Known for her red hair and camera-friendly look, Fleming starred in a series of studio photos and film noir in the Golden Age of Hollywood
Rhonda Fleming, actor nicknamed « The Queen of Technicolor » and who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan and other movie stars of the 1940s and 1950s, has died She was 97 years
Fleming’s assistant Carla Sapon told the New York Times Fleming died in Santa Monica, Calif.
Since her first color film, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) starring Bing Crosby, Fleming has become extremely popular with producers due to her vibrant natural coloring It was an attraction she would later regret.
« Suddenly my green eyes were green My red hair was a blazing red My skin was porcelain white, » Fleming remarked in an interview in 1990 « There was suddenly all this attention to my appearance rather than about the roles I played I had been painted in a corner by the studios, who never wanted more of me than my good looks and waltz through a parade of films like The Redhead and the Cowboy «
Before Reagan got into politics, Fleming co-starred with him in Hong Kong, Tropic Zone, The Last Outpost and Tennessee’s Partner « He surprised everyone because he never looked at himself in a mirror, « she once said of Reagan » How many actors can you say that about?
In the era of the big studios, many new personalities have been heralded as having been discovered in a quirky way: Kim Novak cycling past an agent’s office, Lana Turner spotted in a malt house. Fleming, the young Marilyn Louis would have gone to class at the high school of Beverly Hills when a man followed her in a big black car and said to her: « You should be in the picture » She avoided him, but he is came to her house and offered to be her agent The man in fact was Henry Willson, a well-known Hollywood agent who also led the early careers of Rock Hudson and Robert Wagner
At 19, Louis got a six-month contract at David O Selznick’s studio and got a new name: Rhonda Fleming She played a small role in the 1944 war drama Since You Went Away, and then Alfred Hitchcock picked her to play what he described as a ‘nymphomaniac’ in Spellbound, with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck ‘I rushed home and my mom and I searched the dictionary for’ nymphomaniac ‘ , she later said « We were both shocked »
Spellbound led to another thriller, The Spiral Staircase, in which she was strangled by villainous George Brent Selznick focusing on the career of his wife, Jennifer Jones, he lost interest in his players contractors and Fleming left the studio to become independent His next films were Abilene Town, a western by Randolph Scott; Out of the Past, a film noir starring Robert Mitchum; and Adventure Island, a tropical thriller starring Rory Calhoun
She won a leading role in A Connecticut Yankee, a Crosby musical based on the Mark Twain story, after Deanna Durbin dropped out to retire in France Crosby was so impressed that he recommended to Bob Hope, with whom she starred in The Great Lover
Ironically, the Crosby / Hope movies that established her as a major figure turned out to be the ones she was never able to dominate.She remained a star for 15 years, but with the exception of from the Lancaster-Douglas Gunfight to the OK Corral, most of his performances came in B-frames that exploited his appearance “I made the mistake of making lower quality movies for money,” she said in an interview in 1976 “I was hot, they all wanted me – but I didn’t neither advice nor experience to judge for myself «
His 1950s films include While the City Sleeps, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Dana Andrews She played Cleopatra in the 1953 film Serpent of the Nile But many titles were forgettable: The Eagle and the Hawk, The Last Outpost, Little Egypt, The Killer Is Loose, Slightly Scarlet, These Redheads from Seattle and Pony Express (with Charlton Heston)
After her film career cooled off, Fleming took on a singing act in Las Vegas, appeared in TV shows and commercials, performed on Broadway in a cover of The Women, and sang as temptress Lalume in Kismet for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera
While still a teenager, Fleming married her high school sweetheart, Thomas Lane A son, Kent, was born in 1941 When Lane returned from military service, Rhonda had become a star and the marriage ended in 1947 Three other marriages also ended in divorce, with Beverly Hills surgeon Lewis Morrill (1952-1958); actor Lang Jeffries (1960-1962); and producer-director Hall Bartlett (1966–1972) In 1977, Fleming married mogul Ted Mann, who built the Mann Theater chain, and the marriage lasted until his death in 2001After Mann’s death, Fleming married for the sixth time Derol W Carlson, who died in 2017
News from around the world – CA – Rhonda Fleming, « queen of technicolor » in the 40s and 50s, dies at 97
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