Friday, December 13, 2013

SPOTLIGHT ON INGER STEVENS

Watching an episode of "The Twilight Zone" this weekend, I was reminded of what a wonderful actress Inger Stevens was. She died way too young in 1970 at the age of 36.Inger Stevens was born Inger Stensland in Stockholm, Sweden. She was an insecure child and often ill.

When she was nine, her parents divorced and she moved with her father to New York City. At age 13, she and her father moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where she attended Manhattan High School. At 16, she worked in burlesque shows in Kansas City. At 18, she left Kansas for New York City. She worked as a chorus girl and in the Garment District while taking classes at the Actors Studio.

Stevens appeared on television series, commercials and in plays, until she got her big break in the movie Man on Fire starring Bing Crosby. Although it did not create a sensation, it led to a romance between the baritone crooner and the young Swedish-born actress. Throughout her career, Stevens displayed a propensity for falling in love with her co-stars and Bing Crosby, 31 years her senior, was no exception. The affair began after Inger suffered an appendicitis attack on the set in December of 1956. The two grew close during Crosby’s visits with her at the hospital.

Inger had hopes of marrying Crosby although she refused to convert to Catholicism for him. Soon after the release of Man on Fire, Bing invited her to supervise the renovation of his Palm Springs home. Stevens was under the mistaken impression that this was to be their matrimonial home. Unbeknownst to her, Bing was also seriously involved with another young actress named Kathryn Grant. It was while working on the house that Inger learned about Bing’s marriage to Kathryn.

Roles in major films followed, but she achieved her greatest success in the ABC television series The Farmer's Daughter, with William Windom. Previously, Stevens appeared in episodes of Bonanza, Route 66, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Eleventh Hour, Sam Benedict and The Twilight Zone.

Following the cancellation of The Farmer's Daughter in 1966, Stevens appeared in such movies as A Guide for the Married Man (1967), with Walter Matthau, Hang 'Em High, with Clint Eastwood, 5 Card Stud, with Dean Martin, and Madigan, with Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark, all in 1968. Stevens was attempting to make a comeback on television with the detective drama series The Most Deadly Game when she died.

Her first husband was her agent, Anthony Soglio, to whom she was married from 1955 to 1957. From 1961 until her death, she was secretly married to Ike Jones, an African-American actor. She was also romantically linked with Bing Crosby, Anthony Quinn, Dean Martin, Clint Eastwood, Harry Belafonte, Mario Lanza, and Burt Reynolds.

On the morning of April 30, 1970, a house guest found Stevens lying face down on her kitchen floor, having overdosed on Tedral (a combination drug of theophylline, ephedrine and phenobarbital, commonly prescribed in the treatment of breathing disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis), washed down with alcohol. After an autopsy, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean...

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