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Arlene Dahl (1925–2021), 1950s Hollywood star

by Linnea Crowther

Arlene Dahl was an actress known for 1950s movies including “Slightly Scarlet” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” as well as the mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas.

Acting career

Dahl’s film debut was in “My Wild Irish Rose” in 1947. It landed her a contract with MGM, and she became a star in leading roles in movies including “A Southern Yankee,” “Reign of Terror,” and “Watch the Birdie.” Dahl’s greatest fame came in the 1950s, including her role as a kleptomaniac in the film noir “Slightly Scarlet” and as a widow on an adventurous expedition in “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” She sang in the movie musical “Three Little Words,” featured in the song “I Love You So Much.” Her movie career slowed down in the 1960s, with only a handful of film roles in later years. Dahl was often seen on TV after her film career, with roles on shows including “One Life to Live” and “The Love Boat.”

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Dahl was known for her fiery red hair and beauty mark, and her Technicolor looks led to a second career in the beauty industry. It began in 1951 with her column for the Chicago Tribune, “Let’s Be Beautiful.” The column was syndicated nationwide and ran for two decades. Later in the ‘50s, Dahl expanded her reach in the beauty world by founding Arlene Dahl Enterprises, selling cosmetics and lingerie. Her products included the Dahl Beauty Cap, worn at night to keep one’s hair in place.

Dahl on classic Hollywood

“Hollywood was glorious in those times — glorious, glamorous, and magical. The studio system spoiled actors and actresses under contract. Metro Goldwin Mayer, of course, was the leader of the pack. They spoiled all of their contract players, and all of the stars and co-stars.” –from a 2007 interview for Films of the Fifties

Tributes to Arlene Dahl

Full obituary: The New York Times

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