Connie Stevens


Actor, Singer
Connie Stevens

About

Also Known As
Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingolia
Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
August 08, 1938

Biography

Actress and singer Connie Stevens was a vivacious presence on television and the pop charts in the early 1960s, thanks to her popularity as Cricket Blake on the hit detective show "Hawaiian Eye" (ABC, 1959-1963) and singles like "Sixteen Reasons." Stevens' perky turn as Cricket, a singer and sometime photographer who aided a pair of Honolulu hotel detectives in solving crimes, granted he...

Family & Companions

James Stacy
Husband
Actor. Divorced.
Eddie Fisher
Husband
Actor. Divorced.

Notes

She was the founder of Project Windfeather (dedicated to helping Native American Indians).

In the 1980s, Stevens founded her own cosmetics line called Forever Spring

Biography

Actress and singer Connie Stevens was a vivacious presence on television and the pop charts in the early 1960s, thanks to her popularity as Cricket Blake on the hit detective show "Hawaiian Eye" (ABC, 1959-1963) and singles like "Sixteen Reasons." Stevens' perky turn as Cricket, a singer and sometime photographer who aided a pair of Honolulu hotel detectives in solving crimes, granted her a brief time as an idol for younger viewers, but after the show's cancellation, she struggled to maintain her presence in the entertainment business. After her divorce from singer Eddie Fisher in 1969, which gave her daughters Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher, Stevens doggedly pursued her career as an actress and nightclub crooner throughout the 1970s and 1980s. A reversal of fortune came in the 1990s when she launched a successful line of cosmetics. Throughout the ups and downs of her life, Stevens maintained the same sparkle she showed as Cricket Blake, which endeared her to several generations of fans.

Born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in Brooklyn, NY on Aug. 8, 1938, Connie Stevens was the daughter of jazz drummer Peter Ingoglia, who performed under the stage name of Teddy Stevens, and singer Eleanor McGinley. After her parents' divorce, she was raised largely by grandparents or by the staff of various Catholic boarding schools. Blessed with a pleasant singing voice, she was performing professionally at an early age, first with three male vocalists in a group called the Foremost, and later, in an all-girl group called The Three Debs. At 15, she relocated to Los Angeles with her father, where she adopted his surname and worked as an extra and bit player in various teen-oriented films. 1958 proved to be her breakout year, with the release of her debut album, Conchetta, as well as her first major role as Jerry Lewis' love interest in "Rock-A-Bye Baby," a loose remake of "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944). The following year, she was signed to a contract with Warner Bros., who placed her in their new detective series, "Hawaiian Eye."

Cast as Cricket Blake, a singer and amateur photographer who helped series' leads Anthony Eisley and Robert Conrad solve cases on the big island of Honolulu, Stevens quickly rose in popularity among the show's audience of young viewers. A cross-over appearance on ABC's other hip crime show, "77 Sunset Strip" (1958-1963) led to a Top 10 single, "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb," which featured "Sunset" star Edd Byrnes in his series role as suave beatnik Kookie. It was soon followed by "Sixteen Reasons (Why I Love You)," a Top Five hit that stayed on the Billboard charts for over two months. Bigger roles in feature films were the next step in her natural progression, and in 1961, she starred in two films by Delmer Daves: "Parrish" was a potboiler with Troy Donahue - Stevens' co-star on "Hawaiian Eye" in its final season - as a young man pitted against his stepfather (Karl Malden), an unscrupulous tobacco tycoon, while "Susan Slade" was an outrageous camp fest about an innocent (Stevens) whose unwanted pregnancy leads to a near-Biblical series of tragedies as well as the attention of two competing suitors (Donahue and Bert Convy). When Stevens began dating Elvis Presley offscreen, she essentially assured herself pop culture sainthood.

However, a series of clashes with Warner Bros., including contract disputes regarding "Hawaiian Eye" and a well-publicized outburst over losing the chance to audition for "My Fair Lady" (1962), led to the studio dropping her contract. Stevens was soon adrift in a string of misfires, including the sitcom "Wendy and Me" (ABC, 1964-65), produced by George Burns, who co-starred as her landlord who observes her misadventures through his closed circuit television. Her recording career dried up in the middle of the decade, so she adjusted her focus to stage and screen projects, including a stint on Broadway in 1967's "The Star-Spangled Girl," which earned her a Theatre World Award. She was also a regular performer in Bob Hope's jaunts to Southeast Asia for the USO, which would later influence her documentary, "The Healing" (1997), about Red Cross nurses in Vietnam. After the dissolution of her marriage to actor James Stacy in 1967, she married singer Eddie Fisher, who was coming off the embarrassment of his wife Elizabeth Taylor leaving him for Richard Burton. The Philadelphia-born crooner fathered her daughters, Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher, both of whom followed in their parents' footsteps as performers. Stevens and Fisher were divorced in 1969, just two years after being married.

Stevens raised both of her daughters as a single mother, which required her to work constantly in order to make ends meet. There was a steady stream of singing jobs, including headlining stints in Las Vegas and guest starring roles on episodic television and in TV features. With her ingénue days long behind her, Stevens began to play more adult, sexually forthright roles, most notably in 1971's cult favorite "The Grissom Gang," as a vampish Depression Era singer, and "Scorchy" (1976), a low-budget crime picture with Stevens as a gun-toting, bed-hopping private eye. She also served as the spokesperson for Ace Hardware in the 1970s, and sang the company's jingle in numerous television commercials.

The 1980s saw Stevens back on screen in several minor features, most notably "Grease 2" (1982) and "Back to the Beach" (1987), both as vixenish older women who served as temptation for the respective, much younger male leads. She experienced greater success with a line of cosmetic products called Forever Spring, which she launched in 1986 and pitched via informercials. She also became a tireless supporter of various charities, including the Windfeather Project, which the part-Mohican Stevens launched to provide scholarships to Native American students. In 1994, she re-launched her recording career with the LP, Tradition: A Family at Christmas, on which she was joined by her daughters. Three years later, she made her directorial debut with the aforementioned "The Healing," on which she also served as writer, editor and cinematographer. The documentary was well received at a variety of film festivals, and earned a Best Film award at the 1998 Santa Clarita International Fest. In her sixth decade, Stevens had finally achieved a degree of respect that had eluded her career for so many years.

Her proficiency as a businesswoman, as well as the longevity of her time in the spotlight, contributed to her 2005 election as secretary-treasurer of the Screen Actors' Guild, the second highest elected position in the governing body. She concluded her tenure with the Guild in 2007, then made her debut as a feature film director with "Saving Grace" (2009), a period drama about a Missouri family whose life was turned upside down by the arrival of a relative (Tatum O'Neal) who was discharged from an asylum.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Saving Grace B. Jones (2012)
Director
A Healing--Vietnam 1995--Dedicated to the Women Who Served (1997)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Returning Mickey Stern (2003)
Eloise
Becoming Dick (2000)
Herself
James Dean: Race With Destiny (1997)
Love Is All There Is (1996)
Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988)
Thalia Menniger
Tapeheads (1988)
Back To The Beach (1987)
The Love Boat: Who Killed Maxwell Thorn? (1987)
Margret Grant
Grease 2 (1982)
Side Show (1981)
Graciela
Love's Savage Fury (1979)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Scorchy (1976)
The Sex Symbol (1974)
Every Man Needs One (1972)
Beth Walden
Playmates (1972)
Call Her Mom (1972)
Angie Bianco
The Grissom Gang (1971)
Anna Borg
Murder Can Hurt You! (1970)
Way ... Way Out (1966)
Eileen
Two on a Guillotine (1965)
Melinda Duquesne/Cassie Duquesne
Never Too Late (1965)
Kate Clinton
Palm Springs Weekend (1963)
Gail Lewis
Susan Slade (1961)
Susan Slade
Parrish (1961)
Lucy
Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958)
Sandy Naples
The Party Crashers (1958)
Barbara Nickerson
Dragstrip Riot (1958)
Marge
Young and Dangerous (1957)
Candy
Eighteen and Anxious (1957)

Writer (Feature Film)

Saving Grace B. Jones (2012)
Screenplay
A Healing--Vietnam 1995--Dedicated to the Women Who Served (1997)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Saving Grace B. Jones (2012)
Producer
A Healing--Vietnam 1995--Dedicated to the Women Who Served (1997)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Call Her Mom (1972)
Song Performer

Cast (Special)

Intimate Portrait: Joely Fisher (2003)
Elvis Forever (2002)
Interviewee
Intimate Portrait: Suzanne Pleshette (2002)
Shelley Winters: Full Disclosure (2001)
Interviewee
Celebrity Homes (1999)
Celebrity Weddings InStyle (1998)
1998 Creative Arts Emmy Awards (1998)
Presenter
67th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade (1998)
Life's Greatest Holiday Stories (1997)
Family Film Awards (1996)
Presenter
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration (1994)
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1994)
Children's Miracle Network Telethon (1991)
Welcome Home, America! - A USO Salute to America's Sons and Daughters (1991)
Bob Hope's "Don't Shoot, It's Only Me" (1990)
Bob Hope's USO Christmas From the Persian Gulf -- Around the World in Eight Days (1988)
Hollywood Women (1988)
Spring Break Reunion (1987)
Lifetime Salutes Mom (1987)
Star Tour Australia (1986)
Rowdies (1986)
Harry's Battles (1981)
Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes (1979)
Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes (1977)
Dick Clark's Good Ol' Days: From Bobby Sox to Bikinis (1977)
Bing Crosby's Sun Valley Christmas Show (1973)
The Tom Jones Special (1971)
America (1970)

Music (Special)

Bob Hope's USO Christmas From the Persian Gulf -- Around the World in Eight Days (1988)
Song Performer ("Eyes Of Love" "Silent Night")

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Scruples (1980)

Life Events

1957

Feature debut in unbilled bit, "Eighteen and Anxious"

1957

Feature acting debut, "Young and Dangerous"

1959

TV series regular debut, playing Cricket on the ABC detective drama, "Hawaiian Eye"

1967

Broadway debut, "Star Spangled Girl"

1969

TV-movie debut, "The Little Angel"

1971

Regular on a comedy variety series, "The Des O'Connor Show"

1980

Debut in a TV miniseries, "Scruples"

1997

Made acclaimed documentary "A Healing", about women who served in the military during the Vietnam War

2000

Addressed the Republican National Convention

Videos

Movie Clip

Two On A Guillotine (1965) - Always A Greater Illusion Scary enough opening from director William Conrad (later TV’s “Cannon”), Cesar Romero stabs Connie Stevens, but wide shot reveals he’s a magician and she’s his assistant (and wife), Virginia Gregg the nanny etc. backstage, Parley Baer the PR man, in Two On A Guillotine, 1965, co-starring Dean Jones.
Two On A Guillotine (1965) - You Scare That Easy? Smart Cassie (Connie Stevens), whose estranged magician father’s will instructed her to stay in his funky house in order to inherit, surveys the place with reporter Val (Dean Jones), whom she’s decided to tolerate, having convinced her he’s just a grabby real-estate guy, in Two On A Guillotine, 1965.
Parrish (1961) - It's You Know Who New in town title character (Troy Donahue) stops by to tell his mom (Claudette Colbert) he's found a job and won't have to share her Connecticut tobacco farm staff apartment, then joins local Lucy (Connie Stevens) to survey his new digs, early in Delmer Daves' Parrish, 1961.
Palm Springs Weekend - I Could Trust Mr. Bugs College girl Gail (Connie Stevens) gets reeled in by the giant bunny Eric (Robert Conrad) carries in his convertible, then they meet Texan Jim (Troy Donahue) down the road, in Palm Springs Weekend, 1963.
Palm Springs Weekend - Live Young! Leading man Troy Donahue is all over the vocal in the Larry Kusik/Paul Evans tune Live Young, opening Palm Springs Weekend, 1963, also starring Connie Stevens, Stefanie Powers, Ty Hardin and Robert Conrad.

Trailer

Family

Eleanor Megna
Mother
Died on December 17, 1993 at age 79.
Charles Ignolia
Brother
Musician. Died March 2, 1996 of heart attack.
Ava Megna Bonamy
Half-Sister
John Megna
Half-Brother
Actor. Died in 1995 from complications from AIDS.
Joely Fisher
Daughter
Actor, singer. Born October 29, 1967.
Tricia Leigh Fisher
Daughter
Actor, singer. Born 1970.
Peter Ingolia
Nephew
Model.

Companions

James Stacy
Husband
Actor. Divorced.
Eddie Fisher
Husband
Actor. Divorced.

Bibliography

Notes

She was the founder of Project Windfeather (dedicated to helping Native American Indians).

In the 1980s, Stevens founded her own cosmetics line called Forever Spring

Stevens opened a spa called The Garden Sanctuary in Beverly Hills in 1999 and later in the year opened a second one in Monterey.

Stevens co-launched Babylon Records in 2000.