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Dale Arden is a beautiful young woman, who gets caught up in Flash Gordon's adventures.
In the original Flash Gordon (comic strip), Dale does not have a backstory; she is just a pretty girl who happens to be flying in an airplane with Flash at the moment. She doesn't speak at all in the first strip; in the second strip, she picks up a wrench and plans to hit Dr. Hans Zarkov in the head with it, but doesn't follow through. ("Flash Gordon (comic strip)")
By the seventh strip, Flash is calling Dale as "the girl I love". At that point in the strip, Flash has only said 9 words to Dale, and she was sedate at the time. "Dale! Dale! --- Good heavens! -- Say something - Speak to me!" ("Flash Gordon (comic strip))
As is the case with the heroes and heroines of many adventure stories, Flash and Dale's relationship is can be taken for granted as an obvious element of the narrative. He's the hero; she's the pretty girl. They love each other.
Dale is a pretty girl whom Flash Gordon meets by chance when they both board the same airplane during a time of crisis on the planet Earth. The end of the world has been predicted due to the approach, on a seeming collision course, of a strange new planet which has entered the solar system. Dale's beauty catches Flash's eye straight away, but he maintains a gentlemanly distance until their plane becomes stricken as a result of the atmospheric disturbances caused by the proximity of the new planet. Noticing that Dale is fearful when it becomes necessary to bail out, Flash sees her to safety by jumping out with her.
Fate has them parachute down into the estate of Dr Zarkov who impresses upon them the need to travel to the rogue planet if the Earth is to be saved. And so begins a series of adventures for Dale in the company of the handsome, athletic Flash Gordon and the wise, avuncular Dr Zarkov.
As the first Earthwoman in space, Dale's initial journey is not a comfortable one as she passes out from lack of oxygen due to an oversight on Zarkov's part. Her first tentative steps on alien soil, on the planet Mongo, are hazardous also when she nearly becomes a tasty snack for a giant Iguanthion.
When Officer Torch arrives on the scene and, ignoring Flash's hand of friendship, arrests the trio, Dale finds herself taken before the man whom she will come to fear and despise above all others, namely Ming the Merciless, Emperor of Mongo and self-proclaimed ruler of the universe. Unfortunately for the shy and timid Dale, she finds that Ming is immediately consumed with wanton lust and is intent on making her his bride at the earliest opportunity. Dale understandably refuses to willingly accept this sudden marriage proposal, and Flash's intervention on her behalf sees him thrown into an arena and made to fight for his life. A helpless bystander, Dale's admiration for her gallant hero as he fights off a trio of Monkey men soon develops into a deeper, more sensual feeling.
Not to be outdone, Ming has Dale subjected to his Dehumanizer, which temporarily leaves her docile and helpless, but fortunately Flash is able to rescue her before Ming can complete the wedding ceremony with her. Now a fugitive, Dale initially finds hostility and treachery at almost every turn on Mongo, being captured and betrayed by King Kala and his Shark Men, and then kidnapped by the Hawk Men whose ruler, King Vultan, also lusts after her. At the same time she finds herself continuously being manipulated by Princess Aura, a jealous rival who wants Flash for herself. Such is Aura's fanatical obsession with Flash, she even goes as far as to set a deadly Tigron upon Dale, but luckily Flash is once again on hand to save her from being savaged.
Dale's compassion in spite of such hostility, as well as her unwavering honesty and integrity, and that of her fellow travelers from Earth, eventually begins to find favor with increasing numbers of Mongo's people. Prince Thun, Prince Barin, then even King Vultan and Princess Aura eventually become her friends. When Ming is seemingly killed, a drained but relieved Dale returns to Earth, now deeply in love with Flash who accompanies her.
After being feted on her return home, Dale stays in the company of Flash and Dr Zarkov, acquiring various skills as she assists the scientist in his field work. This proves beneficial when Earth gets attacked once more and Zarkov must again head into space to combat the problem. This time Dale is a determined volunteer to go along and soon finds herself , with Flash and Zarkov plus a stowaway, Happy Hapgood, adventuring on the planet Mars. Again Dale's arrival on an alien planet soon turns nasty when she is kidnapped by the creepy Clay People. She is held hostage by them for some time and even used as a human shield, but it is already apparent that, with her previous experiences behind her, Dale is becoming more resilient and determined. During a struggle against the Forest People of Mars, she takes the initiative and steals a Stratosled, flying it solo and using it to attack their enemies and thus save Flash. Dale's bravery sometimes goes too far, however. Willing to be left alone in the Forest Kingdom, she finds herself captured by the Forest People and then has the forgetfulness drug Lethium forcibly administered to her so that once again she is left docile and helpless. When she is delivered into the hands of Ming the Merciless in this condition, it is fortunate that he has temporarily abandoned his sinister intentions towards her, possibly because he daren't portray himself as a misogynist in the presence of his ally Queen Azura of Mars.
In time Dale is restored to health and Ming and Queen Azura's plans are foiled. Dale once more returns home to Earth in the company of her friends and is given a rousing reception for having saved mankind.
More time passes then once again Earth finds itself under siege, this time from Ming's Death Dust. Dale, now an experienced pilot, radio operator, chemist and invaluable assistant to Dr Zarkov is an automatic choice as one of his crew members when he takes his rocket ship into space for a third time. Arriving back on Mongo, Dale's journey ends pleasantly for once when she lands in the kingdom of Arboria and is made a guest of her old friends Prince Barin and Princess Aura. Even more battle-hardened after her time on Mars, Dale is no longer content to stay in the cosey confines of Barin's castle and let the men do all the work, and she insists on being one of the members of the expedition into the harsh frozen wastelands of Frigia to locate the badly-needed Polarite. She also accompanies Flash and the others to the Land of the Dead, enduring a hazardous encounter with the Rock Men, and also has a couple of physical scraps with the traitor Sonja, whom she takes a clear personal dislike to. Dale also single-handedly tries to take on the burly Captain Torch and raise the alarm when she finds him in Barin's radio room.
On three more occasions she is made the prisoner of the Emperor Ming, who once again is intent upon entering into wedlock with her, but the dictator's days are numbered and he is never able to bring his plans to fruition.
In spite of her increased resilience and scientific ability, Dale has also grown increasingly insecure in her relationship with Flash Gordon. Although Flash has given her no good reason to be jealous, Dale is clearly uncomfortable whenever other unattached females of beauty are in his presence, such as Sonja or Queen Fria. It is to be hoped that, with the universe saved following the downfall of Ming, Flash was not long in allaying Dale's concerns by proposing.
Dale's father is the noted scientist Professor Arden.
Sci Fi Channel
On the "Flash Gordon (Sci Fi Channel)" series, Dale is a reporter, working for WIAD-4 in her hometown of Kendal, Maryland. Flash Gordon was her high school sweetheart. They've been close for a long time, since before Flash was 13. In "Episode 104: Assassin", Dale says that when Lawrence Gordon died, she hugged him. Flash and Dale broke up when she left for Yale.
After graduating, Dale moved back to Kendall, and got a job as a reporter. She's engaged to a police detective, Joe Wylee. She avoided seeing Flash, meeting him again for the first time after his third marathon win in "Episode 101: Pilot".
In the episode "Possession", she's taken over by the spirt of an evil sorceroress.
Dale through the years
- Jean Rogers: Flash Gordon (1936), Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938)
- Carol Hughes: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940)
- Irene Champlin: Flash Gordon (1954)
- Diane Pershing: Flash Gordon (1979)
- Melody Anderson: Flash Gordon (1980)
- Lexa Doig: Flash Gordon (1996)
- Gina Holden: Flash Gordon (2007)
- Flash Gordon (comic strip): "Oh, Flash -- Look out! --- He's going mad!"
- The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon: "Yes."
- Chapter 101: The Planet of Peril: "Why is it so terribly rough?"
- Flash Gordon (1979 cartoon): "I don't think I like being referred to as the day's catch."
- Flash Gordon (movie): "Would you do us a favor and leave them alone? They're busy driving the bus."
- Flash Gordon (Sci Fi Channel): "Hey, Flash."
When he created Star Wars, George Lucas said that both Princess Leia Organa and her mother Padme Amidala were inspired by Dale, as well as the expanded universe character who became Luke Skywalker's wife Mara Jade.