Meet Estelle Eggleston — Better Known as the Movie and TV Actress Stella Stevens



The beaches of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have been drawing Memphians to their gleaming white sands and clear blue waters for decades, and the Lauderdale Library contains an album of photos that capture quiet scenes from young Estelle Eggleston's vacation at a tranquil little Florida motel called the Palmetto Court.

If you don't recognize the girl, or the beach, it's because both have changed rather dramatically since this grainy photograph was taken in the early 1950s. Young Estelle grew up, and today she's better known as movie and TV actress Stella Stevens. The snapshots came from a photo album purchased from her mother's estate sale in Memphis back in the late 1990s.

Built in the early 1920s, Palmetto Court remained one of the few family-owned motels outside Panama City, Florida, for years. Today, this empty beach is lined with hundreds of motels, hotels, high-rise condos, and other developments that stand side-by-side along what has come to be called the Miracle Strip. In the midst of it all, the Palmetto Court has survived, though I doubt young Estelle would recognize it, since it's greatly expanded and now called The Palmetto Inn and Suites.

And Stella? She's still around, and recently started a line of fragrances called "Sexy." She also has her own website devoted to her long career. Go here to learn more about the young girl from Memphis who went on to fame and fortune in such movies as The Nutty Professor and The Poseidon Adventure.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: 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. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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