Paying Tribute to Errol Flynn’s Controversial Biographer

There have been several memorable remembrances of journalist and biographer Charles Higham, who passed away in Los Angeles late last month at the age 80. Most notably, locally, was Joel Bellman’s guest post on LA Observed about the time he interviewed Higham for an Orson Welles radio documentary.

Another worthy piece comes from the country where the British-born Higham began his transcontinental journalism career, Australia, in the form of a Sydney Morning Herald obit written by Philippe Mora, a French-Australian writer-director who occasionally contributes to the paper. There is much about Higham’s most famous work, the 1980 Errol Flynn biography The Untold Story, as well as this funny anecdote:

Higham had a delight in the macabre and the absurd, exemplified by his invitation to the English widow of Hermann Erben for dinner in Los Angeles with a Flynn double, Chuck Pilleau. Higham coaxed from her a bizarre revelation: SS agent Erben was circumcised.

As far as we can tell, Mora’s obit is the first to touch on the fact that Higham claimed to have introduced the term ”film noir” to English-language film criticism via the book Hollywood in the Forties, co-authored with Joel Greenberg. Higham closed out his writing career in 2009 with a very good autobiography. RIP