Actress Rhonda Fleming, the fiery redhead who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan and other movie stars in the 1940s and 1950s, died. He is 97.
Fleming’s assistant Carla Sapon told The New York Times that Fleming died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California.
From his first color in the film, ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’ (1949) with Bing Crosby, Fleming became famous by the producers for his clear color. It was an attraction he would later regret.
Rhonda Fleming died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California, sharing her assistant. He is 97 years old (pictured 2010, left and 1945, right)
Fleming, a fiery redhead who appeared with top Hollywood men in 1940 including Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston and Ronald Reagan. He was pictured with Reagan in Hong Kong in 1954
‘Suddenly my green eyes turned green. My red hair is red. My skin is white porcelain, ‘Fleming said in an interview in 1990.’ Suddenly there was all this attention to how I looked rather than my roles.
‘I was painted in a corner of the studios, who never wanted more of me than my beautiful and waltzing through a parade of films 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 was surprised at all because he did not look in a mirror,’ he once said of Reagan. ‘How many artists can you say about that?’
Fleming is known for his work in Hollywood films throughout the 40s and 50s, as well as his appearance
Fleming flourished as a singer and dancer in the first night club appearance of his career at the New Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas in 1957
Before Reagan entered politics, the actor co-starred with him in ‘Hong Kong,’ ‘Tropic Zone,’ ‘The Last Outpost’ (pictured) and ‘Tennessee’s Partner’
Fleming possessed a great singing voice, and later in his career sang on stage in Las Vegas and on a touring act.
During the big-studio, many new personalities were publicly discovered in strange ways: Kim Novak while riding a bicycle passed through the agent’s office, Lana Turner spotted at a malt shop.
In Fleming’s case, young Marilyn Louis was reportedly going to class at Beverly Hills High School when a man followed her in a large black car and told her, ‘You must be in the picture.’ It avoided him, but he went to his house and offered to be his agent.
Legend or not, at 19 Louis was awarded a six-month contract with David O. Selznick’s studio and a new name: Rhonda Fleming. He played a part in 1944 during the war drama ‘Since You Went Away,’ and then Alfred Hitchcock chose him to play a nymphomaniac in ‘Spellbound,’ starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
Fleming was reading in his penthouse apartment in Rome in 1955
‘I rushed home, and my mother and I looked at the “nymphomaniac” in the dictionary, “he recalls.’ We were both shocked. ‘
‘Spellbound’ leads to another suspense film, ‘The Spiral Staircase,’ in which he is strangled by the villain, George Brent. With Selznick focusing on the career of his wife, Jennifer Jones, he lost interest in his contractors, and Fleming left the studio to freelance.
His next 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 won a role in ‘A Connecticut Yankee,’ a Crosby music based on the Mark Twain story, after Deanna Durbin dropped out to retire in France. Crosby was impressed that he recommended her to Bob Hope, whom he starred in in ‘The Great Lover.’
Oddly enough, the Crosby / Hope films that established him as a light proved he was unable to raise. He remained a star for 15 years, but with the exception of Lancaster-Douglas ‘Gunfight and the OK Corral,’ most of his performances came from B’s photos that exploited his appearance.
Flemings has been married a total of five times. Pictured in 1978 with his late wife, Ted Mann
Richard M. Nixon, a former Republican candidate for governor of California, chats with Fleming, actor George Murphy and singer-songwriter Jane Powell in Hollywood in 1962
‘I made the mistake of making fewer films for good money,’ he showed in an interview in 1976. ‘I’m hot – they all like me – but I have no guidance or source to judge for myself.’
Among his films in 1950 were ‘While the City Sleeps,’ directed by Fritz Lang and co-starring Dana Andrews. She played Cleopatra in the movie ‘Serpent of the Nile in 1953.’
But many titles will never be forgotten: ‘The Eagle and the Hawk,’ ‘The Last Outpost,’ ‘Little Egypt,’ ‘The Killer Is Loose,’ ‘Slightly Scarlet,’ ‘Crosswinds’ and ‘Pony Express’ (with Charlton Heston ), ‘Inferno,’ ‘The Redheads from Seattle,’ ‘Yankee Pasha,’ and ‘Gun Glory.’
After cooling off his film career, Fleming starred in Las Vegas, appeared in TV shows and commercials, starring on Broadway in a revival of ‘The Women’ and sang as a teaser Lalume in ‘Kismet’ for Los Angeles Civic Light Opera.
He was born in Los Angeles in 1923. His mother, Effie Graham, appeared on a Broadway musical in 1914 with Al Jolson, and his grandfather was a playwright in Salt Lake City. He studied acting, but as a backup also took classes in briefing, typing and bookkeeping.
Fleming in the 1957 Paramount film The Buster Keaton Story
Fleming in 1947 taking direction from director Cecil B DeMille (left) next to Tay Garnett (right)
While still young, Fleming married his high school girlfriend Thomas Lane. One son, Kent, was born in 1941. When Lane returned from Army service, Rhonda became 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 founded the Mann Theater chain, and the marriage lasted until his death in 2001. For many years, they lived in a match of 4,300- square-foot-condominium, one on top of another in a tall Century City. ‘I value my privacy, and Ted needs his,’ he explained. ‘We love each other very much. I am more fulfilling now than at any other time in my life. ‘
After Fleming’s sister, Beverly Engel, died of cancer in 1991, Fleming and her husband founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA Medical Center. They are also active in various charities for cancer patients, children and the homeless.
A few years after Mann’s death, Fleming married for the sixth time to Derol W. Carlson, who died in 2017.
Bob Hope and Rhonda Fleming in the set of The Great Lover of Alexander Hall