LOS ANGELES – Rhonda Fleming, a star in the 1940s and 1950s who was dubbed the “Queen of Technocolor” and appeared in “Out of the Past” and “Spell”, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California, according to her secretary. Carla Sapon. She was 97.
Fleming has appeared in more than 40 films and worked with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock on The Spell, Jacques Turner on Beyond the Past, and Robert Siodmack on The Spiral Staircase.
Later in life, she became a philanthropist and supporter of many organizations fighting cancer, homelessness and child abuse.
Her starring roles include classics such as the 1
Her stars over the years have included Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan, with whom he has made four films. Other notable roles include “While the City Sleeps” on “Fritz Lang,” “Pony Express,” and “The Big Circus.” One of her last roles was in Don Adams’ farce “The Naked Bomb” in 1980, and she was misled as “Rhoda Flaming” in 1976 in the comedy “The Tone Won, the Dog That Saved Hollywood,” along with a bunch of other retro performers from Dorothy Lamour to Stepin Fechit and Rudy Vale.
Born in Marilyn Lewis, Hollywood, she attended Beverly Hills High and was discovered by famed agent Henry Wilson while on her way to school, she told a Warner Bros. podcast. Wilson changed her name to Rhonda Fleming and then signed a contract with David O. Selznick. Her first starring role was as a nymphomaniac in The Spell, and she said she was so naive that she had to look up the word in the dictionary when she was thrown.
In addition to film, Fleming debuted on Broadway in Claire Booth Luce’s “Women” and toured as Madame Dubone in “The Boyfriend.” In 1957, Fleming debuted on stage in Las Vegas at the opening of the Tropicana Hotel’s showroom. She later appeared in the Hollywood Bowl in a concert for a woman with compositions by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. In 1960, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Fleming also routinely appeared on television in series, including “Train Train”, “Police Woman”, “Love Boat” and a two-hour specialty of “Macmillan and Wife”. Together with Maureen O’Hara, she was nicknamed the “Queen of Technicolor” for how well her red hair and green eyes were photographed in bright colors.
In 1991, Fleming and her late husband, Ted Mann, of the Mann Theaters, established the Ronda Fleming Mann Clinic for Comprehensive Care for Women with Cancer at UCLA in memory of her sister Beverly, and in 1992 she founded the Ronda Fleming Mann Resource Center. at UCLA. She opened the Reflections boutique to help cancer patients with items including wigs and dentures.
She also supported Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, where she created the inspiring Rhonda Fleming Carlson Garden in 2014.
Her other charitable efforts include being Childhelp’s ambassador for the care and treatment of victims of child abuse, and PATH (People Helping the Homeless), where she set up two Rhonda Fleming family centers.
After her sister Beverly died of cancer, she became a supporter of cancer research and, together with her then-husband Ted Mann of Mann Theaters, set up the Women’s Complex Clinic at UCLA’s Rhonda Fleming Mann Medical Center. She also supported the Ronda Fleming Mann Resource Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA. For further research and treatment of women’s cancer, she created The Rhonda Fleming Mann Research Fellowship at City of Hope Hospital.
Her sixth husband, Darol W. Carlson, died in 2017.