Of those who were around on the night of the shooting, Elvira’s “closest friends”, according to the Police statements, were Terence Skeffington-Smyth and Leonie Fester. Given that the former died after a night spent in Shanghai opium dens in 1936 and the latter was fined for possession of illegal drugs in 1933, we can make some sort of guess as to where Elvira’s recreational interests were heading.

Neither actually attended the cocktail party, but both turned up at the Blue Angel later on. Terence’s younger brother, Denys, was there. It has not been easy to trace the subsequent history of the Skeffington-Smyths, partly because Terence’s two younger brothers, Noel and Denys changed their surname to Fitzpatrick (as did the father).

Noel, who, as far as I know, has nothing to do with Elvira’s world, earns himself a place in history as part of Peter Fleming’s expedition to the Amazon in search of  Colonel Percy Fawcett. The story is told, by Fleming, in one of the classic travel books, Brazilian Adventure. Peter Fleming was Ian Fleming’s elder brother – and was married to Celia Johnson of Brief Encounter fame. Noel , obviously an adventurer, then apparently joined the Spanish Foreign Legion and subsequently became a Leutenant in the Irish forces fighting for Franco. As an  English-educated (Winchester and Sandhurst) Anglo-Irish protestant he did not have a particularly smooth time in charge of Catholic volunteers, mostly O’Duffy’s Blueshirts, who believed they were saving Spain from Godless communism.

As for Denys, who at the time of Elvira’s cocktail party was appearing on the West End stage in Casanova, he left for America in 1937. Initially he lived in California. I can’t be absolutely positive but I suspect he might be the same Denys Fitzpatrick who ended up in Key West, Florida – much loved as an entertainer and performer – and who only died five years ago, aged 97.

Here are some snippets from Key West web pages

“Lynda Frechette reports that the life of the late Denys Fitzpatrick was celebrated at Square One last week. Hosted by Tom Luna, who also assembled a display of photos highlighting the amazing Denys – he hobnobbed with the likes of Hermione Gingold, Noel Coward and Vincent Price – the event was an exchange of many memories and stories. Bobby Nesbitt, one of his closest friends, sang all of Denys’s most cherished songs including “I Remember it Well” with the incomparable Larry Harvey (Larry and Denys were-famous for singing together all around town). Bruce Moore sang “NeverNever Land” and everyone joined in singing “White Christmas,” which Denys had performed every year at the Christmas concert at St. Paul’s.”

“IN MEMORIAM….

Today I ask you to take time to remember DENYS FITZPATRICK!  We met Denys around Bobby Nesbitt’s piano at the Pier House 11 years ago.  He was an elegant gentleman…always dressed to the nines…often in a white linen suit, with an ascot!  He came alive when Bobby would invite him to sing.  Will we ever forget his duets with his longtime friend, Larry Harvey?  What a memory that is!  We all loved listening to his many stories about his life on the stage and the famous people he hobnobbed with…people like Fannie Brice and the like.  Denys was a true Key West Legend, and he is deeply missed!  Today would have been his 100th Birthday!”
” On July 15th, please take time to remember the marvelous DENYS FITZPATRICK who on graced Key West with his class & elegance! He is remembered with love!”own to the Ascot tie
It has the right ring about it, don’t you think? Even down to the Ascot tie, as favoured by the Duke of Windsor. This Denys also told a story of a loss of the family title, hence the name change. Larry Harvey was a legendary figure in Key West. He was associated with Hemingway House  and is featured in a documentary on the history of Key West’s gay community. He died, aged 91, a couple of weeks ago.
If I have the right person then is this him? – “DENYS FITZPATRICK was born 16 July 1910, got Social Security number 546-22-3779 (indicating California,) and died 18 October 2007.”.
On the passenger list of the Ile De France, 30 April 1937, Denys Skeffington Smyth, described as an author, gives his country of permanent residence as the  USA.
There is an author by the name of  Denys Fitzpatrick living in New York in the 1940s, and an antiques dealer of the same name is mentioned in the Miami News of 1950. The Smithsonian has a 1947 design by Denys Fitzpatrick called “Pavilion Palm”, inspired by the Brighton Pavilion. Is this our Denys – or are these three entirely different people.?
If anyone can enlighten me further, I’d love to hear from them. Even if the Key West chap is unconnected, he sounds an interesting character and I am glad he is remembered fondly.
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