40s and ’50s Movie Star Ronda Fleming Dies at 97

1 out of 5

FILE – In this September 28, 1981 file photo, actress Ronda Fleming poses for a photo in Hollywood, California. He died on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, in the 1940s and 1950s. She was 97. (AP Photo / Wally Fong)

1 out of 5

FILE – In this September 28, 1981 file photo, actress Ronda Fleming poses for a photo in Hollywood, California. He died on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, in the 1940s and 1950s. She was 97. (AP Photo / Wally Fong)

Los Angeles (AP) – Actress Ronda Fleming, the fiery redhead who appeared alongside Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan and other film stars from the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 97.

Fleming’s assistant Carla Sapon told The New York Times Fleming died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California.

From his first film with Bing Crosby, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1949), Fleming became quite popular with producers due to his vivid qualities. It was an attraction that one would later regret.

“All of a sudden my green eyes were green. My red hair was turning red. My skin was porcelain white, ”Fleming commented in a 1990 interview. He said, “Suddenly, attention was paid to what I look like instead of the role I’m playing.

“I am pictured in a corner of the studio, who never wanted more than my good looks and went through a parade of films like ‘The Redhead and the Cowboy’.” “

Before Reagan entered politics, the actress co-starred with her in “Hong Kong,” “Tropic Zone,” “The Last Outpost” and “Tennessee’s Partner”.

“She surprised everyone because she never looked in the mirror,” he once said of Reagan. “How many actors can you say that about?”

Fleming had a good singing voice, and later in his career sang in Las Vegas and performed in an exciting performance.

In the era of the big-studio, many new celebrities were promoted as if discovered in a bizarre way: Kim Novak saw Lana Turner riding a bicycle from an agent’s office to a malt shop.

In Fleming’s case, young Merlin Louis was reported to be headed for class at Beverly Hills High School when a man followed her in a big black car and told her, “You should stay in the pictures.” She kicks him out, but she stays at his house and offers him to be his agent.

Legend or not, David O. in 19 Louis. A six-month contract was awarded to Selznick’s studio and a new name: Ronda Fleming. He played a small part in the 1944 wartime drama “You Won’t Away,” and then Alfred Hitchcock selected him to play an apocalyptic role in “Spellbound” starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.

“I moved home, and my mother and I saw ‘Apsomniac’ in the dictionary,” she recalled. “We were both surprised.”

“Spellbound” led to another suspense film, “The Spiral Staircase”, in which he was strangled by the villain George Brent. With Selznick focusing on the career of his wife, Jennifer Jones, he lost interest in his contract players and Fleming left the studio to freelance.

His next films: “Town of Abilene,” a Randolph Scott Western; Film noir The Past with Robert Mitchum; And “Adventure Island,” a tropics thriller starring Rory Calhoun.

After Dean Durbin retired from France, he played a part in “A Connecticut Yankee”, a Crosby musical based on the story of Mark Twain. Crosby was so impressed that she recommended him to Bob Hope, with whom he starred in “The Great Lover”.

Ironically, the Crosby / Hope films established her as a luminary and proved that she could never come out on top. She remained a star for 15 years, but except for Lancaster-Douglas “Gunfight in OK Corral”, most of her performances came in B photographs that exploited her look.

“I made the mistake of doing fewer films for good money,” she reflected in a 1976 interview. “I was hot – they all wanted me – but I didn’t have the guidance or background to judge for myself.”

His 1950 films were “While the City Sleeps”, directed by Fritz Lang and co-starring Dana Andrews. He played Cleopatra in the 1953 film “Snake of the Nile”.

But many of the titles were oblivious: “The Eagle and the Hawk,” “The Last Outpost,” “Little Egypt,” “The Killer Is Loose,” “Little Scarlet,” “Crossword” and “Hunton Express” (of Charlton Heston With), “Inferno,” “Redheads from Seattle,” “Yankee Pasha,” and “Gun Glory.”

After his film career cooled down, Fleming did a singing career in Las Vegas, appeared on TV shows and commercials, starred in the revival of “The Women” on Broadway and in “Kissmate” for the Los Angeles Civic Light Lucy sang as Lalu. Opera.

He was born in 1923 in Los Angeles. Her mother, Effie Graham, appeared in the 1914 Broadway musical alongside Al Jolson, and her grandfather was a theatrical producer in Salt Lake City. She studied acting, but also took classes in shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping as a backup.

Still in his teens, Fleming married his high school-going, Thomas Lane. A son, Kent, was born in 1941. When Lane returned from army service, Ronda became a star, and the marriage ended in 1947. Three other marriages to Beverly Hills surgeon Louise Morrill (1952–1958) also ended in divorce; Actor Lang Jefferies (1960–1962); And producer-director Hall Bartlett (1966–1972).

In 1977 Fleming married Mogul Ted Mann, who produced the Mann Theater series, and the wedding lasted until his death in 2001. For many years, they matched a 4,300-square-foot condominium, one skyscraper over another in Century City. She once explained, “I want to treasure my privacy, and Ted needs it.” “We love each other a lot. I am so much more fulfilled today than at any time in my life.”

After Fleming’s sister Beverly Engel died of cancer in 1991, Fleming and her husband founded the Ronda Fleming Man Resource Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA Medical Center. He was also active in various other donations for cancer patients, children and the homeless.

A few years after Mann died, Fleming married Darrol W. Carlson for the sixth time, who died in 2017.


The late Associated Press correspondent Bob Thomas prepared the material for this story.


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