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‘Benson’ Star Inga Swenson Dies at Age 90

Inga Swenson, known for her role as German cook Gretchen Kraus in the sitcom Benson, has died at the age of 90.

According to reports, her son Mark says the actress died on July 23 of natural causes. Mark also says her husband, Lowell Harris, was with her at a board and care facility in Los Angeles when she died. Her health reportedly was on the decline for the past six months.

Swenson appeared in over 150 episodes, earning three Emmy nominations for her work on the 1980s show over seven years. Swenson had a recurring role as Ingrid Svenson in the TV sitcom Soap, which served as the basis for the spin-off show Benson. In Benson, Kraus serves as a German cook who plays foil against the titular character (Robert Guillaume), the head of household affairs for widowed Governor Euge (James Noble).


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Apart from her work on Benson, Swenson made a name for herself on Broadway with notable performances as Lizzie Curry in 110 in the Shade and Irene Adler in Baker Street. These outstanding portrayals earned her two Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical. She was not only an accomplished actress but also a trained lyrical soprano.

In 1962, Inga appeared in two movies, playing supporting roles in Advise and Consent and The Miracle Worker, where she portrayed Helen Keller’s mother. In February 1953, Inga married Lowell, a sound engineer, and the couple had two children. Sadly, one of their children passed away before her.

After Benson, Swenson took on various roles, also making guest appearances in Newhart, The Golden Girls, and Hotel episodes.

In 1998, Inga decided to retire from Hollywood. Her final wish was to be cremated, with her ashes to be laid to rest alongside her late son in San Rafael, CA.

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