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Rhonda Fleming (1923–2020), star of Hollywood’s Golden Age

by Linnea Crowther

Rhonda Fleming was an actress known as the “Queen of Technicolor,” who was active in films of the 1940s and ‘50s.

Acting career

Fleming’s Hollywood origin story was a classic one: Just 17 years old, a senior in high school, she caught the eye of a Hollywood agent, who signed her to a contract with movie mogul David O. Selznick (1902 – 1965). Her first credited role was in an Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) film, 1945’s “Spellbound.” She played a nymphomaniac being treated by Ingrid Bergman’s (1915 – 1982) character, and she later delighted in telling the story of how she had to look up the word “nymphomaniac” and was shocked by what she found. Fleming had her first lead role in 1947’s “Adventure Island,” and she starred opposite Bing Crosby (1903 – 1977) in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1949) and opposite Bob Hope (1903 – 2003) in “The Great Lover” (1949). Her career continued in the 1950s with films including “The Golden Hawk” (1952), “Tropic Zone” (1953), and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957). Fleming largely retired from movies after 1960, though she appeared in a few films in later years, including her last big-screen role, “The Nude Bomb” (1980). She made a number of guest appearances on TV, including in “The Virginian,” “Kung Fu,” and “The Love Boat.”


Fleming on her first role in Technicolor

“Suddenly my green eyes were green green. My red hair was flaming red. My skin was porcelain white. There was suddenly all this attention on how I looked rather than the roles I was playing. I’d been painted into a corner by the studios, who never wanted more from me than my looking good and waltzing through a parade of films like ‘The Redhead and the Cowboy.’” —source

Tributes to Rhonda Fleming

Full obituary: The New York Times

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