THE STAR: Errol Flynn, high-living action star of the 1930s and 1940s
THE SCANDAL: In 1942, a pair of underage girls charged Flynn with statutory rape. The star was picked up and tried for the crime early the next year.
THE FALLOUT: Reflecting the attitude of the times, Flynn’s defense team basically argued, yeah, he did it — wouldn’t you? The high point of the trial came when Flynn’s lawyer asked one of the girls if she hadn’t wanted Flynn to undress her, and she replied, “I didn’t have no objections.” Because of the girls’ ages, it shouldn’t have mattered in the eyes of the law whether the sex was consensual or not, but given Flynn’s rascally charisma, it apparently seemed that having any woman he liked was the movie star’s honest due. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed; people had more important things to worry about. The jury quickly voted to acquit. Not only did the scandal have no negative effect on the star’s career, it inspired U.S. serviceman to invent a new slang term designed to honor his sure-thing success with women: “In like Flynn.”