Stella Stevens, who starred in the 1972 disaster film “Poseidon Adventure” and in films opposite Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, died Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 84.
Her son, actor/producer Andrew Stevens, confirmed her passing to TheWrap via email. “I was notified early this morning,” Stevens said. “Stella had been in hospice for quite some time with stage seven Alzheimer’s.”
She is perhaps best known for her role as one of the victims of an ocean liner disaster in Irwin Allen’s epic “Poseidon Adventure.” She played a former prostitute married to Ernest Borgnine’s police detective, who, along with Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters, try to make it to the top of the overturned ship.
Stevens also starred with Elvis Presley in the 1962 musical “Girls! Girls! Girls!,” Jerry Lewis in 1963’s “The Nutty Professor,” and Dean Martin in the 1966 spy spoof “The Silencers.” In 1961, she starred as a would-be singer opposite struggling jazz musician Bobby Darin in John Cassavetes’ “Too Late Blues.” Her other films include “The Ballad of Cable Hogue,” “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” and “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.”
She was born on Oct. 1, 1938, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when she was 4. She went on to become a model before being scouted by 20th Century Fox. She won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer for her first film, 1959’s “Say One for Me” with Bing Crosby and Debbie Reynolds.
Stevens became a Playboy Playmate in January 1960, a career move that she would later regret for pigeonholing her as a sex symbol.
Her many TV appearances include roles on “Ben Casey,” “Bonanza,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “The Commish,” “Arli$$” and “Murder, She Wrote.” She starred in the ’80s primetime soap “Flamingo Road” as Lute-Mae Sanders, the madam of a brothel; the series costarred Kevin McCarthy, Morgan Fairchild and Mark Harmon. She later had recurring roles on daytime soaps “Santa Barbara” and “General Hospital.”
Maria Calabrese, founder of Green Life Media and Stevens’ manager and friend, said in a statement, “It was an honor and a privilege to have worked with Stella, who was one of the most wonderful and gifted people I have ever met. While I truly wish I could have done more for her toward the latter years of her career, and shared in her frustration as she so wanted to make the leap from a triple-threat American icon to producer – her wish, never realized, was to have three original western scripts produced.”
“She was an amazing animal lover, horse wrangler, rock and roller, so ahead of her time and so much more than a sex symbol – which her adoring fans admired, respected and understood. What a tremendous body of work and loss. The OG of badass women,” Calabrese wrote.
She is survived by her only son Andrew and three grandchildren Amelia and Aubrey Stevens, both age, 20 and Samuel Stevens, age 25.