Rhonda Fleming, Out of the Past actress, dies at 97
Rhonda Fleming, a classic movie star once known as the "Queen of Technicolor", has died at the age of 97.
Her secretary, Carla Sapon, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Fleming was hailed for her bright red hair and green eyes, and loved by audiences for her presence in Technicolor films, particularly in A Connecticut Yankee from 1949 in King Arthur's Court across from Bing Crosby. She was also known for her presence in film noir, particularly as Meta Carson in Out of the Past from 1947.
Fleming had her first essential role in Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, in which she played a nymphomaniac in a mental hospital. She later joked about looking up what the word nymphomaniac meant and was shocked to discover the definition.
She excelled in bad girl and femme fatale roles and appeared in projects such as Cry Danger (1951), While the City Sleeps (1956), The Killer Is Loose (1956), Inferno (1953) and Slightly Scarlet ( 1956). Fleming also had a knack for westerns and appeared in The Eagle and the Hawk (1950), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951), Pony Express (1953) and the 3D musical Those Redheads From Seattle (1953).
She put her eye-catching curls and bombshell looks alive and starred as a belly dancer in Little Egypt (1951), as Cleopatra in Serpent of the Nile (1953) and in her first leading role in 1947 (7).
She attracted a lot of attention for the singing and dancing on the opening bill of the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas in May 1957, along with the likes of Eddie Fisher.
Rhonda Fleming was born Marilyn Louis on August 10, 1923 in Hollywood into a family of actors. While still a student at Beverly Hills High School, she began working as a film actress. Fleming was discovered by notorious Hollywood agent Henry Willson (recently portrayed by Jim Parsons on Netflix 'Hollywood), who implemented her name change and brought her to the attention of legendary producer David O. Selznick.
Selznick signed her, which led to her first notable role in Spellbound. After getting her first lead role in Adventure Island, she auditioned for her role in Connecticut Yankee, a musical that allowed her to showcase her singing skills. She duet with Crosby on "Once and For Always" and sang solo on "When Is Sometime".
She then worked with Bob Hope on The Great Lover, a massive hit. Notably, Fleming appeared in four films alongside Ronald Reagan from 1951 to 1955, including The Last Outpost and Hong Kong. Her other notable credits included Home Before Dark in 1958, The Big Circus with Victor Mature in 1959, and The Nude Bomb in 1980.
Fleming also worked on television on shows such as The Virginian, Wagon Train, Ellery Queen, McMillan & Wife, and The Love Boat.
She retired in the 1960s and focused on singing and nightclub appearances. After 1975, their screen appearances dwindled significantly. In later life she was a prominent advocate of cancer research and founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care at UCLA Medical Center in 1991. She later founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Research Fellowship in the City of Hope.
Fleming was married six times, and her last husband was theater chain mogul Ted Mann (formerly Mann's Chinese Theater), who joined her in her philanthropic endeavors.
Through her marriage to doctor Thomas Lane, she had a son, Kent Lane, as well as two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.
We lost stars in 2020
The original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Bonni Lou Kern dies at the age of 79
Helen Reddy, singer behind the feminist anthem 'I Am Woman', dies at the age of 78
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