By her own admission, ARLENE DAHL has had an „amazing life” and her zest for living is evident in this interview. Arlene Dahl has starred in 30 films, 19 stage plays, and authored 16 best-selling books on topics ranging from beauty to relationships. She is forever known as one of the great beauties in motion pictures with her trademark red hair and for being paired with Hollywood’s most famous leading men. Arlene Dahl was a former MGM contract star and is known for starring in „Reign of Terror,” „Slightly Scarlet,” „Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and many others. „Three Little Words,” the musical film biography that tells the story of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, starred Arlene Dahl along with Fred Astaire, Red Skelton and others.
Arlene Dahl was one of the first celebrities to receive a star on the „Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Due to Broadway’s massive influence on popular culture and New York in her opinion being the „capital” of the Entertainment world, Arlene Dahl is working to create a similar „walk” of stars for Broadway. Arlene Dahl is the President & Founder of The Broadway Walk of Stars, working to embed uniquely designed „stars” onto the sidewalks of Broadway at Times Square in New York City. These star squares recognize the greats of Theater, Motion Pictures, Television, Music and Dance.
I think most stories are best from the beginning. What was life like growing up?
Well, I had a very happy childhood mostly, at least until I was 15. My parents were very supportive of what I wanted to do and any talents that I had, they gave me lessons in. but my mother died when I was 15 and just after I graduated from high school, that was a very sad time for me.
So you say that they were supportive of whatever you wanted to do creatively?
Yes! I wanted to dance and I wanted to sing and I floated around our house in scarves, made up characters for myself. I was very unusual, but I was an only child, so they put up with me, haha!
What about music? Was there a lot of music playing around the house?
Yes, a lot of music. My mother and father both sang in the choir, the church choir. My mother would sit down at the piano. She’d hear a tune, and she’d sit down and play it by ear. They were very unusual and wonderful parents.
When did you start to think of yourself as being a professional in terms of acting?
Well, when I was 8 years old I was asked to be the female version of Uncle Don’s Vacation. There was a little boy and I was to be the little girl to take trips around the world and it was also a radio show in Minneapolis. At the age of 8 or 9, I think I was just 8, going to be 9, and I did that for a year or two on radio. Think that program is called Uncle Don’s Radio Show or Uncle Don’s Journey.
Were you always a very confident person?
Well, I was a positive thinking person because my parents were all very positive thinking.
Tell us about moving to New York City, what was that experience like?
Well a lot happened before I came to New York. I went to Chicago and my father remarried, my step mother wanted to get me out of the house. So I went to Chicago with three other girls, to model in the sportsman’s show. Model bathing suits. I decided to stay and I was hired by Marshall Fields and company as a model for lounging apparel. And my boss… I was 17 I believe. When I turned 18, she wanted me to take over for her when she retired. So she took me to New York, my first journey to New York to meet all the people I’d be working with when I became her… I was her assistant, and when I became the buyer for lounging apparel for Marshall Field. And at that trip, I tried out for a musical on one of my lunches that she gave me and got the part in “Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston.” That was how it happened.
Tell us about that first production.
The choreographer was a very famous choreographer. It was a musical called “Mr. Strauss,” being Johann Straus. And I tried out, they gave me the understudy for the lead and a small part in the production. And on opening part, Jack Warner and his casting agent, Sally DeAno was in the audience and they came back after the opening and asked me to come to Hollywood to make a screen test. But I said, “Mr. Warner I have a run of the play contract, I’m afraid I can’t come!”
Imagine, I was 17 years old and I told Jack Warner I couldn’t come because of the contract I had. What nerve! Anyways, that’s what happened. 15 days later, the show closed and I gave him a call and that’s how I got to Hollywood. So now you have two stories, one on how I got to New York and the other how I got to Hollywood.
Which of those two environments would you say is more close to your personality? The Hollywood scene, or the New York scene?
Oh, the New York scene completely. In New York, it’s fabulous because you have everything in New York. You have the opera, you have the ballet, you have corporations, you have the entertainment industry, you have great singers, you have the U.N. I mean, there’s a whole world of entertainment and education in New York.
What was it like being a young woman that was thrust into that world? The world of Broadway and show business?
It was very heavy stuff. As a matter of fact, my mother didn’t want me to be an actress, which I had decided at 7 I wanted to be, but my father supported anything I wanted to do just as long as I was honest and did my best. So, in a way they both supported me but my mother wanted me to be a fashion designer because I’d won a few prizes in fashion in high school.Semnat de Paul Leslie