×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Charles Higham, celebrity biographer, dies

Wrote controversial tomes about Errol Flynn, Orson Welles

Celebrity biographer Charles Higham, who wrote, often controversially, about the lives of Lucille Ball, Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Howard Hughes and others, died in Los Angeles on April 21 of an apparent heart attack. He was 81.

Higham penned dozens of biographies, many of them sensational tomes asserting that his subjects led lives filled with political and sexual intrigue.

In 1980’s “Errol Flynn: The Untold Story,” Higham wrote that the matinee idol was a Nazi spy.

Later biographers asserted that Higham’s revelations were fabricated; Higham defended the book, but he told the New York Times that he had no documents saying Flynn was a Nazi agent.

The author penned the first authorized biography of Hepburn, which became his first bestseller. His book on Hughes, in which he asserted that the eccentric mogul had an affair with Cary Grant, was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” He also wrote controversial books on Orson Welles and discovered the lost footage of Welles’ “It’s All True.”

Other books included 1984’s “Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine,” “The Art of the American Film,” a biography of Florenz Ziegfeld and “Murder in Hollywood: Solving a Silent Screen Mystery,” on the death of silent-film director William Desmond Taylor.

Higham also co-wrote biographies of celebrities including Grant and Merle Oberon.

He was born in London and in 1954 moved to Australia, where he was a book and movie critic, saw some poetry published and was editor of the Bulletin, the country’s top weekly magazine.

His autobiography “In and Out of Hollywood: A Biographer’s Memoir” was published in 2009.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More Film

  • Javier Bardem Elle Fanning Salma Hayek

    Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek to Star in Sally Potter Drama

    Production has begun in Spain on Sally Potter’s untitled family drama, starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Laura Linney. The story is described as a chronicle of a wild day in the life of a man on the edge, held together by the unconditional love of his daughter with Bardem and [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    Disney Makes History Again With $7 Billion at Global Box Office for 2018

    Disney has topped $7 billion at the global box office for 2018 — with three weeks left in the year. Disney reached the milestone on Dec. 9, marking only the second time in history that any studio has hit that landmark. Disney set the record in 2016 with $7.6 billion. “Avengers: Infinity War” led the way [...]

  • Filmax Snags Top Spanish Kids Feature

    Filmax Snags Top Spanish Kids Feature ‘The Lunnis’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based sales agency Filmax announced today at Argentina’s Ventana Sur market, that it has acquired the rights to the film adaptation of RTVE’s preschool children’s part-puppet, part-live action and part-animated kids’ show “The Lunnis,” titled “The Lunnis and the Great Fairy Tales Adventure.” The announcement was made with an accompanying trailer for the film, slated [...]

  • Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold

    Payroll Specialist Cast & Crew Sold to Investment Fund EQT VIII

    Payroll specialist Cast & Crew Entertainment Services has been sold by Silver Lake to the investment Fund EQT VIII for an undisclosed price. Cast & Crew, based in Burbank, Calif., and founded in 1976, touts itself as the premier provider of technology-enabled payroll and production-management services to the entertainment industry. Services include payroll processing, residuals [...]

  • Steve James Chicago Story

    Participant Media Partners With Filmmaker Steve James on Documentary 'Chicago Story' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant Media is reteaming with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James and his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films, on his latest documentary, “Chicago Story.” Participant Media will finance the project, which will be produced by James and Zak Piper. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce with Alex Kotlowitz and Gordon Quinn. James, Piper, and [...]

  • 'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because

    'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because 'A Lot of Things Didn't Work'

    It appears that MGM’s film adaptation of “Metro 2033” is no longer happening because “a lot of things didn’t work,” according to VG24/7. “Metro 2033” is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was also adapted into a series of successful survival horror shooters from video game publisher THQ and developer 4A Games in [...]

  • Jirga

    Film Review: 'Jirga'

    Buried within the closing crawl of writer, director, cinematographer and co-producer Benjamin Gilmour’s unfortunately cryptic but nonetheless fascinating debut film “Jirga” are shout-outs for security, political and cultural liaisons, as well as an Afghan film advisor. These credits speak, however quietly, to the no-doubt-delicate and clearly arduous making of a film that finds a guilt-ridden [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content