Paula Prentiss: Pussycat And Stepford Wife, Then And Now

By | December 28, 2020

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Actress Paula Prentiss in Vogue, 1968. (Photo by Bert Stern/Condé Nast via Getty Images)

Paula Prentiss' most successful films were the '60s comedies Where The Boys Are and What's New Pussycat?, as well as the '70s thrillers The Stepford Wives and The Parallax View. (Fans of the niche horror-comedy genre might also include the campy Saturday The 14th.) Prentiss is the kind of actress who always radiated star power (helped no doubt by her nearly 60 year marriage to Richard Benjamin) yet didn't have the greatest luck. She had a beloved, ahead-of-its-time sitcom (He And She, with Benjamin) but it only lasted one season. She was in films with legends like John Wayne (In Harm's Way), Rock Hudson (Man's Favorite Sport?) and Orson Welles (Catch-22), though you'd be hard-pressed to find any of them on TV these days. If you don't know who Paula Prentiss is, maybe you just weren't around in the '60s and '70s -- after all, she essentially retired from acting in 1983. But if that's the case, it's time you learned.

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Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin. Source: (CBS/Wikipedia)

Paula Prentiss, the daughter of a social sciences professor, was born Paula Ragusa in San Antonio, Texas on March 4, 1938. She initially attended Randolph-Macon Women’s College, where she was in a pre-med program. However, she attended a summer course in theater arts at Northwestern University and then transferred there in her junior year to finish her studies as a drama student. In 1959, she graduated and then began her graduate studies.