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American actress

aka Paula Ragusa

Early life
Paula Prentiss was born on March 4, 1939 in San Antonio, Texas. Her parents were emigrants from Sicily. Her father, Thomas Ragusa, worked in labor relations for an oil company.

Education and training
Paula attended Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia. While a student there, she earned a reputation as a cut-up. After leaving Virginia to attend Northwestern University, Paula became serious about studying drama. Paula Prentiss became a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority at Northwestern, and also met her future husband, Richard Benjamin. She earned her BS in drama from Northwestern in 1959.

Fast out of the gate
After college, Paula was signed to a contract by MGM, who groomed her to become a star. Her break came in 1960 when she landed a role in Where the Boys Are. Paula stayed busy, appearing in the 1961 film The Honeymoon Machine, and The Horizontal Lieutenant in 1963. She was coupled with actor Jim Hutton in several comedies. Hutton's height offset Paula's stature, as he was 6'5' compared to her 5'10'. Paula has a zany comedic bent which, coupled with her height, made her more suited to supporting roles rather than leads, though she has enjoyed both. An attractive and vivacious brunette, Paula continued to land roles. She appeared in Man's Favorite Sport? with Rock Hudson in 1964. In 1964 she had a role in The World of Henry Orient with Peter Sellers. She chased Peter O'Toole in What's New, Pussycat?, (1965).

Time out
Paula Prentiss backed away from the big screen for 5 years to concentrate on her family. During the period she forayed into TV. She appeared with her husband Richard Benjamin in the 1967-68 sitcom He and She, playing a scatterbrained social worker married to a cartoonist. The series, though short lived, acquired a core of devoted viewers.

Back into the fray
Paula Prentiss made her way back onto the silver screen in 1970, starring as the wife of Elliott Gould in the box office snoozer Move. Paula also appeared the same year in director Mike Nichols Catch-22, a film which fared much better. She appeared as a reporter who feared for her life in The Parallax View, (1974). Paula Prentiss then enjoyed what may have been her most memorable role when, in 1975, she played the female half of a young married couple who moved into idyllic Stepford, Connecticut only to discover that things weren't quite as they seemed. The Stepford Wives was a major success.

Continuing, slowly
Paula took off from acting for much of the late 70s through the early 90s to focus on rearing her children, though taking the occasional good role. Neither she nor her husband Richard seem much enamored with the glitzy lifestyle of Hollywood, preferring family over flamboyance. Paula did work in 1980 in The Black Marble. She appeared again in 1981 in Billy Wilder's last film Buddy, Buddy, as well as in a horror spoof entitled Saturday the 14th, opposite her husband Richard Benjamin. Paula was in 2 made for TV projects in 1983, Packin' it In (CBS), and M.A.D.D.:Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, (NBC). With her children grown, she has continued her career, appearing in guest shots in various projects. Her last listed appearance was once again with her husband Richard Benjamin in the 1997 off Broadway production Power Plays.

Family
Paula Prentiss married that young man she met while at Northwestern University. She and Richard Benjamin were wed on October 26, 1961 and they've been together ever since, residing in the Hollywood Hills. Paula and Richard have two children. The eldest is son Ross Thomas Benjamin, born in 1974. He was followed in 1978 by a daughter, Prentiss Benjamin.

Paula Prentiss is also the elder sister of actress Ann Prentiss.

Awards
Paula Prentiss was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1968 for her work on the TV sitcom He and She. She has also been nominated for the Golden Laurel Award in both 1961 (2 nominations), and 1962. She won 3rd place in 1961 for her work in Where the Boys Are.

Filmography

1996 Mrs. Winterbourne
1983 M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
1983 Packin' It In
1981 Saturday the 14th
1981 Buddy Buddy
1980 The Top of the Hill
1979 Friendships, Secrets and Lies
1979 The Black Marble
1978 No Room to Run
1977 Having Babies 2
1975 The Stepford Wives
1974 The Parallax View
1974 Crazy Joe
1972 The Couple Takes a Wife
1972 Last of the Red Hot Lovers
1971 Born to Win
1970 Move
1970 Catch-22
1965 In Harm's Way
1965 What's New Pussycat?
1964 Looking for Love
1964 The World of Henry Orient
1963 Man's Favorite Sport?
1963 Follow the Boys
1961 The Honeymoon Machine
1961 The Horizontal Lieutenant
1961 Bachelor in Paradise
1960 Where the Boys Are

Sources:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0696038/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Prentiss
http://www.nndb.com/people/071/000023999/
http://www.hollywood.com/celebrity/Paula_Prentiss/193083#fullBio
http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=57686&mod=films

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