Actress Rhonda Fleming, the fiery redhead who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, and completely different film stars of the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 97.
Fleming’s assistant Carla Sapon knowledgeable The New York Times that Fleming died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California.
From her first film in shade, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court ” (1949) with Bing Crosby, Fleming grew to grow to be immensely well-liked with producers as a consequence of her vivid hues. It was an attraction she would later regret.
“Suddenly my green eyes were green. My red hair was flaming red. My skin was porcelain white,” Fleming remarked in a 1990 interview. “There was prompt all this consideration on how I appeared comparatively than the roles I was having fun with.
“I’d been painted right into a nook by the studios, who by no means wished extra from me than my wanting good and waltzing via a parade of movies like ‘The Redhead and the Cowboy.’ ”
Before Reagan entered politics, the actress co-starred with him in “Hong Kong,” “Tropic Zone,” “The Last Outpost” and “Tennessee’s Partner.”
“He surprised everyone because he never looked in a mirror,” she as quickly as said of Reagan. “How many actors can you say that about?”
Fleming possessed an efficient singing voice, and later in her career sang onstage in Las Vegas and in a touring act.
In the big-studio interval, many new personalities had been publicized as having been present in quirky strategies: Kim Novak whereas utilizing a bicycle earlier an agent’s office, Lana Turner observed in a malt retailer.
In Fleming’s case, youthful Marilyn Louis was reported to have been headed to class at Beverly Hills High School when an individual adopted her in a large black car and knowledgeable her, “You ought to be in pictures.” She eluded him, nonetheless, he turned up at her home and provided to be her agent.
Legend or not, at 19 Louis was awarded a six-month contract at the studio of David O. Selznick and a model new title: Rhonda Fleming. She carried out a bit half inside the 1944 wartime drama “Since You Went Away,” after which Alfred Hitchcock chosen her to play a nymphomaniac in “Spellbound,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
“I rushed home, and my mother and I looked up ‘nymphomaniac’ in the dictionary,” she recalled. “We were both shocked.”
“Spellbound” led to a unique suspense film, “The Spiral Staircase,” by which she was strangled by the villain, George Brent. With Selznick concentrating on the career of his partner, Jennifer Jones, he misplaced curiosity in his contract avid gamers, and Fleming left the studio to freelance.
Her subsequent films: “Abilene Town,” a Randolph Scott Western; “Out of the Past,” a film noir with Robert Mitchum; and “Adventure Island,” a tropics thriller starring Rory Calhoun.
She acquired a job in “A Connecticut Yankee,” a Crosby musical primarily based totally on the Mark Twain story after Deanna Durbin dropped out to retire to France. Crosby was so impressed that he helpful her to Bob Hope, with whom she starred in “The Great Lover.”
Ironically, the Crosby/Hope films that established her as a luminary proved to be ones she was on no account able to prime. She remained a star for 15 years, nonetheless other than the Lancaster-Douglas “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” most of her performances acquired right here in B footage that exploited her seems.
“I made the mistake of doing lesser films for good money,” she mirrored in a 1976 interview. “I was hot — they all wanted me — but I didn’t have the guidance or background to judge for myself.”
Among her 1950s films had been “While the City Sleeps,” directed by Fritz Lang and co-starring Dana Andrews. She carried out Cleopatra inside the 1953 film “Serpent of the Nile.”
But many titles had been forgettable: “The Eagle and the Hawk,” “The Last Outpost,” “Little Egypt,” “The Killer Is Loose,” “Slightly Scarlet,” “Crosswinds” and “Pony Express” (with Charlton Heston), “Inferno,” “Those Redheads from Seattle,” “Yankee Pasha,” and “Gun Glory.”
After her film career cooled off, Fleming took a singing act to Las Vegas, appeared in TV displays and commercials, starred on Broadway in a revival of “The Women” and sang due to the temptress Lalume in “Kismet” for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera.
She was born in Los Angeles in 1923. Her mother, Effie Graham, had appeared in a 1914 Broadway musical with Al Jolson, and her grandfather was a theatrical producer in Salt Lake City. She studied showing, nonetheless as a backup moreover took programs in shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping.
While nonetheless in her youngsters, Fleming married her highschool sweetheart, Thomas Lane. A son, Kent, was born in 1941. When Lane returned from Army service, Rhonda had become a star, and the marriage led to 1947. Three completely different marriages moreover led to divorce, to 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 constructed the Mann Theater chain, and the marriage lasted until his lack of life in 2001. For just a few years, they lived in matching 4,300-square-foot condominiums, one on prime of the alternative in a Century City high-rise. “I treasure my privacy, and Ted needs him,” she as quickly as outlined. “We love each other very much. I’m much more fulfilled today than at any time in my life.”
After Fleming’s sister, Beverly Engel, died of most cancers in 1991, Fleming and her husband established the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center for Women with Cancer at the UCLA Medical Center. They moreover had been energetic in quite a few completely different charities for many cancers victims, children, and the homeless.
A couple of years after Mann died, Fleming married for a sixth time, to Derol W. Carlson, who died in 2017.