updated 02/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST
At 26, the older daughter of Connie Stevens and Eddie Fisher isn't unnerved by a glimpse of raw Hollywood. She has, after all, already weathered pretty much everything the town has to offer: a sex-symbol mother, a drug-dependent father, a childhood lost to her parents' careers, their broken marriage and what she regards as an addiction to overeating. "I took everything on," says Joely. "I have a wisdom about me because of it."
While she admits her childhood was unusual, Joely prefers lo focus on the positive things she inherited from her parents. "I am blessed with my father's big voice and the sensitivity and bubbliness of my mom," she says. And the ambition of both of them. Says Joely, who studied musical theater at Boston's Emerson College before hitting the audition circuit: "I want to make a zillion movies, head a studio, direct."
None of which is out of the question for someone whose first wail was piped by telephone from a Burbank, Calif., delivery room to a microphone her father was holding onstage in Las Vegas. "I guess I was born to be a singer," she says with a grin.
Just over two years later, Stevens and Fisher—who had married shortly after Joely's birth—split up, and Connie took Joely and Trisha Leigh, now 25, on the road, where Joely's playmates included Lisa Marie Presley. "My mom was hanging out with Elvis, so our nannies would take us to play," Joely recalls. "My mom did say he was a great kisser."
Eddie was seldom in the picture. "Mom would go into the other room and call him and say, 'It's Joely's birthday. You should call her.' Then the phone would ring and she would go, 'Your dad's on!' " says Joely. Her sporadic contact with her father was marred by his drug addiction. "I was on a talk show with my dad, who was sitting there stoned out of his mind, and I was having to finish his sentences for him," says Joely. "It was really quite heartbreaking."
In recent years her relationship with her now drug-free father has improved. The two keep in touch with—unprompted—phone calls, and she and Trisha, also a singer and actress (Book of Love), attended his 1993 wedding reception—No. 5—to his personal assistant Betty Linn. With therapy, Joely has also come to terms with her own overeating, which she believes was her way of dealing with being the daughter of a woman who built her career on her looks. "I kept a lot of weight on so that I wouldn't have to compete with my mom," she says.
Joely now lives in a town house on her mother's 2½-acre Holmby Hills estate in L.A. (Trisha has an adjoining town house.) And she is happily involved with recording engineer Humberto Gatica, 42, whom she met three years ago while planning a singing career. "We still haven't done an album together, but we are madly in love," she says. And while her small role as a movie company employee in I'll Do Anything—which also stars Joely Richardson, the daughler of Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson—isn't likely to send her acting career soaring, Joely isn't worried. "Look, I wish my first movie was Sophie's Choice, but it's not, and that's cool," she says. "If one person likes what I do, it will be worth it."
VICKI SHEFF-CAHAN in Holmby Hills