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Connie Stevens The poster girl for multi-tasking


Connie Stevens

By Marilyn Mitchell
CONNIE STEVENS

Star #31

Dedicated May 20, 1994

214 N. Palm Canyon Dr.


The Palm Springs Walk of Stars has a number of honorees with a wide range of interests and talents, but Connie Stevens outshines them all. Film, television and Broadway star, singer, recording artist, nightclub performer, businesswoman, humanitarian, writer, director, producer, film editor and former Screen Actors Guild board member, she’s the poster girl for multi-tasking.

Born to musician-performer parents, Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingolia took her dad’s stage name of Stevens, as her own. After moving from Brooklyn to LA, she sang with the vocal groups The Letter-man and The Three Debs in her teen years and attended a professional school, studying music and dance, and found work in teen films. Jerry Lewis discovered her at Paramount Studios and cast her in his film “Rock-A-Bye Baby.” “I was so naïve,” she says, “I followed the crews’ prank telling me to go to the bike shop to get chains so I wouldn’t get a shock on the sound stage.”

Warner Brothers bought Stevens’ Paramount contract and cast her in the successful series, “Hawaiian Eye,” with Robert Conrad. “While filming one day,” she recounts, “I got a phone call from Elvis Presley. I couldn’t believe it. He invited me to a party. We dated for a year and remained lifelong friends.”

Connie starred with George Burns in TV’s “Wendy and Me,” as well as on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “Star Span-gled Girl” with Anthony Perkins. Among her other films are “Grease 2,” “Back to the Beach” and “Palm Springs Weekend,” filmed guess where? The movie still plays on AMC and Turner Classics. She met her first husband, actor Jim Stacy on that film. Some of her television work includes “Maverick,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Baywatch” and “The Love Boat.”

Warner Brothers Records signed her as their first artist and she came up with three hits: a duet with Ed ‘Kookie’ Burns, titled “Kookie Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb,” “Too Young To Go Steady” and the early 60s #1 hit, “Sixteen Candles.”

She made numerous trips overseas doing USO Christmas Specials and says those are her most treasured moments on any stage. “My fondest memories are landing in Da Nang and performing on stage with Bob Hope for 40,000 shouting soldiers.” For her work with our veterans, Connie was recently presented with the Bob Hope Award of Excellence at a Gala at the Ronald Reagan Library.


Among her additional humanitarian ventures is a project she founded called Windfeather, which provides scholarships for Native American Indian kids and funding for summer camp. She’s also received recognition awards from the Shriner’s Hospital, the Son of Italy and the U.S. Armed Forces.

Comfortable on both sides of the camera, Stevens made her directorial debut in “A Healing,” a 1997 award-winning documentary about a group of Red Cross nurses who return to their workplace in Viet Nam. She wrote, produced and directed a second film, “Saving Grace B. Jones,” based on her own experience as a young girl when she was witness to a murder. It stars Tatum O’Neal and Michael Biehen. Her latest project is a period piece, “Prairie Bones.”

A savvy businesswoman, Stevens created a cosmetic company called (symbolic of her persona), Forever Spring, producing popular, best-selling skin, makeup and fragrance products. To learn more, go to www.foreverspring.com.

Even as she continues to headline on the casino circuit and perform in concert (she’ll be at the Riverside Resort in Laughlin April 12-17), Connie still loves to spend quality time with her adored grandchildren and her two actress daughters from her marriage to the late Eddie Fisher.

I asked Connie when she realized she made it: “When my daughter and I went to Alaska. We stepped into an Eskimo hut in a remote village. We were covered in furry warm clothing. A man was carving ivory. He looked up at me and asked, ‘Are you Connie Stevens?’”

The Palm Springs Walk of Stars honors individuals with a Star on Palm Springs’ sidewalks. To nominate someone, call the office at (760) 416-5811. For more information, see palmspringswalkofstars.com.

The late Gordon Whitey and Marilyn Mitchell wrote “Star Walk: A Guide to the Palm Springs Walk of Stars” and “Hackensack To Hollywood: My Two Show Business Careers,” which is available at BearManorMedia.com and Amazon.com.

 



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