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While at the pinnacle of her acting and singing career in the early 1960s, Connie Stevens dated high-profile celebrities Glenn Ford and Elvis Presley.
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Connie Stevens began her career in music by forming her own vocal group, The Foremost. In 1954 she formed an all-female trio. She first achieved success not as a singer, but as an actress. In 1957, she landed minor roles in B-list movies. Then Jerry Lewis cast her in his 1958 film, Rock-a-Bye Baby. A year later, she landed her most famous role to date, on the TV show Hawaiian Eye.
Actress and singer Connie Stevens was born Concetta Rosalie Ann Ingolia on August 8, 1938, in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Eleanor McGinley, was a singer. Her father, Peter Ingolia, was a jazz musician. Stevens' father performed under the stage name Teddy Stevens, and she later decided to adopt his stage surname as her own.
Stevens endured a tumultuous childhood marred by divorce, death and natural disaster. Her parents divorced when Stevens was very young, and she was placed in the custody of her grandmother. However, her grandmother passed away when Stevens was 8 years old, and she was sent to a Catholic girls' boarding school. Then in 1951, at the age of 12, Stevens witnessed a murder on the streets of Brooklyn. Deeply disturbed by the incident, Stevens left the big city to move in with family friends in Boonville, Missouri. Shortly after she arrived in the summer of 1951, the Missouri River flooded its banks, devastating the town. Stevens was forced to move yet again, this time choosing to reunite with her father in Los Angeles.
Stevens inherited her parents' musicality and, despite her chaotic childhood, she began her career in music at a very young age. While still a child in Brooklyn, she formed her own vocal group, The Foremost, featuring three male backup singers who later became The Lettermen, a famous pop trio. After settling in Los Angeles, Stevens attended Sacred Heart Academy and, in 1954 at the age of 14, she formed another band: an all-female trio called The Three Debs.
Stevens first achieved professional success not as a singer, however, but as an actress. In 1957, Stevens landed minor roles in a pair of B-list Hollywood films: Young and Dangerous and Eighteen and Anxious. While the films were not terribly successful at the box office, they got Stevens noticed by legendary comedian Jerry Lewis, who cast her in his 1958 film, Rock-a-Bye Baby. A year later, Stevens landed her most famous role to date as the ditzy blonde photographer and nightclub singer Cricket Blake on ABC's detective drama Hawaiian Eye. While starring on Hawaiian Eye, Stevens also returned to music. She recorded two hit singles—"Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" and "Sixteen Reasons"—both of which cracked the top five on Billboard's singles chart.
While at the pinnacle of her acting and singing career in the early 1960s, Stevens entered several high profile romantic relationships. After a brief romance with actor Glenn Ford, she began dating one of the most legendary musicians of all time, Elvis Presley.
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