Rumors of a Tyrone Power-Errol Flynn romance. Total myth? Is there any evidence that Power was at all attracted to men or is that just make-believe?
Okay, you asked for it. I am going to go on and on and on about this because I have had to do so much research and had to fight so hard to get a half-decent Wikipedia page for him — and that’s all it is, half-decent. So forgive me if I’m endless.
I sincerely doubt the Power-Flynn thing is true. Peter Viertel, who wrote the screenplay for The Sun Also Rises, was incensed when my old boss asked him that and insisted that there was never any affair. There is no evidence of Power being attracted to men. However, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t bisexual at least at one point in his life.
I want to be clear about this. I do not know that for certain. I can’t discount it like I can discount a lot of other things. And I have no understanding of why he has to be gay or straight. I don’t really know, frankly, why anybody has to be gay or straight 365 days a year, 24/7. I don’t think life works that way for everyone. For some it does. For many, it just doesn’t.
Errol Flynn himself said when he first came to Hollywood, he tried everything. I can’t imagine that Power and other men and women who were that beautiful and desirable didn’t go to their share of wild parties, try drugs, drinking, the same sex, whatever. I’m a child of the ’60s, and I can tell you that all of the above took place in the ’60s; certainly, the era of the ’20s and ’30s in Hollywood was similar, the mores in Hollywood being ahead of the general population. Errol Flynn also said he never pursued a woman — they were in his bed, under his bed, everywhere, and I believe him. I believe that was true of Tyrone as well. I mean, look at him circa 1938. Who could resist him?
Many people who consider themselves straight have had sex with someone of the same sex; and no matter what, there is something called bisexuality, though many gay people disbelieve that. I think Tyrone may have tried it when he was younger, and I have known people who have had sex with both and then settled on one, and I know people who have dated bisexuals. I also know people who consider themselves bisexuals. I saw some women on Oprah who were married and became lesbians, who said that although they have an attraction to men, they want to be "gender-identified." I have known men like that too — they considered themselves gay and didn’t give into feelings they had for women. I have met people who tell me they fall in love with individuals and that gender isn’t an issue.
I would say, whether or not Tyrone had bisexual experiences, that most of the stories one hears can’t possibly be true. That doesn’t mean that a couple don’t have a shred of truth to them, but come on, it’s too late now to sort them out. After 60+ years, you can bet they’ve been added to and exaggerated. Go ahead and tell someone a rumor and follow it — see how fast it’s embroidered. I’ve been a victim of that myself with my own writing on the Internet; I’ve had things attributed to me that I never said, while quoting something that I did say.
I have a great advantage in that I go back to the ’60s with Tyrone. I now see quotes that I read in the ’60s that have been mightily changed! Well, I read the original quotes; I saw the people quoted interviewed originally.You aren’t going to pass those additions off on me as true. There is one quote about him said by Darryl Zanuck, to which has now been added, "I know he’s a big sissy." Darryl Zanuck never, ever said that. Never. The original quote was in [Zanuck’s autobiography] Don’t Say Yes Til I Finish Talking, and those words were added by someone else later. There are several other quotes that have circulated the Internet that are completely bogus, and also some completely bogus stories. The kicker is that the same stories are told about other actors as well. So who were they originally about? I don’t know.
All this stuff that supposedly everybody knew and never said anything — give me a break. If all these stories were true about him or about most of these actors, these men would have been susceptible to constant blackmail and their careers would have been over. The studios knew absolutely who was gay, and each studio had its own way of dealing with it. None of them did nothing when it came to their gay leading men and women. The directors, the character actors, they were the lucky ones because the studios didn’t bother with them.