THE RETROCRUSH INTERVIEW
Interview by Randy Waage
is best known for her roles as the comic
Appassionata Von Climax in Li'l Abner, a kind hearted prostitute
named Hildy in The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a retired hooker named
Linda Rogot who is married to Ernest Borgnine in The Poseidon
Adventure, and a tough Captain Taylor in the all female prison movie
Chained Heat. She's also been in over a 100 other movies and
Have you always had your heart set on being an actress or the
entertainment industry? Did you have a tough time surviving early on in
was an actress and writer/director as a child. By 4 yrs old my cousin
Marsha and I performed many musical plays for our grandmother and all our
aunts and uncles. It's all I ever wanted to do. I didn't have a tough
time surviving early in my career as in 1958 I was under contract to 20th
Century Fox and worked in a movie called Say One for Me. Soon
after that, I worked in a movie called The Blue Angel starring May
Britt and Curt Jergens. By 1959 I played my first starring role in a
movie called Li’l Abner.
What was it like working
with the young Ron Howard, Glenn Ford, and director Vincente Minnelli in
the movie of The Courtship of Eddie’s Father? Where you surprised
by its eventual TV spin-off?
I lived next door to Jimmy Komack for years. He simply told me they were
not using my character in the television show. I was glad.
Did you have any idea that the director Vincente Minnelli was
homosexual? You’ve mentioned that you use to visit his house with his wife
Judy Garland. Was she volatile or abusive at the time?
Vincente Minnelli was one of my favorite directors. Believe it or not,
sex is not always thought of when one works on a character to create a
joyous and funny human being. Mr. Minnelli and I never talked about sex,
we talked about the wonders of my character in the movie. As far as Judy
was concerned, she was a perfect lady, kind, generous, and tortured. I
was very proud to be working with a genius and was his wife's biggest fan.
My memories of them are all good.
Where you surprised by Elvis’s drinking on the set of Girls, Girls,
Yes I was surprised to realize he didn't respect the other actors at all.
However, he seemed to need it.
You played a nun along
with Rosalind Russell in the comedy Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.
Was she funny, down to earth, and entertaining or was there a darker side
I only saw a bright side in Rosalind Russell and loved her dearly.
You starred with many of
Hollywood’s heavy hitters in the Poseidon Adventure. Over 30 years
later are you surprised at how popular and well remembered this movie is?
I am not at all surprised that people love the movie as they do. It is
deserving of such love.
You worked with Shelly
Winters a couple of times and there have been rumors that she’s difficult
to work with. What was your experience with her like?
The only day Shelly Winters could not physically work was the day Robert
Kennedy got shot and killed. Shelly is a loving, caring woman and a great
You’re quite proud of
your work in The Ballad of Cable Hogue with Jason Robards which was
the director’s Sam Peckinpah favorite film. Are there other roles you’ve
played that you’re proud of?
Yes. Every one I've done.
you have fond memories of your leading men: Dean Martin, Ricardo Montalban,
Glenn Ford, Roddy McDowell, Gene Hackman, Bobby Darin, Jeffrey Hunter,
Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, or Jerry Lewis? You’ve mentioned in the
past that Dean was a good kisser & you liked Bing Crosby.
You seem to know all about what I've said about these men already.
What’s the story behind Rip Torn being a terrible actor and secretly
listening to you pee?
I'd like to know the answer to that myself!
You were in the ultra creepy, disturbing horror classic, The Manitou.
I thought the film was preposterous. I played a medium who held a seance.
It was one of the very few roles I have played with brown hair. People
did not recognize the character as me. I satisfied my goal for this film.
Where do you find the
inspiration to play such a tough, mean role as Captain Taylor in the
movie, Chained Heat?
In my imagination.
What was it like on the set of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island?
Just as it looked.
Where you close to RJ & Stephanie Powers while on the set of Hart to
Hart? Did you ever get the chance to meet RJ’s wife the late, great
Yes I met Natalie Wood and was devastated when she drown. She was one of
my favorite actresses.
You’ve also guest starred in many other TV shows. Any thoughts or
memories on the other classic TV shows you were on: Bonanza, Police Story,
Wonder Woman, Newhart, Highway to Heaven, and Magnum P.I?
My work speaks for itself.
was it like working on Strip Mall with Julie Brown and Maxwell
Caulfield? Any ideas on why it was cancelled?
I have worked with Julie Brown twice, and hope we can one day work
together again. Perhaps the show was cancelled because it was on the
wrong time on the wrong night. Of course, it could be another reason too.
What about some of the fun upcoming projects that are mentioned on your
website: Glass Trap, Hell to Pay, and Blessed? What were your thoughts on
filming in Transylvania, Romania? Does it deserve its spooky reputation?
It will when I get through with it!
You appeared in Playboy in 1960. Would you pose for it again
today? Do you think it helped or hurt the type of career you wanted? Are
you always battling the image or stereotype of a blonde sexpot?
I don't talk about Playboy.
You’re very health conscious, but there must be a food that you can’t
resist or occasionally love to pig out on?
The words "pig out" make me sick.
Was there an actor or actress you have a crush or retroCRUSH on while
Is there something
shocking we’d be surprised to know about Stella Stevens?
She has a brain.
Thanks again to Stella for responding to our email
You can visit Stella's website at:
There's an interesting interview with
Stella over at the
Bright Lights Film Journal.
Don't miss the upcoming remake of
The Poseidon Adventure on NBC this November 20th with Steve