By JEFF BENZIGER
Even the most devout Jerry Lewis fan watching the 1963 film The Nutty Professor may be distracted from his antics in a major way because of that beautiful blonde with him. Stella Stevens, Lewis’ love object in the comedy, is without a doubt one of the prettiest women to work in Hollywood.
Born Estelle Caro Eggleston on Oct. 1, 1938 in Yazoo City, Miss., Stevens was a divorced mother by the age of 17. She became interested in acting while studying at Memphis State in Tennessee, and while modeling at Goldsmith’s department store in Memphis, she met actress Tina Louise, who dazzled Stevens into taking the plunge. Tina’s press agent from United Artists suggested that Stevens fly to New York to meet executives of 20th Century Fox. She was contracted in 1959 for a small role in Say One for Me with Bing Crosby.
Shortly after, in 1960, she was dumped by the studio and decided to pose nude for Playboy to get another studio’s attention. Playboy paid her only half of the promised amount, saying if she posed as a “hussie,” she’d get the other half. “I told them to shove it,” Stevens said.
She soon went to work for Paramount Studios and became one of the most photographed women in the world. In 1999, Playboy voted Stevens No. 27. on its list of the 100 sexiest stars of the 20th century.
Playing a night club singer in Elvis’ 1962 film, Girls! Girls! Girls! Stevens recalled that Elvis didn’t like her during their six days of working together since she had a negative view of Memphis men due to her bad marriage.
Four years later, she played Dean Martin’s inept partner in the Matt Helm spy spoof, The Silencers.
During the 1970s Stevens landed one of her finest roles: a kind-hearted prostitute in Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) starring Jason Robards. Her biggest role, however, was as a prostitute in Irwin Allen’s star-studded film, The Poseidon Adventure, in 1971. It was a box office smash but was the last huge movie for Stevens.
Her TV appearances have been extensive, among them being General Hospital, Flamingo Road, Love Boat, Newhart, Fantasy Island, Hart to Hart, Murder She Wrote and Magnum P.I.
Spending less time making movies today means the 70-year-old beauty has more time to sign autographs. Collectors now have access to Stevens through her website, www.stellastevens.biz, where she offers signed photos from various decades of her career. The website also mentions that she’ll sign photos and other items sent to her at $20 a pop (or three items for $50). She will plant a lip print on an item, as well as sign it for $25. That same price goes for signing topless or Playboy poses sent to her, but you won’t find her selling them herself.
Collectors may want to start with Stevens’ offering of 17 poses (both B&W and color) from the 1960s, many of them bikini and lingerie shots. A number of attractive photos are available from the 1970s, including from The Ballad of Cable Hogue, as well shots from The Poseidon Adventure. The 1980s section contains the popular “blue corset” poses. Recent “At Home with Stella” portraits of the beautiful actress are also offered in 8×10 format, as well as a boxed set of greeting cards, with one signed per box.
Stevens will personalize the signature with the collector’s name and a special message, if requested. The website doesn’t offer nude photos but Stevens promises to be adding “new photos of special interest to every decade.”
Items may be sent to her at Stella Stevens, Universal Mail Center, 12400 Ventura Blvd. #502, Studio City, CA 91604. Checks and money orders must be made out to StellaStar Corporation.