Actor and singer Inga Swenson, who played the cook Gretchen on the hit ’80s sitcom “Benson,” died in Los Angeles on July 23. According to TMZ, Swenson died of natural causes. She was 90 years old.
She is best known for her role as Gretchen Kraus in the ABC series “Benson,” which aired for seven years from 1979 to 1986. The show is about Benson DuBois (Robert Guillaume) hired as head of household for a governor; Gretchen was the German cook with Benson’s workplace rivalry and friendship. Swenson was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Gretchen. “Benson” was a spin-off of the TV series “Soap”, in which Swenson portrayed Ingrid Svenson in multiple episodes.
A trained lyric soprano, Swenson had a successful career on Broadway playing the acclaimed leading roles in the 1960s. She starred as Lizzy Curry in “110 in the Shade” and Irene Adler in “Baker Street” and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for both performances. The first is about a woman living on a farm in the Southwest, and the second is based on the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Other shows he has appeared in include “Camelot”, “Peer Gynt” and “The First Gentleman”.
Swenson also appeared in films such as “Advise and Consent” (1962), “The Miracle Worker” (1962), “Lipstick” (1976) and “The Betsy” (1978).
Swenson was born on December 29, 1932 in Omaha, Neb. She later studied drama at Northwestern University. She married sound engineer Lowell Harris in 1953, and the couple had two sons, she.
Swenson is survived by her husband and son, Mark Harris, a film editor.