Rhonda Fleming, 97, Movie Star Made for Technicolor, Is Dead


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Rhonda Fleming, 97, Movie Star Made for Technicolor, Is Dead

Rhonda Fleming, the red-haired actress and sex symbol in Hollywood westerns, film noir and adventure movies of the 1940s and ’50s, died on Wednesday at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 97.

Her death was confirmed by Carla Sapon, her longtime assistant.

Ms. Fleming’s roles included those of a beautiful Arthurian princess in the Bing Crosby musical version of Mark Twain’s novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1949); a gambler and the love interest of Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) in “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957); an amorous duchess in Bob Hope’s comedy “The Great Lover” (1949); and the somewhat less bad sister of Arlene Dahl’s bad-girl character in “Slightly Scarlet” (1956), which might be described as a Technicolor noir.

In Jacques Tourneur’s “Out of the Past” (1947), she played a supporting role as a nervous secretary, alongside Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas. She was a turn-of-the-century New England secretary who is murdered by a serial killer (George Brent) in “The Spiral Staircase” (1946). Another supporting role, she said, was her favorite: the overdressed, overcoiffed stepsister to Jean Simmons’s character in the thriller “Home Before Dark” (1958).

Like her peer, Maureen O’Hara, Ms. Fleming was sometimes referred to as the Queen of Technicolor; both actresses had glamorous red hair, green eyes and fair skin. But in later years, she looked back on that as a drawback.

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