Sean Flynn and Lili Damita Photograph Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection contains a wide array of photographic materials ranging from 1900s through the 1980s. It includes photos of Flynn and his family, and photos taken by Flynn. The bulk of the collection consists of images from Flynn's work as a war photographer. Also included are photos of Sean with his family, both candid and professional; movie stills and promotional photos; and photos taken by Sean during the course of his professional work outside his war journalism including fashion photography. Users should be aware of graphic content.
- circa 1905-1980s
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research use. Due to the graphic nature of some of the photographs, material may be reviewed and vetted by the Archivist prior to delivery to the researcher.
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. The Archives does not hold the copyright for many of the professional and published images included. 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, along with photographs, to the Lawrenceville School Archives.
2.06 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
Language of Materials
This collection is arranged by into three series: Series 1: Photos of Sean Flynn and Family; Series 2: Photos by Sean Flynn; Series 3: Oversized Prints.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of Sean Flynn photograph collection was willed to The Lawrenceville School by Flynn's mother Lili Damita. The prints and negatives were transferred to the School in 1994.
Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.
This collection was originally process by Zoe Vybiral in April of 2011. It was reprocessed by Casey Babcock in April of 2014.
- Actors -- United States. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Actresses -- France. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Cambodia Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Fashion photography. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Israel-Arab War, 1967. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Vietnam Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- black-and-white photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- color photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- promotional materials Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- war photography Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Sean Flynn and Lili Damita Photograph Collection
- Casey Babcock and Zoe Vybiral
- October 9, 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note