Washington, District of Columbia 2020-10-17 02:26:43 –
The fiery red-haired actress Rhonda Fleming, who starred with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, and other 1940s and 1950s movie stars, has died. She was 97 years old.
Los Angeles (AP) — The fiery red-haired actress Rhonda Fleming, who starred with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, and other 1940s and 1950s movie stars, has died. .. She was 97 years old.
Fleming’s assistant, Carla Sapon, told The New York Times that Fleming died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California.
From her first color film with Bing Crosby, “The Connecticut Yankees of the Royal Court of Arthur” (1949), Fleming has become immensely popular with producers for her vibrant shades. It was a charm she later regretted.
“Suddenly my green eyes turned green. My red hair was fiery red. My skin was porcelain white,” Fleming said in a 1990 interview. “Suddenly all this attention was directed to what I looked like, not the role I was playing.
“I was pushed to the corner by the studio. The studio saw a parade of movies like” Redheads and Cowboys “and didn’t want me to do anything more than look good and walnut. .. “
Before Reagan entered politics, the actress co-starred with him in “Hong Kong,” “Tropic Zone,” “The Last Fort,” and “Tennessee’s Partner.”
“He surprised everyone because he had never seen the mirror,” she once said of Reagan. “How many actors can say about it?”
Fleming had a great singing voice and then sang on stage and in touring cars in Las Vegas during her career.
In the days of big studios, many new personalities were announced as being discovered in strange ways. Kim Novak, who cycled past the agent’s office, and Lana Turner, found at a malt shop.
In the case of Fleming, young Marilyn Lewis was reported to have gone to a class at Beverly Hills High School when a man chased her in a big black car and said, “You should be in the picture.” She avoided him, but he appeared at her house and offered to represent her.
Legendary or not, 19-year-old Louis signed a six-month contract at David O. Selsnick’s studio, and his new name was Rhonda Fleming. After she helped a bit in the 1944 wartime drama Since You Went Away, Alfred Hitchcock chose to play Nasty in “Spellbound,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
“I hurried home and my mother and I looked up” Nymphomaniac “in the dictionary,” she recalled. “We were both shocked.”
“Spellbound” led to another suspense film, The Spiral Stairs, where she was strangled by the villain George Brent. As Selznick focused on his wife Jennifer Jones’ career, he lost interest in contract players and Fleming left the studio to become freelance.
Her next movie: “Abilene Town”, Randolph Scott Western. “Out of the Past”, film noir with Robert Mitchum. And “Adventure Island”, a tropical thriller starring Rory Calhoun.
She played a role in the Crosby musical “Connecticut Yankee” based on Mark Twain’s story after Deanna Durbin retired to France. Crosby was so impressed that she recommended her to Bob Hope, who starred in “Big Lover.”
Ironically, the Crosby / Hope film that established her as a celebrity proved to be something she could never have been at the top. She has been a star for 15 years, but most of her performances were done in B-photos with her looks, except for Lancaster Douglas’s “Gunfight at the OK Ranch”.
“I made the mistake of doing less movies for better money,” she recalled in an interview in 1976. “I was hot-they all wanted me-but I didn’t have the guidance or background to make my own judgment.”
One of her 1950s films was “While the City Sleeps,” directed by Fritz Lang and co-starred by Dana Andrews. She played Cleopatra in the 1953 movie “The Snake of the Nile”.
But many titles have been forgotten: “Eagle and Hawk”, “Last Outpost”, “Little Egypt”, “Killer Loose”, “Slightly Scarlet”, “Crosswinds”, “Pony Express” (With Charlton Heston), “Inferno”, “Redhead in Seattle”, “Yankee Pasha”, “Ganglory”.
After her film career cooled, Fleming sang in Las Vegas, starred in television shows and commercials, starred on Broadway with the resurrection of “The Women,” and as the seducer Larum in Los Angeles Civic Light’s “Kismet.” I sang the opera.
She was born in Los Angeles in 1923. His mother, Effie Graham, starred with Al Jolson in a 1914 Broadway musical, and his grandfather was a stage producer in Salt Lake City. She learned acting, but also took shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping classes as a backup.
As a teenager, Fleming married his high school lover Thomas Lane. His son Kent was born in 1941. When Lane returned from the Army, Ronda became a star and the marriage ended in 1947. The other three marriages also ended with a divorce from Beverly Hills surgeon Luis Morrill (1952-1958). Actor Lang Jeffreys (1960-1962); and Producer-Director Hall Bartlett (1966-1972).
In 1977 Fleming married Tedman, the tycoon who built the Man Theater Chain, and the marriage continued until his death in 2001. For many years, they lived in a 4,300-square-foot condo lined up and down in Century City. High rise. “I value my privacy. Ted needs him,” she once explained. “We love each other very much. Today is much more fulfilling than any other time in our lives.”
After Fleming’s sister Beverly Engel died of cancer in 1991, Fleming and her husband founded the Rhonda Flemingman Cancer Women’s Resource Center at the UCLA Medical Center. They were also active in various other charities for cancer patients, children and the homeless.
A few years after Mann died, Fleming married Delor W. Carlson, who died in 2017, for the sixth time.
The late Associated Press correspondent, Bob Thomas, edited the material for this story.
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