Photo of Errol Flynn Errol Flynn

With a life at least as colorful as the characters he played, Errol Flynn had traveled the world and worked as a gold prospector, journalist and plantation manager before achieving overnight stardom by replacing Robert Donat in the 1935 adventure flick Captain Blood.

Born June 20, 1909, in Hobart, Australia (on the island of Tasmania), Flynn worked briefly on stage before landing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1935. In the 10 years that followed, he strutted, taunted and swashbuckled his way through a series of costume dramas, including The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939) and Gentleman Jim (1942).

Flynn's boozing, brawling and financial missteps finally took their toll, however, and though he appeared in a few more memorable films -- including The Sun Also Rises (1957) -- he died of a heart attack Oct. 14, 1959, at age 50.

Errol Flynn in Captain Blood

Captain Blood

1935 NR

In his first leading role, Errol Flynn shot to stardom in this swashbuckling adventure about doctor Peter Blood (Flynn), who treats the wrong patient and is forced to work as a slave on Col. Bishop's (Lionel Atwill) Jamaican plantation. Blood joins up with marauding Spanish pirates, saves Bishop's gorgeous niece (Olivia de Havilland) from a French pirate (Basil Rathbone) and is eventually made governor of Jamaica.

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