Arlene Dahl, Journey to the Center of the Earth star and mother of Lorenzo Lamas, dies at 96

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Arlene Dahl, the actress who was best known for her role in the 1959 adventure film Journey to the Center of the Earth and had a fascinating second act as an author, beauty magnate, and astrologist, died Monday at 96.

Dahl's eldest son, the actor Lorenzo Lamas, announced her death on social media.

"Mom passed away this morning in New York," Lamas wrote. "She was the most positive influence on my life. I will remember her laughter, her joy, her dignity as she navigated the challenges that she faced. Never an ill word about anyone crossed her lips. Her ability to forgive left me speechless at times."

Arlene Dahl
Arlene Dahl

Everett Collection Arlene Dahl

Arlene Dahl was born Aug. 11, 1925, in Minneapolis, Minn. She made her film debut, albeit uncredited, in the 1947 comedy Life With Father before starring as a leading lady in that year's My Wild Irish Rose.

As a contract player for MGM, Dahl appeared in such films as Three Little Words (1948) with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, Scene of the Crime (1949) with Van Johnson, and Here Come the Girls (1953) with Bob Hope.

Dahl met her future husband Fernando Lamas on the set of 1953's Sangaree, and the two were married from 1954 to 1960. Lamas was Dahl's second of six husbands.

In 1952, Dahl began writing a syndicated beauty column, Let's Be Beautiful, which ran for more than two decades. In 1954, she started her own cosmetics and lingerie lines under Arlene Dahl Enterprises.

The actress' most enduring role came with the big-screen adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, opposite James Mason and Pat Boone. But after son Lorenzo's birth in 1958, Dahl more or less retired from acting, though she continued to sporadically appear in films, on stage, and on television.

Dahl later made a name for herself as a businesswoman in the beauty industry in the '60s and '70s before cashing in on the astrology fad of the '80s with her own psychic hotline. She went on to write more than two dozen books on beauty and astrology, while still making the occasional appearance in front of the camera, including guest stints on her son Lorenzo's shows Renegade and Air America.

"She truly was a force of nature," Lamas wrote of his mother, "and as we got closer in my adult life I leaned on her more and more as my life counselor and the person I knew that lived and loved to the fullest."

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