From PASSING THRU
While attending the Pasadena Playhouse in 1957 I met Rex Rand. A rather eccentric fellow, Rex was dressed in a style you might expect from a Hollywood producer, red satin shirt, white cotton trousers, and white shoes. With him were two beautiful starlets, barely out of their teens, who were giggling at almost every comment Rex made. His meeting with a friend led to our chance introduction and he was returning to his suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Offering me a lift, the first time I had ever ridden in a Rolls-Royce, I appreciated the ride to Beverly Hills. From there I could catch the inter-city bus to my apartment in Santa Monica.
On the way to the Hilton, Rex stopped at a friend’s house handing one of the girls a large envelope asking her to deliver it to the door. Within a few minutes, the young lady returned to the car, followed by a man wearing a housecoat. He and Rex exchanged a few words before Rex motioned to me in the back seat, “Errol, this is Johnny Rowe.” I leaned and shook his hand thru Rex’s open window. I don’t remember saying anything as the stranger turned to return to the house. Not sure who I just met, I inquired, “Who was he?” Rex looked at me in his rear view mirror and said, “Someday you could be an Errol Flynn.”
I then realized I had just met one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. A few minutes later, I was dropped off at the bus stop on Santa Monica Boulevard, with Mr. Rand wishing me luck in my acting career, I said goodbye.
Twenty years later, my acting career had long since been transformed into a radio career. By the mid-1970’s, I was a programming consultant and added KROY in Sacramento to my client list. The owner of KROY was Ralph Guild, of the McGavren-Guild advertising agency. After a particularly good ratings period, Mr. Guild introduced me to “crazy Rex Rand,” owner of WINZ in Miami. The name didn’t ring a bell, but the motion picture producer would re-enter my life.
A limo picked me up at the Miami airport and took me to an island home in Biscayne Bay where a beautiful, deeply-tanned young lady met me at the door in her bikini. She led me into a large, elaborately-decorated sunken living room, and as my eyes became accustomed to the dark, I found myself in front of a life-size portrait of Errol Flynn. Almost immediately, with another young lady on his arm, Rex Rand, twenty years older but still dapper, appeared in a white dinner jacket. Staring at me as he approached with his hand extended, saying, “Where do I know you from?” I reminded him of our earlier meeting in California as he led me outside patio for lunch. We talked of my career switch, of Miami, and finally about Errol Flynn who had died in 1959, not long after I had met him.
As it turns out, Errol Flynn and Rex Rand had been very close friends over the years and I learned a lot about the Hollywood heart throb, reputedly a real party animal addicted to sex. According to Rex, Errol Flynn was a swashbuckling romantic lead in person as well as on screen. He explained the term, “In Like Flynn,” which I had often used without knowing its real meaning, was a result of Errol Flynn’s ability to lure hundreds of young ladies into his bedroom. According to Rex, Errol Flynn’s sexual appetite also included affairs with Howard Hughes and Cary Grant.
After spending a few days in his beachfront guest home and touring the coast by yacht and his private seaplane, I refused his offer to move to Miami and be responsible for his WINZ-am and his Tampa fm station. I could live in the guest house, have full use of the second yacht, and would receive a sizeable ownership stake in Mr. Rand’s Tampa Bay FM station. I stupidly dismissed ownership of his Tampa FM as insignificant and told him my consulting commitments nationally, plus my home in California were more than I could give up for a life in humid Florida.
Moments before I departed, Rex handing me a note of introduction to a California lady friend of his who would be happy to take me to visit Errol Flynn’s grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Rex explained that most people were not permitted to visit the grave and asked me to deliver a small bouquet on his behalf. Explaining he seldom returned to California, he would appreciate my paying his respects in person. A few weeks later I did as he had asked.
Shortly afterwards, Rex Rand died in the crash of his private seaplane on a Caribbean island.
All Content on this Web site © 2006 John H. Rook
All Rights Reserved
The opinions & commentary posted on this website are those of John Rook, unless otherwise noted