Who was Inger Stevens?
The late Swedish-American actress Inger Stevens was born as Ingrid Stensland in Stockholm, Sweden, on 18 October 1934, meaning that Libra was her zodiac sign. She appeared in 56 TV series and movies, and is perhaps still remembered best for portraying the lead character Rachel Warren in the 1968 western “Hang ‘Em High”, which also starred Clint Eastwood and Pat Hingle, and was directed by Ted Post. It follows a man who’s survived a lynching, and has now returned as a lawman wanting revenge.
Inger was found on the kitchen floor of her Hollywood Hills home by her roommate Lola McNally on 30 April 1970; she died on the way to the hospital, and the cause of her death was ruled a ‘suicide by acute barbiturate poisoning’.
Education and early life
For the first six years of her life, Inger was raised alongside her brothers Ola and Peter in Stockholm, by their mother Lisbet Stensland and father Per Gustaf; Lisbet abandoned the family when Inger was six, taking her son Peter with her. Their father moved to the US a year later, leaving Inger and Ola to be raised by the family’s maid, and later by their aunt in Lidingö, Sweden.
It was in 1944, when Inger was 10 that she and Ola moved to New York City, USA, to live with their father and his new wife; they moved to Manhattan, Kansas when Inger was 13, as her father was invited to teach at Kansas State University. She fell in love with acting while attending a local elementary school, appearing in a number of plays performed there.
Inger enrolled at Manhattan High School in 1948, but fled to Kansas City a year later; she performed in a number of burlesque shows for the following three years, and aged 18 returned to New York City in pursuit of acting roles, meantime honing her skills at the Actors Studio.
Roles in TV series
Inger’s debut TV series role was playing Jana in the 1954 episode “Thunder of Silence” of the drama “Goodyear Playhouse”, and the same year saw her appear in an episode of the drama “Armstrong Circle Theatre”, the comedy “Mister Peepers”, and the drama “Danger”.
In 1954 and 1955, she played Lucy Henderson in three episodes of the popular drama “Studio One”, which starred Betty Furness and Paul Branson, and was created by Fletcher Markle. It’s a compilation of short drama series, aired from 1948 through 1958, and won seven of its 24 award nominations. The remainder of the ‘50s saw Inger appear in an episode of many series, including the horror mystery “Matinee Theatre”, the drama “Crusader”, and another drama “Conflict”.
From 1963 through 1966, she starred as Katy Holstrum in all 101 episodes of the comedy “The Farmer’s Daughter”, which also starred William Windom and Cathleen Nesbitt, and follows Katrin ‘Katy’ Holstrum who’s been hired by Congressman Glen Morley as a governess for his sons Danny and Steve; the series won one of its five award nominations.
Inger had only one TV series role, playing Vanessa Smith in the 1970 episode “Zig Zag” of the drama “The Most Deadly Game”.
Roles in movies
Inger’s debut film role was playing the lead character Nina Wylie in the 1957 drama “Man on Fire”, which also starred Bing Crosby and Mary Fickett, and was written and directed by Ranald MacDougall. It follows a wealthy businessman whose wife’s just divorced him, while he’s now forbidding her to see their child. The remainder of the ‘50s saw Inger appear in the 1958 crime thriller “Cry Terror!”, the 1958 historical adventure “The Buccaneer”, and the 1959 romantic science fiction “The World, the Flesh and the Devil”.
In 1964, she starred as Nancy Terman in the drama “The New Interns”, which also starred Dean Jones and Michael Callan, and was directed by John Rich. It follows the lives of several interns, nurses and doctors working at a major US hospital, and it won a 1965 Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Male, for George Segal.
Inger’s final three movie roles were in the 1969 drama “A Dream of Kings”, the 1970 adventure “The Mask of Sheba”, and the 1970 adventure thriller “Run, Simon, Run”.
Inger sang the song “A Lass from the Low Country” in a 1966 episode of the talk-show “The Danny Kaye Show”; some of her other talk-show appearances were in “The Joey Bishop Show”, “The Dick Cavett Show”, and “Personality”.
Awards and nominations
Inger won one of her six award nominations: a 1964 Golden Globe for Best TV Star – Female, for her performance in “The Farmer’s Daughter”.
She was also nominated for a 1964 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead), for “The Farmer’s Daughter”, a 1967 Photoplay Award for Favorite Female Star, and a 1968 Laurel Award for Female Comedy Performance, for “A Guide for the Married Man”.
Love life and relationships
Inger was married twice. Her first husband was American non-celebrity Anthony Soglio, who was also her agent; they married on 9 July 1955, and their divorce was finalized on 18 August 1958.
It was only revealed after her death that she and the late American actor and producer Isaac Lolette ‘Ike’ Jones had married in secret in Mexico in 1961; these were Ike’s claims, and most people doubted this because there was no marriage license, the two maintained separate homes, and filed their taxes as single people. Inger’s half-brother Carl O. Stensland revealed when it was time for her estate to be settled that she was indeed married to Ike, and that they kept it a secret because she feared for her career, as Ike was black and people weren’t supportive of interracial marriages.
Ike was named the administrator of Inger’s estate by Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner A. Edward Nichols, and he gave all of it away to mental health organizations and children’s charities, believing that it was what Inger would’ve wanted.
Inger was also once in a relationship with the late American actor, singer and producer Bing Crosby; they didn’t marry only because Inger didn’t want to convert to Catholicism.
There are no other men whom Inger had dated, that we know about; she was married to her second husband Ike Jones at the time of her passing, and had no children.
Interesting facts and hobbies
Inger’s second husband Ike was the first black person to receive a degree from the University of California, Los Angeles’ School of Theatre, Film and Television.
California governor Edmund G. ‘Pat’ Brown appointed Inger to the advisory board of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute in January 1966, while she later became the chairman of the California Council for Retarded Children.
Inger’s aunt Karin Stensland Junker authored the book “The Child in the Glass Ball”.
There’s only a single picture of Inger and Ike together, showing them spending time at a banquet in 1968.
Inger had cheated death thrice. She once tried to commit suicide by swallowing sleeping pills; she had blood clots in her lungs and suffered temporary blindness. Inger and the late American actor Rod Steiger were close to asphyxiating in a tunnel while shooting a scene for the 1958 movie “Cry Terror!” The third time was when she jumped out of a crash-landing jet, only a couple of minutes before it exploded.
Inger worked as a dancer at a New York City’s Latin Quarter nightclub while attending Actors Studio.
Height, eyes and wealth
Inger was 35 at the time of her death, and would’ve been 88 today. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, was 5ft 5ins (1.66m) tall and weighed around 120lbs (54kgs).
Inger’s net worth was estimated at over $1 million at the time of her passing.