Inger Stevens is born in Stockholm, Sweden. As a child, she is often ill. When she is nine, her parents abandon her, leaving Inger and her sister in the custody of the family maid. At the age of 11, Inger moves to America to live with her father and his new wife in NYC. At age 16, she runs away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, and works in burlesque shows. At 18, she leaves Kansas to return to New York City, where she works as a chorus girl.
Stevens receives her big break in the Bing Crosby film "Man on Fire." Roles in major films follow, but she achieves her greatest success in the ABC television series "The Farmer's Daughter." Stevens also appears in episodes of "Bonanza," "Route 66," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," and "The Twilight Zone." Stevens is attempting to revive her television career with the detective drama series "The Most Deadly Game" when she dies.
On the morning of April 30, 1970, Stevens' roommate and companion, Lola McNally, finds her on the kitchen floor of her Hollywood Hills home. According to McNally, when she calls Stevens' name, she opens her eyes, lifts her head, and tries to speak, but is unable to make any sound. McNally tells police that she spoke to Stevens the previous night and saw no sign of trouble. Stevens dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. On arrival, medics remove a small bandage from her chin, revealing a small amount of fresh blood oozing from a cut which appeared to have been a few hours old. Famed Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi attributes Stevens's death to "acute barbiturate poisoning."
After her death, black actor Ike Jones claims that he is secretly married to Stevens since 1961. Some doubt this due to the lack of a marriage license, the maintaining of separate homes and the filing of tax documents as single people. However, at the time Stevens' estate is being settled, the actress's brother, Carl O. Stensland, confirms in court that his sister had hidden her marriage to Jones "out of fear for her career." Los Angeles Superior Court rules in Jones's favor and makes him administrator of Steven's estate.
Only one photo exists of the two attending a banquet together in 1968.