Arlene Dahl, Flame-Haired MGM Star and Beauty Mogul, Dies at 96
Arlene Dahl, remembered as one of Hollywood's most glamorous redheads, a beauty innovator, and the mother of "Falcon Crest" star Lorenzo Lamas with fellow actor Fernando Lamas, died Monday. She was 96.
In a touching Facebook post, Lamas wrote, "Mom passed away this morning in New York. She was the most positive influence on my life. I will remember her laughter, her joy, her dignity as she navigated the challenges that she faced. Never an ill word about anyone crossed her lips. Her ability to forgive left me speechless at times. She truly was a force of nature and as we got closer in my adult life, I leaned on her more and more as my life counselor and the person I knew that lived and loved to the fullest. My sympathies go to her loving husband @marcrosennyc who,for the last 37 years,made her life so wonderful and joyous. Love you mom forever ♥️ #ArleneDahl#Moviestar#legend#mom#RIP."
Dahl was born August 11, 1925, in Minneapolis to Norwegian immigrant parents. Thanks to her staggering beauty — and a signature beauty mark — she modeled successfully locally and then in NYC, where she made her Broadway debut in 1945's "Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston."
Ms. Dahl soon went to Hollywood. After an uncredited bit in 1947's "Life with Father," she made her official debut in "My Wild Irish Rose" that same year. It was a big hit, leading to a long-term MGM contract and appearances in A and B films like "The Bride Goes Wild" (1948), "A Southern Yankee" (1948), "Reign of Terror" (1949), "Scene of the Crime" (1949), "Three Little Words" (1950), and "Inside Straight" (1951), sometimes for MGM and sometimes on loan to other studios.
Married to movie Tarzan Lex Barker for a year, after adventure flicks like "Caribbean Gold (1952), "Desert Legion" (1953), "Jamaica Run" (1953), and "Sangaree" (1953), Dahl wed co-star Fernando Lamas, a glitzy coupling that produced son Lorenzo, who went on to become a popular TV star in his own right. Like five of her six marriages — and a previous, 1940s relationship with John F. Kennedy — the union did not last.
While still busy in film, Dahl began writing the syndicated beauty column "Let's Be Beautiful" in 1952 that helped establish her as an expert in the field and led to her launch of Arlene Dahl Enterprises in 1954, selling cosmetics and lingerie. She penned over a dozen beauty guides, including the million-selling "Always Ask a Man: Arlene Dahl's Key to Femininity" (1965).
She did make time for a return to Broadway, in 1953's short-lived "Cyrano de Bergerac" opposite José Ferrer.
Though she appeared in far fewer features than some of her contemporaries, she worked steadily enough in film and on TV, enjoying one of her greatest successes as the female lead in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959).
Nonetheless, Dahl — indifferent toward or embarrassed by many of the films she'd done and was offered in comparison to rare juicy roles, as in "Slightly Scarlet" (1956) — tamped down her acting career to focus on lecturing and other business ventures. From 1970 until her final TV appearance, on son Lorenzo's "Air America" series in 1999, she made just two feature films. On TV, she was a natural for celeb-driven fare like "The Love Boat" (four excursions, 1979-1987) and "Fantasy Island" (1981), and also dabbled in soaps via "One Life to Life" (1983-1984) and "All My Children" (1995).
Dahl's enduringly glamorous presence graced many a red carpet at events over the years, long after her final acting roles.