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Arleen Whelan posters


September 1, 1914

Birth Sign



5' 4½" (1.64 m)


Auburn-haired Arleen Whelan was born in Salt Lake City, but spent her early childhood in Pueblo, Colorado, where she attended High School. Her father was an electrician, who, upon opening his own electrical store in Los Angeles, moved the family westward. Arleen was enrolled in a beauty college and learned hairdressing and manicure, soon finding work for $18 a week in a salon on Hollywood Boulevard. There, she was 'discovered' by director H. Bruce Humberstone, who dropped in for a shave and ended up suggesting her name, as a likely candidate for movie stardom to Darryl F. Zanuck. In May 1937, she was signed to a seven-year contract by 20th Century Fox, her salary now between $50 and $300 per week.Within a year, she had her first co-starring assignment, opposite Warner Baxter in Kidnapped (1938) . Next, she landed the highly prized role of pioneer woman Hannah Clay in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), and, by 1942, Arleen also made the jump to Broadway, appearing as one of "The Doughgirls" (the other two were Virginia Field and Doris Nolan). read more

She was not cast in the 1944 film version, however - that part going to Jane Wyman. Still, Hollywood's publicity machine went into full gear, making the most out of Arleen's affairs with actors Richard Greene and Tyrone Power. In 1945, Arleen was voted 'the most perfect all-over beauty' by a panel of magazine illustrators, but her career was already on the wane. Out of contract, and dissatisfied with her roles thus far, Arleen left Hollywood to live with her New York-based second husband, a Paramount executive. Her stay was short-lived, as was her marriage.There were still a couple of good screen roles to come for Arleen as a free-lance actress. She popped up as busybody Valerie Shepherd in the political satire The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947), a performance critic Bosley Crowther described as 'cute' (December 27, New York Times). There was also another good lead, opposite Charles Winninger in director John Ford's own favourite among his films, The Sun Shines Bright (1953). For the remainder, at least, Arleen lent some glamour to the B-western she made for Republic and for Albert C. Gannaway's independent production company. After 1957, one of Hollywood's best-looking redheads called it a day and left the screen to improve her already impressive golf handicap.

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