Errol Flynn Was the R. Kelly of Old Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein wasn’t Hollywood’s only monster. Now, thanks to the scores of victims coming forward after the #MeToo movement, fans are seeing just how corrupt and scandalous the entertainment industry really is. But it’s not a new phenomenon. Before Weinstein, there were other predators lurking behind the cameras. Scandal in Hollywood is basically as old as Hollywood itself. But after all the revelations, fans are starting to see old stars in a new light. One of the stars who doesn’t look good in a modern light is Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn | Bettmann / Contributor

Errol Flynn was a natural movie star 

Flynn may not be as big a name as other old Hollywood greats, but he was popular in his day. He was good looking based on the tastes at the time, and he shone on camera. But he was troubled from the very beginning of his career, and probably should have never made it on to a movie set in the first place. Flynn was kicked out of the theater scene in England after allegedly pushing a woman down the stairs, according to Independent.ie.

Despite his troubled past, he was given a contract by Warner Brothers to work in Hollywood and would go on to star in some of their biggest hits. His breakout role was in Captain Blood, which came out in 1935. He would star in a few more hits throughout the late 1930s, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, where he was cast as the hero, Robin Hood himself. But he used his stardom to finance a wild lifestyle. He couldn’t escape his proclivities for long and, according to Vanity Fair, was accused of statutory rape by two teenage girls in the 1940s. He was acquitted and would go on to get a few more parts here and there, but he would never be a leading man again.

R. Kelly and Errol Flynn both had relationships with underage girls 

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t the scandal that put the final nail in the coffin for Flynn’s career. His lifestyle took a toll, and by the 1940s he wasn’t the looker he had once been. Flynn’s story, however, does bring to mind another, modern entertainer with a similar scandalous history. R. Kelly, much like Flynn, was a young up-and-coming artist with a bright future. Like Flynn, Kelly’s predatory behavior would end up bringing him down. 

R. Kelly has essentially lost everything because of the accusations against him. Numerous women have come forward saying they were trafficked or abused by Kelly. He’s currently in an Illinois prison awaiting trial, completely destitute according to Kelly. His music is no longer played on some streaming platforms, and many radio stations have taken him off the air completely. 

Errol Flynn wouldn’t have survived in a post #MeToo world 

The difference between Flynn and Kelly is a testament to how far we have come as a society. Although Kelly has lost everything, including his record contract with Sony, Flynn was actually defended when teenagers came forward to accuse him of statutory rape. In today’s day and age, it’s hard to imagine a studio sending its own lawyers to represent an actor accused of such a heinous crime, but that’s what Warner Brothers did for Flynn. 

Flynn, unlike Kelly, didn’t lose his career because of his crimes. He would go on to land roles in big movies, even if he was no longer playing the lead. It was his hard-drinking, not his crimes against women and children, that led him to eventually lose everything. Like Kelly, Flynn would end up destitute by the 1950s. He died in 1959, at just 50 years old. At the time of his death, he was living in Alaska with an 18-year-old actress.