R.I.P. Arlene Dahl

We heard at the 11th hour last night that 96 year old Arlene Dahl (b. 1925) had passed away.

Dahl was a gorgeous redhead in the vein of Virginia Mayo and Rhonda Fleming, and appeared in the same types of movies. I’m sure producers often said “I need a Maureen O’Hara type” — though she was actually a Norwegian from Minnesota. I know her best from the musical bio-pics My Wild Irish Rose (1947) and Three Little Words (1950). as well as the leading lady in two Red Skelton comedies, A Southern Yankee (1948) and Watch the Birdie (1950). The first movie I ever saw her in was undoubtedly Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) with James Mason and Pat Boone. I’ve also seen her in the western Ambush (1950) with Robert Taylor, and the anomolous Kisses for My President (1964) with Polly Bergen and Fred MacMurray.

Before ever encountering her in a movie, I’m sure I first saw her name in the Sears catalog; she’d had her own line of cosmetics since the 1950s. She was also a frequent guest on game shows, talk shows and variety programs, had been the hostess of The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1952-53) and could later be seen in episodes of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Her very last screen credit was a 1999 of Air America, starring her son Lorenzo Lamas. (She had been married to movie star Fernando Lamas, 1954-1960).