Stella Stevens is an American actress known for appearing in films like ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’, ‘The Nutty Professor’, and ‘The Poseidon Adventure’. She has also played important roles in many TV series, TV movies, and miniseries, including ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, ‘Bonanza’, and ‘Santa Barbara’. Distinguished by her platinum hair, blue eyes, and seductive voice, Stevens is often hailed as a generational beauty of her time. She was featured in three Playboy pictorials and earned the Playmate of the Month recognition in January 1960. That year, she also received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. Stevens was active as an actress from 1959 to 2010 and accumulated over 140 credits to her name.
Childhood & Early Life
Born Estelle Eggleston on October 1, 1938, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, USA, Stevens is the only child of insurance salesman Thomas Ellett Eggleston and nurse Dovey Estelle (née Caro). When she was four years old, she relocated to Memphis, Tennessee with her family.
She studied at St. Anne's Catholic School on Highland Street and Sacred Heart School on Jefferson Avenue. In 1955, she graduated from the Memphis Evening School at Memphis Tech High School.
She was 16 years old when she married electrician Noble Herman Stephens on December 1, 1954. On June 10, 1955, she gave birth to their son, actor and filmmaker Herman Andrew Stevens. While the couple parted ways 1957, both Stella and her son kept using a variation of his surname in their stage names.
Stevens attended Memphis State College. It was during this period that she developed an interest in acting and modelling. Her acting in the college play ‘Bus Stop’ garnered her some attention. Her performance even received positive reviews from ‘The Memphis Press-Scimitar.’
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Stella Stevens made her screen debut in the 1959 musical comedy ‘Say One for Me’, portraying one of the chorus girls. The film earned her the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress, which she shared with fellow newcomers Tuesday Weld, Angie Dickinson, and Janet Munro.
As a model, Stevens found considerable success in the 1950s and 1960s. She has the distinction of being the first person to be photographed while being illuminated by a single candle and several reflectors. Shot with high-speed Ektachrome film, the photograph was a formal portrait and used on the cover of a photography magazine.
In January 1960, she was picked as the Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month. She also appeared in Playboy pictorials in 1965 and 1968. In the list of Playboy’s magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars of the 20th Century, she was featured at number 27. Between 1960 and 1969, very few women were as photographed as her.
While Stevens was signed to Paramount, they wanted to cast her opposite Elvis Presley in ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’ (1962). She had no desire to do the film and was vocal about her reluctance. Her protest almost got her fired from Paramount. She eventually ended up doing the film, but she has mentioned multiple times over the years that she refuses to watch it.
From 1964 to 1968, she was signed to Columbia Pictures and appeared in films like 'Synanon' (1965), 'The Secret of My Success' (1965), and ‘The Silencers’ (1966). In the later years of her career, she was predominantly working on television.
She played Judy in ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ (1960), Jane Hancock in ‘Ben Casey’ (1964), Louise Crawford in ‘The French Atlantic Affair’ (1979), Lute-Mae Sanders in ‘Flamingo Road’ (1980-82), and Phyllis Blake in ‘Santa Barbara’ (1989-90).
Stevens is a prominent figure in the American theatre scene. She portrayed Oscar Madison in an all-female production of Neil Simon's ‘The Odd Couple’. As a producer-director, she has been involved in two films, ‘The Ranch’ (1989) and ‘The American Heroine’ (1979).
She co-authored the erotic fiction, ‘Razzle Dazzle’, which was published in 1999. In 2010, she appeared in the video short ‘Megaconda’, the last project of her career.
The 1963 comedic science fiction film ‘The Nutty Professor’ that stars Stella Stevens and Jerry Lewis is a funny rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson's ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. Co-written and directed by Lewis himself, the film appeared at number 99 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years...100 Laughs list.
Family & Personal Life
Stella Stevens has been in a long-term relationship with rock guitarist Bob Kulick since 1983. They lived in Stevens’ Beverly Hills home. However, they sold the house in early 2015 or March 2016 when Stevens became severely affected by her dementia.
At present, she resides in a nursing home and is reportedly in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. According to various sources, Kulick regularly visits her there.