Patrice Wymore Flynn dies at 87; actress, widow of Errol Flynn
Patrice Wymore Flynn, a film and television actress who appeared opposite Frank Sinatra in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” but earned wider notice for her real-life role as the last wife of matinee idol Errol Flynn died Saturday at her home in Portland, Jamaica. She was 87 and had pulmonary disease, said family spokesman Robb Callahan.
Wymore Flynn began her career on Broadway in the 1940s, performing in musicals such as “Hold It!” and “All for Love.” She made her Hollywood debut in the Doris Day-Gordon MacRae romantic comedy “Tea for Two” in 1950.
That year she also co-starred in “Rocky Mountain,” a western that was notable mainly for bringing her together with her future husband: She played a stagecoach passenger rescued from an Indian attack by Flynn in the role of a dashing Confederate army officer.
Soon after finishing the movie, Flynn broke off his engagement to a Romanian princess to marry Patrice. (In his 1959 autobiography — the aptly titled “My Wicked, Wicked Ways"— the actor wrote that he had his housekeeper break the news to the princess in a phone call.)
It was the third marriage for the notorious playboy, who in 1943 had been tried on statutory rape charges and acquitted, and the first for the elegant Wymore. She was 24 to his 41.
“Patrice typified everything that I was not, and I presumed that she knew what my life was, since my life had been an open newspaper,” Flynn wrote in his memoir. “She could cook Indian curry, she could dance, she could sing, she was reserved, she had beauty, dignity … homebody qualities that go toward making a sensible and lasting marriage.”
Their daughter, Arnella, was born in 1953, and they spent much of their time in Jamaica, where Flynn raised cattle and grew coconuts on a 2,000-acre ranch.
Despite his professed desire for a steady marriage, however, he continued his philandering, heavy drinking and drug use. He was also struggling in his career and had lost a fortune trying to make a film version of “William Tell.”
He and Wymore were separated when he died of a heart attack in 1959 in Vancouver, Canada, where he had been staying with his teenage girlfriend. He was 50.
Wymore never remarried and defended her late husband in interviews, maintaining that his rakish public image was not the Flynn she knew. “He just lost his way,” she told The Times in 2005.
Her first movie role after Flynn’s death was in “Ocean’s Eleven,” the 1960 comedy about an 11-man criminal team that featured the fabled “Rat Pack” — Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. Wymore played Sinatra’s girlfriend who tells him, “You really are a rat,” and hurls an ashtray at him after he unceremoniously dumps her.
The daughter of a farmer and businessman, Wymore was born in Miltonvale, Kan., on Dec. 17, 1926, and grew up in Salina, Kan. She appeared in vaudeville as a child, moving to New York in her teens to work as a model.
After Flynn’s death, she appeared mainly on television, including episodes of “Perry Mason,” “The Monkees” and “F Troop.”
In the late 1960s she retired from acting to manage the Jamaica ranch and its 800 head of cattle. She was voted Jamaica Rancher of the Year in the 1980s and also ran a boutique and a company that made wicker furniture.
“She was very uncommon for an American actress … and a very successful businesswoman,” Callahan said Monday.
Her daughter died in 1998. She is survived by a grandson, Luke Flynn.
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