Singer and actress Kaye Stevens, most notable for going on tour with the Rat Pack, died Wednesday from breast cancer and blood clots at Villages Hospital in central Florida at the age of 79, according to reports. Close friend Gerry Schweitzer confirmed the death.
Stevens performed with Rat Pack members including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop and also sang solo at venues such as Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and the Plaza Hotel's Persian Room and Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
Stevens acting career started in film with the 1962 film The Interns, and she also appeared in that movie's 1964 sequel, The New Interns, earning a Golden Globe nomination. Stevens also was a regular celebrity player on game shows such as Hollywood Squares and The Price is Right. She also acted in television, appearing as a regular on Days of Our Lives from 1974-79. She final onscreen appearance was in 1992 in the TV movie Miss America: Behind the Crown.
During a singing gig in New Jersey, Johnny Carson's longtime sidekick Ed McMahon discovered Stevens, which led to new bookings. Her big singing break came when she was playing a lounge at The Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. Stevens filled in for Debbie Reynolds, who became ill and was unable to perform in the main room, and became a big hit.
Stevens also went on a USO tour with Bob Hope in 1965, performing for American soldiers in the war zone to boost morale.
According to a handout from friend Rhonda Glenn, Stevens was born Catherine Louise Stephens in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her family eventually moved to Cleveland, where a teenage Stevens got her start in the music business as a drummer and singer. She later married bandleader and trumpet player Tommy Amato, who is now deceased, and the two performed throughout the eastern U.S.
During the past two decades, Stevens started her own ministry, where she began performing only Christian and patriotic music. She also staged benefits to help build St. Vincent Catholic Church in Margate, Fla., her longtime home, where city officials named a park in her honor.
Watch Kaye Stevens on Match Game, another game show she appeared on, below: