Meet Stella Stevens Before She Became "Stella Stevens"

In our December issue, I tell the story of Stella Stevens, the movie star and pinup queen who was born in Mississippi but raised in Memphis. Back then, she was known as Estelle Eggleston, and she grew up in a little brick house on Carrington, just east of Highland.

As a young girl, Estelle/Stella attended St. Anne School on Highland, and at some point transferred across town to Sacred Heart School, at the corner of Jefferson and Cleveland. Although that school closed years ago, the Lauderdale Library has yearbooks from Sacred Heart, so I thought I'd share one of the pages from the 1953 annual, showing little Estelle in the 10th grade. She looks rather sad here, in her unflattering dress and saddle oxfords; I wonder if she had any idea that within just a few years she would be sharing the big screen with such stars as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis?

She got married while she was still in high school, but that didn't work out (the marriage lasted, at most, three years), and after she became a big star, the custody battles over her son, Andrew (who became a pretty big star himself when he got older), made national headlines. I only bring that up to explain why Estelle/Stella didn't graduate from Sacred Heart. Instead, she earned a diploma from a night school operated by Tech High School, and later attended Memphis State University before she made the long journey to Hollywood.

But that's all I'm going to tell you here. You really need to pick up the December issue and read the rest of the story. And to see the sexy photographs that show the rather dramatic transformation from the sad  little schoolgirl shown here, and the beauty queen that the world would soon know as Stella.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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