Connie Stevens

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Connie Stevens
Connie Stevens - still.jpg
Stevens in the 1960s
BornConcetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia
(1938-08-08) August 8, 1938 (age 80)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress, director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, singer
Years active1955–present
Spouse(s)
James Stacy
(m. 1963; div. 1966)

Eddie Fisher
(m. 1967; div. 1969)
ChildrenJoely Fisher
Tricia Leigh Fisher
RelativesJohn Megna (half-brother)

Connie Stevens (born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia; August 8, 1938) is an American actress, director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and singer. She played the role of "Cricket" Blake in the television series Hawaiian Eye.

Early life[edit]

Stevens was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of musician Peter Ingoglia (known as Teddy Stevens) and singer Eleanor McGinley. Her mother was of half Irish and half Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.[1] Stevens is of Italian, Irish, German-Jewish and Polish-Jewish descent. She adopted her father's stage name of Stevens as her own. Her parents divorced and she lived with her grandparents and attended Catholic boarding schools.[1] Actor John Megna (1952–1995) was her half-brother.

At the age of 12, she witnessed a murder in Brooklyn and was sent to live with family friends in Boonville, Missouri.[2]

Coming from a musical family, Stevens joined the singing group called The Fourmost[3] with Tony Butala, who went on to fame as founder of The Lettermen. Stevens moved to Los Angeles with her father in 1953.

When she was 16, she replaced the alto in a singing group, The Three Debs.[3] She enrolled at a professional school (The Georgia Massey Professional School in the San Fernando Valley), sang professionally, and appeared in local repertory theater.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Stevens started working as a movie extra and stand-in.

Early films[edit]

Her first notable film role was in Young and Dangerous (1957) with Mark Damon, a low budget teen movie. She could also be seen in Eighteen and Anxious (1957); an episode of The Bob Cummings Show ("Bob Goes Hillbilly"); and a teen car chase movie, The Reckless Age (1958) aka Dragstrip Riot.

Stevens' big break came when Jerry Lewis saw her in the latter and recommended her for Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958) as the young girl who loves Lewis, made at Paramount.[4][5] In December 1957 she signed a seven year contract with Paramount starting at $600 a week going up to $1,500 a week.[6]

Stevens made another film with Damon, The Party Crashers (1958), also at Paramount. Paramount dropped her.

Warner Bros and Hawaiian Eye[edit]

Like many Warners contract players, Stevens was kept busy guest-starring on their regular TV shows like The Ann Sothern Show, Maverick, Tenderfoot, 77 Sunset Strip and Cheyenne.

In May 1959 she signed a seven year contract with Warners starting at $300 a week.[7]

Stardom came when she was cast as Cricket Blake in the popular television detective series Hawaiian Eye from 1959 to 1963,[8] a role that made her famous; her principal costar was Robert Conrad.

First televised on December 23, 1960, she appeared (uncredited) in "The Dresden Doll", Episode 15 of Season 3 of "77 Sunset Strip" as her character from "Hawaiian Eye," Cricket Blake.[9]

In a televised interview on August 26, 2003, on CNN's Larry King Live, Stevens recounted that while on the set of Hawaiian Eye she was told she had a telephone call from Elvis Presley. "She didn't believe it, but in fact it was Elvis, who invited her to a party and said that he would come to her house and pick her up personally"; they subsequently dated.[10]

With James Garner in Maverick (1959)

Music career[edit]

Stevens' first album was titled Concetta (1958). She had minor single hits with the standards "Blame It On My Youth" (music by Oscar Levant and lyrics by Edward Heyman), "Looking For A Boy" (music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin), and "Spring Is Here" (music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart).[citation needed]

She appeared opposite James Garner in a comedy episode of the TV Western series Maverick entitled "Two Tickets to Ten Strike," and after making several appearances on the Warner Bros. hit TV series 77 Sunset Strip, she recorded the hit novelty song "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" (1959), a duet with one of the stars of the program, Edd Byrnes,[1] that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. She and Byrnes also appeared together on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.[citation needed]

She had hit singles as a solo artist with "Sixteen Reasons" (1960), her biggest hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, (#9 in the UK) and a minor #71 hit "Too Young to Go Steady" (1960) (music by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Harold Adamson). Other single releases were "Apollo",[11]"Why'd You Wanna Make Me Cry?", "Something Beautiful," "Mr. Songwriter," "Now That You've Gone,"[citation needed] and "Keep Growing Strong" (which was remade by the Stylistics under the title "Betcha by Golly, Wow").[12]

Film Stardom[edit]

Stevens' popularity on the small screen and as a recording star encouraged Warners to try her in films. She starred in three films for the studio, all opposite Troy Donahue: Parrish (1961), as a rural girl; Susan Slade (1962), playing the title role, an unwed mother; and Palm Springs Weekend (1963), a teen romantic comedy.[13] In 1962 Warners suspended her briefly for refusing to go on a publicity tour.[14] She performed in Wizard of Ozon stage in Kansas.[15]

When Hawaiian Eye ended Stevens guest-starred on Temple Houston and The Red Skelton Show. She played the lead in a horror film, Two on a Guillotine (1965), for Warners.

Stevens later starred as Wendy Conway in the television sitcom Wendy and Me (1964–1965) with George Burns, who also produced the show with Warners and played an older man who watched Wendy's exploits upstairs on the TV in his apartment.[1] She had a percentage of the show, and had three and a half years left on her contract with Warners. She said, "I've done the teenage epics... and want to move up into something like Virginia Woolf or Any Wednesday. I want to be a big star but do I have to throw tantrums and behave badly to get there? Can't I just be talented and work hard and be happily married?"[16]

Stevens had the juvenile lead in Never Too Late (1965), released by Warners. She signed a new contract with Warners to make one film a year for six years.

She made reprised her stage performance of Wizard of Oz at Carousel Theatre, California, then followed it with Any Wednesday, at Melodyland, Anaheim California. Stevens was reunited with Lewis in Way... Way Out (1966).[17][18]

Star Spangled Girl[edit]

Stevens starred in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl with Anthony Perkins and Richard Benjamin in 1966.[19][20]

Stevens continued to appear on TV in shows like ABC Stage 67, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and Love, American Style.

Tired of playing air-headed girls in her movies, Stevens got into nightclub work in Las Vegas in 1968. It was well received and she would regularly play Las Vegas.[21][22]

TV Movies[edit]

Stevens had a small role in a TV movie The Littlest Angel (1969). She made Mister Jerico (1970) for British TV and had a support role in The Grissom Gang (1971).

Stevens starred in the TV movies Call Her Mom (1972), Playmates (1972), Every Man Needs One (1972), and The Sex Symbol (1974).[23]

She turned down the Valerie Perrine role in Lenny because of its nudity.[22]

She had the lead in a feature Scorchy (1976).[24]

In the 1970s, Stevens started singing the Ace Is The Place theme song on Ace Hardware TV commercials in Southern California, and was a guest on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast a few times.

In the spring of 1977, Stevens appeared in a first-season episode of The Muppet Show.

1980s[edit]

She was in Love's Savage Fury (1979), Murder Can Hurt You! (1980), Scruples (1980), Aloha Paradise, Side Show (1981), Harry's Battles (1981), and Grease 2 (1982).

Stevens guest starred on Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel, Detective in the House, Murder, She Wrote and Tales from the Darkside.

She had support roles in Rowdies (1986), Back to the Beach (1987), Tapeheads (1988), and Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988).

She also was seen numerous times on the Bob Hope USO specials, including his Christmas Show from the Persian Gulf (1988).

In 1988 Stevens said "I still want to make movies with Marlon Brando. But first I've got to get hot. That's what I'm trying to do - get hot. I'm still waiting for the big role. I haven't peaked yet."[22]

She elaborated:

I'm a big star all over the world except in Hollywood. I play (nightclubs in) Japan and Hong Kong every Christmas and New Year's... I don't have a hit TV show, I don't have a hit record, I don't have a hit movie, but I created something that people still love. I invented Cricket. There was barely a part written for me. Half the time, I said whatever I wanted. I was everybody's daughter. I was every boy's fantasy girlfriend. Girls wanted to be like me. That good feeling still exists. That's why I'm a big business, with 17 people working for me. I may not be the richest woman in the world, but I do okay. But Hollywood is a different story... There's something wrong when an actress can come off a 'Dynasty' or a 'Falcon Crest' and get a production deal (to star in a mini-series or TV movie) and I can't.[22]

Stevens had a regular role on the sitcom Starting from Scratch (1988). She said at the time, "TV is not my favorite medium; the work is hard, you don't have any life, and I feel like I've already been a champion in it, but the economics of the business is you need momentum to get hot. I'm using this to get me into movies."[22] The show only lasted one season.

Directing[edit]

Stevens later appearances include Ellen, Love is All There Is, Baywatch, Clueless, James Dean: Race with Destiny (1997), Returning Mickey Stern, Titus, Wild Card, 8 Simple Rules, Fat Actress, The Wedding Album.

She wrote and directed a documentary, A Healing (1997) and co-wrote and directed a thriller Saving Grace B. Jones (2006). She was also head of successful cosmetic company.[25][26]

She could also be seen in Double Duty (2009), Just Before I Go (2014), Search Engines (2016).

Other projects[edit]

In 1969, Stevens toured with the Bob Hope USO tour to Guam and Southeast Asia.[27]

In 1987, she, Barbara Eden and Lee Greenwood toured with Bob Hope on his USO tour to the Persian Gulf. Among her charitable works, she founded the Windfeather project to award scholarships to Native Americans,[1] and supports CancerGroup.com. In 1991 Stevens received the Lady of Humanities Award from Shriners Hospital and the Humanitarian of the Year Award by the Sons of Italy in Washington, D.C.[28]

Stevens developed her own cosmetic skin care product line, Forever Spring,[1] and in the 1990s opened the Connie Stevens Garden Sanctuary Day Spa in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

In 1994, accompanied by her two daughters, she issued her first recording in several years, Tradition: A Family at Christmas,[1] In 1997, Stevens wrote, edited, and directed a documentary entitled A Healing, about Red Cross nurses who served during the Vietnam War.[18] The following year it won the title of Best Film at the Santa Clarita International Film Festival. She made nightclub appearances and headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms.[18]

Her feature-length directorial debut, Saving Grace B. Jones, was released in 2009.[2]

Stevens appeared in the 2014 film Just Before I Go, and has a featured role in 2016's Search Engines, co-starring daughter Joely Fisher.

Personal life[edit]

Stevens was married twice during her twenties: her first husband was actor James Stacy from 1963 until their 1966 divorce, and her second husband was singer Eddie Fisher from 1967 until their 1969 divorce.[1] She is the mother of actresses Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher.[29]

Stevens has a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California,[30][31] a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6249 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, and a star on the Italian Walk of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.[32]

On September 23, 2005, Stevens was elected secretary-treasurer of the Screen Actors Guild, the union's second-highest elected position. She succeeded James Cromwell, who did not seek re-election.[33]

Stevens has contributed thousands of dollars over the years to the Republican Party, including donations to the Republican Congressional Committee and to both of Arizona Senator John McCain's runs for president (2000 and 2008).[34]

On June 29, 2013, the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution's President General, Merry Ann Wright, presented Stevens with the Founder's Medal for Patriotism, for her 40+ years of work with the USO.[35]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Concetta (1958)
  • Connie Stevens as "Cricket" in the Warner Bros. Series Hawaiian Eye (1960)
  • From Me to You (1962)
  • The Hank Williams Song Book (1962)
  • Sixteen Reasons (2008)
  • Tradition – A Family at Christmas (2010) (Connie Stevens with her two daughters, Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher)
  • The Complete Warner Bros. Singles (2012)
  • Sensational (2012)
  • The Very Best of Connie Stevens (2012)

Singles[edit]

Year Songs (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
U.S. chart positions Album
Billboard Cashbox
1959 "Apollo"
b/w "Why Do I Cry For Joey?"
Connie Stevens from "Hawaiian Eye"
1960 "Sixteen Reasons"
b/w "Little Sister" (Non-album track) Reached #9 in UK
3 5
"Too Young To Go Steady"
b/w "A Little Kiss Is A Kiss, Is A Kiss"
71 86
1961 "Make Believe Lover"
b/w "And This Is Mine"
Non-album tracks
"If You Don't Somebody Else Will"
b/w "The Greenwood Tree"
1962 "Why'd You Wanna Make Me Cry"
b/w "Just One Kiss"
52 57
"Mr. Songwriter"
b/w "I Couldn't Say No"
43 61
"Hey Good Lookin'"
b/w "Nobody's Lonesome For Me"
104 The Hank Williams Song Book
1963 "Little Miss-Understood"
b/w "There Goes Your Guy"
Non-album tracks
1964 "They're Jealous Of Me"
b/w "A Girl Never Knows"
1965 "Now That You've Gone"
b/w "Lost In Wonderland"
53 55
"Something Beautiful"
b/w "In The Deep Of Night"
1966 "In My Room"
b/w "Don't You Want To Love Me"
"All Of My Life"
b/w "That's All I Want From You"
"Most Of All"
b/w "How Bitter The Taste Of Love"
"It'll Never Happen Again"
b/w "What Will I Tell Him"
1968 "Wouldn't It Be Nice (To Have Wings and Fly)"
b/w "Cinderella Could Have Saved Us All"
1970 "5:30 Plane"
b/w "She'll Never Understand Him (Like I Do)"
"Keep Growing Strong"
b/w "Tick-Tock"
1972 "Simple Girl"
b/w "Take Me Back To Roses And Rainbows"

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography, tcm.com; accessed April 3, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Behind the camera, Connie Stevens, upbeat blond singer-actress of the `50s and `60s, drew upon dark memories 50 years buried to create "Saving Grace B. Jones,"screening Saturday". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b King, Susan."A new direction for Connie Stevens", Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2011.
  4. ^ "'Rock-a-Bye-Baby' Cast", tcm.com; accessed July 2, 2011.
  5. ^ THE TV SCENE: When Connie Stevens Is on Screen, Things Happen CONNIE STEVENS Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times 7 Feb 1960: J2.
  6. ^ COLUMBIA WANTS DORIS DAY IN FILM: Offers Role in 'Wreck of the Old 97'--Peter Finch to Co-Star in 'Nun's Story" Diane Varsi Hospitalized By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times 24 Dec 1957: 11.
  7. ^ Singer Connie Stevens' New Contract Approved: Agreement With Warner Bros. to Range From $300 to $1250 a Week in Seven Years Los Angeles Times 6 May 1959: B1.
  8. ^ "'Hawaiian Eye' Listing" Fiftiesweb.com, accessed July 2, 2011
  9. ^ ""77 Sunset Strip" The Dresden Doll (TV Episode 1960)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  10. ^ Interview with Connie Stevens" elvis.com.au, March 10, 2006, accessed July 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "Connie Stevens : Apollo/Why Do I Cry for Joey?". 45cat. Warner Brothers Records. 1959.
  12. ^ Pollock, Bruce (2018-09-10). America’s Songs III: Rock!: Rock! (Paperback ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781138638143.
  13. ^ FOCUS ON A CONNECTICUT 'PARRISH' By EUGENE ARCHER. New York Times 5 June 1960: X5.
  14. ^ Connie Stevens Suspended; Quits Tour Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 10 Oct 1962: b12.
  15. ^ Love Healed All Wounds for Scrappy Connie Stevens Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 5 Jan 1964: A4.
  16. ^ An Eager Connie Stevens Casts an Eye on the Big Star Category Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 10 Jan 1965: B6.
  17. ^ Connie Stevens Starts Over With Straight Stage Career Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 7 Jan 1966: c11.
  18. ^ a b c "Connie Stevens Biography" filmreference.com, accessed July 2, 2011
  19. ^ Simon, Neil."Script, 'Star Spangled Girl'" The Star-Spangled Girl, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1967, ISBN 0-8222-1073-8, p. 3
  20. ^ Connie Stevens Gets 'Star Spangled' The Washington Post, Times Herald 7 Sep 1966: B6.
  21. ^ Connie Stevens at the Flamingo Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 2 Aug 1968: g12.
  22. ^ a b c d e Lavin, Cheryl (August 5, 1988). "Stevens Is `Starting From Scratch`". Chicago Tribune.
  23. ^ TV Film to Star Connie Stevens Los Angeles Times 7 Jan 1972: g16.
  24. ^ Connie Stevens Stars in 'Scorchy' Los Angeles Times 14 Jan 1977: f14.
  25. ^ Connie Stevens: A lifetime of entertainment achievement: Connie Stevens reflects ahead of Moraga visit Contra Costa Times 8 Nov 2012: A.6.
  26. ^ Dream scenes; Filmmaker taps her summer of '51. Sposito, Sean. Columbia Daily Tribune8 Sep 2007: n/a.
  27. ^ "Military-Intelligence - Bob Hope Christmas Show 1969". Military-intelligence.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  28. ^ "About Connie Stevens". Forever Spring. Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  29. ^ Biography rottentomatoes.com
  30. ^ Mitchell, Marilyn (May 20, 1994)."Connie Stevens The poster girl for multi-tasking", Desertentertainer.com; accessed July 2, 2011.
  31. ^ "Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated\accessdate=2017-04-03" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-13.
  32. ^ Yuen, Jenny (2011-09-05). "Italian Walk of Fame honours stars | Toronto & GTA". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  33. ^ "Screen Actors Guild Announces Results Of National Board Elections" sag.org (Press Release), September 23, 2005, accessed July 2, 2011
  34. ^ "Connie Stevens's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". Federal Election Commission. 2010-07-12. Archived from the original on 2009-12-31.
  35. ^ Hunt, Lee (June 29, 2013). "Daughters Of The American Revolution Convene In Washington DC". courant.com.

External links[edit]