Paula Prentiss


Actor
Paula Prentiss

About

Also Known As
Paula Ragusa
Birth Place
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Born
March 04, 1938

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 contra...

Photos & Videos

Family & Companions

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

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 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.

Life Events

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"

Photo Collections

Man's Favorite Sport? - Movie Posters
Man's Favorite Sport? - Movie Posters
Where the Boys Are - Publicity Stills
Here are a number of publicity stills from Where the Boys Are (1960), starring George Hamilton and Yvette Mimieux. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Bachelor In Paradise (1961) - It's Not A Wig Young-married Linda (Paula Prentiss) fails in her attempt to renew romance with husband Larry (Jim Hutton), seeking help from do-gooder Rosemary (Lana Turner), who's already assisting Bob Hope, who still hasn't revealed that he's the reviled writer Niles, in Bachelor In Paradise, 1961.
Horizontal Lieutenant, The (1962) - I Thought You Were A Girl Before the credits Jim Hutton as Lt. Wye narrated his situation, stationed in quiet Hawaii in the later years of WWII, then a bench-warmer beaned by a foul ball on the squad baseball team, awakens to find himself attended by a gal from college (Paula Prentiss), who seems far sexier now, in The Horizontal Lieutenant, 1962, the fourth and final Hutton-Prentiss picture from MGM.
Follow The Boys (1963) - A Cheap Rolls-Royce Shooting pretty clearly on the waterfront in Cannes, Americans Liz and Bonnie (Janis Paige, Connie Francis) have just met, miffed because the ship carrying their men has been diverted to Italy, joined by French Michele (Dany Robin) and another yank Toni (Paula Prentiss), and improvising, early in Follow The Boys, 1963.
Follow The Boys (1963) - It's An Italian Baby Stranded in an Italian village with car trouble (Eric Pohlmann their farmer host), aiming to meet the U.S. Navy ship carrying their beaus, French Michele (Dany Robin) and Americans Liz, Toni and Bonnie (Janis Paige, Paula Prentiss and Connie Francis, born Concetta Rosemarie Franconero, in Newark, NJ), pull together, in MGM’s Follow The Boys, 1963.
Horizontal Lieutenant, The (1962) - Don't Get Any Ideas Lt. Merle Wye (Jim Hutton), now in his housecoat, has just barely prevailed on his ex-college acquaintance now popular Army nurse Molly (Paula Prentiss) for a friendly date before he’s posted to a remote Pacific island, until she finds out he’s not being all that brave, in MGM’s The Horizontal Lieutenant, 1962.
Honeymoon Machine, The (1961) - Someone's Giving You Rome? In the casino in Venice gathering roulette data for the computer-gambling scam being arranged by his Navy buddy (Steve McQueen), Jim Hutton as scientist Jason spies nearsighted knockout Pam (Paula Prentiss, in their third film together for MGM), then her ball/chain Tommy (William Lanteau) in The Honeymoon Machine, 1961.
Bachelor In Paradise (1961) - Romance Languages Dropped off by real estate lady co-star Lana Turner, Bob Hope as the under-cover playboy author of racy lifestyle books meets Linda (Paula Prentiss), neighbor in "Paradise Valley," where he's just become the only bachelor and lessee, in Bachelor In Paradise, 1961.
World Of Henry Orient, The (1964) - Beautiful White Nurses Director George Roy Hill's idyllic Central Park in which Marian (Merrie Spaeth) awaits Valerie (Tippy Boyd) who together have their first encounter with the title character (Peter Sellers) and girlfriend Stella (Paula Prentiss), in The World Of Henry Orient, 1964.
What's New, Pussycat? (1965) - I Saw Your Lips Standing There Screenwriter Woody Allen as Parisian Victor, not quite able to take advantage of Carole (Romy Schneider), the discouraged fianceè of his commitment-averse fashion editor pal Michael (Peter O’Toole), who meantime attempts a last fling with neurotic stripper Liz (Paula Prentiss), in What’s New, Pussycat?, 1965.
Stepford Wives, The (1975) - Here In Ajax Country Bobbie Markowe (Paula Prentiss) fairly bounds into the picture, delighted to meet her fellow new citizen Joanna (Katharine Ross), both of them happy to discover they're not the only ones wondering what's up in this town, early in The Stepford Wives, 1975.
Stepford Wives, The (1975) - That's Why We're Moving! Something of an artful opening from director Bryan Forbes, Katharine Ross clearly ambivalent about leaving New York, Peter Masterson her more enthusiastic husband, opening The Stepford Wives, 1975, from the popular Ira Levin novel, featuring Paula Prentiss and Patrick O'Neal.
Stepford Wives, The (1975) - I'll Just Die If I Don't Get This Recipe Dale (Patrick O'Neal), the former Disney engineer, seems the life of the pool party, as non-conforming new gals Joanna (Katharine Ross) and Bobbie (Paula Prentiss) arrive and Carol (Nanette Newman) appears to malfunction, one of the first indisputably weird events in The Stepford Wives, 1975.

Trailer

Follow the Boys (1963) - (Original Trailer) If Connie Francis and Paula Prentiss want to return to Where The Boys Are, they'll have to Follow The Boys (1963) in this similar follow-up.
Parallax View, The - (Textless Trailer) A reporter (Warren Beatty) uncovers a corporation that manages political assassinations in The Parallax View (1974).
Horizontal Lieutenant, The - (Original Trailer) During World War II, inept intelligence officer Jim Hutton falls hard for military nurse Paula Prentiss in The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962).
Looking For Love - (Original Trailer) Promising singer Connie Francis has to choose between show business and marriage while Looking For Love (1964).
Honeymoon Machine, The - (Original Trailer) Two sailors discover a way to beat the roulette tables in a Venice casino in The Honeymoon Machine (1961), starring Steve McQueen.
Buddy, Buddy - (Original Trailer) A suicidal neurotic (Jack Lemmon) keeps getting between a hit man (Walter Matthau) and his job in Buddy, Buddy (1981).
Bachelor in Paradise - (Original Trailer) A writer moves into a housing development to study married couples in Bachelor in Paradise (1961) with Bob Hope & Lana Turner.
In Harm's Way - (Original Trailer) Director and Producer Otto Preminger plays showman in a cute and action-packed trailer for In Harm's Way, 1965, starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Patricia Neal.
World of Henry Orient, The - (Original Trailer) Peter Sellers is a womanizing pianist dogged by the obsession of two young girls in The World Of Henry Orient (1964).
Man's Favorite Sport? - (Original Trailer) Director Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby) made his last screwball comedy with Rock Hudson as a fishing expert who can't fish!

Family

Thomas Ragusa
Father
Italian immigrant.
Ann Prentiss
Sister
Convicted of assaulting her 86-year old father and of threating to kill her brother-in-law in June 1997.
Ross Thomas Benjamin
Son
Born in 1974.
Prentiss Benjamin
Daughter
Ballerina. Born c. 1978.

Companions

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

Bibliography