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Arlene Dahl
220px-Arlene Dahl - 1953.JPG
Name: Arlene Carol Dahl
Born: August 11, 1925
Birth Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: November 29, 2021
Place of death: Manhattan, New York City
Occupation: Actress
Years active: 1963–2015

Arlene Carol Dahl (August 11, 1925 – November 29, 2021) was an American actress active in films from the late 1940s. She had three children, the eldest of whom is actor Lorenzo Lamas.

She was one of the last surviving stars from the Classical Hollywood cinema era.


Early life[]

Dahl was born on August 11, 1925, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Norwegian immigrants Idelle (née Swan) and Rudolph Dahl, a Ford Motor dealer and executive. She cited her year of birth as 1928,although her birth record (1925-43442), available through the Minnesota Historical Society, shows she was born on August 11, 1925. An August 13, 2014, article in the New York Social Diary by David Patrick Columbia, entitled "Losses and Gains", references her 89th birthday celebration with her husband, children, and family.

As a child, Dahl took elocution and dancing lessons and was active in theatrical events at Margaret Fuller Elementary School, Ramsey Junior High School, and Washburn Senior High School. After graduating from high school, she held such jobs as performing in a local drama group and briefly working as a model for department stores. Dahl's mother was involved in local amateur theatre. Dahl briefly attended the University of Minnesota.

Early career[]

A year after graduation from high school, Dahl lived in Chicago, where she worked as a buyer for Marshall and Brown. She then traveled to New York and worked as a model for the Walter Thornton Modeling Agency, where she successfully auditioned for a part in the musical Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston in 1945. This led to her gaining the lead in another play, Questionable Ladies, which was seen by a talent scout from Hollywood.

Dahl had an uncredited bit part in Life with Father (1947). She was promoted to leading lady in My Wild Irish Rose (1947) with Dennis Morgan, a big hit that led to an offer from MGM for a long-term contract.

Dahl began working for MGM to play a supporting role in The Bride Goes Wild (1948). She remained there to play the female lead in the Red Skelton comedy A Southern Yankee (1948).

Eagle-Lion hired her to star as the female lead in Reign of Terror (1949). Then at MGM, she acted opposite Van Johnson in Scene of the Crime (1949); Robert Taylor in Ambush (1950); Joel McCrea in The Outriders (1950); Fred Astaire and Skelton in Three Little Words (1950), playing Eileen Percy; and Skelton again in Watch the Birdie (1950). Except for The Outriders, all these movies were profitable for MGM.

MGM gave Dahl the lead in several B movies, such as Inside Straight (1951) and No Questions Asked (1951), both of which flopped.

Dahl was hired by Pine-Thomas Productions to a multi-picture contract. She was cast in Caribbean Gold (1952), a swashbuckler starring John Payne.

She went to Universal-International to co-star with Alan Ladd in a French Foreign Legion story, Desert Legion (1953); then Pine-Thomas used her again in Jamaica Run (1953) and Sangaree (1953). The latter starred Fernando Lamas, whom Dahl would marry.

She supported Bob Hope in the comedy Here Come the Girls (1953). Dahl and Lamas reunited on The Diamond Queen (1953) at Warner Bros.

In 1953, Dahl played Roxanne on stage in a short-lived revival of Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jose Ferrer.

Dahl played the ambitious Carol Talbot in Woman's World (1954) at Fox, and she was Rock Hudson's leading lady in Universal's adventure war film Bengal Rifles (1954).

She began writing a syndicated beauty column in 1952, and opened Arlene Dahl Enterprises in 1954, marketing cosmetics and designer lingerie.

Dahl began appearing on television, including episodes of Lux Video Theatre (including a 1954 adaptation of Casablanca, wherein she played Ilsa) and The Ford Television Theatre.

Dahl was both a mystery guest (April 25, 1954) and a panelist on the CBS game show What's My Line?. In 1953, she hosted ABC's anthology series The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse.

John Payne and Dahl were reunited in a film noir, Slightly Scarlet (1956), alongside Rhonda Fleming, another red-haired star.

Dahl made some films in England for Columbia: Wicked as They Come (1956) and Fortune Is a Woman (1957). In 1957, she sued Columbia for $1 million, saying the film's advertisements for Wicked as They Come were "lewd" and "degraded" her. A judge threw out the suit.

Dahl hosted the short-lived television series Opening Night (1958) and had the female lead in the adventure movie Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), opposite James Mason and Pat Boone. She was injured on set making the latter, but it turned out to be one of her most successful films.

In 1960, she appeared in the TV series Riverboat in the role of Lucy Belle in an episode entitled "That Taylor Affair", alongside Darren McGavin. The same year, she married Texas oilman Christian Holmes and announced her retirement from acting. The marriage did not last, but Dahl increasingly diversified her work to become a lecturer and beauty consultant while she continued acting.

She had a supporting role in Kisses for My President (1964) and appeared in Land Raiders (1969), The Pleasure Pit (1969), and the French film Du blé en liasses. She also appeared on TV in Burke's Law and Theatre of Stars.

Her focus by now was on business. After closing her company in 1967, she began serving as vice president at the ad agency Kenyon and Eckhardt that same year. In a 1969 interview, she said her old films were "such an embarrassment".

Dahl began working at Sears Roebuck as director of beauty products in 1970, earning nearly $750,000 annually, but she left in 1975 to found a short-lived fragrance company, Dahlia.

Dahl also returned to Broadway in the early 1970s, replacing Lauren Bacall in the role of Margo Channing in Applause.

On television, she had a role on the soap opera One Life to Live and guest-starred on Love, American Style, Jigsaw John, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat. She also made a TV movie, The Deadly Dream (1971). "I like acting," she said in 1978, "but I had better like business better or I'll lose my shirt."

In 1981, Dahl declared personal bankruptcy, with liabilities of almost $1 million and assets of only $623,970. Her chief creditor was the U.S. Small Business Administration, which guaranteed a $450,000 loan for her as an executive in a cosmetic firm. She had lost $163,000 from burglaries of jewelry and furs from her Manhattan apartment, and she earned only $11,367 in 1980 and $10,517 in 1979.

Dahl appeared on ABC's soap opera One Life to Live from 1981 to 1984 as Lucinda Schenck Wilson. The character was planned as a short-term role (she guest-starred from late 1981 to early 1982 and in late 1982), but Dahl later was offered a one-year contract to appear on the series from September 1983 to October 1984. In 1988 she starred in the film A Place to Hide.

Her last feature film role, which followed a hiatus of more than two decades, was in Night of the Warrior (1991). It co-starred her son Lorenzo Lamas.

She entered the field of astrology in the 1980s, writing a syndicated column and later operating a premium phoneline company. Dahl wrote more than two dozen books on the topics of beauty and astrology.

Dahl guest-starred on episodes of shows starring her son, Renegade and Air America.

Personal life[]

In the early 1950s, Dahl met actor Lex Barker; they wed on April 16, 1951, and divorced the following year (Barker later married Lana Turner). Dahl went on to marry another matinee idol, Fernando Lamas. In 1958, Dahl and Lamas had their only child, Lorenzo Lamas. Shortly after giving birth to Lorenzo, Dahl slowed and eventually ended her career as an actress, although she still appeared in films and on television occasionally. Dahl and Lamas divorced in 1960, and Dahl later remarried.

In addition to Lorenzo Lamas, Dahl has two other children: a daughter Christina Carole Holmes by third husband Christian R. Holmes, and a second son, Rounsevelle Andreas Schaum, by her fifth husband, Rounsevelle W. "Skip" Schaum. She has six grandchildren (including AJ Lamas and Shayne Lamas) and two great-grandchildren.

Dahl was married to Marc Rosen, a packaging designer, from 1984 until her death. She divided her time between New York City and West Palm Beach, Florida.


She died in her Manhattan apartment on November 29, 2021, at the age of 96.

Shows appeared[]