Pamela Helen Stephenson Connolly (born 4 December 1949) is a New Zealand clinical psychologist, writer and actress who is now a resident in both the United Kingdom and United States. She is best known for her work as an actress and comedian during the 1980s. She has written several books, which include a biography of her husband Billy Connolly, and presented a psychology-based interview show called Shrink Rap on British television.
Stephenson was born in Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. She moved to Australia in 1964 and attended the University of New South Wales and then Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art, from which she graduated in 1971. Stephenson was a regular cast member on television series Ryan. She moved to London in 1976, where she continued to perform.
Comedy and acting:
Stephenson had begun acting on television by 1972. In 1973-74, she starred as Julie King on the Australian TV series Ryan. After numerous television and film appearances, including acting the role of Josephine in the 1977 ABC production of Malcolm Williamson's opera The Violins of Saint-Jacques, she had another recurring role as Iris Reade in the UK series Funny Man (1981). She made a TV comedy sketch show pilot, "Stephenson's Rocket", which was not taken up. Probably her most widely recognized television role was in the classic 1980s UK comedy television sketch show Not The Nine O'Clock News, alongside Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones (1979-82). Her parodies included Kate Bush in a song called "Oh England, My Leotard", and Olivia Newton-John in a song called "Typical bloody typical". She also had a small part in three episodes of the British TV police drama series The Professionals. Her personal contribution as a comedian added to the success of Not the Nine O'Clock News and led to a collaboration with comedy and satire writers Mike Lepine and Mark Leigh. This spawned a book, How To Be A Complete Bitch, and a board game. In 1982-83, she starred in the West End production of Joseph Papp's version of The Pirates of Penzance.
She also featured in the American comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live (SNL) (1984-85), becoming the first female SNL cast member to have been born outside of North America. Her characters on the show included Angela Bradleigh (Weekend Update commentator) and celebrity impersonations of Madonna (in a fake commercial parodying the singer's "Lucky Star" music video), Billy Idol, Debby Douillard, Peggy Ashcroft, Joan Collins and Cyndi Lauper.
Stephenson acted in a number of films, including Private Collection (1972), Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977), The Comeback (1978), Mel Brooks's History of the World, Part 1 (1981), Superman III (1983), Bloodbath at the House of Death (1983), Finders Keepers (1984), Scandalous (1984), Ghosts Can Do It (1987), and Les Patterson Saves the World (1987).
Other media appearances:
In 1993, Stephenson hosted the Australian lifestyle program Sex.
In December 2010 Stephenson appeared in the eighth series of the BBC1 television show Strictly Come Dancing, consistently winning praise. On 4 December she received a perfect score of 10 from each of the four judges for her Viennese Waltz and became only the eighth celebrity to do so. She then reached the final along with Matt Baker and Kara Tointon. On 18 December, with dancing partner James Jordan, she came third in the competition.
Also in December 2010, Stephenson was the guest on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions, with a choice of music including Bellini, Satie and Debussy. In 2012, Stephenson travelled as a backpacker to Papua New Guinea in the Television New Zealand travel show Intrepid Journeys.
Pamela H. Connolly, PhD, is a USA-licensed clinical psychologist. In her private practice in Beverly Hills. she provided mental health care to adult individuals and couples for a range of psychological complaints. Connolly's professional specialties include human sexuality. She was founder and president of the Los Angeles Sexuality Center, an online sexual research engine which operated for five years until she moved to New York. Connolly is a past Secretary of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). In 2002 and 2003, she served as conference program co-chair of the annual AASECT Conference. Connolly is also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association and the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health.
Connolly was an adjunct professor at the California Graduate Institute (CGI) for 6 years, now a part of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She taught Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy, Advanced Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy, and Clinical Practicum in Sex Therapy. She also taught clinical hypnosis at CGI. She received her PhD in 1996 and then in 2009 received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the Robert Gordon University for her contributions to the field of human sexuality.
Connolly has completed research projects and other field studies on the gender-liminal people of Samoa, Tonga, and India. She has developed a psychometric measure, the Pre-Assessment for Trauma Plus (PAT+), to assess treatment needs in young offender populations which is now being used in some British prisons.
Connolly has presented the More4 TV show Shrink Rap, in which she conducted psychologically-based interviews with well-known people.
From the 1980s Stephenson campaigned to raise awareness of food additives and colors, particularly in children's confectionery. She appeared on the daily variety show Midday with Ray Martin (hosted by Ray Martin) and painted a picture using the colors she extracted from children's lollies in order to demonstrate how many are contained in them. She became involved in the Parents for Safe Food Movement. In 2010, Stephenson travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with the international medical aid charity Merlin to meet the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Prior to her current marriage to actor and comedian Billy Connolly, Stephenson was wed to actor Nicholas Ball. She first met Connolly in 1979 on the set of the BBC television show Not the Nine O'Clock News. The couple married in Fiji on 20 December 1989 and have three daughters together.
Stephenson started practising Buddhism in 1979.
In the United Kingdom general election, 1987, Stephenson was a candidate in the Windsor and Maidenhead constituency on behalf of the Blancmange Throwers Party - she came sixth with 328 votes.
In late 2004, she sold her house in Hollywood and spent a year on a sailing cruise around the South Pacific Ocean, following the path of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Stevenson. She said she was inspired by Fanny (also married to a Scotsman) who had convinced her husband to travel to the tropics for the sake of his fragile health. Her travels were documented in her book Treasure Islands. The boat she bought was renamed "Takapuna" after her birthplace.
A year later, she went on another voyage to discover the fate of an ancestor, a sailing captain who had disappeared in the South Seas. The voyage was the subject of a documentary for Australian television, Murder or Mutiny.
Stephenson formed a dance company in collaboration with Brazilian lambazouk dancer Braz Dos Santos, and wrote and produced a dance-drama stage production called Brazouka. Harley Medcalf was lead producer and Arlene Phillips director. The biographical show told the story of Dos Santos and his dancing. Dos Santos also performed in the show. It premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2014 and toured South Africa and Australia through January 2015.
As an author, Pamela Connolly has published seven books. Her biography Billy topped best-seller lists in Britain and several other countries. Head Case describes self-help approaches for a variety of mental health problems. She has been a regular contributor to 'Psychologies" magazine, writes a column on relationships for the Australian Women's Weekly and has a weekly sexual healing column in The Guardian, written under the name Pamela Stephenson Connolly.
Stephenson, Pamela (2002). Billy. Overlook Hardcover. ISBN 978-1-58567-308-7. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2003). Bravemouth: Living with Billy Connolly. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7553-1284-9. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2005). Treasure Islands: Sailing the South Seas in the Wake of Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7553-1285-6. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2005). Murder or Mutiny. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-1-84188-270-3. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2009). Head Case: Treat Yourself to Better Mental Health. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7553-1282-5. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2011). Sex Life: How Our Sexual Encounters and Experiences Define Who We Are. Vermilion. ISBN 978-0-09-192985-5. ,
Stephenson, Pamela (2012). The Varnished Untruth MY STORY. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-84983-921-1.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license