Stella Stevens, star of 1960s ‘The Nutty Professor,’ dead at 84

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Stella Stevens, a distinguished main girl in Sixties and 70s comedies maybe finest identified for taking part in the thing of Jerry Lewis’s affection in “The Nutty Professor,” has died. She was 84.

Stevens’ property mentioned she died Friday in Los Angeles after a protracted sickness.

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

“The pinnacle of publicity at Paramount principally made me a worldwide intercourse image,” Stevens instructed FilmTalk in 2017. “He had me doing lots 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.”

Quickly after, she received the New Star Golden Globe, was named Playboy’s Playmate of the Month and acquired a contract with Paramount Footage, resulting in movie work and “Ladies! Ladies! Ladies!” 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 mentioned, because of the mood of director Norman Taurog, although she mentioned Presley was good. The Clift image didn’t pan out both, at the least together 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 mentioned.

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

“Jerry Lewis had instructed the bosses at Paramount he needed to solid probably the most lovely ingénue working on the studio — or one thing like that — and so I acquired the gig,” she mentioned. “All of us tried to make the characters he had created within the script particular, great, distinctive — and for those who ask me, I do consider that’s why the movie nonetheless holds up in spite of everything these years.”

At Columbia Footage, she’d seem in “The Secret of My Success,” “The Silencers,” with Dean Martin, and “The place Angels Go Hassle Follows,” as a nun reverse Rosalind Russell. Different notable roles embrace “Slaughter,” with Jim Brown, the Sam Peckinpah tv movie “The Battle of Cable Hogue” and “The Poseidon Journey” during which she performed Linda Rogo, Ernest Borgnine’s character’s spouse.

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