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The Sad Reason You Don’t See Stella Stevens Anymore

Stella Stevens, an American actress who is now 83, got her start in the movie industry starring in films such as 1962s Girls! Girls! Girls, 1963s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and 1966s The Silencers. She went on to appear in several hit films throughout the 70s, including the disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure. And eventually branched out into television, appearing in offerings such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote.

Stella’s the very definition of a Hollywood ‘It girl’ back in her day and highly celebrated by both audiences and critics alike. In 1960, she awarded a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year; just one year after getting her start in the industry. And that same year, she declared Playboy magazines Playmate of the Month for the month of January.

But even though she had an undeniably prolific career, it appears as if she completely fell off the map in the mid-80s or so. While it’s true, that she has made a few appearances in television shows and films since then. She would never be able to replicate the kind of appeal that she had back in the 60s and 70s. As even the 80s were a pretty sparse year for her acting prospects.

So what happened to Stella Stevens? And why did she go from being a ubiquitous star that graced the covers of practically every tabloid ; while headlining some of the biggest films of her day to practically being forgotten by the public? Join Facts Verse as we answer those questions and see what Stella Stevens has been up to in recent years. But first, let’s see how Stella got her start in the business while taking a peek at some of her career highlights.

Stella’s Early Life And Schooling

Stella Stevens was born Estelle Eggleston On October 1, 1938, in the small town of Yazoo City, Mississippi. She was the only child of Dovey Estelle and her husband, Thomas Ellet Eggleston. Her great-grandfather, Henry Clay Tyler, was a jeweler from Boston who gave the Yazoo City courthouse’s cupola it’s ornate clock. And was a fairly influential member of the community.

When Stella Stevens was four, her family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. Her father worked as an insurance salesman, and her mother worked as a nurse. Stella attended grade school at St. Anne’s Catholic School as well as Sacred Heart School before finishing up her basic education at Memphis Tech High School in 1955.

When she was 16, she married an electrician named Noble Herman Stevens. Just six months later, they welcomed a bouncing baby boy into the world whom they named Herman Andrews Stephens. He would later work as an actor and producer; following in his mother’s footsteps, although he would drop his first name and merely go by Andrew Stevens.

Stella and Noble would divorce in 1957; but she and her son would retain the Stevens surname for their professional names. While she was attending Memphis State College, Stella developed an interest in modeling and acting. While she was there, she starred in a production of the play Bus Stop and began attracting the attention of Hollywood talent scouts. Soon enough, she have offered roles in film productions.

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From Nobody To Hollywood “It Girl”

In 1959, Stella Stevens made her screen debut in the film Say One For Me, a musical starring Bing Crosby. After that film received a pretty positive response both by critics and at the box office, Stella signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox. Although it dropped just six months later.

After landing the role of Appassionata Von Climax in the 1959 musical Li’l Abner; Stella signed a new contract with Paramount Pictures.

In 1960, Stella won her Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in the category of Actress for her powerful performance in Say One For Me. That same year, she declared Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Month for the month of January. She would later featured in that magazine in 1965 and 1968 as well. And when it came time for Playboy to list their 100 Sexiest Stars of the 20th Century, she appeared at number 27.

Stella was a natural when it came it modeling, and she had the looks to boot. Throughout the 60s, she was one of the most photographed women on the planet. She was known for her voluptuous curves, stunning blue eyes, and platinum blonde hair. She had all the components of what the western world found beautiful in a woman back in those days. And that certainly helped her get ahead in the film industry. Not only was she drop-dead gorgeous, but she also had some pretty serious acting skills. If that’s not a one-two punch, then we don’t know what is!

In 1961, Stella starred alongside Bobby Darin in John Cassavetes’s black-and-white film Too Late Blues. A year later, she would join an exclusive club of Hollywood starlets that got a chance to appear star opposite Elvis Presley in the film Girls! Girls Girls!. With that role, Stella established herself as a go-to pick for portraying love interests in high-profile films starring some of the era’s biggest male stars. After all, who was bigger back then than the King n’ Roll?

Interestingly, however, is the fact that what many young women back then would have considered a dream come true; That is, getting a chance to schmooze with Elvis onscreen, actually a bit of a disappointment for Stella.

Her character in Girls! Girls! Girls!, was an immature singer who was competing with an equally beautiful young sweetheart named Laurel; played by Laurel Goodwin, for Elvis’ affection. Elvis, being particularly indecisive about which vixen to choose. Eventually sang a number of iconic tunes such as Return to Sender in some fairly cheesy yet endearing scenes before ultimately choosing Laurel as his prize.

Stella ended up losing a bit of her confidence after that role as she became convinced that her character got rejected; because Laurel was the prettier of the two starlets. While on set, Stella often felt relatively bored since pretty much all she was expected to do was stand around and look pretty. And she especially hated being constantly barked at by the film’s director Norman Taurog. But even though she hated being there, Stella only had to be on set for the six days of production that she was needed.

Elvis wouldn’t be the only superstar singer that Stella had the opportunity to work alongside. She also had the pleasure of starring opposite Dean Martin in the 1966 film The Silencers and played Bobby Darin’s object of affection in 1961s Too Late Blue. In 1963, she appeared in two successful comedies; Jerry Lewis’ The Nutty Professor and Vincente Minnelli’s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

From there, the roles that she was offered continued to pick up steam. And she really stepped into her element. And proved that she was a lot more than just a pretty face when she played a prostitute named Hildy in the somewhat offbeat Western The Ballad of Cable Hogue in 1970. The film was met with rave reviews, with The New York Times applauding the way that Stella sustained and enlightened the movie’s action.

In 1972, she co-starred with Jim Brown in the blaxploitation film Slaughter. Later that year, she appeared in one of the most treasured films of her acting career when she played the former prostitute wife of Lieutenant Mike Rogo, Linda, in the disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure. It was around this time, though, that Stevens started finding it difficult to be taken seriously in the film industry as she was labeled as a ‘sexpot’. Many of her roles from these years required her to strip her clothes and show off her body, and while she was okay with this, for the most part, she wanted to be known for more than just her looks.

Finding True Love At Last

It was in the mid to late 70s, that Stella began frequently appearing in television shows, films, and miniseries. She had previously appeared on television throughout the 1960s on shows such as General Electric Theater, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Bonanza. But that was before she had established herself as a star player. The 70s saw her making frequent guest appearances in series such as Magnum PI, Police Story, The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island.

She continued this pattern into the 1980s with recurring roles on series like Santa Barbara, Night Court, Murder, She Wrote, and General Hospital.

In the early 1980s, Stella met who would soon become her long-term partner and love of her life. Bob Kulick, a guitarist who had previously worked with rock stars such as Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Meat Loaf, and Kiss.

Stella also took a stab and film production and direction with the 1979 film The American Heroine and 1989s The Ranch. But just as she had already experienced; her undeniable sex appeal received more attention than her actual filmmaking, leaving her feeling once again frustrated.

In the mid to late 80s, Stella’s career would begin to wind down. And by the early 90s, she rarely appeared in much at all. It was at this point that she began settling down and focusing more on her private life with her partner.

While she never entirely gave up acting, she definitely never achieved the same kind of prestige that she had experienced in her younger years. Her last acting roles, although few and far between; were in the three 2005 films Glass Trap, Hell to Pay, and Pop Star, and in the 2010 independent film Megaconda.

Nowadays, Stella suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In 2016, she and Kulick sold their longtime home in Beverly Hills. And she moved into a long-term assisted care facility in Los Angeles. Kulick would make frequent visits to spend time with her there until his death on May 28, 2020.

Stella Stevens was one of the biggest stars of her day. And while it’s sad to hear about her struggles with Alzheimer’s and dementia in her twilight years. It’s safe to say that he legacy will live on after she is no longer with us.

What was your favorite film that Stella starred in? And did you think of her as just a pretty face as so many people did back during her heyday. Or did you recognize the fact that she was also a talented actress? Let us know in the comments section down below.

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