Prentiss in As You Like It, 1963
March 4, 1938
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Richard Benjamin (m. 1961)
|Relatives||Ann Prentiss (sister)|
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.
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 leapt to fame playing the role of Tuggle in Where the Boys Are (1960). Her romantic co-star was Jim Hutton. The film was a hit and response to Prentiss and Hutton was very favorable, so MGM decided to reteam them in three more comedies, promoting them as a new William Powell and Myrna Loy: The Honeymoon Machine (1961) with Steve McQueen, Bachelor in Paradise (1961) with Bob Hope, and The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962). They were the two tallest male and female contract players at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Howard Hawks cast her as the female lead opposite Rock Hudson in Man's Favorite Sport? (1963) at Universal, her first film outside MGM. Hawks would later say: "Paula Prentiss was good, but she couldn't remember what she was doing from one shot to the next. Her shots never matched".
Prentiss appeared on stage in a production of As You Like It. She had notable roles in The World of Henry Orient (1964) and In Harm's Way (1965) and made a cameo as herself in Looking for Love (1964). She also had a strong supporting role in What's New, Pussycat? (1965) with Peter Sellers.
For one season (1967–1968), Prentiss co-starred with her husband, Richard Benjamin, in the CBS sitcom He & She. For her role, Prentiss was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy.
In 1969 she appeared Off-Broadway in the double production, Arf and The Great Airplane Snatch, directed by Benjamin.
Prentiss returned to films with a small role in Catch-22 (1970). She had the female lead in Move (1970) with Elliott Gould and Born to Win (1971) with George Segal. She was one of the leads in Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Alan Arkin. Next, Prentiss was in the made-for-television film, The Couple Takes a Wife (1972).
She was the female lead in Crazy Joe (1974) and had a small but pivotal part in The Parallax View (1974) with Warren Beatty. She was second lead in The Stepford Wives (1975), alongside Katharine Ross.
She did Saturday the 14th (1981) with her husband and was in director Billy Wilder's last film, Buddy Buddy (1981), with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. She then made Packin' It In (1983) with her husband and did the made-for-television film, M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (1983).
Prentiss guest starred on TV shows like Murder, She Wrote and Burke's Law.
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. It premiered Sept. 10, 2016 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Prentiss and actor-director Richard Benjamin were married on October 26, 1961. Besides the 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. They have two children, Ross and Prentiss.
Her younger sister Ann Prentiss (1939–2010) was also an actress.
|1960||Where the Boys Are||Tuggle Carpenter||Laurel Award for Best Female Comedy Performance|
Nominated—Top Female New Personality
|1961||The Honeymoon Machine||Pam Dunstan|
|1961||Bachelor in Paradise||Linda Delavane|
|1962||The Horizontal Lieutenant||Lt. Molly Blue|
|1963||Follow the Boys||Toni Denham|
|1964||Man's Favorite Sport?||Abigail Page|
|1964||The 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|
|1971||Born to Win||Veronica|
|1972||Last of the Red Hot Lovers||Bobbi Michele|
|1974||The Parallax View||Lee Carter|
|1975||The Stepford Wives||Bobbie Markowe|
|1980||The Black Marble||Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman|
|1981||Saturday the 14th||Mary Hyatt|
|1981||Buddy Buddy||Celia Clooney|
|2007||Hard Four||Sweet Cherrie|
|2016||I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House||Iris Blum|
|1967–68||He & She||Paula Hollister||Main role|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
|1972||The 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?"|
- Paula Prentiss- Biography, Yahoo!
- "The Word Online:2000–2001". University of the Incarnate Word. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "In Memoriam: Summer 2001". University of the Incarnate Word. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Paula Prentiss Biography". Cratonkiwi. Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Paula Prentiss". Filmbug. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- Mesinger, Maxine. "Lamar High marks 50th anniversary". Houston Chronicle. August 7, 1987. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
- "Paula Prentiss". MovieActors.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- Levy, Emanuel. "WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960): Iconic Spring Break Movie, Starring Connie Francis, Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux". EmanuelLevy.com. Emanuel Levy – Cinema 24/7. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- "Where the Boys Are (1960) Directed by Henry Levin". LETTERBOXD. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (Oct 13, 1960). "MGM Reactivates 'Spring' Musical: It's 'Early' Lerner-Loewe; Paramount Takes New Play". Los Angeles Times. p. B17.
- Paula Prentiss's commentary track on the DVD for Where the Boys Are
- Alpert, Don (July 16, 1961). "Jim and Paula: Shades of Powell, Loy?". Los Angeles Times. p. N4.
- Willis, Donald C. The Films of Howard Hawks. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 0-8108-0860-9.
- Haber, Joyce. (Oct 10, 1972). "Wanted: A Reliable Rabbit for Paula". Los Angeles Times. p. d11.
- "The Parallax View (1974) Directed by Alan J. Pakula". LETTERBOXD. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- Ebert, Roger (1 January 1975). "The Stepford Wives". RogerEbert.com. Chicago Sun-Times.
- Armstrong, Lois (February 23, 1976). "Dick Benjamin & Paula Prentiss: Their Sunshine Boy Is the Baby Who 'Made Us Grow Up'". People. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- O'Haire, Patricia (September 22, 1998). "An Off-B'way Power Couple: Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Paula Prentiss". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
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