Prentiss in As You Like It, 1963
March 4, 1938
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Children||1 son, 1 daughter|
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 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.
Prentiss and actor/director Richard Benjamin wed on October 26, 1961. In 1965 while filming What's New, Pussycat in Paris, Prentiss suffered a nervous breakdown which kept her out of films for five years, returning 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 TV movies No Room to Run (made in Australia) and Packin' It In, as well as 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, Paula's deceased younger sister, was also an actress, and died in prison, having been convicted of threats directed towards her father and brother in-law.
|Film and Television|
|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|
|Bachelor in Paradise||Linda Delavane|
|1962||The Horizontal Lieutenant||Molly Blue|
|1963||Follow the Boys||Toni Denham|
|1964||Man's Favorite Sport?||Abigail Page|
|The World of Henry Orient||Stella Dunnworthy|
|Looking for Love||Paula Prentiss||Cameo as herself|
|1965||In Harm's Way||Bev McConnel|
|What's New Pussycat||Liz|
|1967-1968||He & She||Paula Hollister||26 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
|1971||Born to Win||Veronica|
|1972||Last of the Red Hot Lovers||Bobbi Michele|
|The Couple Takes a Wife||Barbara Hamilton|
|The Parallax View||Lee Carter|
|1975||The Stepford Wives||Bobbie Markowe|
|1977||Having Babies II||Trish Canfield|
|1978||No Room to Run||Terry McKenna|
|1979||Friendships, Secrets and Lies||Sandy|
|1980||The Black Marble||Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman|
|Top of the Hill||Norma Ellsworth Cully|
|Saturday Night Live||Herself—Host||Episode: Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss/The Grateful Dead|
|1981||Saturday the 14th||Mary|
|Buddy Buddy||Celia Clooney|
|1983||Packin' It In||Dianne Webber|
|1992||Murder, She Wrote||Leonora Holt||Episode: Incident in Lot #7|
|1995||Burke's Law||Carla Martinet||Episode: Who Killed the Hollywood Headshrinker?|
|1996||Mrs. Winterbourne||Maternity Nurse||cameo|
|2007||Hard Four||Sweet Cherrie||cameo|
|2016||I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House||Iris Bloom|
- 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. 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.
- Paula Prentiss's commentary track on the DVD for Where the Boys Are
- 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. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Paula Prentiss". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
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