Dale Arden

Jean  Rogers

Leading lady in 30's and 40's Hollywood low-budgeters. She is best remembered as Dale Arden, the hero's girlfriend, in two of the three "Flash Gordon" serials of that era. (Carol Hughes portrayed Dale Arden in the third.)

Birth name
Eleanor Lovegren

Date of birth
25 March 1916,
Belmont, Massachusetts, USA

Date of death 
24 February 1991,
Sherman Oaks, California, USA.

"A Conversation with Jean Rogers, the girl who was Dale Arden" 
by Jim Sulski.

Fans of fantastic cinema best remember the late Jean Rogers as Dale Arden, the ever-imperiled heroine who appeared in those now-classic science fiction serials "Flash Gordon" (1936) and "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars" (1938). Much of the continuing popularity of these films can be attributed to Ms. Rogers' considerable beauty and charm.  For many a young man, she was, literally, the stuff dreams are made of.

Jean Rogers was born Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren on March 25, 1916 in Belmont, Massachusetts.  As a teenager, she won a local beauty contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures and made the transition to Hollywood with a role in "Eight Girls in a Boat" (1933).  Prompted by movie producer Charles Rogers, Jean secured the lead in Universal's "Stormy" (1935).  The studio signed her to a contract and cast her in such serials as "Tailspin Tommy and the Great Air Mystery" (1935), "The Adventures of Frank Merriwell" (1936), and "Ace Drummond" (1936).  But it was her portrayal of Dale Arden in the Flash Gordon serials that brought her stardom.  After lead roles in features like "Conflict" (1936) with John Wayne, and "Night Key" (1937) with Boris Karloff, she left Universal for 20th Century-Fox.

As a Fox contract player, Rogers was seen in "Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence" (1939), "Charlie Chan in Panama" (1940), "Viva Cisco Kid" (1940), and other programmers.  In 1941 shw was signed by MGM; her Metro efforts include "Dr. Kildare's Victory" (1941), "Swing Shift Maisie" (1943) and "Whistling in Brooklyn" (1943).  By the end of the decade, Rogers chose family life over her movie career; a supporting role in "The Second Woman" (1951) was her final screen credit.

After retiring from films, she pursued her interest in painting (selling many of her sketches and watercolor artwork), worked as a journalist, and made occasional appearances at nostalgia conventions.  Rogers died in 1991; she was 74.  In this 1979 interview, Jean recalls the role that brought her screen immortality.

FAX: How did Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren become Jean Rogers?  

ROGERS: When I first started in the business, Universal Studios gave me about five minutes to pick out a screen name.  I thought, "Oh my God, what should I pick?"  Well, I took the last name of Charles Rogers--he's the one who brought me out to California.  Jean was the name of a childhood friend who lived down the street from me.  I liked her name better than mine.

FAX: Dale Arden is considered to be one of the great movie heroines.  Are you glad to have played the role?

ROGERS: Oh, yes.  I never thought that the popularity of it would come back like it has.  It was my favorite serial and it was quite an experience, although Buster (Crabbe) and I both thought the whole thing was nuts.  At the time, who could think of Mars and outer space and all that.

FAX: How did you get the part?

ROGERS: What happens when you're under contract--which I was--is that you have to do what they tell you to do.  And they told me to do the part. Which was fine with me because I was just starting my career and I was anxious to do anything.  The studio wanted to keep you working because they were paying you.  Then they wanted to make me a serial queen.  They also asked me to take the part because they said I needed the experience--and they were right.
I played a part in "My Man Godfrey" (1936), but I suppose there was nothing else up for me just then because it was just a small part.  When the studio is paying you, they don't want you to sit back for two weeks until a lead comes along.  You have to do what they say.

FAX: Had you ever been a fan of the "Flash Gordon" comic strip?

ROGERS: Well, sort of.  I can't say that I was an avid reader but I did follow it.

FAX: How much of yourself did you put into the Dale Arden character?

ROGERS: As much as the director told me to.

FAX: Among your screen roles, was Dale Arden one of your easier assignments?

ROGERS: Oh, yes.  All I had to say was "Flash, where are you going?" and "Ooohh, Flash!"

FAX: Buster Crabbe once said that although the atmosphere on the set was never tongue-in-cheek, everybody always had great fun.

ROGERS: That's right.  It was fun to show up every morning because you never really knew what was going on.  You kind of went from day to day.  There was never much dialogue in the films to speak of.  A lot of times they'd say, "There's not much to say tomorrow," and they wouldn't give us any pages to memorize for the next day."

FAX: While you were making the first "Flash Gordon" serial, did you wonder what the public's reaction would be?

ROGERS: I just thought that they might say it was too incredible.  I thought they were going to laugh at it and say, "Well, isn't this silly."  It all seemed so hard to believe.  I thought the writer of the serial had lost his mind. (laughs) Naturally, I changed my mind when the film got great response.
The costumes and the sets were fantastic.  There wasn't very much nudity in those days and I have to say my costume was a little brief in the first serial.  I don't think the Hayes Office (censorship board) paid much attention to what went on in serials.

FAX: Was it more hectic to work in a serial, as opposed to a feature?

ROGERS: Yes.  For a serial, they always had two units working with two directors.  As I recall, sometimes you'd be working for the first unit, then you would scoot to the stage or back lot for the second unit.  They didn't waste any time.  But I found it interesting, and Buster was wonderful to work with.  We got along just fine.

FAX: What was Charles Middleton like?

ROGERS: He was actually a very nice, gentle man--the exact opposite of Ming the Merciless. (laughs)

FAX: What ever happened to Priscilla Lawson, who played Princess Aura (Ming's daughter)?

ROGERS: We all sort of agree that she has passed away, unfortunately.  There seems to be different stories.  I heard she passed away quite a few years ago.  Now somebody else said she was in a bad car accident.  Nobody seems to have been able to find her.

FAX: You appeared in the first and second "Flash Gordon" serials, but not the third.

ROGERS: Yes, because Universal wanted to make me a serial queen.  I did so many of them that I said to myself, "I'm not going to improve my acting career if I stay in serials."  I wanted to get out of serials, to do something else, and the studio people were nice enough to let me do that. And then I played the lead with John Wayne in "Conflict."

FAX: And you went on to appear in such films as "Night Key" with Boris Karloff.

ROGERS: Karloff was such a nice person and a great actor. If I had trouble with a scene, I would ask him what he thought.  Of the many actors I've known, Karloff was the most gentle, kind and considerate.

FAX: So you enjoyed the transition from serials to features?

ROGERS: It became more interesting.  I knew I wouldn't get any place by staying in serials.  I wanted better parts; the more experience I had, the better I felt about my acting.

FAX: Do you ever watch the "Flash Gordon" serials on television?

ROGERS: Yes.  They played on local television, then they took the serials and made features from them.  I thought it was a great editing job; they were as interesting as they could get.
But it was strange--the reaction I got from friends who saw it.  They thought something was lost because they had known the films originally as serials.  They missed the suspense of the movie being a cliffhanger.

FAX: What do you think of the intense current interest in science fiction?

ROGERS: I can't think of anybody who's not interested; you just gotta be. I'm a science fiction fan, to a certain extent, although I haven't seen "Star Wars."  I just never go to movies.

FAX: Looking back, are you happy to have had the role of Dale Arden?

ROGERS: Yes.  When I see the old serials on television, I can't believe it's me--that's a lot of years ago.  But I'm glad I did it.  I had a very nice career.

by Jim Sulski, published in Issue #46 of Filmfax Magazine (Aug./Sept. 1994)

 

Filmography from imdb.com

  1. Deadly Ray from Mars (1966) (TV) .... Dale Arden
  2. Spaceship to the Unknown (1966) (TV) .... Dale Arden
  3. Second Woman, The (1951) .... Dodo Ferris
    ... aka Ellen (1951) (UK)
    ... aka Here Lies Love (1951)
    ... aka Twelve Miles Out (1951)
  4. Fighting Back (1948) .... June Sanders
  5. Speed to Spare (1948) .... Mary
  6. Backlash (1947) .... Catherine Morland
  7. Gay Blades (1946) .... Nancy Davis
  8. Hot Cargo (1946) .... Jerry Walters
  9. Great Mystic, The (1945) .... Ellen Randall
    ... aka Strange Mr. Gregory, The (1945)
  10. Rough, Tough and Ready (1945) .... Jo Matheson
    ... aka Men of the Deep (1945) (UK)
  11. Stranger in Town, A (1943) .... Lucy Gilbert, Grant's Secretary
  12. Swing Shift Maisie (1943) .... Iris Reed
    ... aka Girl in Overalls, The (1943) (UK)
  13. Whistling in Brooklyn (1943) .... Jean Pringle
  14. Pacific Rendezvous (1942) .... Elaine Carter
  15. Personalities (1942) (uncredited)
  16. Sunday Punch (1942) .... Judy Galestrum
  17. War Against Mrs. Hadley, The (1942) .... Patricia Hadley
  18. Design for Scandal (1941) .... Dotty
  19. Dr. Kildare's Victory (1941) .... Annabelle Kirk
    ... aka Doctor and the Debutante, The (1941) (UK)
  20. Brigham Young - Frontiersman (1940) .... Clara Young
    ... aka Brigham Young (1940)
    ... aka Brigham Young - Frontiersman (1940) (UK)
  21. Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) .... Kathi Lenesch
  22. Let's Make Music (1940) .... Abby Adams
  23. Viva Cisco Kid (1940) .... Joan Allen
  24. Yesterday's Heroes (1940) .... Lee
  25. Man Who Wouldn't Talk, The (1940) .... Alice Stetson
  26. Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939) .... Anita
  27. Hotel for Women (1939)
    ... aka Elsa Maxwell's Hotel for Women (1939)
  28. Inside Story (1939) .... June White
  29. Stop, Look and Love (1939)
  30. Always in Trouble (1938) .... Virginia Darlington
  31. Time Out for Murder (1938) .... Helen Thomas
  32. While New York Sleeps (1938) .... Judy King
  33. Mars Attacks the World (1938) .... Dale Arden
  34. Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) .... Dale Arden
    ... aka Deadly Ray From Mars (1938) (USA: recut version)
    ... aka Flash Gordon: Mars Attacks the World (1938) (USA: video title)
    ... aka Space Soldiers' Trip to Mars (1938)
  35. Mysterious Crossing (1937) .... Yvonne Fontaine
  36. Night Key (1937) .... Joan Mallory
  37. Reported Missing (1937) .... Jean Clayton
  38. Secret Agent X-9 (1937) .... Shara Graustark
  39. When Love Is Young (1937) .... Irene Henry
  40. Wildcatter, The (1937) .... Helen Conlon
  41. Ace Drummond (1936) .... Peggy Trainor
  42. Adventures of Frank Merriwell, The (1936) .... Elsie Belwood
  43. Don't Get Personal (1936) .... Blondy
  44. Flash Gordon (1936/I) .... Dale Arden
    ... aka Flash Gordon: Rocketship (1936) (USA: recut version)
    ... aka Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (1936) (USA: video title)
    ... aka Space Soldiers (1936) (USA: TV title)
    ... aka Spaceship to the Unknown (1936) (USA: recut version)
  45. Flash Gordon (1936/II) .... Dale Arden
    ... aka Atomic Rocketship (1936)
    ... aka Rocketship (1936)
  46. Conflict (1936) .... Maude
  47. Two in a Crowd (1936) (uncredited) .... Undetermined Role
  48. My Man Godfrey (1936) (uncredited) .... Girl
  49. Great Air Mystery, The (1935) .... Betty Lou
    ... aka Tailspin Tommy in The Great Air Mystery (1935)
  50. Fighting Youth (1935)
  51. Stormy (1935) .... Kerry Dorn
  52. His Night Out (1935) (uncredited) .... Information
  53. Manhattan Moon (1935)
    ... aka Sing Me a Love Song (1935) (UK)
  54. Eight Girls in a Boat (1934)

Carol Hughes

 

Date of birth 
17 January 1910,
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Date of death (details)
8 August 1995,
Burbank, California, USA.

 

Actress Carol Hughes was 13 years old when she married comic actor Frank Faylen. Hughes' own film career began in 1936: while sometimes enjoying full supporting roles, e.g. Frank McHugh's nagging wife in Three Men on a Horse (1936), she generally made do with bits, such as the Modiste Salon salesgirl in 1939's The Women. In 1940, Hughes replaced Jean Rogers in the role of Dale Arden in the third and last of Universal's "Flash Gordon" serials, *Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars. She retired from films in the early 1950s, after playing Gil Lamb's leading lady in a series of RKO Radio 2-reelers. Carol Hughes is the mother of actress Carol Faylen, who appeared in the 1964 TV sitcom The Bing Crosby Show as Crosby's daughter Joyce. 

By Hal Erickson All Movie Guide

* Conquers the Universe 1940.

Filmography from imdb.com

  1. Peril from the Planet Mongo (1966) (TV) .... Dale Arden
  2. Purple Death from Outer Space (1966) (TV) .... Dale Arden
    ... aka Purple Death from Outer Space 1940 (1966) (TV) (promotional title)
  3. And Baby Makes Two (1952)
  4. Scaramouche (1952) .... Pierrette
  5. D.O.A. (1950) .... Kitty
  6. Stagecoach Kid (1949) .... Birdie
  7. Slightly French (1949) .... Secretary
  8. Every Girl Should Be Married (1948) (uncredited) .... Girl at counter
  9. Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, The (1947) .... Florence
    ... aka Bachelor Knight (1947) (UK)
  10. Beautiful Cheat, The (1946) .... Dolly
    ... aka What a Woman! (1946) (UK)
  11. Blondie Knows Best (1946) (uncredited) .... Gloria Evans
  12. Girl on the Spot (1946) (uncredited) .... Cuddles
  13. Home in Oklahoma (1946) .... Jan Holloway
  14. Joe Palooka, Champ (1946) .... Mrs. Van Praag
  15. Jungle Raiders (1945) .... Zara
  16. Naughty Nineties, The (1945) (uncredited) .... Tessie
  17. Pillow to Post (1945) .... Loolie Fisher
  18. Red Dragon, The (1945) .... Marguerite Fontain
  19. Weekend Pass (1944) .... Maisie
  20. My Son, the Hero (1943) .... Linda
  21. She's for Me (1943) .... Maxine LaVerne
  22. What's Buzzin', Cousin? (1943) .... May
  23. Lucky Jordan (1942) (uncredited) .... Girl in back room
  24. Miracle Kid, The (1942) .... Pat
  25. Ship Ahoy (1942) .... Secretary
  26. I Married an Angel (1942) (uncredited) .... Willie's Morning Lady
  27. Desperate Cargo (1941) .... Peggy
  28. I'll Wait for You (1941) .... Sally Travers
  29. Scattergood Baines (1941) .... Helen Parker
  30. Top Sergeant Mulligan (1941) .... Avis
  31. Under Fiesta Stars (1941)
  32. Emergency Landing (1941) .... Betty
    ... aka Robot Pilot (1941)
  33. Girl, a Guy, and a Gob, A (1941) (uncredited) .... Dance Hall Girl
    ... aka Navy Steps Out, The (1941) (UK)
  34. Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) .... Dale Arden
    ... aka Perils from the Planet Mongo (1940) (USA: recut version)
    ... aka Purple Death from Outer Space (1940) (USA: recut version)
    ... aka Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe (1955) (USA: TV title)
  35. Married and in Love (1940) .... Woman in Bar
  36. Border Legion, The (1940) .... Alice
    ... aka West of the Badlands (1940)
  37. Flight Angels (1940) .... Texas
  38. Women, The (1939) .... Salesgirl at Modiste Salon
  39. Day the Bookies Wept, The (1939) .... Patsy
  40. Love Affair (1939) .... Nightclub Patron
  41. Gold Mine In the Sky (1938) .... Cody Langham
  42. Under Western Stars (1938) .... Eleanor Fairbanks
  43. Man from Music Mountain (1938) .... Helen Foster
  44. Meet the Boy Friend (1937) .... Jane Delaney
  45. Ready, Willing and Able (1937) .... Angie
  46. Westland Case, The (1937) .... Emily Lou Mason
  47. Renfrew of the Royal Mounted (1937) .... Virginia Bronson
  48. Marry the Girl (1937) .... Virginia Radway
  49. Ever Since Eve (1937) (uncredited) .... Manicurist
  50. Case of the Velvet Claws, The (1936) .... Esther Linton
  51. Polo Joe (1936) .... Mary Hilton
  52. Stage Struck (1936) .... Grace Randall
  53. Three Men on a Horse (1936) .... Audrey Trowbridge
  54. Earthworm Tractors (1936) .... Sally Blair
    ... aka Natural Born Salesman, A (1936) (UK)
  55. Golden Arrow, The (1936) .... Hortense 'Hattie' Burke-Meyers
  56. Times Square Playboy (1936) (uncredited) .... Phyllis, a Secretary
    ... aka Broadway Playboy (1936) (USA)
    ... aka Gentleman from Big Bend, The (1936) (USA)
  57. Singing Kid, The (1936) (uncredited) .... Mary Lou
  58. Ceiling Zero (1935) .... Birdie

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