Along with her flaming purple hair and plush determine, Rhonda Fleming was some of the stunning girls in films within the 1950s. She was typically recognized, like her fellow redhead Maureen O’Hara, because the Queen of Technicolor, a label she discovered limiting, although Fleming herself mentioned that she most popular colour to the black and white of her first 1940s movies. “I’m glad I used to be a star again then and never now,” Fleming mentioned. “I by no means needed to take my garments off to look horny.”
Fleming was born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, and her mom was a mannequin and actress. She attended Beverly Hills Excessive Faculty and he or she was found, as they used to say, by the expertise agent Henry Willson. “He stopped me crossing the road,” Fleming claimed. “He signed me to a seven-year contract and not using a display check. It was a Cinderella story, however these may occur in these days.”
Willson introduced her to the eye of David O. Selznick, who put her underneath contract and had her taking part in bit roles earlier than her first standout half as a psychiatric affected person who hates males in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” (1945). Hitchcock provides Fleming a showcase proper at first of the movie; she is introduced in to see her physician (Ingrid Bergman) and scratches the male orderly accompanying her after behaving in a really seductive means with him. “I hate males, I detest them,” Fleming tells Bergman throughout their session. “If one a lot as touches me, I need to sink my enamel into his hand and chunk it off.” She talks a few time when she did really chunk a person: “I abruptly pretended like I used to be going to kiss him and sank my enamel into his mustache. I bit it clear off!”
Fleming bought one other eye-catching half within the thriller “The Spiral Staircase” (1946), and he or she additionally appeared within the movie noir traditional “Out of the Previous” (1947) as Meta Carson, a secretary concerned in shady enterprise. Fleming had an completed soprano singing voice, and so she branched out into musicals, taking part in reverse Bing Crosby in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court docket” (1949), her first movie within the Technicolor that got here to outline her picture.
Fleming was a sizzling commodity at this level, and he or she later thought that she didn’t select her elements properly sufficient. “I made the error of doing lesser movies for good cash,” she mentioned. She appeared in some westerns and motion films, together with a number of with Ronald Reagan, and he or she performed Cleopatra in “Serpent of the Nile” (1953). Fleming normally had a naughty gleam in her eye in these footage, and an air of confidence that noticed her by means of. She betrayed Robert Ryan within the 3-D “Inferno” (1953), which added to her unhealthy woman persona. There was at all times an air of sensuality about Fleming that comes throughout most clearly in the best way she handles props, as if she must caress them.
Her most interesting hour on display was in “Barely Scarlet” (1956), a Technicolor noir directed by Allan Dwan wherein Fleming was paired with one other sultry redhead, Arlene Dahl, in a narrative the place they bought to play sisters. Dahl is the extra hot-to-trot of the 2 sisters in that image, however Fleming makes an impression as she stealthily walks across the shadowed interiors. Essentially the most memorable factor about Fleming on display is the best way she strikes, the best way she carries herself, as if she is loaded down with riches and so has to maneuver considerably slowly with them.
In Budd Boetticher’s tense “The Killer Is Free” (1956), Fleming is focused by a prison (Wendell Corey) who desires revenge in opposition to her policeman husband (Joseph Cotten), and he or she strikes in that wonderful film like somebody in a lure, like somebody who is aware of they’re being watched. Her personal favourite function was as Jean Simmons’s stepsister in “Residence Earlier than Darkish” (1957), which she felt was stretch for her. Fleming centered on a musical profession at this level and performed in Las Vegas, and he or she additionally recorded some songs. In 1960, Fleming mentioned that she was “semi-retired,” having made some cash in actual property investments, however she labored on tv sometimes.
A spiritual individual, her final look was at age 67 in a brief known as “Ready for the Wind” (1990) reverse her previous noir co-star Robert Mitchum, the place she wore a cross round her neck and was as stunning as ever. Fleming was married six occasions; the primary 4 marriages led to divorce, and he or she was widowed for the final two. Her identify nonetheless conjures up a picture of opulent redheaded magnificence and stressed lusciousness, all of the extra tempting for being ever-so-slightly withheld.