles: Essence of Sunshine and Noir
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