Jean Rogers (born Eleanor Dorothy Lovegren, March 25, 1916 – February 24, 1991) was an American actress who starred in serial films in the 1930s and low–budget feature films in the 1940s as a leading lady. She is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science-fiction serials Flash Gordon (1936) and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938).
Rogers was born in Belmont, Massachusetts. Her father was an immigrant from Malmö, Sweden. She graduated from Belmont High School. She had hoped to study art, but in 1933 she won a beauty contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures that led to her career in Hollywood. Rogers starred in several serials for Universal between 1935 and 1938, including Ace Drummond and Flash Gordon.
Rogers was one of seven women chosen out of 2,700 passengers on excursion boats and ferries who were interviewed for roles in Eight Girls in a Boat. The group began work in Hollywood on September 3, 1933. By 1937, Rogers was the only one of the seven featured as an actress.
Rogers was assigned the role of Dale Arden in the first two Flash Gordon serials. Buster Crabbe and Rogers were cast as the hero and heroine in the first serial, Flash Gordon. The evil ruler Ming the Merciless (Charles B. Middleton) lusted after her, and Gordon was forced to rescue her from one situation after another. While filming the series in 1937, her costume caught fire and she suffered burns on her hands. Co-star Crabbe smothered the fire by wrapping a blanket on her.
In the first serial, Arden competed with Princess Aura (Priscilla Lawson) for Gordon's attention. Rogers' character was fragile, small-chested, diminutive, and totally dependent on Gordon for her survival; Lawson's Princess Aura was domineering, independent, voluptuous, conniving, sly, ambitious, and determined to make Gordon her own. The competition for Gordon's attention is one of the highlights of the film. In Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, the second serial, Rogers sported a totally different look. She had dark hair and wore the same modest costume in each episode. Rogers matured after the first serial, and no sexual overtones are seen in Trip to Mars. Rogers told writer Richard Lamparski that she was not 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 that working in feature films was more tedious. She played John Wayne's leading lady in the 1936 full-length motion picture Conflict and co-starred with Boris Karloff in the horror film Night Key the following year. During the 1940s, Rogers appeared only in feature films, including The Man Who Wouldn't Talk (1940) with Lloyd Nolan, Viva Cisco Kid (1940) with Cesar Romero as the Cisco Kid, Design for Scandal (1941) with Rosalind Russell and Walter Pidgeon, Whistling in Brooklyn (1943) with Red Skelton, A Stranger in Town (1943) with Frank Morgan, Backlash (1947), and Speed to Spare (1948) with Richard Arlen. Still, she was unhappy with the studios, possibly because she was relegated to B-movie productions on a lower salary. She decided to freelance with companies such as 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Her last appearance was in a supporting role in the suspense film The Second Woman, made in 1950 by United Artists.
Rogers married Dan Winkler in 1943 after she was dropped by MGM. She continued freelancing until retiring in 1951. Because she starred mainly in low-budget films, she was never a top star. In a 1979 interview, she explained what it was like and why she decided not to play Dale Arden in the third Flash Gordon serial.
Rogers was a lifelong Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election and a practicing Lutheran.
She died in Sherman Oaks in 1991 at the age of 74 following surgery. She was later cremated and her ashes returned to her family.
- Footlight Parade (1933) as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
- Eight Girls in a Boat (1934) (with Dorothy Wilson) as School Girl (uncredited)
- Stand Up and Cheer! (1934) as Dancer (uncredited)
- Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934) as Radio Fan (uncredited)
- Dames (1934) as Chorus Girl (uncredited)
- Manhattan Moon (1935) (with ZaSu Pitts) as Joan
- Lady Tubbs (1935) as Debutante (uncredited)
- His Night Out (1935) as Information (uncredited)
- Stormy (1935) as Kerry Dorn
- Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery (1935, Serial) (with Noah Beery, Jr.) as Betty Lou Barnes
- Fighting Youth (1935) as Blonde Student
- The Adventures of Frank Merriwell (1936 serial) (with Donald Briggs) as Elsie Belwood
- Don't Get Personal (1936) as Blondy
- Flash Gordon (1936, Serial) (with Buster Crabbe) as Dale Arden
- Spaceship to the Unknown (1936, edited serial) (with Buster Crabbe) as Dale Arden
- Crash Donovan (1936) as Blonde (uncredited)
- My Man Godfrey (1936) (with William Powell) as Socialite (uncredited)
- Two in a Crowd (1936) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- Ace Drummond (1936 serial) (with Noah Beery, Jr.) as Peggy Trainor
- Conflict (1936) (with John Wayne) as Maude Sangster
- Mysterious Crossing (1936) as Yvonne Fontaine
- When Love Is Young (1937) as Irene Henry
- Secret Agent X-9 (1937, Serial) (with Lon Chaney, Jr.) as Shara Graustark
- Night Key (1937) (with Boris Karloff) as Joan Mallory
- The Wildcatter (1937) as Helen Conlon
- Reported Missing (1937) as Jean Clayton
- Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938, Serial) (with Buster Crabbe) as Dale Arden
- Deadly Ray from Mars (1938, edited serial) (with Buster Crabbe) as Dale Arden
- Time Out for Murder (1938) as Helen Thomas
- Always in Trouble (1938) (with Jane Withers) as Virginia Darlington
- While New York Sleeps (1938) as Judy King
- Inside Story (1939) as June White
- Hotel for Women (1939) (with Linda Darnell) as Nancy Prescott
- Stop, Look and Love (1939) as Louise Haller
- Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (1939) (with Glenn Ford) as Anita Santos
- The Man Who Wouldn't Talk (1940) (with Lloyd Nolan) as Alice Stetson
- Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) (with Sidney Toler) as Kathi Lenesch
- Viva Cisco Kid (1940) (with Cesar Romero) as Joan Allen
- Brigham Young (1940) as Clara Young
- Yesterday's Heroes (1940) as Lee Kellogg
- Let's Make Music (1941) as Abby Adams
- Design for Scandal (1941) (with Rosalind Russell) as Dotty
- Dr. Kildare's Victory (1942) as Annabelle Kirke
- Sunday Punch (1942) as Judy Galestrum
- Pacific Rendezvous (1942) as Elaine Carter
- The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942) (with Fay Bainter) as Patricia Hadley
- Swing Shift Maisie (1943) (with Ann Sothern)
- A Stranger in Town (1943) (with Frank Morgan) as Lucy Gilbert
- Swing Shift Maisie (1943) as Iris Reed
- Whistling in Brooklyn (1943) (with Red Skelton) as Jean Pringle
- Rough, Tough and Ready (1945) as Jo Matheson
- The Strange Mr. Gregory (1945) as Ellen Randall
- Gay Blades (1946) as Nancy Davis
- Hot Cargo (1946) (with William Gargan) as Jerry Walters
- Backlash (1947; top billing) as Catherine Morland
- Speed to Spare (1948) (with Richard Arlen) as Mary McGee
- Fighting Back (1948) (with Morris Ankrum) as June Sanders
- The Second Woman (1950) (with Robert Young) as Dodo Ferris (final film role)