Venetia Stevenson

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Venetia Stevenson
VenetiaSilverScreen.jpg
Stevenson pictured in Silver Screen magazine, 1956
Born
Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson

(1938-03-10)10 March 1938
London, England
Died26 September 2022(2022-09-26) (aged 84)
OccupationActress
Years active1957–2022
Spouse(s)
(m. 1956; div. 1957)

(m. 1962; div. 1970)
Children3, including Edan Everly
Parents
RelativesJeffrey Byron (half-brother)

Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson (10 March 1938 – 26 September 2022) was a British-American actress.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1938 in London, England, as Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson, she was the daughter of film director Robert Stevenson and actress Anna Lee. The family moved to Hollywood within a year of her birth after her father signed a contract with film producer David O. Selznick.[1] When her parents divorced in 1944, she stayed with her father and new stepmother, Frances.[2] After an education in exclusive Californian private schools,[3] her theatrical debut was with her mother in Liliom, a play produced by the Sombrero Theater, in Phoenix, Arizona, in April 1955 and with the husband-and-wife team of Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl.[4]

A one-time Miss Los Angeles Press Club,[5] Stevenson was placed on contract by RKO Pictures in November 1956.[6] Hedda Hopper named Stevenson on her list of top movie newcomers in January 1957, alongside Jayne Mansfield. Hopper said of Stevenson, then 18, she is "the most purely beautiful of all the new crop of stars."[7]

Film and television actress[edit]

On 13 March 1957, Stevenson was cast in CBS's Playhouse 90 adaptation of Charley's Aunt, with Tom Tryon, Jackie Coogan, and Jeanette MacDonald.[8]

On 12 November 1957, Stevenson appeared as Kathy Larsen in the episode "Trail's End" of the ABC/Warner Bros. Western series, Sugarfoot. In the story, Kathy is a former childhood sweetheart of Tom Brewster's, played by series star Will Hutchins, though Stevenson is eight years younger than Hutchins. She is managing a dance hall to his consternation. Chris Alcaide plays the corrupt Clay Horton, who forces Kathy to marry him so she cannot testify in court regarding Horton's numerous crimes. Barbara Stuart is cast as Muriel, Kathy's business partner. Gordon Jones plays Sugarfoot's lively friend, Wasco Wolters, who has a romantic interest in Muriel. This episode reveals that Tom Brewster spent his childhood in Vermont before coming to the Oklahoma Territory. Stevenson subsequently appeared in two other Sugarfoot episodes, including "Brink of Fear" (1958) with fellow co-stars Jerry Paris, Harry Antrim, Allen Case, and Don Gordon.

Stevenson played Peggy McTavish in the film Darby's Rangers (1958), a Warner Bros. release in which she was paired with Peter Brown. She is one of the women pursued by actors cast as members of an American unit of the same name during World War II. The movie was directed by William Wellman.[9]

Stevenson's publicity machine continued to promote her. She was reported enjoying riding horses as an activity[10] and playing table tennis.[6] In November 1957, she won $300 in prizes at a horse show and participated at the National Horse Show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.[11] Around this time, she became the face on Sweetheart Stout cans and bottles; the brand marked the 50th anniversary of using her image in 2008.[12]

She appeared in the Western drama Day of the Outlaw (1959), starring Robert Ryan and Tina Louise.[13] Stevenson also had a primary role in the film version of the Studs Lonigan trilogy by James T. Farrell, brought to the screen in December 1960.[14]

Among the other motion pictures in which she appears are Island of Lost Women (1959), Jet Over the Atlantic (1959), The Big Night (1960), Seven Ways from Sundown (1960), The City of the Dead (or Horror Hotel, 1960), and The Sergeant Was a Lady (1961).[citation needed]

Stevenson appeared on television in episodes of Cheyenne (1957), Colt .45 (1958), 77 Sunset Strip (1958), The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1958), Lawman (1958), The Millionaire (1959), The Third Man (1959), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960) alongside Burt Reynolds and Harry Dean Stanton.[citation needed]

She appeared in Back to the Future Part II (1989) as the cover girl of the Oh Lala magazine.

Sweetheart Stout[edit]

The same photo of Stevenson has appeared on cans and bottles of Sweetheart Stout beer since 1958.[12][15]

Personal life[edit]

Marriages and relationships[edit]

Stevenson with Russ Tamblyn on their wedding day, 1956

Stevenson married MGM actor-dancer Russ Tamblyn on Valentine's Day, 1956, shortly after her half-brother, actor Jeffrey Byron, was born to her mother. She was 17 when Tamblyn and she had their wedding in the Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes.[16] Stevenson and Tamblyn divorced in April 1957,[2] but the two remained friends.[17] A widely reproduced photograph shows Stevenson calmly walking down a Los Angeles street, seemingly unaware that Tamblyn is doing a spectacular backward aerial handspring a few inches away from her.[citation needed]

Stevenson had a year-long affair with actor Audie Murphy, which began when they co-starred in Seven Ways from Sundown in 1960.[18]

Stevenson remarried, to Don Everly, in 1962 and retired from acting and modelling. She had often complained about how much she hated acting.[18] The couple had two daughters, Stacy and Erin Everly, both model/actresses, and a son, Edan Everly, a musician. She divorced Don Everly in 1970 and never remarried. Erin, the ex-wife of rocker Axl Rose, was the inspiration for several Guns N' Roses songs, including "Sweet Child o' Mine", where she also appeared in the video.[citation needed]

Friendships and publicity romances[edit]

Despite not having a starring role in a film before 1958, Stevenson was incredibly popular in fan magazines. She was labelled "the most photogenic girl in the world" and went in rounds of dates;[19] however, most of the men she went out with were only friends to her.

In his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: the Making of a Movie Star, Tab Hunter, with whom she frequently dated,[19] admitted that she was a large part of his and his then-boyfriend, Anthony Perkins's, social life, "acting as a 'beard' when we double-dated."[20] Although their relationship was an open secret in Hollywood,[21] Stevenson acted as a confidant for Perkins during the course of their romance. "[C]ertainly, we all knew Tony [Perkins] was gay," Stevenson admitted to a Perkins biographer. "...We were real friends, and he would sleep over at my house in the same bed. But there was never, ever any... well, you know. If you have a friend of the opposite sex who's gay, it's just up in the air."[22]

Death[edit]

Stevenson died on 26 September 2022, at a health care facility in Atlanta from Parkinson’s disease.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fredda Dudley "The Beautiful British", Photoplay/Movie Mirror, May 1943
  2. ^ a b "Film's Venetia Stevenson Wins Divorce", Los Angeles Times, 2 April 1957, p. B1
  3. ^ "Dream Girl Venetia's Career Is Nightmare", Los Angeles Times, 10 May 1959, p. E1
  4. ^ "Lamas, Dahl Praised For 'Liliom'", Los Angeles Times, 2 April 1955, p. 15
  5. ^ "Mayor Will Crown Miss Press Club", Los Angeles Times, 16 July 1961, p. G10
  6. ^ a b "Grossinger News-Notes", New York Times, 11 November 1956, p. 175
  7. ^ "Hedda Hopper Names Top Movie Discoveries During 1956", Los Angeles Times, 6 January 1957, p. E1
  8. ^ "Terhune Stories Will Be TV Series", New York Times, 13 March 1957, pg. 63
  9. ^ "Screen: Amorous G.I.'s", New York Times, 13 February 1958, pg. 23
  10. ^ Louella Parsons, Lincoln Evening Journal, 26 July 1959, p. 18
  11. ^ "Venetia's Only in Love with Riding Horses", Los Angeles Times, 3 November 1957, pg. F1
  12. ^ a b "Sweetheart Stout: 1958–2008". Tennent's Lager Lovelies Archive. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Day of the Outlaw Snowbound Western", 10 September 1959, p. C15
  14. ^ "Columbia To Back Italian Producer", New York Times, 14 December 1960, pg. 51
  15. ^ Pattinson, Ron (January 2012). "Scottish Sweet Stout". BeerAdvocate. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Actor-Model To Wed on Valentine's Day", Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram, 12 February 1956, p. 12
  17. ^ "Hedda Hopper Hollywood", The Lima News, 4 July 1959, p. 19
  18. ^ a b Larkins, Bob and Boyd Magers (2004). The Films of Audie Murphy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 157–58. ISBN 978-0786417612. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  19. ^ a b 'Tab Hunter Confidential', pg 136.
  20. ^ 'Tab Hunter Confidential', pg 137.
  21. ^ Bernal, Bryan (24 August 2016). "'50s Heartthrob Tab Hunter Says His Homosexuality was the Worst-Kept Secret in Hollywood". Attitude. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  22. ^ Winecoff, Charles (1996). Split Image: The Life of Anthony Perkins. New York City: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94064-2.
  23. ^ Venetia Stevenson, Actress Once Called “The Most Photogenic Girl in the World,” Dies at 84

External links[edit]