Paula Prentiss

Paula Prentiss

Birth name: Paula Ragusa
Born: March 4, 1938
Age: 80
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
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Paula Prentiss (born Paula Ragusa; March 4, 1938) is an American actress best known for her film roles in Where the Boys Are, Man's Favorite Sport?, The Stepford Wives, What's New Pussycat?, In Harm's Way, The Black Marble, and The Parallax View, and the cult television series He & She.


Early life

Prentiss was born Paula Ragusa in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of Paulene (née Gardner) and Thomas J. Ragusa, a Social Sciences professor at San Antonio's University of the Incarnate Word, who was of Sicilian descent.

Before high school, Paula, who grew to 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), was always the tallest person in class. She attended Lamar High School in Houston, Texas. In 1958 while studying drama at Northwestern University, she met future husband Richard Benjamin, who impressed her with his sophistication and height (he was taller than she was). While attending Northwestern she was discovered by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was offered a film contract.


Prentiss first became known as a comedic actress in the early 1960s with such films as Where the Boys Are, The Honeymoon Machine, Bachelor in Paradise, and The Horizontal Lieutenant. In all four films Prentiss was paired with the 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) actor Jim Hutton, as they were the two tallest male and female contract players at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

She continued to star in comedies later with Rock Hudson in Man's Favorite Sport?, in The World of Henry Orient and What's New, Pussycat? with Peter Sellers, in Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Alan Arkin, in Move with Elliott Gould, and in director Billy Wilder's last film, Buddy Buddy, with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. She also appeared in the war films Catch-22 and In Harm's Way, the thriller The Parallax View with Warren Beatty and the horror cult-classic The Stepford Wives, based on Ira Levin's novel.

For one season (1967-1968), Prentiss co-starred with her husband, Richard Benjamin, in the CBS sitcom He & She. Prentiss was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy.

Except for brief cameo roles, Prentiss had not appeared in a feature film for more than 30 years until 2016's I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, a horror film directed by Oz Perkins that premiered Sept. 10, 2016 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Personal life

Prentiss and actor/director Richard Benjamin were married on October 26, 1961. In 1965, while filming What's New, Pussycat in Paris, Prentiss suffered a nervous breakdown that kept her out of film work for five years. She returned to work with Benjamin in the short-lived television series He & She. The couple appeared together in such films as Catch-22 (1970) and Saturday the 14th (1981), the made-for-television films No Room to Run (made in Australia) and Packin' It In, as well as in various plays. Benjamin also directed Prentiss in a brief appearance in Mrs. Winterbourne.


Prentiss and Benjamin have two adult children, Ross and Prentiss. Ann Prentiss was Paula's younger sister and also an actress.



Year Title Role Notes
1960 Where the Boys Are Tuggle Carpenter Laurel Award for Best Female Comedy Performance
Nominated—Top Female New Personality
1961 Honeymoon Machine, TheThe Honeymoon Machine Pam Dunstan
1961 Bachelor in Paradise Linda Delavane
1962 Horizontal Lieutenant, TheThe Horizontal Lieutenant Lt. Molly Blue
1963 Follow the Boys Toni Denham
1964 Man's Favorite Sport? Abigail Page
1964 World of Henry Orient, TheThe World of Henry Orient Stella Dunnworthy
1964 Looking for Love Paula Prentiss
1965 In Harm's Way Beverly McConnell
1965 What's New Pussycat? Liz Bien
1970 Catch-22 Nurse Duckett
1970 Move Dolly Jaffe
1971 Born to Win Veronica
1972 Last of the Red Hot Lovers Bobbi Michele
1974 Crazy Joe Anne
1974 Parallax View, TheThe Parallax View Lee Carter
1975 Stepford Wives, TheThe Stepford Wives Bobbie Markowe
1980 Black Marble, TheThe Black Marble Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman
1981 Saturday the 14th Mary
1981 Buddy Buddy Celia Clooney
2007 Hard Four Sweet Cherrie
2016 I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House Iris Blum


Year Title Role Notes
1967-68 He & She Paula Hollister Main role
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
1972 Couple Takes a Wife, TheThe Couple Takes a Wife Barbara Hamilton TV film
1977 No Room to Run Terry McKenna TV film
1977 Having Babies II Trish Canfield TV film
1979 Friendships, Secrets and Lies Sandy TV film
1980 Top of the Hill Norma Ellsworth Cully TV film
1981 Mr. and Mrs. Dracula Sonia Dracula TV series
1983 Packin' It In Dianne Webber TV film
1983 M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Lynne Wiley TV film
1992 Murder, She Wrote Leonora Holt "Incident in Lot 7"
1995 Burke's Law Carla Martinet "Who Killed the Hollywood Headshrinker?"

[ Source: Wikipedia ]