Collection of Sean Flynn Papers
Scope and Contents
The Collection of Sean Flynn Papers consists of the personal papers and effects of Sean Leslie Flynn and his family of origin. Materials date from 1878 to 1994, with the bulk of the materials dating from the mid-1960s. The largest series in the collection consists of photographic materials, including negatives, prints, and slides. These images include family photos, as well as photos of and by Sean Flynn himself. Users should be aware of the graphic nature of some of the images, including scenes of violence from Flynn's time as a photojournalist in the combat zones of Southeast Asia. Also included are nude art and fashion photos taken in Paris and St. Tropez. In addition to photographic materials, the collection includes correspondence both by and about Sean Flynn, legal documents, and professional and personal papers.
- Creation: 1878 - 2001
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1941 - 1970
Language of Materials
The bulk of these materials are in English, however some articles, documents, letters, and passports are in French.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
Single photocopies and digital photographs may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Archivist. Researchers are responsible for determining any other copyright questions.
Biographical / Historical
Sean Leslie Flynn was born on May 31, 1941, the only son of actor Errol Flynn and actress Lili Damita. Damita retired from acting following the birth of her son, and the couple divorced in 1942. Damita was later remarried a Midwestern businessman named Allen Loomis. Sean was educated privately, and attended Duke University briefly after his graduation from The Lawrenceville School.
At the age of 15, Sean appeared in an episode of his father's television show, "The Errol Flynn Theater." After his father's death in 1959, Flynn proceeded to act in a number of films, including "The Son of Captain Blood," a sequel to Errol Flynn's popular film "Captain Blood". Flynn was not passionate about acting. In 1964, he traveled to Africa to work as a safari guide and hunt big game. After this trip, he interspersed world travel with the occasional film when funds ran short. Flynn was a talented photographer, and in 1966, as a freelance photojournalist, he entered the combat areas of Southern Vietnam.
A daring photographer, Flynn attached himself to high-risk operations in order to capture the most striking images. Flynn left Vietnam briefly in 1966 to film his last movie, "Five Ashore in Singapore." In 1967, he transferred to Israel to cover the Six-Day war in 1967. In 1968, he returned to Vietnam to cover the Tet Offensive. In the spring of 1970 Flynn entered Cambodia to cover the Northern Vietnamese advances into the country.
On April 6, 1970, Flynn and fellow photojournalist Dana Stone set off on motorcycles on Cambodia's Highway one. The pair was reportedly kidnapped at a roadblock by guerillas associated with the Khmer Rouge. Nothing is known about how long Flynn or Stone may have survived after their capture, and neither was seen again. Lily Damita poured tremendous effort and resources into finding her son, but after fourteen years without any evidence of his survival, he was declared legally dead in 1984. Before her death in 1994, Lily Damita willed her son's remaining papers and personal effects to the Lawrenceville School Archives.
0.42 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
The collection is divided into six series, arranged according to document type. Items within folders are arranged chronologically wherever possible.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The materials were gifted to the Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives from the estate of Lili Damita, mother of Sean Flynn, in the mid-1990s.
Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.
Photographs have been separated and added to the Historical Photograph Collection. Flynn's camera and a "Where is Sean Flynn?" t-shirt have also been separated and moved to the 3D objects collection.
This collection was processed by Zoe Vybiral in April of 2011.
Genre / Form
- Collection of Sean Flynn Papers: Finding Aid
- Zoe Vybiral
- October 5, 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note