Connie Stevens- Lifetime Achievement Award
Born in Brooklyn of Italian, Irish, and Native-American parentage with the unlikely name of Concetta Anna Ingolia, Connie Stevens was raised by grandparents when her parents (both jazz musicians) filed for divorced. She attended Catholic boarding schools in her formative years and a distinct interest in music led to her forming a vocal quartet called “The Foremost” which was comprised of Connie and three men. Those men later became part of The Lettermen. In Hollywood from 1953, Connie formed yet another vocal group “The Three Debs” while trying to break into films as an extra. Although she managed to co-star in a few mediocre teen dramas such as Young and Dangerous (1957), Eighteen and Anxious (1957), The Party Crashers (1958), and Dragstrip Riot (1958), it was comedian Jerry Lewis who set things in motion by casting the unknown starlet in his comedy Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958). Warner Bros. signed her up for their hot detective series Hawaiian Eye (1959) and she was off. As pert and pretty “Cricket Blake”, a slightly flaky and tomboyish singer/photographer, Connie became an instant teen idol — trendy and undeniably appealing. A couple of record hits came her way including “Sixteen Reasons” and the novelty song “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb”. Connie’s acting talent was light and limited, however, and some attempts at adult film drama, including the title role in Susan Slade (1961), Parrish(1961), Palm Springs Weekend (1963) and Two on a Guillotine (1965) came and went. In the 1970s, she refocused on her voice and started lining up singing commercials (Ace Hardware) while subsisting in nightclubs and hotels. Connie eventually built herself up as a Las Vegas headlining act. She also starred on Broadway with “The Star-Spangled Girl” and won a Theatre World Award for her performance in 1967. Comedian Bob Hope‘s made her one of his regular entertainers on his USO tours. Sporadic films came her way every now and then. A TV-movie The Sex Symbol (1974) had her playing a tragic Marilyn Monroe type goddess. There was also innocuous fun with Grease 2 (1982) and Back to the Beach (1987) with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Episodics onMurder, She Wrote (1984), The Love Boat (1977) and Baywatch (1989) also kept her afloat — but barely. Once wed to actor James Stacy, she later married and divorced singer Eddie Fisher. From her union with Fisher came two daughters, Joely Fisher andTricia Leigh Fisher, both of whom became actors. Single with two daughters, and completely out of sync with Hollywood, Connie started experiencing severe financial woes. In the 1990s, the never-say-die personality began a new lucrative career in the infomercial game with skin-care and make-up products. She was unbelievably successful in turning her finances around. Now a self-made tycoon with her own successful beauty line to boot, Connie is living proof that anything can happen in that wild and wacky world called show biz.
Lifetime Achievement Award – the award for actresses, directors, who have made a difference in entertainment in characters, themes, and directorial choices increasing the emotional level of audiences