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Paula Prentiss

Paula Prentiss

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Also Known As: Paula Ragusa Died:
Born: March 4, 1938 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: San Antonio, Texas, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A vivacious brunette comic player, Paula Prentiss began in lightweight, coquettish roles in the 1960s and shifted to more meaty dramatic fare in the 70s before curtailing her career in favor of raising a family. The daughter of an Italian immigrant and his wife, Prentiss graduated from the famed acting program at Northwestern University. Spotted by talent scouts, she was put under contract at MGM, where she was frequently partnered onscreen with Jim Hutton, beginning with her debut feature "Where the Boys Are" (1960). Having conquered the teen audience, Prentiss offered what many feel is her best performance as Rock Hudson's overbearing girlfriend in Howard Hawks' "Man's Favorite Sport?" (1964) She continued to win the attention of adult moviegoers as Peter Sellers' married conquest in "The World of Henry Orient" (1964) and as a stripper chasing Peter O'Toole in "What's New Pussycat" (1965). She retired from features for five years, during which she co-starred with her husband Richard Benjamin in the CBS sitcom "He and She" (1967-68) as a scatterbrained social worker married to a cartoonist.Prentiss resumed her film career as Elliot Gould's wife in the dismal "Move" (1970). She fared better as the...

A vivacious brunette comic player, Paula Prentiss began in lightweight, coquettish roles in the 1960s and shifted to more meaty dramatic fare in the 70s before curtailing her career in favor of raising a family. The daughter of an Italian immigrant and his wife, Prentiss graduated from the famed acting program at Northwestern University. Spotted by talent scouts, she was put under contract at MGM, where she was frequently partnered onscreen with Jim Hutton, beginning with her debut feature "Where the Boys Are" (1960). Having conquered the teen audience, Prentiss offered what many feel is her best performance as Rock Hudson's overbearing girlfriend in Howard Hawks' "Man's Favorite Sport?" (1964) She continued to win the attention of adult moviegoers as Peter Sellers' married conquest in "The World of Henry Orient" (1964) and as a stripper chasing Peter O'Toole in "What's New Pussycat" (1965). She retired from features for five years, during which she co-starred with her husband Richard Benjamin in the CBS sitcom "He and She" (1967-68) as a scatterbrained social worker married to a cartoonist.

Prentiss resumed her film career as Elliot Gould's wife in the dismal "Move" (1970). She fared better as the sexy Nurse Duckett in "Catch-22" (also 1970), directed by Mike Nichols. In "The Parallax View" (1974), Prentiss shone in the brief role of a TV reporter who feared for her life after witnessing a political assassination. The following year, her natural, down-to-earth style was most apparent when she uttered her introductory line concerning her family's last name being "Marco. That's upward mobility for Markowitz" in "The Stepford Wives" (1975).

Prentiss curtailed her schedule for much of the late 70s into the early 90s to concentrate on child-rearing, although she accepted the occasional juicy role. In "The Black Marble" (1980), she was a cop romantically involved with her partner, played Jack Lemmon's wife in Billy Wilder's last feature "Buddy, Buddy" (1981) and acted opposite Benjamin in the horror spoof "Saturday the 14th" (1981). Her small screen credits include the TV-movies "Packin' It In" (CBS, 1983) and "M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Driving" (NBC, 1983). With her children grown and in college, she began to resume her career in earnest with guest appearances on "Murder, She Wrote" and "Burke's Law", an uncredited bit as a nasty nurse in the Benjamin-directed "Mrs. Winterbourne" (1996) and an L.A. stage role as a dying woman in "Angel's Share" in 1997.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Packin' It In (1983) Diana Webber
3.
 Buddy, Buddy (1981) Celia Clooney
4.
 Saturday the 14th (1981) Mary
5.
 Black Marble, The (1980) Natalie
6.
 Friendships, Secrets, and Lies (1979) Sandy Macintosh
7.
 Having Babies II (1977) Trish Canfield
8.
 The Stepford Wives (1975) Bobby Markowe
9.
 The Parallax View (1974) Lee Carter
10.
 Crazy Joe (1973) Anne
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1961:
Feature acting debut, "Where the Boys Are"
1964:
First starring feature role, "Man's Favorite Sport?", directed by Howard Hawks
1965:
Co-starred in "What's New, Pussycat?"
1967:
Starred opposite husband Richard Benjamin in the CBS sitcom "He and She"
1969:
Starred Off-Broadway in "Arf" and "The Great Airplane Snatch"
1970:
Returned to features after five years in "Move"
1970:
Played Nurse Duckett in "Catch-22", directed by Mike Nichols; Richard Benjamin also was featured
1972:
TV-movie debut, "The Couple Takes a Wife" (ABC)
1974:
Offered strong dramatic turn in "The Parallax View"
1975:
Co-starred in the thriller "The Stepford Wives"
1980:
Portrayed a cop who becomes romantically involved with her partner in "The Black Marble"
1981:
Acted with husband Richard Benjamin in the horror spoof "Saturday the 14th"
1983:
Again acted with Benjamin in the CBS TV-movie "Packin' It In"
1991:
Did guest role on "Murder, She Wrote"
1995:
Made guest appearance on the CBS TV series "Burke's Law"
1996:
Had uncredited cameo appearance as a nasty nurse in "Mrs. Winterbourne", directed by Richard Benjamin
1997:
Starred opposite Salome Jens in the L.A. production of "Angel's Share"
1998:
Returned to the New York stage opposite husband in the Off-Broadway production "Power Plays"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Randolph Macon School: -
Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois - 1959

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Richard Benjamin. Actor, director. Married on October 26, 1961; met in 1958 at Northwestern.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Thomas Ragusa. Italian immigrant.
sister:
Ann Prentiss. Convicted of assaulting her 86-year old father and of threating to kill her brother-in-law in June 1997.
son:
Ross Thomas Benjamin. Born in 1974.
daughter:
Prentiss Benjamin. Ballerina. Born c. 1978.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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