Jean Rogers (March 25, 1916 – February 24, 1991) was an American actress, who starred in serial films in the 1930s and low–budgeted feature films in the 1940s as a leading lady. She is best remembered for playing Dale Arden the serials Flash Gordon (1936) and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938).
Rogers was born Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren in Belmont, Massachusetts. Her father was an immigrant from Malmö, Sweden.She had hoped to study art. However, in 1933 she won a beauty contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures, which led to her career inHollywood. Rogers starred in several serials for Universal between 1935 to 1938, including Ace Drummond and Flash Gordon.
Rogers was assigned the role of Dale Arden in the first two Flash Gordon serials. Buster Crabbe and Rogers were perfectly 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. The evil ruler "Ming the Merciless" (Charles B. Middleton) lusted after her, and Flash Gordon was forced to rescue her from one situation after another. While filming the series in 1937, her costume caught on fire and she suffered burns on her hands. Co-star Crabbe smothered the flash by wrapping a blanket on her.
In the first serial, Dale competed with Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson) for Flash Gordon's attention. Rogers' character was fragile, small-chested, diminutive and totally dependent on Flash Gordon for her survival; Lawson's Princess Aura was domineering, independent, voluptuous, conniving, sly, ambitious and determined to make Flash her own. The competition for Flash Gordon's attention is one of the highlights of the film. In the second serial, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, Jean Rogers sported a totally different look. She has dark hair and wears the same modest costume in each episode. Rogers matured after the first serial, and there are no sexual overtones inTrip To Mars. Rogers told writer Richard Lamparski that she wasn't eager to do the second serial and asked her studio to excuse her from the third.
Despite starring in serial films, Rogers felt she was not going to improve her career unless she could participate in feature films. She discovered it more tedious when working in serial film. During the 1940s, Rogers worked appeared solely in feature films, including A Stranger in Town, Backlash, and Speed to Spare. Sill, she was unhappy with the studios, possibly because she was relegated to films 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.
Rogers' marriage to Dan Winkler in 1943 followed her being dropped by MGM. She continued freelancing until retiring in 1951. Because she starred mainly in low-budgeted films, she was never a top star. In a 1979 interiew, she explained what it was like and why she decided not to play Dale Arden in the third Flash Gordon serial.
She died in Sherman Oaks at the age of 74 in 1991, following surgery.