Arnella Roma Flynn was the free-spirited youngest daughter of Errol Flynn, consummate Hollywood star and libertine of the 1930s. She inherited her father’s glamorous good looks, and his penchant for alcohol, drugs and partying. This led to an early demise for the both of them.
When Arnella was born on Christmas in 1953, her father was already 44 years old and had a grand total of 4 children by 3 different women. His crazy lifestyle had started to take a toll on his health, but he refused to yield to old age. He was nicknamed the Tasmanian Devil for good reason: after he was barred from drinking on set, he injected vodka into oranges and consumed them during filming. He was incorrigible, and also known as a sexual pervert and opium addict to top it all off.
Arnella’s mother was the reserved and picture-perfect Patrice Wymore, an American actress almost 20 years Errol’s junior. She cut her career short in 1953 when Arnella was born, to care for her new baby- and her alcoholically destroyed husband.
Errol was content with his new wife at first. He described Patrice as:
“attractive, warm and wholesome… 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. She typified everything that I was not. Nobody ever tried harder than Pat to make me happy.”
Apparently, he had to break off an engagement to a Romanian princess in order to marry Patrice. Errol had his housekeeper inform the princess via phone call.
The marital bliss would not last, due to Errol’s roving lecherous eye. When Arnella was just a few years old, her father left the family for his 15-year old girlfriend Beverly Aadland. Patrice and Errol separated, but never officially divorced. He died of heart failure in 1959, when Arnella was 6. Errol’s chaotic, drug-and-alcohol-infused, womanizing life was cut short prematurely.
With such an absent and infamous father, Arnella never stood a chance. Her attorney claimed that:
“One of the problems Arnella had growing up was that everyone around her knew her father, but she didn’t. She had a lot of problems to cope with growing up. And having this famous father you don’t even know hanging over you is not easy.”
The extended Flynn family was no stranger to tragedy either. Her older stepbrother Sean mysteriously disappeared in Cambodia in 1970, while covering the Vietnam War as a journalist. He was never heard from again. Arnella was said to have always spoken of him fondly and missed him very much.
In 1942, Errol went sailing on his beloved luxury yacht, the Zaca. During a storm, he washed ashore on Port Antonio, Jamaica. He fell in love with the island nation immediately, calling the landscape “more beautiful than any woman I have ever known. When God created Eden, this is what He was aiming at.” He bought Navy Island, a hotel resort, and a 2,000 acre plantation where he grew coconuts and raised cattle.
When Errol died, the savvy Patrice struggled to take control of his paradisaical Jamaican estates. She wanted to remove her daughter from the chaotic world of L.A. paparazzi and media hounds and give her a “more enduringly satisfactory way of life.”
Patrice was also worried about Arnella’s love of partying and hard living, which must have set off alarm bells that recalled her late husband. She said of her daughter: “I had to get her away from Sunset Strip and all its temptations. She was in danger of becoming a flower child.” Her hippie days in L.A. came to an end.
At the age of 13, Arnella went to live on the placid, tropical, crystal-blue shores of Jamaica. Her mother was an intelligent businesswoman who opened up her own boutiques and gift shops, and managed the hotel and farmed the plantation at considerable profit margins. Their life in Jamaica was, quite surprisingly, simple and free of modern degeneracy: Patrice refused to own a telephone or TV until the 1980s.
None of this placidity could subdue the energetic teenage Arnella, who had a penchant for chugging Jamaican white rum down raw, and smoking the marijuana that grew plentifully along the islands. She also enjoyed athletic activities like water skiing, boating, collecting seashells and swimming.
When she was 18, Arnella went to London and New York to become a model. She was blonde, thin, beautiful and looked the part, and it was easy to nab contracts through Flynn family connections. She grew close to her stepsister Rory, who was also a model. She married a photographer named Carl Stoecker, and in 1976, they had a son named Luke who, you guessed it, went on to become a model.
The marriage dissipated, and Arnella grew disillusioned with the hustle-bustle of the big city. It was time to return to Jamaica, and to live in tropical peace. Or was it?
Upon her return, Arnella partied like her life depended on it. Along with rum and weed, she took on cocaine, which she soon became uncontrollably addicted to. Her friend circle consisted of laid back Rastafarians, who were content to party with her, but advised her to lay off the white powder.
Her friend Anthon recalled her fondly:
“She was one of us, man. She preferred to spend her time here than with the others. She was cool like that. She was one of the best people. She was flexible. When she was with us, she talked like a Jamaican, but when she was with the others she talked like an American. She wasn’t stuck up; she wasn’t all high and mighty. She loved the Rasta. She loved the long hair. She had several Rasta boyfriends. That was her thing.
But she was our friend too. We tried to stop her from doing the coke, but you can’t stop doing that stuff until you die. I shared smoke with her, but none of the coke. That stuff messes with your head.”
Arnella became an aimless beach bum, with no concern for commerce or career. Her mother was ashamed, and wanted her to get a grip on her life and raise her son Luke, which she had been relegated to doing since Arnella was unfit herself.
But the demons that were plaguing her would not let go. She would destroy herself just as her father had. Islanders watched sadly as Arnella stumbled around drunk and high, night and day, with no apparent concern for her own well being. Ironically, even Errol diluted liquor, whereas Arnella would just drink it down straight.
Patrice stopped giving Arnella financial allowances, as she squandered all the money away on cocaine. She was banished from the main property to a smaller plot on the island. Arnella began growing carrots and tomatoes, which she sold to tourists for drug money. When that floundered, she stole coconuts from her mother’s plantation to fund her addiction. The girl who was raised as Hollywood royalty was now relegated to petty thievery.
By 1998, only 3 years after she officially moved back to Jamaica, Arnella was washed up and near death. An islander named Doris Brady mourned how “she used to be such a pretty girl, but at the end she was just a bag of bones. She looked like an old woman, older than her mum.” Errol suffered from the same issue: by the end of his life, his addictions had left him looking horribly aged and like a mere shadow of his former self.
Patrice tried using “tough love” tactics on her daughter, but it was to no avail. Arnella’s Rastafarian boyfriend Willard Hearne was concerned about her, but nobody could help. He called Arnella:
“a very sweet girl, but she had a lot of problems. It is a shame she and her mother couldn’t get along. Just days before she died, Arnella got a letter from her mother’s attorney telling her she had to leave the estate, she was being kicked out. She told me she was sad because she had nowhere to go. Then three days later she was dead. I’ll miss her.”
Arnella was discovered dead in her bed by horrified plantation workers on Sept. 21, 1998. She was only 44. Her body was completely emaciated. The remains were flown back to L.A., to be buried next to her father at Hollywood Hills cemetery. Arnella and Errol now rest in peace together under the sun.
After his death, Errol’s teenage girlfriend Beverly claimed that he hated California, and had always wanted to be buried in the lush Jamaican tropics. Arnella seemed to have had the same love affair with Jamaica as well.
Said Errol in his autobiography: “My dream of happiness — a quiet spot by the Jamaican seashore, looking out over the ocean, hearing the wind sob with the beauty and tragedy of everything…”
Though they had not spent much time together in life, Arnella and her father were connected by obscure threads of fate. Many say that addiction is passed along genetically. This was never more true and tragic than in this case. Despite having it all, this father and daughter gave up and sedated themselves to death.