Actress Stella Stevens, recognized for “The Nutty Professor,” dies at 84

Actress Stella Stevens, recognized for “The Nutty Professor,” dies at 84

Stella Stevens, a outstanding main woman in Sixties and Seventies comedies and maybe finest recognized for taking part in the article of Jerry Lewis’s affection in “The Nutty Professor,” has died. She was 84.

Her son, Andrew Stevens, confirmed her loss of life to CBS News in an announcement Friday, saying that she “had been hospice for fairly a while” after a battle with Alzheimer’s illness.

Stella can be survived by three grandchildren, her son stated.

Stella Stevens
Actress Stella Stevens attends the American Cinematheque’s fortieth anniversary screening of “The Poseidon Adventure” held at American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre on Dec. 29, 2012, in Hollywood, California. 

Tommaso Boddi/WireImage through Getty Images

Born Estelle Caro Eggleston in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1938, she married at 16 and gave beginning to her first and solely little one, actor/producer Andrew Stevens, in 1955 when she was 17, and divorced two years later. She began appearing and modeling throughout her time at Memphis State University and made her movie debut in a minor position within the Bing Crosby musical “Say One for Me” in 1959, however she thought of “Li’l Abner” her huge break.

“The head of publicity at Paramount principally made me a worldwide intercourse image,” Stevens advised FilmTalk in 2017. “He had me doing loads of layouts with photographers — indoors, outdoor, right here and there — being seen somewhere else, going to the very best eating places, assembly with great actors and administrators … these had been the golden years of Hollywood. It was a really thrilling time.”

Soon after, she gained the New Star Golden Globe, was named Playboy’s Playmate of the Month and bought a contract with Paramount Pictures, resulting in movie work and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” with Elvis Presley, which she solely agreed to do as a result of she was promised to a Montgomery Clift film if she did it. It was a depressing six days of filming, she stated, because of the mood of director Norman Taurog, although she stated Presley was good. The Clift image did not pan out both, no less than along with her promised co-star. It become John Cassavetes’ “Too Late Blues,” with Bobby Darrin.

“Bobby was a really fantastic actor, however as you possibly can think about, he was no Montgomery Clift,” she stated.

Next got here “The Nutty Professor” as Lewis’ scholar, Stella Purdy, who he’s infatuated with.

“Jerry Lewis had advised the bosses at Paramount he wished to forged essentially the most lovely ingénue working on the studio — or one thing like that — and so I bought the gig,” she stated. “We all tried to make the characters he had created within the script particular, great, distinctive — and in case you ask me, I do imagine that is why the movie nonetheless holds up in any case these years.”

At Columbia Pictures, she’d seem in “The Secret of My Success,” “The Silencers,” with Dean Martin, and “Where Angels Go Trouble Follows,” as a nun reverse Rosalind Russell. Other notable roles embody “Slaughter,” with Jim Brown, the Sam Peckinpah tv movie “The Battle of Cable Hogue” and “The Poseidon Adventure” through which she performed Linda Rogo, Ernest Borgnine’s character’s spouse.

Stevens labored steadily in tv within the Seventies and 80s, showing within the pilots for “Wonder Woman,” “Hart to Hart” and “The Love Boat” and in collection like “Night Court,” “Murder She Wrote” and “Magnum, P.I.”

In 2017, she’d say that her favourite director that she labored with was Vincente Minnelli on “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” from 1963. She additionally directed a number of movies, the documentary “An American Heroine,” which by no means bought distribution, and “The Ranch.” She retired in 2010.

In an interview in 1994, Stevens stated that she nervous that she did not achieve bringing out the very best in her administrators and that her ambitions modified.

“I wished to be like my favourite actresses: Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. I wished to be like a burst of youth after which after I bought a little bit crow’s ft or age, I’d be off the display,” she stated.” But I additionally had the plan of being a director … I noticed (Bob Hope) at 83 cracking jokes and having enjoyable. I stated then that I by no means wished to give up. I need to be like this man. I need to go on without end. I need to die on a film set.”

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