Santa Barbara scored a coup in 1989 when they
convinced Stella Stevens to join their soap as Gina's flamboyant mother,
Phyllis Blake. For three decades, Stella had wowed crowds on TV, in film
and on stage.
Stella was born on October 1, 1936 in Yazoo City,
Mississippi. When she was four years old, the family moved to Memphis,
Tennessee, where she modeled in a department store tearoom and did some
acting at Memphis State College. She was soon discovered as an actress and
signed by 20th Century Fox. After Fox dropped the contract, Stella
appeared nude in Playboy in 1960.
Stella later had contracts with Paramount and Columbia,
accumulating an enormous amount of work in feature films. She appeared in Girls!
Girls! Girls! with Elvis Presley and The Nutty Professor with
Jerry Lewis. Among her other movie credits are Li'l Abner, The
Silencers, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Ballad of Cable
Hogue and The Poseidon Adventure. Later in her career, she
directed the films The Ranch and The American Heroine.
In addition to dozens of guest spots on popular TV series
from Bonanza to Murder She Wrote, Stella played a madam on
the primetime soap Flamingo Road and had a recurring role on General
Her son, actor/producer Andrew Stevens, was born of an
early, short-lived marriage.