Thursday, 30 June 2011

Actress Elaine Stewart Passes On

Elaine Stewart, a model and an actress who appeared in such films as Brigadoon (1954) and The Rise of Legs Diamond (1960), passed on 27 June 2011 at the age of 81 following a lengthy illness. 

Elaine Stewart was born Elsy Steinberg on 31 May 1930 in Montclair, New Jersey. She was only a teenager when she signed a contract with the Conover Modelling Agency and adopted the name "Elaine Stewart." With measurements of 34-25-36, dark hair, and a beautiful face, Miss Stewart proved to be very popular as a model. In 1952 she was voted "Miss See" in See Magazine. She appeared in magazines ranging from Photoplay to Playboy.  It was in 1952 that producer Hal Wallis hired her to play the uncredited role of nurse Lt. Saunders in the Martin and Lewis comedy Sailor Beware. Miss Stewart then appeared in small roles in such films as Singin' in the Rain (1952), You For Me (1952), Desperate Search (1952), and Sky Full of Moon (1952).

It was her role as Lila in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) that made her film career. In a scene lasted only one minute, Miss Stewart had to saunter onto a balcony with a Martini in hand, wearing a skin tight evening gown. The beautiful brunette made an impression with the movie's audience, as MGM was deluged with mail asking who she was. That same year she would appear on the cover of  the23 March issue of Life, an accomplishment many successful actresses, let alone budding starlets, never achieved. For the next several years Elaine Stewart appeared in such films as Young Bess (1953), The Adventures of Hajii Baba (1954), The Tattered Dress (1957), Escort West (1958), and The Rise of Legs Diamond (1960). On television she appeared on The Third Man and Bat Masterson.

In the Sixties Miss Stewart appeared in the films The Most Dangerous Man Alive (1961) and Peccati d'estate (1962).  She guest starred on Burke's Law and Perry Mason. In 1964 she married game show producer Merrill Heatter and retired from the entertainment industry. She would return to show business as the co-host with Wink Martindale of the game show Gambit in 1972. In 1974 she co-hosted High Rollers with Alex Trebek.

In her early films Elaine Stewart was promoted by MGM as a "dark haired Marilyn Monroe." While my fellow fans of Miss Monroe may wish to disagree, I honestly think Elaine Stewart was more beautiful than Marilyn. It is definitely Miss Stewart's beauty that comes to mind when one thinks of her, although she was also an extremely talented actress. In The Bad and The Beautiful she played the sultry, "other woman." In The Adventures of Hajii Baba she played the caliph's daughter, Princess  Fawzia. In Night Passage (1957) she played the wife of a railroad tycoon. Elaine Stewart played these all of these diverse roles convincingly. Elaine Stewart was indeed beautiful, but she was a very good actress as well as a gorgeous pinup girl.

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