Rhonda Fleming, the actress dubbed “The Queen of Technicolor” and appeared alongside 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 film, A Connecticut Yankee to King Arthur̵7;s Court (1949) with Bing Crosby, Fleming became famous for its clear natural coloring. It was an attraction he would later regret.
“Suddenly my green eyes are green. My red hair is red. My skin is white porcelain, “Fleming said in an interview in 1990.” Suddenly there was more attention to my appearance than my roles. I was painted in a corner of the studios, who never wanted more to me than my beautiful and waltzing through the parade of movies like The Redhead and the Cowboy.
Before Reagan entered politics, Fleming joined him in Hong Kong, Tropic Zone, The Last Outpost and Tennessee Partners. “He surprised everyone because he didn’t look in a mirror,” she once said of Reagan. “How many artists can you say about that?”
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 heading to class at Beverly Hills High School when a man followed her into 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. The man is in fact Henry Willson, a well-known Hollywood agent who was also the mastermind of Rock Hudson and Robert Wagner’s early career.
On 19 Louis was awarded a six-month contract with David O Selznick’s studio and was given a new name: Rhonda Fleming. He played a partial role in 1944 during the drama war beginning of You Go, and then Alfred Hitchcock chose him to play what he described as a “nymphomaniac” in Spellbound, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. “I rushed home, and my mother and I looked at the ‘nymphomaniac’ in the dictionary,” he said later. “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 subsequent films were Abilene Town, a western Randolph Scott; Out of the Past, a film noir with Robert Mitchum; and Adventure Island, a tropics 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 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 the main figure proved he was unable to raise. He remained a star for 15 years, but with the exception of the Lancaster-Douglas Gunfight at OK Corral, most of his performances came from B photos that took advantage of his appearance. “I made the mistake of making fewer films for good money,” he said in an interview in 1976. “I’m hot, they all like me – but I have no guidance or source to judge for myself.”
His 1950s films include While the City Sleeps, directed by Fritz Lang and co-starring Dana Andrews. She starred in 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, The Redheads from Seattle and Pony Express (with Charlton Heston).
After her film career cooled down, Fleming starred in Las Vegas, appeared in TV shows and commercials, starring on Broadway in a revival of The Women and sang as a Lalume artist in Kismet for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera.
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. After Mann’s death, Fleming married Derol for the sixth time. W Carlson, who died in 2017.