Connie Stevens

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Connie Stevens
Connie Stevens - still.jpg
Stevens in the 1960s
Born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia
(1938-08-08) August 8, 1938 (age 79)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress, director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, singer
Years active 1955–present
Spouse(s) James Stacy (m. 1963; div. 1966)
Eddie Fisher (m. 1967; div. 1969)
Children Joely Fisher
Tricia Leigh Fisher
Relatives John 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

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.[1] She was 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

Stevens started working as a movie extra and stand-in. After she'd appeared in four B movies, Jerry Lewis saw her in Dragstrip Riot and cast her in Rock-A-Bye Baby.[4] Soon after that, she signed a contract with Warner Brothers.

She played Cricket Blake in the popular television detective series Hawaiian Eye from 1959 to 1963,[5] a role that made her famous; her principal costar was Robert Conrad. 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.[6]

With James Garner in Maverick (1959)

Her 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). 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. 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", [7]"Why'd You Wanna Make Me Cry?", "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").

She later starred as Wendy Conway in the television sitcom Wendy and Me (1964–1965) with George Burns, who also produced the show and played an older man who watched Wendy's exploits upstairs on the TV in his apartment.[1]

She starred in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl with Anthony Perkins in 1966.[8] She appeared in stage productions in summer stock, including The Wizard of Oz, Carousel Theatre, California and Any Wednesday, Melodyland, Anaheim, California.[9]

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. Her risque 1976 action movie Scorchy was released on Blu-ray by Shout! Factory on July 25, 2017.[10] In the spring of 1977 Stevens appeared in a first-season episode of The Muppet Show. She also was seen numerous times on the Bob Hope USO specials, including his Christmas Show from the Persian Gulf (1988).

Other projects

In 1969, Stevens toured with the Bob Hope USO tour to Guam and Southeast Asia.[11]

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.[12]

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.[9] 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.[9]

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

Stevens has been married twice: her first was to actor James Stacy from 1963 until their 1966 divorce, and her second was to singer Eddie Fisher from 1967 until their 1969 divorce.[1] She is the mother of actresses Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher.[13]

Stevens has a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California,[14][15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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).[18]

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.[19]

Discography

Albums

  • 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

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

References

  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. ^ "'Hawaiian Eye' Listing" fiftiesweb.com, accessed July 2, 2011
  6. ^ Interview with Connie Stevens" elvis.com.au, March 10, 2006, accessed July 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Connie Stevens : Apollo/Why Do I Cry for Joey?". 45cat. Warner Brothers Records. 1959. 
  8. ^ Simon, Neil."Script, 'Star Spangled Girl'" The Star-Spangled Girl, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1967, ISBN 0-8222-1073-8, p. 3
  9. ^ a b c "Connie Stevens Biography" filmreference.com, accessed July 2, 2011
  10. ^ Scorchy on Blu-ray
  11. ^ "Military-Intelligence - Bob Hope Christmas Show 1969". Military-intelligence.wikispaces.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  12. ^ "About Connie Stevens". Forever Spring. Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  13. ^ Biography rottentomatoes.com
  14. ^ Mitchell, Marilyn (May 20, 1994)."Connie Stevens The poster girl for multi-tasking" Desertentertainer.com, accessed July 2, 2011
  15. ^ "Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated\accessdate=2017-04-03" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-13. 
  16. ^ Yuen, Jenny (2011-09-05). "Italian Walk of Fame honours stars | Toronto & GTA | News". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  17. ^ "Screen Actors Guild Announces Results Of National Board Elections" sag.org (Press Release), September 23, 2005, accessed July 2, 2011
  18. ^ "Connie Stevens's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". Federal Election Commission. 2010-07-12. Archived from the original on 2009-12-31. 
  19. ^ Hunt, Lee (June 29, 2013). "Daughters Of The American Revolution Convene In Washington DC". courant.com. 

External links

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