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In the decades before political correctness became the standard, there was quite a market for ethnic characterizations in Hollywood. Naomi Stevens capitalized on that to score a host of minor TV and film parts that required foreign accents--or at least roles that slanted heavily toward an identifiable cultural type. For decades, if a production needed an Italian mama or a Jewish matron, she was the go-to character actress for the part. Stevens's niche was a comfortable and lucrative one, carrying her through a 31-year career that covered over 100 TV episodes and films. She was equally adept at playing drama as she was at handling the tricky timing of comedy; her versatility won her roles in everything from Western series like "Rawhide" (1962) to medical procedurals such as, among numerous others, "Dr. Kildare" (1961). She could also shift easily between genre and character type on the movie screen, appearing in wildly different films like the young-actresses-in-Hollywood exploitation film "Valley of the Dolls" (1967) and the macho bare-knuckle fighter saga "Hard Times" (1975). Stevens usually appeared in one-off guest roles in TV shows, although from time to time she would stay on for a recurring part. She did the ethnic thing as Mama Rossini for multiple appearances on the popular 1960s sitcom "My Three Sons" (1969) and, as ever, shifted gears to play Sgt. Bella Archer in 20-plus episodes of the police procedural "Vega$" (1978).
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