Stella Stevens, 'Nutty Professor' and 'Poseidon Adventure' Actress, Dead at 84

Stella Stevens

Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Stella Stevens, who starred in such films as The Nutty Professor, The Poseidon Adventure and alongside Elvis Presley in Girls! Girls! Girls!, has died. She was 84.

According to multiple reports, Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Before making a name for herself on the big and small screen, Stevens was a Playboy Playmate and appeared on its centerfold page in January 1960. She was modeling in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, when she was discovered, ultimately leading her to roles in the 1962 music comedy Girls! Girls! Girls! and then starring alongside comedy giant Jerry Lewis in the 1963 sci-fi comedy The Nutty Professor.

In a New York Times review of the film (via Variety), Stevens' performance as Stella Purdy (the student Lewis' nutty professor character pursues) is singled out.

"It's about a shy gargoyle of a college chemist who brews a miracle mixture, becomes a bland Casanova (periodically) and finally reverts to his shy original self and a pert, smitten blonde student, neatly played by Stella Stevens," it read.

Stevens would later also star in several other films, including the 1966 spy spoof The Silencers, starring Dean Martin, and the 1972 disaster film The Poseidon Adventure, featuring an all-star cast including Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine.


The model and actress, who won a Golden Globe in 1960 for New Star of the Year -- Actress following her 1959 film debut in Say One for Me, also lent her talent behind the camera, as a producer and director of the 1979 documentary The American Heroine and The Ranch in 1989.

Some of her TV credits include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bonanza, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Murder, She Wrote, Magnum, P.I., The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!, Santa Barbara, and General Hospital.

Stevens was born Estelle Eggleston on Oct. 1, 1938 in the tiny Mississippi town of Yazoo City. Her family relocated to Memphis when she was four years old.

According to a December 2019 story in Memphis The City Magazine, Stevens also belonged to the vocal group The Skip-Jacks. The group's claim to fame was singing the theme song for The Flintstones.

She's survived by her son, actor-producer Andrew Stevens, and three grandchildren.