Patrice Wymore: Before, During and After Errol Flynn

I often worry that Travalanche is becoming too much like other blogs by adding Hollywood film stars to my previous and ongoing content streams of vaudevillians, sideshow freaks, and the like. But this post reminds me that, no, this remains a blog that gives attention to Errol Flynn’s third wife long before it gives any to Flynn himself, and in that eccentric distinction we may sleep untroubled.

Patrice Wymore (Patricia Wymore, 1926-2014) was born to a family of vaudeville and tent show performers in Kansas, joining the act herself when she was six. She was 21 when she was cast in a City Center revival of the Dorothy  and Herbert Fields show Up in Central Park which had been a Broadway hit a couple of years earlier. From there she went into the Broadway musical Hold It! (1948), featuring Red Buttons and Johnny Downs. This was followed by All for Love (1949), with Bert Wheeler, Paul and Grace Hartmann, et al.

Wymore’s Broadway success took her to Hollywood in 1950, where, now billed as Patrice, she debuted in Tea for Two with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. The western Rocky Mountain (1950) paired her with Flynn; the two became involved and married that year. There were two more films with Day, Starlift (1951) and the Gus Kahn biopic I’ll See You in My Dreams (1953) with Day and Danny Thomas. There were two pictures with Virginia Mayo, She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952) and She’s Back on Broadway (1953). And two more westerns The Big Trees (1952) with Kirk Douglas, and The Man Behind the Gun (1953) with Randolph Scott. This completed her three year contract with Warner Brothers.

Late in 1953 Wymore gave birth to a daughter; she spent the next couple of years focused on motherhood. Wymore returned to the screen to co-star with Flynn in King’s Rhapsody (1955), and appeared in a half dozen episodes of his TV show The Errol Flynn Theatre (1956-57). By the late ’50s Flynn was a wreck due to booze and drugs. Wymore concentrated on nursing him for a few months but the pair finally separated shortly before his death in 1959.

In 1960 Frank Sinatra cast her in Ocean’s 11, but after this, most of her work was in television. You could see her on shows like The Roaring ’20s (1960) and Cheyenne (1961) and three episodes of Perry Mason (1963-65). She was a regular on the short-lived teen soap opera Never Too Young (1965-66). Her last film was a small role in Chamber of Horrors (1966). Her last tv work was in episodes of The Monkees and F Troop, both in 1967. After this, she retired to the estate in Jamaica which Flynn had left her, which included a mansion a coconut plantation and a cattle ranch. Quite a journey for somehow one had started out in a Kansas tent show!

To find out more about vaudeville and veterans of it like Patrice Wymore consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous