Benson Star and Broadway Icon, Inga Swenson, Dead at 90



by NOUMAN RASOOL

Benson Star and Broadway Icon, Inga Swenson, Dead at 90

Inga Swenson, the distinguished actress lauded for her performances on both the stage and screen, including her Emmy-nominated portrayal of Gretchen Kraus in the television series Benson, passed away at the age of 90. The news was confirmed by her son, Mark, who informed TMZ that his mother's death on July 23, resulted from natural causes.

She spent her last moments in a Los Angeles board and care facility, with her devoted husband of 70 years, Lowell Harris, by her side. Born on December 29, 1932, in Omaha, Swenson's first foray into television was through a 1957 episode of Goodyear Playhouse.

This led to a multitude of appearances on other shows, including Folio, The United States Steel Hour, and Playhouse 90, making her a familiar face on the small screen.

Swenson's Journey to Benson

Swenson continued to explore her range and hone her craft with roles in a 1961 TV movie, Victoria Regina, and two critically acclaimed films in 1962, Advise & Consent and The Miracle Worker.

1978 marked a pivotal point in her career when she portrayed Ingrid Svenson on Soap, a role that later paved the way for her iconic character on its spin-off series, Benson. Benson, which aired from 1979 to 1986, brought Swenson into the spotlight for her unforgettable performance as Gretchen Kraus, the spirited German head housekeeper of a governor's mansion.

Over the course of the show's 159 episodes, her on-screen battles of wits with character Benson DuBois, played by Robert Guillaume, became a hallmark of the series. Her outstanding work on Benson earned her three Primetime Emmy nominations in 1980, 1982, and 1985.

Following Benson, Swenson's talent shone in several TV miniseries and shows, including North & South, Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder, Newhart, The Golden Girls, and Hotel. Not limiting her talent to the screen, Swenson also had an illustrious Broadway career, with leading roles in New Faces and The First Gentleman.

Her performances in 110 in the Shade and Baker Street were recognized with Tony nominations for Best Actress in a Musical. In 1998, Swenson decided to step away from acting, leaving behind an indelible legacy. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, she is survived by her husband, Lowell, her son, Mark, and granddaughter, Lily.

Swenson's second son, James, tragically passed away in a 1987 motorcycle accident. Her vast contributions to stage and screen, and her unwavering dedication to her craft, will undoubtedly continue to be celebrated and remembered.