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Jean Rogers (born Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren, March 25, 1916 – February 24, 1991) was an American actress who starred in serial films in the 1930s and low–budget feature films in the 1940s as a leading lady. She is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon (1936) and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938).[1]

Jean Rogers
JeanRogers.jpg
Jean Rogers in the late 1930s
Born
Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren

(1916-03-25)March 25, 1916
DiedFebruary 24, 1991(1991-02-24) (aged 74)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationActress
Years active1933–1951
Notable work
Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars
Spouse(s)
Dan Winkler (m. 1943⁠–⁠1970)

Early lifeEdit

Rogers was born in Belmont, Massachusetts.[2] Her father was an immigrant from Malmö, Sweden.[3] She graduated from Belmont High School.[4] She had hoped to study art, but in 1933 she won a beauty contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures that led to her career in Hollywood. Rogers starred in several serials for Universal between 1935 and 1938, including Ace Drummond and Flash Gordon.

Early careerEdit

Rogers was one of seven women chosen out of 2,700[5] passengers on excursion boats and ferries[6] who were interviewed for roles in Eight Girls in a Boat. The group began work in Hollywood on September 3, 1933.[5] By 1937, Rogers was the only one of the seven featured as an actress.[7]

Flash GordonEdit

Rogers was assigned the role of Dale Arden in the first two Flash Gordon serials. Buster Crabbe and Rogers were cast as the hero and heroine in the first serial, Flash Gordon, and Rogers' beauty, long blonde hair, and revealing costumes endeared her to moviegoers.[according to whom?] The evil ruler Ming the Merciless (Charles B. Middleton) lusted after her, and Gordon was forced to rescue her from one situation after another.[citation needed] While filming the series in 1937, her costume caught fire and she suffered burns on her hands. Co-star Crabbe smothered the fire by wrapping a blanket on her.[8]

In the first serial, Arden competed with Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson) for Gordon's attention. Rogers' character was fragile, small-chested, diminutive, and totally dependent on Gordon for her survival; Lawson's Princess Aura was domineering, independent, voluptuous, conniving, sly, ambitious, and determined to make Gordon her own. The competition for Gordon's attention is one of the highlights of the film. In Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, the second serial, Rogers sported a totally different look. She had dark hair and wore the same modest costume in each episode. Rogers matured after the first serial, and no sexual overtones are seen in Trip to Mars. Rogers told writer Richard Lamparski that she was not eager to do the second serial and asked her studio to excuse her from the third.[9]

Feature filmsEdit

 
With John Wayne and Ward Bond in Conflict (1936)

Despite starring in serial films, Rogers felt she was not going to improve her career unless she could participate in feature films. She discovered that it was more tedious working in feature films. She played John Wayne's leading lady in the 1936 full-length motion picture Conflict and co-starred with Boris Karloff in the horror film Night Key the following year. During the 1940s, Rogers appeared solely in feature films, including The Man Who Wouldn't Talk (1940) with Lloyd Nolan, Viva Cisco Kid (1940) with Cesar Romero as the Cisco Kid, Design for Scandal (1941) with Rosalind Russell and Walter Pidgeon, Whistling in Brooklyn (1943) with Red Skelton, A Stranger in Town (1943) with Frank Morgan, Backlash (1947), and Speed to Spare (1948) with Richard Arlen. Still, she was unhappy with the studios, possibly because she was relegated to B-movie productions on a lower salary. She decided to freelance with companies such as 20th Century Fox and MGM. Her last appearance was in a supporting role in the suspense film The Second Woman, made in 1950 by United Artists.

Later lifeEdit

Rogers married Dan Winkler in 1943 after she was dropped by MGM. She continued freelancing until retiring in 1951. Because she starred mainly in low-budget films, she was never a top star. In a 1979 interview, she explained what it was like and why she decided not to play Dale Arden in the third Flash Gordon serial.[clarification needed]

Rogers was a lifelong Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election and a practicing Lutheran.[10]

She died in Sherman Oaks in 1991 at the age of 74 [1] following surgery.[11] She was later cremated and her ashes returned to her family.[12]

Selected filmographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Obituary Variety, March 4, 1991.
  2. ^ "Q&A". Films and Filming. June 1975. p. 28 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Swedes In America (Adolph B. Benson; Naboth Hedin. New York: Haskel House Publishers. 1969)
  4. ^ "Eleanor Lovegren's Future on Screen Appears Bright". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. January 11, 1934. p. 21. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b Merrick, Mollie (September 4, 1933). "2700 Girls Seek Lead Roles in New Film". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Missouri, St. Louis. p. 4. Retrieved 22 July 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Seven Newcomers Will Bid for Screen Stardom". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. September 4, 1933. p. 20. Retrieved 22 July 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Coons, Robbin (February 15, 1937). "Jean Rogers, 20, Serial Queen; Thinks Feature Stars Have Rest". The Record. New Jersey, Hackensack. p. 14. Retrieved 22 July 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ International News Service Staff (3 Dec 1937). "Jean Rogers Suffers Burns". International News Service.
  9. ^ Lamparski, Richard Whatever Became of-Eight Edition 1982 Crown Publishers
  10. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  11. ^ Obituary The New York Times, February 28, 1991.
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 17, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books.

External linksEdit