Rhonda Fleming, film star in the 1940s and 1950s, dies at 97

Brunilde Fioravanti
Ottobre 18, 2020

Her secretary, Carla Sapon, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.

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.

Over the years, she worked with people like Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Rock Hudson, Bob Hope 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.

Fleming was married six times, and her final husband was theater chain mogul Ted Mann (of what was formerly Mann's Chinese Theatre), who joined her in her philanthropic efforts. Fleming was discovered by notorious Hollywood agent Henry Willson (recently depicted by Jim Parsons on Netflix's Hollywood), who implemented her name change and brought her to the attention of legendary producer 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.

She garnered significant attention for singing and dancing on the opening-night bill of Las Vegas' Tropicana Hotel in May 1957, alongside the likes of Eddie Fisher. She also appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert - in 1960, she was award with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She went on to star in more than 40 films during Hollywood's Golden Age of filmmaking.

Rhonda Fleming in 1955 in Italy
Rhonda Fleming, queen of Technicolor and star of Spellbound, dead at 97

Fleming was known as the "Queen of Technicolor" for her stunning red hair and green eyes, which lit up appearances in such films as Out of the Past and Spellbound.

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.

She was also a humanitarian and philanthropist, establishing the Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care for Women with Cancer at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Rhonda Fleming Carlson Inspiration Garden at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, as well as welfare centres for the homeless.

Fleming was also an ambassador of Childhelp, dedicated to the care and treatment of victims of child abuse, and P.A.T.H. She also founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center at UCLA.

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