By Andrew Dalton | Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – Arlene Dahl, the actress whose charm and striking red hair shone in such 1950s Technicolor films as “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Three Little Words,” has died at the age of 96.
Dahl’s son, actor Lorenzo Lamas, said in posts on Facebook and Instagram that she died Monday morning in New York. No cause of death was reported.
“I will remember her laughter, her joy, her dignity as she navigated the challenges she faced,” Lamas said. “She really was a force of nature.”
In 1959’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, an adaptation of Jules Verne’s sci-fi classic, Dahl plays the widow of a scientist who, along with co-stars James Mason and Pat Boone, on a shaky race to the core of the earth.
She sang and danced in the 1950s “Three Little Words”, a musical biopic by songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, who played Ruby’s wife Eileen Percy opposite the frequent co-star Red Skelton.
She co-starred with Bob Hope in 1953’s “Here Come the Girls,” aroused Skelton’s love interest in 1950s “Watch the Birdie” and played the hero’s girlfriend in such adventures as 1952’s “Caribbean” with John Payne, “Jamaica” from 1953. Run ”with Ray Milland and 1954’s“ Bengal Brigade ”with Rock Hudson.
Dahl became as famous for his six marriages as for his acting career. Her husbands included filmmakers Fernando Lamas and Lex Barker, Fleischman’s yeast heir Christopher Holmes, wine importer Alexis Lichine and investor Rounsevelle Schaum. She was married to businessman Marc Rosen for the last 37 years of her life.
When her film career ended, Dahl remained prominent on television, including a three-year stint in the soap opera “One Life to Live” in the mid-1980s.
She frequently appeared in “The Love Boat” in the 1980s and guest starred on her son Lamas’ series “Renegade” and “Air America” in the late 1990s.
Dahl was also active in the lifestyle industry with a syndicated column on beauty tips, a perfume and lingerie and workout clothes she designed herself. In the 1960s, Dahl wrote a guidebook, “Always Ask a Man: Arlene Dahl’s Key to Femininity.”
Her marriage to Barker was her first; it lasted seven months. “Lex was the best dressed man I’ve ever known,” she said in a candid interview with People magazine from 1985.
The marriage with Lamas ended after seven years when he left her for Esther Williams.
Of Norwegian descent, Dahl was born in 1925 in Minneapolis, where her father was a Ford dealer. Stage hit in high school, she joined a drama group and went to New York, where she modeled and performed in Broadway plays.
She was signed by Warner Bros., and she appeared for the first time in the musical “My Wild Irish Rose” from 1947. She then moved to MGM, where her film included “A Southern Yankee” from 1948 with Skelton and “The Outriders” from 1950s with Joel McCrea.
The late Associated Press entertainment writer Bob Thomas contributed background material.