Stella Stevens, an actress best known for her role in “The Nutty Professor,” has died at the age of 84.
Stevens’ son, Andrew, told The Hollywood Reporter that his mother had been suffering from Stage 7 Alzheimer’s and “had been in hospice for quite some time.” She died Friday in Los Angeles.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of actress, director and activist Stella Stevens. More than just a blonde bombshell, the effervescent star held her own in a variety of roles on the big and small screen.@Variety remembers her here: https://t.co/TOpMS4rlf3 pic.twitter.com/41T7HLE315
— TCM (@tcm) February 17, 2023
Stevens made her debut into film in 1959, and appeared along a number of stars throughout her career, including Bing Crosby in “Say One for Me,” Dean Martin in “The Silencers” and “How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life.” She also starred alongside Elvis Presley in “Girls! Girls! Girls!” — a film which Stevens reportedly “detested,” according to the outlet
Some of Stevens’ most prominent roles include the classic 1972 disaster film “Poseidon Adventure” and the 1963 version of “The Nutty Professor,” in which she played the character of Stella Purdy, a student who falls in love with her professor, played by Jerry Lewis, after he creates a potion that turns him into “Buddy Love,” a “swinging ladies’ man,” The Hollywood Reporter noted. (RELATED: ‘The Lucy Show’ Actress Dead At 98)
Stevens noted to FilmTalk in 2017 that she gained most of her roles due to her attractive appearance, and said she was turned into “a worldwide sex symbol” by the head of publicity at Paramount, the AP reported.
“He had me doing a lot of layouts with photographers — indoors, outdoors, here and there — being seen in different places, going to the best restaurants, meeting with wonderful actors and directors … those were the golden years of Hollywood. It was a very exciting time,” she added.
She said in a 1992 interview with Skip E. Lowe that she’s always been a comedienne and prefers the “excitement” of comedy films. “A lot of the serious dramatic roles I’ve played, I’ve thought to myself, ‘Oh God, it’s just kind of dreary, dreary.’ I like the pacing of comedy, the excitement of it,” she said.
Later in her career, Stevens moved towards directing but found that hard due to her reputation as a “sexpot,” Stevens told Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter noted. “This has been a detriment to people taking me too seriously,” she said.
Stevens is survived by her son and her three grandchildren: Amelia, Aubrey and Samuel.