We’ve had so much news to cover recently that I haven’t had an opportunity to write about this, but I don’t want to let the passing of Arlene Dahl go unmentioned. One of the last glamorous stars of Hollywood’s big studio days, she died last week in New York at 96.
Lorenzo Lamas, her son by actor Fernando Lamas, wrote on Facebook, "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…”
While she never became a top star, Arlene Dahl’s flaming red hair and stunning beauty (she started out as a model) helped land her consistent work in a number of films in the 1940s and ‘50s, including “A Southern Yankee,” “Three Little Words” (both with fellow redhead Red Skelton) and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Here’s a nice tribute by TCM:
She later took on a number of TV guest roles, and became a regular on the soap opera, “One Life to Live” after a business setback and one of her six husbands forced her to declare bankruptcy. But acting became a sideline once she began writing a long-running syndicated beauty column in 1952. She went on to write over two dozen books. Here’s my favorite title: “Always Ask a Man: Arlene Dahl’s Key to Femininity.” You can read it with a free membership at Archive.org:
In 1954, she started her own cosmetics and lingerie company, and went on to become an entrepreneur, business lecturer and highly-paid advertising executive. She once said she liked acting, but considered her old films an “embarrassment,” and if he didn’t like business better than acting, she’d lose her shirt.
Since you depend on me for the trivia nobody else shares: If you’d like to play a love scene opposite Arlene Dahl, just hunt up a copy of “Co-Star: The Record Acting Game,” a 1958 LP on which you can practice your acting by reading Bogart’s lines from “Casablanca” with Arlene in the Ingrid Bergman role.
Sorry I can’t find it online, but it has so many silent passages that an audio equipment channel used it to test a record cleaner, so you can hear a little of it here and appreciate her acting skills as well as the gorgeous cover photo.
This tribute was written by "Huckabee" writer Pat Reeder.