I hadn't heard the story about Errol Flynn's genital warts until I came across it in The Dependent Magazine
. They found it, in turn, from How Come I'm Dead
, the 1985 autobiography of Vancouver coroner Glen McDonald.
Glen McGregor reports on his blog
that he's seen a copy of Flynn's 1959 autopsy in which it's noted that Flynn did suffer from human papillomavirus, aka genital warts. But the story about his warts being cut off as souvenirs isn't included in the report. So it's not clear how much truth there is to the tale. We'll just have to take McDonald's word for it.
The autopsy concludes that the movie star's death was due to a number of factors associated with his flamboyant lifestyle, including heart disease, diverticulosis, and cirrhosis of the liver. However, during the final moments of the examination, MacDonald and Chief Pathologist Tom Harmon make another interesting discovery: a number of sizeable venereal warts on the end of Flynn's penis.
"Tom seemed fascinated," MacDonald will recall, "[and said] 'Look, I'm going to be lecturing at the Institute of Pathology and I just thought it might be of interest if I could remove these things and fix them in formaldehyde and use them as a visual aid.' 'No way!' I said. 'We're not going to do that. I don't want anything done that isn't relevant to the case because we're really in the limelight tonight. We're on the hot seat. How can we send Mr. Flynn back to his wife with part of his bloody endowment missing?'
However, when McDonald returns to the obervation room after a brief absence, he discovers that the venereal warts have disappeared.
"The first thing I noticed was that the VD warts had gone – vanished from the end of Mr. Flynn's penis," McDonald will continue. "Then I spotted a jar of formaldehyde on a shelf that looked suspiciously like it might contain VD warts. It did[...] I sighed and asked the Doc, 'Did you have to remove those bloody warts … Did Errol Flynn expire because he had warts on his dong?' Tom looked sheepish but we were both laughing at the utter silliness of the whole thing. 'Put them back,' I said, 'Right now!' Maybe the Doc had never seen warts of that enormity. Maybe he wanted a souvenir. I never did figure out why the temptation had been too great … So the bloody warts were fished out of the formaldehyde jar and, using the good offices of scotch tape, Doc Harmon and I stuck them back where they belonged. Everything was back to normal. And I was relieved to learn later, talking with the Chief Coroner in Los Angeles, that a further autopsy was performed and the results concurred in every respect with what we had found. The scotch tape was never mentioned."