Nutty Professor actress Stella Stevens dies aged 84
Hollywood actress Stella Stevens has died aged 84.
Best known as the object of Jerry Lewis’s affection in the 1963 comedy The Nutty Professor, Stevens was a prominent leading lady in the ’60s and ’70s who held her own in a variety of roles on the big and small screen.
A statement from her estate confirmed that she died on Friday in Los Angeles after a long illness.
“She had been in hospice for quite some time with Stage 7 Alzheimer’s,” Stevens’s only son, actor-producer-director Andrew Stevens, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Stevens was born in Mississippi in 1938 and would go on to build a storied acting career.
She starred as Linda Rogo in the action movie The Poseidon Adventure where she was cast alongside Gene Hackman and Shelly Winters.
She also worked in television on series such as Murder She Wrote and Magnum, PI.
Born Estelle Caro Eggleston, she married at 16 and gave birth to her first and only child. Two years later, she divorced and began modelling and acting.
She was signed by 20th Century Fox, then later by Paramount with whom she starred in Girls! Girls! Girls! alongside Elvis Presley, who she described as “nice”.
A fight scene between Stevens and Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman in the live-action television series, showed Stevens’s physical side during the first episode of the 1975 ABC series.
Carter tweeted on Saturday that it had been “an honour and a pleasure to have such a formidable foe on screen”.
Carter won a Golden Globe for her 1959 film debut as a chorus girl in Say One for Me, which also starred Bing Crosby and Debbie Reynolds.
In an interview in 2017, she said that her favourite director was Vincente Minnelli who she worked with on US sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father from 1963.
The actress also directed several films before her retirement in 2010.
She was in a long-term relationship with rock guitarist Bob Kulick, who died in May 2020 from natural causes linked to heart disease.
Her brother-in-law and former guitarist for the US band Kiss Steve Kulick tweeted: “Legendary actress Stella Stevens, my brother’s longtime partner, passed away this morning from a long illness.
“She is finally reunited with Bob today.”