Venetia Stevenson was born in 1938 in London. SShe is the daughter of actress Anna Lee and film director Robert Stevenson. When a child she moved to Hollywood with her parents who worked in U.S. movies. She made her stage debut with her mother in 1955 in “Liliom”. In the late 1850’s she began acting on film. Her films include “The Day of the Outlaw” and “Dasrby’s Rangers”. She retired from acting in movies after her marriage to Don Everly, one of The Everly Brothers. Their son is the country singer Edan Everly.
Sultry, glamorous blonde Venetia Stevenson was a British-born starlet of late 1950s Hollywood whose face was her initial fortune. A shapely, lush-lipped knockout, the camera simply adored her and, in her early years, she dotted the covers of several magazines. Her acting talent, however, never measured up and, within a few years, she willingly retired.
Born in London on March 10, 1938, Venetia came from strong entertainment stock. Her mother, actress Anna Lee, was a well-known co-star of the British cinema, and her father, director Robert Stevenson, was well-respected for his directing of such classy Grade “A” motion pictures as Nine Days a Queen (1936), King Solomon’s Mines (1937),Back Street (1941) and Jane Eyre (1943). Just prior to the beginning of WWII in Europe, the family moved to Hollywood. By 1944, her parents had divorced and Venetia, eventually, decided to live with her father and new stepmother.
Venetia’s photogenic beauty was apparent from the start. As part of the youthful Hollywood scene, she was quickly discovered and moved with ease into junior modeling work. This, plus her parents’ obvious connections, led to a natural progression into acting. Self-admittedly, she was never a confidant actress. Making her TV debut playing a corpse on Matinee Theatre (1955), she also appeared with her mother and the husband/wife team of Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl in a 1955 Arizona stage production of “Liliom”, in order to gain experience. Signed with RKO, Venetia took acting lessons and posed for publicity stills but she made little progress there. Warner Bros. eventually took her on and she made several guest appearances on TV, including that ofRicky Nelson‘s girlfriend on the popular series, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952). Other WB series work included roles on Cheyenne (1955) and 77 Sunset Strip (1958).
Venetia made her film entrance with a decorous, second-lead femme role in the WB war picture Darby’s Rangers (1958), starring James Garner, Peter Brown and Edd Byrnes. As part of the Hollywood dating swirl, there were obvious set-ups with such big stars as Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins and, even, Elvis Presley. Such a set-up led to a 1956 marriage to up-and-coming actor/dancer Russ Tamblyn, but the bloom quickly fell off the rose and the couple divorced a year later.
For the most part. Venetia was cast as a beautiful distraction in action-adventure and crime movies. Her handful of hunky movie co-stars included Jeff Richards and Guy Madison. Such routine roles in Day of the Outlaw (1959), Island of Lost Women (1959),Studs Lonigan (1960), Seven Ways from Sundown (1960), The City of the Dead (1960), which was made in her native England and released here as “Horror Hotel”, and The Sergeant Was a Lady (1961), her last, did little to boost her feelings of adequacy or her Hollywood ranking. Mother Anna Lee, who found renewed recognition as a daytime soap doyenne (“Lila Quartermaine” on General Hospital (1963)), appeared in support of her daughter in two films: Jet Over the Atlantic (1959) and The Big Night (1960). Divorced from Tamblyn, Venetia married one of The Everly Brothers, Don Everly, of “Wake Up, Little Susie” fame, in 1962. At this point, she had no qualms about retiring from the ever-competitive acting world and did so. The couple went on to have two daughters and a son. Stacy Everly and Erin Everly both dabbled in acting, and son Edan Everly delved into music as both a singer and guitarist. He also teaches music and produces/writes for other artists.
In later years, Venetia became a script reader for Burt Reynolds‘s production company and, subsequently, became vice-president of Cinema Group, a production company that made several films in the 1980s. Since her 1970 divorce from Everly, the still-beautiful lady, who enjoys horseback riding, has not remarried.
Fox News obituary in 2022:
Published November 23, 2022 8:00am EST
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Whenever Venetia Stevenson walked into a room, every man would turn his head and gawk, including Elvis Presley.
The actress and model, who was once labeled “the most photogenic girl in the world,” died in September at age 84. Tab Hunter’s longtime partner Allan Glaser confirmed to Fox News Digital that he’s producing a film about Hunter’s life in which Stevenson is prominently featured.
Her sister Caroline Stevenson spoke to Fox News Digital about how her “idol” captivated some of Hollywood’s sought-after leading men, including the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Venetia Stevenson poses with Elvis Presley at his home in Memphis. (Getty Images)
“Elvis Presley was one of the most polite, wonderful, genuine kind men she’s ever met,” said Caroline. “Of course, me being a teenager, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, is Venetia going to marry Elvis?’”
Stevenson, the daughter of “General Hospital” star Anna Lee and “Mary Poppins” director Robert Stevenson, became romantically linked to the singer in the late ‘50s. She visited him in Memphis, Tennessee, and the pair were photographed attending a screening of Presley’s 1957 film “Loving You.”
“He couldn’t have been nicer,” said Caroline. “She did go and stay with him. I know they stayed in separate bedrooms because she made it very clear that’s how she wanted it. He respected that. And she thought he was just wonderful. But nothing ever evolved beyond that. Can’t imagine why. I mean, we were all doing flip-flops whenever he walked into a room.”
“I remember he was so down-to-earth,” she continued. “He came to this little restaurant and ordered a hamburger. The waitress was just swooning. And here he is saying, ‘This food is delicious. But you’ve got to make this lettuce smaller. You’ve gotta chop it up. Chop this lettuce up, or it just falls off the hamburger.’ Meanwhile, the waitress is just fainting almost on the floor.”
Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson was born in 1938. It was around this time her father signed a contract with producer David O. Selznick, and the family traveled from London to Hollywood. At 14, Stevenson was scouted by photographer Peter Gowland on a beach in Malibu, California. Her photos soon appeared in numerous magazines, including Esquire.
In 1956, Stevenson was signed by RKO Radio Pictures. She and Bond girl Ursula Andresseven took tap-dancing lessons together. She then signed a contract with Warner Bros. Then, Popular Photography magazine named her “the most photogenic girl in the world” out of 4,000 contestants in its 1957 issue. She accepted the award on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Venetia Stevenson alongside a young Burt Reynolds, circa 1960. (CBS via Getty Images)
“I remember I was in Grand Central Station [in New York City] and I looked at the magazine stand,” Caroline recalled. “One time, I counted 46 magazine covers with my sister. She’s a chameleon. She could be Marilyn Monroe. She could be Ingrid Bergman. She could be whoever the photographer wanted her to be.
“She just had this incredible ability to make herself look completely different in each photo. Some people thought she was a little distant or reclusive. The truth is, I felt Venetia was always a little shy. And I guess some people mistook that for coldness. She had a great sense of humor. I never knew her to speak unkindly about anyone.”
As a movie star, Stevenson dated “all kinds of people,” Caroline shared. She acted as a confidant for Hunter, a Hollywood heartthrob who was closeted at the time, and “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins. Hunter was allegedly one of Perkins’ first lovers, Entertainment Weekly reported. In the 2015 documentary “Tab Hunter Confidential,” Stevenson said she served as “a beard” when she was photographed around town with the two actors.
“I remember I got to stay at her apartment one time,” Caroline recalled. “She would get a lot of phone calls, and I was able to mimic her voice. I would have about seven- to 10-minute conversations with all sorts of people who wanted to be with her. I remember there was this man who was in charge of Warner Bros. at the time, and he really wanted to date Venetia. I just had this wonderful conversation with him, mostly yes and no, but quite a lot of nos.”
Russ Tamblyn and Venetia Stevenson were married from 1956-57. (Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Stevenson said “I do” to “West Side Story” actor Russ Tamblyn on Valentine’s Day 1956. However, the relationship was short-lived, and the pair called it quits in 1957. It was at “The Ed Sullivan Show” where she met Don Everly of The Everly Brothers. They were married from 1962-70.
Stevenson and Everly had three children, including actress Erin Everly. Erin married Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose in 1990. According to reports, it was Erin who inspired the band’s hit song, “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Their marriage was annulled in 1991.
Despite having a life of glitz and glamour, Stevenson quit acting after marrying Everly.
Phil Everly, left, congratulates brother Don Everly, who married screen star Venetia Stevenson. Everly and Stevenson were married from 1962-70. (Getty Images)
“She would not mind me saying this, but my sister Venetia was not a good actress,” Caroline chuckled. “She would be the first to tell you that. She didn’t like acting. But she was under contract and when you are, it doesn’t matter whether you like acting or not. That’s just what you do. She got out as soon as her contract was done. And she was happy to get out at the time. The [studio] had its stable of celebrities. And there was so much more she wanted to do.”
Stevenson went on to serve as a script reader for Burt Reynolds’ production company. She also became a vice president at the production company Cinema Group and a manager who represented director Renny Harlan.
“I’ve never really known anything but Hollywood,” Stevenson once said. “I don’t think I could relate to a physician or an accountant. What would we talk about? I guess, when I really stop and think about it, I have lived a very narrow existence because movies are all I know.”
Tab Hunter’s longtime partner Allan Glaser confirmed to Fox News Digital he’s producing a film about the actor’s life in which Stevenson is prominently featured. Hunter died in 2018 at age 86. (Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Fighting back tears, Caroline said it was difficult watching her sister battle Parkinson’s disease shortly before her death.
“I pray for her all the time that she’s really found happiness because she had Parkinson’s in the end,” said Caroline. “And I know how hard it was for her having been so beautiful. Parkinson’s is so cruel to your body, your everything. I wish I could have given her more comfort. I still feel her loss very much.”
Stevenson’s brother, actor Jeffrey Byron, confirmed to Fox News Digital that the star died at a health care center in Atlanta.
Venetia Stevenson quit acting after marrying Don Everly, but she found herself busy pursuing new, surprising roles behind the camera. (Universal Pictures/Film Favorites/Getty Images)
“My sister was resilient in this industry,” he said. “She took life as it came to her. And when things maybe didn’t go quite her way, she was able to turn it around and find new adventures and succeed in those adventures.”
“She had an amazing life,” added Caroline. “I really idolized her. With everything that she accomplished, I’m just so happy that she was my sister.”
Stevenson is survived by Byron, Caroline and her daughter Erin, as well as another daughter, Stacy; a son, Edan; a brother, Steve; and four grandchildren