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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

And what a life she’s had

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) – You would have thought that that screen legend, Rhonda Fleming, had experienced just about everything a star of her magnitude could -- appearing with Hollywood stars like Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Rock Hudson and Ronald Reagan (with whom she made four films). (Pictured:
Rhonda Fleming with actor, Ronald Reagan).

But on Saturday, September 17th, after the Seventh Annual Media Fellowship International (MFI), where she was presented with the prestigious Ambassador Award by Pastor Bob Rieth, founder and executive director of MFI, she was breathless. (Pictured:
Rhonda Fleming with Bob Rieth, who presented her with the Ambassador Award).

In an interview, she said, “This has been one of the most memorable days of my life. I felt the Holy Spirit just so powerful here, and to have been honored with this was beautiful, because I give God the glory. He’s been grooming me all these years to be His servant, and to be honored for that was amazing. It was just a thrilling day. I loved it.”

She took time after receiving her award to talk about her career to the star-studded audience at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Rhonda Fleming, a native-born Californian, attended Beverly Hills public and private schools, appeared in over 40 motion pictures, starting with top featured roles in David O. Selznick's SPELLBOUND, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, RKO's OUT OF THE PAST and THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE and leading into starring roles in classics such as CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL, HOME BEFORE DARK, PONY EXPRESS, SLIGHTLY SCARLETT, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and THE BIG CIRCUS. (Pictured:
Rhonda Fleming with Bing Crosby in Connecticut Yankee - MCA TV).

She brought laughter when she recalled the times she had kissed Ronald Reagan on screen. “Who would have thought that I was kissing the man who would go on to be the President of the United States,” she said.

In addition to motion pictures, Miss Fleming starred in her Broadway debut in Clare Booth Luce's THE WOMEN, and in the role of LALUME in KISMET at the Los Angeles Music Center, and toured as MADAME DUBONNET with THE BOYFRIEND. She made her stage musical debut in Las Vegas at the opening of the new Tropicana Hotel's showroom. Later, she appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in a one-woman concert of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin compositions. She also starred in a national ten-week concert tour with Skitch Henderson featuring the music of George Gershwin. She has guest-starred on numerous major television shows including WAGON TRAIN, POLICE WOMAN, LOVE BOAT, a two-hour production, THE LAST HOURS BEFORE MORNING, and a two-hour special of McMILLAN AND WIFE. The 1990 television production, WAITING FOR THE WIND, reunited her with her former co-star, Robert Mitchum.
In private life, Miss Fleming resides in Century City with her new husband, Darol W. Carlson.

Rhonda was married for 23 years to Ted Mann, producer and chairman of MANN THEATRES, until his death in January 2001. As her new husband, Darol W. Carlson, stood at her side,, I said that many people attack Hollywood and believe that there are no Christians in Hollywood. I asked her what she would say to them? (Pictured:
Rhonda in her movie star days).

“Well all I know is that there are a lot of Christians there, and I’m glad they’re coming out now, because I have always felt that Christians have to stand up and be counted. I have always in my way done that and I’m so happy to see more standing up.

“But I am thrilled to see so many people in the media that are part of the Christian faith today; born again believers that are out there. And hopefully, that those who are making the films, the television, and writing the books, because it’s so important to have more family-oriented films, films that those of us who are older want to go see. We also need to have films and shows that give young people, some hope and something that is morally of value. There just isn’t enough out there.”

When asked if she felt that Hollywood was getting the message that family films are more successful than R-rated movies, she replied, “Yes. I think it is coming. I don’t go to so many movies anymore because I just don’t like so much of what is coming out these days. I like to watch some of the Turner Classic Movies. When I was working all the time, I didn’t have a chance to see a lot of them. But I do feel that there are improvements being made.”

She then spoke about Hurricane Katrina and added, “With this terrible thing that happened in New Orleans, in Louisiana, we realize there’s lots of changes and improvements we’ve made in this country of ours; in this wonderful America. I am very confident about the future for our country and for all of our beautiful Christian sisters and brothers. God bless ’em, and all of you for all that you’re doing. I love you.”

Besides being honored at the MFI event for her long career in Hollywood, Miss Fleming was especially recognized for her present-day humanitarian work.

Miss Fleming was a founding member of STOP CANCER with Dr. Armand Hammer started in 1988.

She is an Ambassador of CHILDHELP USA, ARCS (ACHIEVEMENT REWARDS FOR COLLEGE SCIENTISTS); a Life Associate of PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY; a Lifetime Member of the FREEDOMS FOUNDATION AT VALLEY FORGE; a Founding Member of the FRENCH FOUNDATION FOR ALZHEIMER RESEARCH; a Benefactor of the LOS ANGELES MUSIC CENTER: and a Member of the Center's Blue Ribbon Board of Directors.

She is a Member of the Advisory Board of OLIVE CREST TREATMENT CENTERS FOR ABUSED CHILDREN, and served as a Board of Directors Trustee of WORLD OPPORTUNITIES INTERNATIONAL. Miss Fleming is also a member of the GUIDEPOSTS National Advisory Cabinet, as well as being an active member of the New Century Circle and Public Relations Boards of the SAINT JOHN'S HEALTH CENTER FOUNDATION.

In addition, she created at the CITY OF HOPE the RHONDA FLEMING MANN RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP to further advance research and treatment associated with women's cancer. In 1991, Miss Fleming established in memory of her sister Beverly, the RHONDA FLEMING CLINIC FOR WOMEN'S COMPREHENSIVE CARE at the UCLA Medical Center. This Clinic provides a full range of expert gynecologic and obstetric care to women from all walks of life. She also founded in 1992 the Rhonda Fleming Resource Center for Women with Cancer at UCLA. In May 1997, Rhonda opened Reflections, a unique retail store and consultation suite that carries wigs, head coverings, breast prostheses and other items to help men, women and children deal with the physical appearance changes brought on by cancer and its treatments. The staffs of the clinic and store are guided by her belief that caring, compassion, communication and commitment are essential components of the healing process.

Currently Miss Fleming is also on the Board of P.A.T.H. (People Assisting the Homeless) and established the Rhonda Fleming Family Center at P.A.T.H. to house women and children off the street. It offers many services including job training, job placement, education for mothers and children, medical care, social services and legal advice.

Rhonda Fleming is a true “Ambassador for Christ.”

* I would like to thank Shirley Hunt for transcribing this interview.

 Download the sound file accompanying this article

Note to radio stations. An MP3 Audio file of the interview with Rhonda Fleming by Dan Wooding is available for broadcast. If you would like it, just e-mail Dan at
Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). Wooding is the co-host of the weekly radio show, "Window on the World" and was, for ten years a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He also co-hosts three days a week a live phone-in show called "Pastor's Perspective" with Brian Brodersen which is carried on KWVE, Santa Ana, California, and other radio stations across the USA. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to

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