Tuesday, February 4, 2014
She was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingoglia in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Peter Ingoglia (known as musician Teddy Stevens) and singer Eleanor McGinley.
She adopted her father's stage name of Stevens as her own. Her parents were divorced and she lived with grandparents. and attended Catholicboarding schools. Actor John Megna was her half-brother. At the age of twelve, she witnessed a murder in Brooklyn and was sent to live inBoonville, Missouri, with family friends.
Coming from a musical family, she joined the singing group called The Fourmost, in which the other three vocalists (Tony Butala, Jim Pike, and Gary Pike) — all males — went on to fame as The Lettermen. In 1953, Stevens moved to Los Angeles with her father. When she was 16, she replaced the alto in a singing group, The Three Debs. She enrolled at a professional school (The Georgia Massey Professional School in the San Fernando Valley), sang professionally and appeared in local repertory theater.
Stevens started working as a movie extra. After she'd appeared in four B movies, Jerry Lewis saw her in Dragstrip Riot and cast her in Rock-A-Bye Baby. 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, 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.
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 byEdward 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, that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. She and Byrnes also appeared together on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Stevens also 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 byHarold Adamson). Other single releases were "Why'd You Wanna Make Me Cry?", "Mr. Songwriter", and "Now That You've Gone".
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, periodically commenting to the viewers about what he saw. Her other Wendy and Me costars were Ron Harper, James T. Callahan and character actor J. Pat O'Malley.
She starred in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl with Anthony Perkins in 1966. She appeared in stage productions insummer stock, including The Wizard of Oz, Carousel Theatre, California and Any Wednesday, Melodyland, Anaheim, California.
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 onThe Dean Martin Celebrity Roast a few times. Her risque 1976 action movie Scorchy has never been released on DVD. In the spring of 1977 Stevens appeared in one of the two pilots for The Muppet Show. She also was seen numerous times on the Bob Hope USO specials, including his Christmas Show from the Persian Gulf (1988).
In 1987 she toured, along with Barbara Eden and Lee Greenwood, 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, 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, DC.
Stevens developed her own cosmetic skin care product line, Forever Spring, and in the 1990s opened the Connie Stevens Garden Sanctuary Day Spa in Los Angeles.
In 1994 she issued her first recording in several years, Tradition: A Family at Christmas, along with her two daughters.
In 1997 Stevens wrote, edited, and directed a documentary entitled A Healing, about Red Cross nurses who served during the Vietnam War. The following year it won the title of Best Film at the Santa Clarita International Film Festival.
She has also made nightclub appearances and headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms. She was an occasional guest panelist on Match Game.
Her feature-length directorial debut, Saving Grace B. Jones, was released in 2009.
Stevens has been married twice: her first was to actor James Stacy from 1963 until their 1967 divorce; her second was to singer Eddie Fisher from 1967 until their 1969 divorce. She is the mother of actresses Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher.
She maintains homes in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and New York City.
Stevens has a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6249 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and a star on the Italian Walk of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
On September 23, 2005, Stevens was elected secretary-treasurer of the Screen Actors' Guild. This is the union's second-highest elected position. She succeeded James Cromwell, who did not seek re-election.
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.
On June 29, 2013 the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution's President General, Merry Ann Wright, presented Connie with the Founder's Medal for Patriotism, for her 40+ years of work with the USO. She was applauded by more than 1,200 Daughters.
Posted by Courtney K at 4:30 PM