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Inger Stevens Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (13)  | Personal Quotes (2)  | Salary (4)

Overview (5)

Born in Stockholm, Sweden
Died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (suicide by overdose)
Birth NameInger Stensland
Nickname Kay Palmer
Height 5' 5½" (1.66 m)

Mini Bio (2)

This enigmatic Stockholm-born beauty had everything going for her, including a rapidly rising film and TV career. Yet on April 30, 1970, at only 35, Inger Stevens would become another tragic Hollywood statistic -- added proof that fame and fortune do not always lead to happiness. Over time, a curious fascination, and perhaps even a morbid interest, has developed over Ms. Stevens and her life. What exactly went wrong? A remote, paradoxical young lady with obvious personal problems, she disguised it all with a seemingly positive attitude, an incredibly healthy figure and a megawatt smile that wouldn't quit. Although very little information has been filtered out about Ms. Stevens and her secretive life over the years, William T. Patterson's eagerly-anticipated biography, "The Farmer's Daughter Remembered: The Biography of Actress Inger Stevens" (2000), finally put an end to much of the mystery. But not quite all. The book claims that a large amount of previously-published information about Ms. Stevens is either untrue or distorted.

A strong talent and consummate dramatic player of the late 50s and 60s, she was born Inger Stensland, the eldest of three children, of Swedish parentage. A painfully shy and sensitive child, she was initially drawn to acting as a girl after witnessing her father perform in amateur theater productions. Her rather bleak childhood could be directed at a mother who abandoned her family for another man when Inger was only 6. Her father moved to the States, remarried, and eventually summoned for Inger and a younger brother in 1944 to join him and his new bride. Family relations did not improve. As a teenager, she ran away from home and ended up in a burlesque chorus line only to be brought home by her father. After graduation and following some menial jobs here and there, she moved to New York and worked briefly as a model while studying at the Actors Studio. She broke into the business through TV commercials and summer stock, rising in the ingénue ranks as a guest in a number of weekly series.

Often viewed as the beautiful loner or lady of mystery, an innate sadness seemed to permeate many of her roles. Inger made her film debut at age 22 opposite Bing Crosby in Man on Fire (1957). Serious problems set in when Inger began falling in love with her co-stars. Broken affairs with Crosby, James Mason, her co-star in Cry Terror! (1958), Anthony Quinn, her director in Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer (1958), and Harry Belafonte, her co-star in The World, The Flesh and The Devil (1959), left her frequently depressed and ultimately despondent. An almost-fatal New Year's day suicide attempt in 1959 led to an intense period of self-examination and a new resolve. A brief Broadway lead in "Roman Candle", an Emmy-nominated role opposite Peter Falk in The Dick Powell Theatre: Price of Tomatoes (1962), and popular appearances on such TV shows as Bonanza (1959), The Twilight Zone (1959) and Route 66 (1960) paved the way to a popular series as "Katy Holstrum", the Swedish governess, in The Farmer's Daughter (1963). This brisk, change-of-pace comedy role earned her a Golden Globe award and Emmy nomination, and lasted three seasons.

Now officially a household name, Inger built up her momentum once again in films. A string of parts came her way within a three-year period including the sex comedy A Guide for the Married Man (1967) as roving eye husband Walter Matthau's unsuspecting wife; Clint Eastwood's first home-made American "spaghetti western", Hang 'Em High (1968); the crime drama, Madigan (1968) with Henry Fonda and Richard Widmark; the westerns Firecreek (1968) with Fonda again plus James Stewart, and 5 Card Stud (1968) opposite Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum; the political thriller House of Cards (1968) starring George Peppard and Orson Welles; and A Dream of Kings (1969) which reunited her with old flame Anthony Quinn. Although many of her co-starring roles seemed to be little more than love interest filler, Inger made a noticeable impression in the last movie mentioned, by far the most intense and complex of her film career. Adding to that mixture were a number of well-made TV mini-movies. On the minus side, she also resurrected the bad habit of pursuing affairs with her co-stars, which would include Dean Martin and, most notably, Burt Reynolds, her last.

In April of 1970, Inger signed on as a series lead in a crime whodunit The Most Deadly Game (1970) to be telecast that September. It never came to be. Less than a week later, she was found unconscious on the floor of her kitchen by her housekeeper and died en route to the hospital of acute barbiturate intoxication -- a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol. Yvette Mimieux replaced her in the short-lived series that fall. For all intents and purposes, Ms. Stevens' death was a suicide but Patterson's bio indicates other possibilities. Following her death, it came out in the tabloids that she had been secretly married to African-American Ike Jones since 1961. The couple was estranged at the time of her death.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

As a child she moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where she lived all the way through high school. When her father moved away, she moved in with a friend and stayed. She took dance classes at Kansas State University, then moved to Kansas City, where she taught dance and first got into modeling.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: rebecca_jenny7@hotmail.com

Spouse (2)

Ike Jones (18 November 1961 - 30 April 1970) ( her death)
Anthony Soglio (9 July 1955 - 18 August 1958) ( divorced)

Trivia (13)

Following her suicide from acute barbiturate poisoning, it was revealed that Inger had been long married (from 1961) to African-American bit actor Ike Jones. The marriage, for obvious reasons, was kept under wraps to protect her career. They were estranged at the time she died.
She cheated death three times. In her first suicide attempt, she swallowed sleeping pills and ammonia which left her with blood clots in her lungs, legs swelled up to twice their size, and temporary blindness (she miraculously recovered within weeks); one time, she and Rod Steiger were nearly asphyxiated by carbon monoxide fumes while filming a scene from Cry Terror! (1958) in a tunnel (Steiger said years later she initially refused medical treatment at the scene, she said she wanted to die); and once she leaped from a crash-landing jet liner minutes before it exploded.
SPOILER: One of her best remembered TV roles was the episode The Twilight Zone: The Hitch-Hiker (1960), in which she played a frantic driver who kept passing the same hitchhiker on the road ("Going my way?"). The audience later finds out the phantom actually represented Death and that she had been killed in a car accident all along.
Was romantically involved with Bing Crosby during and after they appeared together in Man on Fire (1957). The relationship never led to marriage because Stevens refused to convert to Catholicism. When Crosby married Kathryn Grant, (who had converted) a year or two later, Stevens was devastated.
A month after her death, her widower, Ike Jones, asked to be named administrator of her estate. Her brother appeared in court to support him, and eventually was given half of the estate. He immediately gave all the money to children's charities and mental health organizations.
Replaced Barbara Bel Geddes on Broadway in "Mary, Mary" in 1962.
Was in the running but lost out on the role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) to Audrey Hepburn.
First husband, Tony Soglio, was also her first agent. They married in 1955 but separated after only six months. Since there was no community property, he was given 5% of her earnings for the next seven years upon their 1958 divorce.
When she died in 1970, she left an estate estimated at $162,000.
A 1952 graduate of Manhattan (KS) High School, she is being inducted into the MHS Hall of Fame, along with classmate Del Close (January 2007).
Aunt to actress Athena Ashburn, who was married to actor/writer/director Gabriel Bologna, who is the son of the comedy acting/writing team of Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor.
Niece of theatre and film actress Karin Stensland.
While studying at the famous Actors Studio, to earn money she became a dancer at New York's Latin Quarter nightclub.

Personal Quotes (2)

A career, no matter how successful, can't put its arms around you. You end up being like Grand Central Station with people just coming and going. And there you are--left all alone.
Once I felt that I was one person at home and the minute I stepped out the door I had to be somebody else. I had a terrific insecurity and extreme shyness that I covered up with coldness. Everybody thought I was a snob. I was really just plain scared.

Salary (4)

Man on Fire (1957) $600 per week
Cry Terror! (1958) $600 per week
The Buccaneer (1958) $600 per week
The World, The Flesh and The Devil (1959) $600 per week

See also

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