Rhonda Fleming, whose long career embraced the golden age of film judgment and the early days of television, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California at the age of 97. No reason was given, but her death was confirmed by her secretary.
Fleming was known as the “Queen of Technicolor” for her stunning red hair and green eyes, which enlightened appearances in films such as Out of the past and Enchanted. In total, she has appeared in more than 40 films and worked with directors Alfed Hitchcock, Jacques Tourneur and Robert Siodmak, among other major filmmakers.
Her most famous film included the musical fantasy of 1948 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with Bing Crosby, Western 1
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Fleming was costar to some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including four films with Ronald Reagan before entering politics. She worked with, among others, Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope and Rock Hudson.
Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, she attended Beverly Hills High, where legend has it that she was discovered by Agent Henry Wilson while on her way to school. Her name was quickly changed by Wilson to the more glamorous Rhonda Fleming, and she was signed to a contract with David O. Selznick.
She was cast as a nymphomaniac in Enchanted, an expression she later admitted she had to look up after being thrown.
Fleming appeared on Broadway in Clare Boothe Luce’s The woman and toured as Madame Dubonnet in Boyfriend.She also made music in Las Vegas nightclubs and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert featuring compositions by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.
On television, Fleming was a guest Truck, policewoman, love boat, was in a special of McMillan & Kone.
Later in life, Fleming became a philanthropist. She and her late husband, Ted Mann of Mann’s Theaters, established the Rhonda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care for Women with Cancer at UCLA in memory of her sister Beverly. She also founded the Rhonda Fleming Mann Resource Center at UCLA.
She also supported the Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, where she established the Rhonda Fleming Carlson Inspiration Garden in 2014.
Fleming was also an ambassador for Childhelp, dedicated to caring for and treating victims of child abuse, and PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), where she set up two Rhonda Fleming family centers.
Fleming survived his son, Kent Lane, grandson, Kelly Harman (Morgan Harman), grandson, Kimberly Coleman, and great-grandchildren Wagner Harman (Lindsay Harman), Page Harman, Linden Harman, Lane Albrecht, Cole Albrecht, and two great-great-grandchildren, Ronan and Kiera Harman. She is also survived by stepchildren Candace Voien, Cindy Jaeger, Jill Lundstrom and Kevin Carlson.
Donations can be made to: PATH, 340 N. Madison Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004-3504; Saint Johns Hospital and Health Center Foundation, 1328 22nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 or Childhelp, 4350 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. F250, Phoenix, AZ 85018.