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Stella Stevens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stella Stevens
Stevens in 1961
Born
Estelle Caro Eggleston

(1938-10-01)October 1, 1938
DiedFebruary 17, 2023(2023-02-17) (aged 84)
EducationMemphis State University
OccupationActress
Years active1958–2010
Known for
Spouse
Noble Stephens
(m. 1954; div. 1957)
PartnerBob Kulick (1983–2020; his death)
ChildrenAndrew Stevens
Websitestellastevens.biz

Stella Stevens (born Estelle Caro Eggleston; October 1, 1938 – February 17, 2023) was an American actress. She is the mother of actor Andrew Stevens.

Stevens began her acting career in 1959 in film Say One for Me and won the Golden Globe Award - for "New Star of the Year".[1] She appeared in three Playboy Pictorials and was named Playmate of the Month for January 1960.

Stella Stevens
Playboy centerfold appearance
January 1960
Preceded byEllen Stratton
Succeeded bySusie Scott
Personal details
Height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)

She starred in films such as Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), The Nutty Professor (1963),How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life 1968 and The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and also appeared in several television series. Stevens also worked as film producer, director, and writer.[2]

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Transcription

Early life

Born Estelle Caro Eggleston on October 1, 1938,[3][4] in Yazoo City, Mississippi,[5] she was the only child of Thomas Ellett Eggleston, an insurance salesman, and his wife, Estelle (née Caro) Eggleston, a nurse who was sometimes called by the nickname "Dovey".[3][6] [7] One of the younger Estelle Eggleston's great-grandfathers was Henry Clay Tyler, an early settler from Boston and a jeweler who gave the Yazoo City courthouse cupola its clock.[3]

When Stella Stevens was four, her parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee; they lived on Carrington Road, near Highland Street, in the city.[6] She attended St. Anne's Catholic School which is on Highland Street and Sacred Heart School on Jefferson Avenue graduating from high school in 1955 at the Memphis Evening School at Memphis Technical High School.[6][8]

At age 16, she married electrician Noble Herman Stephens, on December 3, 1954, in Holly Springs, Mississippi. They moved to Memphis, where their only child, Herman Andrew Stephens (later Andrew Stevens) was born on June 10, 1955. The couple divorced in 1957.

While studying at Memphis State University, Stella became interested in acting and modeling. According to her official biography, "Her schooling in Memphis, included a couple of years at Memphis State University, where she was noticed in the school play Bus Stop. The Memphis Press-Scimitar review of that performance in Memphis sparked her career."[9]

Film career

Film publicity picture for The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis

Stevens was modelling and working for Goldsmith's department store in Memphis when she signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox in 1958 with Buddy Adler and Dick Powell considering her for a film based on the life of Jean Harlow.[10] She made her film debut in Say One for Me (1959), a modest musical produced by and starring Bing Crosby, appearing in the minor role of a chorus girl.[11] Stevens' contract with Fox was dropped after six months.[12] After winning the role of Appassionata Von Climax in the musical Li'l Abner (1959), she signed a contract with Paramount Pictures (1959-1963).[12] In 1960, she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance in Say One for Me, sharing the distinction with fellow up-and-comers Tuesday Weld, Angie Dickinson, and Janet Munro.[1]

In 1961, she starred opposite Bobby Darin in John Cassavetes' Too Late Blues, and in 1962, she starred opposite Elvis Presley in Girls! Girls! Girls!.

In 1963 she appeared in two successful comedy films: The Nutty Professor starring comedian Jerry Lewis, where she plays his student and love interest Stella Purdy, and in Vincente Minnelli's The Courtship of Eddie's Father, playing the would-be "Miss Montana" beauty queen.

In 1964, she signed a four-year contract with Columbia Pictures.[12] Following appearances in Synanon (1965) and The Secret of My Success (1965), Stevens starred as a sexy but clumsy government agent opposite Dean Martin in the Matt Helm spy spoof The Silencers (1966). Her last film for Columbia was Where Angels Go,Trouble Follows (1968) in which she played a young nun, Sister George, "who understands and sympathizes with the rebellious students" at a girls' Catholic boarding school. [13]

In 1970, Stevens starred opposite Jason Robards in Sam Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue, for which she received positive reviews. In his review in The New York Times, Roger Greenspun wrote, "But it is Stella Stevens, at last in a role good enough for her, who most wonderfully sustains and enlightens the action."[14] In 1972, she co-starred with Jim Brown in the blaxploitation movie Slaughter, later in the year costarring in Irwin Allen's hugely successful disaster film The Poseidon Adventure, starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, and Shelley Winters. Stevens played the role of Linda Rogo, the "refreshingly outspoken" ex-prostitute wife of Borgnine's character.[15] In 1986, she appeared in Monster in the Closet.

Although she continued to appear in feature films for the next four decades, Stevens shifted the focus of her career to television series, miniseries, and telemovies.

Television career

Stella Stevens and Hugh O'Brian, General Electric Theater, 1961

Stevens appeared in several top television series in the 1960s, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960), General Electric Theater (1960, 1961), and Ben Casey (1964). One of her earliest television appearances was in a critically acclaimed 1960 episode of Bonanza, "Silent Thunder"; she played a deaf-mute.

In the early 1970s, she began working regularly on television series, miniseries, and movies. She appeared in episodes of popular series such as Ghost Story (TV series) (1972), Banacek (1973) and Police Story (1975), as well as the pilot films for Wonder Woman (1975), The Love Boat (1977), and Hart to Hart (1979). In 1979, she appeared along with her son Andrew Stevens in The Oregon Trail (1977) episode "Hannah's Girl".

During the 1980s, she continued to work regularly on series including Newhart (1983), The Love Boat (1983), Fantasy Island (1983), Highway to Heaven (1984), Night Court (1984), Murder, She Wrote (1985), Magnum, P.I. (1986), and Father Dowling Mysteries (1987). Stevens appears in 34 episodes of the primetime soap opera Flamingo Road (1981–82), as Lute-Mae Sanders, the former madam of a brothel.[16] During a 1988 interview she commented on her role as a madam in Flamingo Road, saying that, "The truth of the matter is that I've always been type cast, but I don't mind because hookers are among the few roles that require glamorous wardrobes, feathers and jewelry."[17]

From 1989 to 1990, she had a role on Santa Barbara as Phyllis Blake. Her string of appearances on popular television series continued into the 1990s with The Commish (1993), Burke's Law (1994), Highlander: The Series (1995), Silk Stalkings (1996), and General Hospital (1996, 1999). She also appeared in the critically acclaimed miniseries In Cold Blood (1996).

Additional work

In January 1960, she was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month and was also featured in Playboy pictorials in 1965 and 1968.[17] She was included in Playboy's 100 Sexiest Stars of the 20th Century, appearing at number 27. During the 1960s, she was one of the most photographed women in the world.[3]

Speaking about her Playboy features, Stevens told The New York Times, "If you've got ten million people seeing you in a layout like that ... and half of them remember the name 'Stella Stevens', they'll buy tickets for your movies."[17]

Stevens appeared in several stage productions, including a touring production of an all-female version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple opposite Sandy Dennis. Stevens played the Oscar Madison character. She directed the feature film, The Ranch (1989) and produced and directed The American Heroine (1979). In 1999, she co-wrote a novel, Razzle Dazzle, about a Memphis-born singer named Johnny Gault.[2]

Stevens in 2009

Personal life

Stevens was married to Noble Herman Stephens from 1954, when she was 16, until their divorce in 1957. Their son Andrew was born in 1955.[18] Following her divorce she changed the spelling of her last name to 'Stevens' and left her son in the custody of her parents while she sought out a successful acting career. In the years following, she and her former husband engaged in a custody battle for their son, with each party accusing the other of kidnapping, before Stevens finally won full custody.[17] Her son's professional name is Andrew Stevens.

In late 1976, Stevens purchased a ranch in Methow Valley near Carlton, Washington, on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains.[19] She also opened an art gallery and bakery in the nearby small town of Twisp, Washington.[19]

In 1983, Stevens began a long-term relationship with rock guitarist Bob Kulick. A little over a year later, he moved into Stevens' Beverly Hills home.[4] In March 2016, Kulick and Stevens sold her longtime Beverly Hills home, and she moved to a long-term Alzheimer's care facility in Los Angeles. Kulick often visited her there until his death on May 28, 2020.[20]

Poster for film Girls, Girls, Girls 1962
The Nutty Professor movie poster

Death

Stevens died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Los Angeles on February 17, 2023, at the age of 84.[21][17][22]

Filmography

Films

Television

As director

  • The American Heroine (1979)
  • The Ranch (1989)

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Stella Stevens profile at". Golden Globes. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Stevens, Stella; Hegner, William (1999). Razzle Dazzle. New York: Forge. ISBN 978-0312853792.
  3. ^ a b c d Nicholas, Teresa. "Stella Stevens: From the Yazoo hills to Beverly Hills". Delta Magazine. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Sanz, Cynthia (October 22, 1990). "'Ear Ye, 'Ear Ye: Ribald Sex Bomb Stella Stevens, 52, and Wry, Bald Rocker Bob Kulick, 37, Find True Love". People. Vol. 34, no. 16. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2012. ...a 52-year-old onetime Playboy centerfold...
  5. ^ Some sources cite her birthplace as Hot Coffee, Mississippi. Stevens confirms Yazoo City in Macklin, Tony (July 31, 2004). "The Ballad of Stella Stevens: An Interview". Bright Lights Film Journal. Archived from the original on February 17, 2023. Retrieved March 28, 2016. [I am from] Yazoo City. Hot Coffee is Meridian — it's on the way to Gulfport and Biloxi. We would stop at this place that had a sign that said 'Hot Coffee', so everybody nicknamed it 'Hot Coffee.'
  6. ^ a b c Lauderdale, Vance (December 2011). "Stella!". Memphis Magazine. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  7. ^ Pylant, James. "The Deep Southern Roots of Stella Stevens". GenealogyMagazine.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  8. ^ Lauderdale, Vance (January 12, 2012). "Meet Stella Stevens Before She Became 'Stella Stevens'". Memphis Magazine. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  9. ^ "Biography". Stella Stevens official site. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  10. ^ "Memphis Dept. Store Model Signed by 20th". Variety. September 10, 1958. p. 1. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  11. ^ "Stella Stevens: Nutty Professor and Poseidon Adventure star dies at 84". ca.movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "Topic: Stella Stevens". UPI. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  13. ^ "Where Angels Go ... Trouble Follows!". www.tcm.com. Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  14. ^ Greenspun, Roger (May 14, 1970). "Sam Peckinpah's 'Ballad of Cable Hogue'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  15. ^ Weiler, A.H. (December 13, 1972). "'Poseidon Adventure' Arrives". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  16. ^ "Stella Stevens, The Nutty Professor Actress Who Starred With Elvis Presley, Dies at 84". February 17, 2023. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c d e Schudel, Matt (February 17, 2023). "Stella Stevens, who brought glamour and comic touch to films, dies at 84". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  18. ^ Dagan, Carmel (February 17, 2023). "Stella Stevens, Who Starred in 'The Nutty Professor,' 'The Poseidon Adventure,' Dies at 84". Variety. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  19. ^ a b "Twisp Looks Good After Beverly Hills". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. May 9, 1978. Retrieved May 5, 2012. ...says the 39-year-old actress.
  20. ^ "Film Beauty Stella Stevens is Sadly Fighting Alzheimer's/ Dementia". The Life and Times of Hollywood. November 17, 2016.
  21. ^ Rice, Lynette (February 17, 2023). "Stella Stevens Dies; 'Poseidon Adventure' Actress & Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis Co-Star Was 84". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  22. ^ Risen, Clay (February 17, 2023). "Stella Stevens, Hollywood Bombshell Who Yearned for More, Dies at 84". The New York Times Company. The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  23. ^ Williams, Ken (December 24, 1976). "'Nickelodeon' simply fails as 'slapstick drama'". The Journal News. Hamilton, Ohio. p. 12.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 June 2024, at 22:43
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