Rhonda Fleming, whose long career spanned the Golden Age of film and the early days of television, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 97. No cause 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 shed light on in films such as From past and Fascinated. In total, she has starred in more than 40 films, working with directors Alfed Hitchcock, Jacques Turner and Robert Sedmak, among other major films.
Among her most famous films is 1948 fiction The Yankees of Connecticut at the court of King Arthur with Bing Crosby, 1957 Western Shootout in OK Corral, and noir Little Scarlett, next to John Payne.
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Fleming was a major partner of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including four films with Ronald Reagan before he entered politics. She has worked with Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope and Rock Hudson, among others.
Born Marilyn Louis in Hollywood, she visited Beverly Hills High, where, according to legend, she was discovered by agent Henry Wilson on his way to school. Wilson quickly changed her name to the more glamorous Ronda Fleming, and she signed a contract with David O. Selznick.
She played the role of a nymphomaniac Fascinated, a term she later admitted she had to look for after selection.
Fleming appeared on Broadway in “Claire Booth Lucy” Women and toured as Madame Dubonne’s Boy.”She also played music in Las Vegas nightclubs and performed at the Hollywood Bowl for a single concert with compositions by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.
On television, Fleming starred in Wagon train, Policewoman, Love boat, was in a special Russia Macmillan and wife.
Later in life, Fleming became a patron. She and her late husband, Ted Mann of the Mann Theaters, founded the Ronda Fleming Mann Clinic to provide comprehensive care to women with cancer at UCLA in memory of her sister Beverly. She also founded the Ronda Fleming Mann Resource Center at UCLA.
She also supported the St. John’s Providence Wellness Center in Santa Monica, California, where she founded the Ronda Fleming Carlson Garden of Inspiration in 2014.
Fleming was also Childhelp’s ambassador for the care and treatment of child abuse victims, and PATH (People Helping the Homeless), where she set up two Ronda Fleming Family Centers.
Fleming is survived by her son Kent Lane, granddaughter Kelly Harman (Morgan Harman), granddaughter Kimberly Coleman and great-grandchildren Wagner Harman (Lindsay Harman), Paige Harman, Linden Harman, Lane Albrecht, Cole Albrecht and two great-grandchildren, Ronan and. She also has stepchildren Candice Voyen, Cindy Jaeger, Jill Lundström and Kevin Carlson.
Donations can be made to: PATH, 340 N. Madison Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90004-3504; St. John’s Hospital and Health Center Foundation, 1328 22nd Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90404 or Childhelp, 4350 E.Camelback Rd., Ste. F250, Phoenix, AZ 85018.