Actress Elaine Stewart, who appeared in a number of high-profile films in the 1950s, including “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Young Bess” and “Brigadoon,” and was later co-hostess of the 1970s gameshows “Gambit” and “High Rollers,” died June 27 in Beverly Hills after a long illness. She was 81.
Stewart landed her first movie role in 1952 in the Martin and Lewis film “Sailor Beware,” and Dore Schary signed her to a contract with MGM. She made seven pics within a 12-month period in 1952.
In Vincente Minnelli’s “The Bad and the Beautiful,” she played the cynical bit player Lila, who keeps company with the leading man and the producer, played by Kirk Douglas.
In 1953, she portrayed Ann Boleyn in “Young Bess” and Julie Mollison in “Take the High Ground,” with Richard Widmark and Karl Malden. On March 22, 1953, Stewart graced the cover of Life magazine.
Stewart played talkative socialite Jane Ashton in Minnelli’s 1954 musical “Brigadoon.” That same year, she landed the leading role as a sexy harem-togged princess in “The Adventures of Hajji Baba.”
Stewart acted opposite another Stewart, Jimmy, in the 1957 Western “Night Passage.”
During the late 1950s and early ’60s the actress guested on TV shows including “Bat Masterson,” “The Third Man,” “Burke’s Law” and “Perry Mason.”
In 1964 Stewart married gameshow creator and four-time Emmy winner Merrill Heatter and retired to start a family. Heatter’s gameshow empire came to include “The Hollywood Squares,” “Gambit,” “High Rollers” and “Catch 21.”
In 1972, Stewart returned to television as co-hostess of the Heatter-Quigley gameshow “Gambit” with emcee Wink Martindale. The show was a daytime ratings winner for CBS. In the mid-’70s Stewart became co-hostess of NBC’s nighttime edition of “High Rollers,” emceed by Alex Trebek.
Stewart was born Elsy Steinberg in Montclair, N.J.
In addition to her husband of 46 years, she is survived by a son and a daughter.