Rhonda Fleming born Marilyn Louis; August 10, 1923 – October 14, 2020
THE STAR OF THE 40S AND 50S
Rhonda Fleming, star of the 1940s and ’50s who was dubbed the “Queen of Technicolor” and appeared in “Out of the Past” and “Spellbound,” died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., according to her secretary Carla Sapon. She was 97.
Fleming appeared in more than 40 films and worked with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock on “Spellbound,” Jacques Tourneur on “Out of the Past” and Robert Siodmak on “The Spiral Staircase.”
Later in life, she became a philanthropist and supporter of numerous organizations fighting cancer, homelessness and child abuse.
Her starring roles include classics such as the 1948 musical fantasy “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” alongside Bing Crosby, 1957 Western “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and the noir “Slightly Scarlet” alongside John Payne.
Her co-stars over the years included Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan, with whom she made four films. Other notable roles included Fritz Lang’s “While the City Sleeps,” “Pony Express” and “The Big Circus.” One of her last roles was in the Don Adams farce “The Nude Bomb” in 1980, and she spoofed herself as “Rhoda Flaming” in 1976 comedy “Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood” along a bevy of other vintage performers from Dorothy Lamour to Stepin Fetchit and Rudy Vallee.
Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, she attended Beverly Hills High and was discovered by the famous agent Henry Wilson while on the way to school, she told the Warner Bros. podcast. Wilson changed her name to Rhonda Fleming and she was then signed to a contract with David O. Selznick. Her first major part was as a nymphomaniac in “Spellbound,” and she said she was so naive she had to look up the word in the dictionary when she was cast.
In addition to cinema, Fleming made her Broadway debut in Clare Boothe Luce’s “The Women” and toured as Madame Dubonnet in “The Boyfriend.” In 1957, Fleming made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the Tropicana Hotel’s showroom. Later she appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert with compositions from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. In 1960, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Fleming also routinely guest-starred on television in series including “Wagon Train,” “Police Woman,” “The Love Boat” and a two-hour special of “McMillan & Wife.” Along with Maureen O’Hara, she was bestowed the nickname of “Queen of Technicolor” for how well her red hair and green eyes photographed in vivid color.
In 1991, Fleming and her late husband Ted Mann of Mann’s Theaters established Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care for Women with Cancer at UCLA in memory of her sister Beverly, and in 1992, she founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center at UCLA. She opened the Reflections boutique to help cancer patients with items including wigs and prostheses.
She also supported Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., where she established the Rhonda Fleming Carlson Inspiration Garden in 2014.
In the 1960s, Fleming branched out into other businesses and began performing regularly on stage and in Las Vegas.
One of her final film appearances was in a bit-part as Edith von Secondburg in the comedy The Nude Bomb (1980) starring Don Adams. She also appeared in Waiting for the Wind (1990).
Fleming has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame In 2007, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.
MOVIES IN WHICH SHE ACTED:
“Queen of Technicolor”
|1943||In Old Oklahoma||Dance-hall girl|
|1944||Since You Went Away||Girl at dance|
|When Strangers Marry||Girl on train|
|1946||Abilene Town||Sherry Balder|
|The Spiral Staircase||Blanche|
|1947||Adventure Island||Faith Wishart|
|Out of the Past||Meta Carson|
|1949||A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court||Alisande La Carteloise|
|The Great Lover||Duchess Alexandria|
|1950||The Eagle and the Hawk||Mrs. Madeline Danzeeger|
|1951||Cry Danger||Nancy Morgan|
|The Redhead and the Cowboy||Candace Bronson|
|The Last Outpost||Julie McQuade|
|1952||Hong Kong||Victoria Evans|
|The Golden Hawk||Captain Rouge|
|1953||Tropic Zone||Flanders White|
|Serpent of the Nile||Cleopatra|
|Pony Express||Evelyn Hastings|
|Those Redheads From Seattle||Kathie Edmonds|
|Yankee Pasha||Roxana Reil|
|1955||Queen of Babylon||Semiramis|
|Tennessee’s Partner||Elizabeth “Duchess” Farnham|
|1956||The Killer Is Loose||Lila Wagner|
|Slightly Scarlet||June Lyons|
|While the City Sleeps||Dorothy Kyne|
|1957||The Buster Keaton Story||Peggy Courtney|
|Gunfight at the O.K. Corral||Laura Denbow|
|Home Before Dark||Joan Carlisle|
|1959||Alias Jesse James||Cora Lee Collins|
|The Big Circus||Helen Harrison|
|1960||The Crowded Sky||Cheryl “Charro” Heath|
|The Revolt of the Slaves||Fabiola|
|Pão de Açúcar||Pamela Jones DeSantis|
|1965||Run for Your Wife||Nyta|
|1976||Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood||Herself|
|1980||The Nude Bomb||Edith Von Secondberg|
|1990||Waiting for the Wind||Hannah|