Arlene Dahl

Arlene Carol Dahl (born August 11, 1925)[1][2] is an American actress and former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star, who achieved notability during the 1950s. She has three children, the eldest of whom is actor Lorenzo Lamas.

Arlene Dahl
Dahl in 1953
Arlene Carol Dahl

(1925-08-11) August 11, 1925
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
OccupationActress, businesswoman, columnist
Years active1947–1999
Lex Barker
(m. 1951; div. 1952)

Fernando Lamas
(m. 1954; div. 1960)

Christian R. Holmes
(m. 1960; div. 1964)

Alexis Lichine
(m. 1964; div. 1969)

Rounsevelle W. Schaum
(m. 1969; div. 1976)

Marc Rosen
(m. 1984)
Children3, including Lorenzo Lamas

She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.


Early life

Arlene Carol Dahl was born on August 11, 1925 in Minneapolis, Minnesota of Norwegian descent to Idelle (née Swan) and Rudolph Dahl, a Ford Motor dealer and executive.[3] She cites her year of birth as 1928,[4] although her birth record (1925-43442), available through the Minnesota Historical Society, shows she was born on August 11, 1925.[1] 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.[2]

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 various jobs, including 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.[5]

Early career

A year after graduation from high school, Dahl went to Chicago, where she was a buyer for Marshall and Brown and worked as a model. She then traveled to New York, where she successfully auditioned for a part in the play Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston in 1945. This led to her getting the lead in another play, Questionable Ladies, which was seen by a talent scout from Hollywood.[5]

Dahl had an uncredited bit 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.[5]


Dahl went to 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.[6]

MGM gave Dahl the lead in several "B" films, such as Inside Straight (1951) and No Questions Asked (1951), both of which flopped.[7]

Adventure films

Dahl was hired by Pine-Thomas Productions to a multipicture contract and she was put in Caribbean Gold (1952), a swashbuckler with John Payne.[8]

She went to Universal 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.[9]

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,[10] and opened Arlene Dahl Enterprises in 1954, marketing cosmetics and designer lingerie.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13][14]

Dahl hosted the short-lived TV 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,[15] but it turned out to be one of her most successful films.


In 1960, she played the role of Lucy Belle in the Riverboat TV series episode "That Taylor Affair", alongside Darren McGavin.[16] 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, as well as continuing her acting.[17]

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.[18] She could be seen 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 ad agency Kenyon and Eckhardt that same year.[11]

In a 1969 interview, she said her old films were "such an embarrassment".[19]


Dahl moved to Sears Roebuck as director of beauty products in 1970, earning nearly $750,000 annually, but left in 1975 to found her short-lived, fragrance company Dahlia.[10][11][20]

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

She had a role on the soap opera All My Children and guest-starred on Love, American Style, Jigsaw John, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat. She 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."[21]


In 1981, Dahl declared personal bankruptcy, with liabilities of almost $1 million and assets of only $623,970. Her chief creditor was the United States government'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 had earned $11,367 in 1980 and $10,517 in 1979.[22]

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. She starred in the film A Place to Hide (1988).

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.[16]

She entered the field of astrology in the 1980s, writing a syndicated column and later operating a premium phoneline company.[11] Dahl has written more than two dozen books on the topics of beauty and astrology.[23]

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.[16]

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 (born August 3, 1961) by third husband Christian R. Holmes, and a second son, Rounsevelle Andreas Schaum (born December 7, 1970), by her fifth husband, Rounsevelle W. Schaum. She has six grandchildren (one of whom is Shayne Lamas) and two great-grandchildren. She divides her time between New York City and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Dahl has been married to Marc Rosen, a packaging designer, since 1984.[10]


Year Title Role
1947 My Wild Irish Rose Rose Donovan
1948 The Bride Goes Wild Tillie Smith Oliver
A Southern Yankee Sallyann Weatharby
1949 Scene of the Crime Gloria Conovan
Reign of Terror Madelon
1950 Ambush Ann Duverall
The Outriders Jen Gort
Three Little Words Eileen Percy
Watch the Birdie Lucia Corlone
1951 Inside Straight Lily Douvane
No Questions Asked Ellen Sayburn Jessman
1952 Caribbean Gold Christine Barclay McAllister
1953 Desert Legion Morjana
Jamaica Run Ena Dacey
Sangaree Nancy Darby
Here Come the Girls Irene Bailey
The Diamond Queen Queen Maya
1954 Woman's World Carol Talbot
Bengal Brigade Vivian Morrow
1956 Slightly Scarlet Dorothy Allen
Wicked as They Come Kathleen "Kathy" Allen
1957 Fortune Is a Woman Sarah Moreton Branwell[note 1]
1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth Carla Göteborg
1964 Kisses for My President Doris Reid Weaver
1967 Les Poneyttes Shoura Cassidy
1969 The Pleasure Pit Laureen
1970 Land Raiders Martha Cardenas
1991 Night of the Warrior Edie Keane
2003 Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There Herself

Television work

Year Title Role Notes
1953-1954 The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Host
1954–1955 Lux Video Theatre Ilsa Lund Episodes: "Casablanca" and "September Affair"
The Ford Television Theatre Mary McNeil/Jody Hill 2 episodes
1958 Opening Night Host (canceled after a few weeks)
1963–1965 Burke's Law Princess Kortzoff/Eva Martinelli/Gloria Cooke/Maggie French 4 episodes
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Valerie Episode: "Perilous Time"
1971 The Deadly Dream Connie Television movie
1976 Jigsaw John Episode: "Sand Trap"
1979–1987 The Love Boat Monica Cross/Natalie Martin/Ellen Kirkwood/Jessica York 4 episodes
1981 Fantasy Island Amelia Shelby 1 Episode
1981–1984 One Life to Live Lucinda Schenk Wilson
1995–1997 Renegade Virginia Biddle/Elaine Carlisle 2 episodes
1995 All My Children Lady Lucille
1999 Air America Cynthia Garland Episode: "Eye of the Storm"

Radio appearances

1953Broadway Playhouse"No Man of Her Own"[24]
1953Stars over Hollywood"Remember Bill"[24]


  • Always Ask a Man: Arlene Dahl's Key to Femininity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. 1965. OCLC 4511224.
  • Arlene Dahl's Lovescopes. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. 1983. ISBN 0-672-52770-7.
  • Beyond Beauty. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1980. ISBN 0-671-24555-4.


  1. Released in the United States as She Played with Fire (1958)


  1. "Search Birth Certificates Index". Minnesota Historical Society. CERTID# 1925-43442. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  2. Columbia, David Patrick (August 13, 2014). "Losses and Gains". New York Social Diary. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  3. "Arlene Dahl profile at". Retrieved March 20, 2011.
  4. Chase's Calendar of Events 2013 (56th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 2013. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-07-180117-1.
  5. Zylstra, Freida (October 17, 1948). "Arlene Dahl". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. B11.
  6. "The Life Story of Arlene Dahl". Picture Show. Vol. 60 no. 1570. London. May 2, 1953. p. 12.
  7. Eddie Mannix ledger. Los Angeles. 1962. OCLC 801258228 via Margaret Herrick Library.
  8. "Arlene Dahl: A beauty in three dimensions". The World's News (2699). New South Wales, Australia. September 12, 1953. p. 29. Retrieved June 15, 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Roland Rival of Lamas". Los Angeles Times. February 4, 1953. p. B9.
  10. Stark, John (January 21, 1985). "Arlene Takes Her Sixth Husband Or: It's So Nice to Have a Young Man Around the House, Dahl-Ing". People. Vol. 23 no. 3.
  11. "Arlene Dahl biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  12. "Arlene Dahl Slated". Chicago Daily Tribune. February 27, 1955. p. SW19.
  13. "Judge Throws Out Arlene Dahl's Suit". The Washington Post and Times Herald. August 27, 1957. p. B15.
  14. "Judge Says Arlene Dahl Looks Better on Film: Jurist, Hearing Her Suit Against Studio, Also Disagrees With Her 'Lewd' Charges". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1957. p. 2.
  15. "Arlene Dahl Faints on Set". The New York Times. August 25, 1959. p. 35.
  16. Arlene Dahl on IMDb
  17. Browning, Norma Lee (May 3, 1970). "Hollywood Today: Arlene Dahl: Beauty Is Her Business". Chicago Tribune. p. SC12.
  18. Martin, Betty (October 10, 1969). "Bankroll' Casts Arlene Dahl". Los Angeles Times. p. H17.
  19. "Star, vice-president, columnist: Timeri Murari interviews Arlene Dahl". The Guardian. April 21, 1969. p. 9.
  20. "Arlene Dahl: Beauty's Her Lifelong 'Business'". Chicago Tribune. February 18, 1971. p. C1.
  21. "Arlene Dahl's Sweet Smell of Success". Los Angeles Times. March 29, 1978. p. C1.
  22. "Arlene Dahl goes bankrupt". The Globe and Mail. November 11, 1981. p. 19.
  23. "Arlene Dahl Shares Her Horoscope Insights". Larry King Live. May 9, 2001. Retrieved March 20, 2011 via
  24. Kirby, Walter (May 31, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Sunday Herald and Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 30, 2015 via
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