March 1958 In Tabloids: Will Errol FIynn Take a Lie Detector Test?

In Depth

Welcome to Midcentury Madness, where we hop in our ‘58 Chevy Impala, drive over to Elizabeth Taylor’s house, tell her we’re sorry about the death of her husband, remind her that she deserved the Oscar that year, and drink extra dirty gin martinis all night as she dishes about which guy she’s gonna start dating next. Today: Errol Flynn has been challenged to take a lie detector test, Diana Dors is a publicity hungry mess, H-bombs are “making us sterile freaks,” and every single foreign movie is nothing but pure smut.

Let’s get those cocktail shakers out, because it’s time to take a trip to 1958.

The New Lowdown


This one’s a whopper, folks. Errol Flynn, the mustached man who’s given us all the vapors for decades, was arrested “for being drunk and disorderly at a Hollywood party.” While he was being fingerprinted, he ranted and raved – shouting things like, “This is disgraceful. I have never been arrested or fingerprinted in my life. This is horrible.” But! In the September 1956 issue of this very magazine, it was reported that Flynn was “arrested, fingerprinted” after “kicking a New York City detective in the shins.” (What a rascal, right?) What do do with this contradictory information, you ask? Easy. Call Erroll Flynn a liar.

John Prentice, the author of this piece, writes:

“Okay. I call Errol Flynn not only a liar but a silly, aging man who gets into more scrapes than anyone, at his age, should get into…It is the blotter that tells the story. Errol, my boy, you can’t ruin my reputation as a writer of worth and integrity. Errol, my boy, it’s not very nice when you lie to the cops and the press…Errol, lad, please don’t lie any more so that poor, ugly writers like me are hounded by editors. Underneath it all, you’re probably a nice guy else you would not have beat those rape and paternity raps and so on.”

This kind of writing puts tabloids of 2015 to shame.

By the way, Errol, how did it happen you got off so lightly in New York when you kicked that brawny detective? Any ordinary New Yorker who kicked a detective right where it hurts would have been in serious trouble. But everything was ironed out beautifully. A lady judge sat over you, handed down judgment and you made a public apology. Gee, I am a native and I can’t figure out how you got off so lightly. A fine, wasn’t it? And the cops around you all shook your hand as though you were a nice guy underneath it all, which you are. Gee, Errol, you have a lot of personality.

Gee, Errol, you have a lot of personality!!! Life & Style could never.

Why can’t The New Lowdown still exist?

But enough about that silly, aging man. H-bombs are making us all “sterile freaks!” In “the most sensational story of” writer Timothy Sanders’s life “as a newsman,” he’s announced that he “has absolute proof that the genes of the human race are being infected by radiation fallout from hydrogen bomb tests.” Young married couples will soon all be sterile, conjoined twins will soon be “the usual thing,” and “wool-like hair” will soon cover the bodies of “tomorrow’s man.” Horrors await us, America. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

We can, however, do something about smut! Writer Timothy Deterling says all those “filthy foreign movies” should be banned.

Miles of bosoms. Miles of thighs. Miles of soft, white stomachs. Miles of long sleek legs, and miles and miles of film strips showing illicit passion, nakedly revealed on an 8-foot high screen. That’s about all there is to many foreign films that are being dumped into the motion picture houses of America.”

They’re too obscene, he says, and are a bad influence on our nation – specifically its “youngsters,” who “watch perversions and age-old odiferous customs on the screen that come from the stink of Europe and learn about love made as love was never intended to be made.” He is upset that these films are called “art,” and believes they should be banned.

“Art, it’s not. And let’s send them all back where they came from. There should be a law. There should be several laws.”

You hear him, MPAA? There should be several laws!!!!

“Diana Dors will do ANYTHING for publicity,” and writer Myron Cohen believes she “deserves a big handsmack across her shapely, curvaceous derriere, as the French call it tenderly.” (Yikes! Never mind that whole “Why can’t The New Lowdown still exist” thing from before!) OK, so Diana Dors is basically the Rita Ora of 1958 – she’s beautiful, she’s everywhere, and I’m not sure what it is she does.

“The fact of the matter is that Diana is prettier than most flops without talent—and she doesn’t have to use a dreary and tiresome approach to publicity. If she’s a lousy actress, then she might as well spend her time studying with one of the better schools instead of knocking herself out trying to capture the public eye and the headlines.”

Cohen ends with a final handsmack:

“Diana—with such going on, I hear the one-way revolving dors. You should pardon the bad spelling.”

And Also:

  • If you’re the child of a celebrity, you’re probably drunk.
  • Miss America contestants keep getting obscene letters in the mail.
  • “Phony” massage parlors across the country “depend on a different kind of rub-down” to keep their businesses afloat.
  • Stewart Granger “hates Hollywood.”


Contact the author at [email protected].

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