Beloved actress Inga Swenson, best known for her role as Gretchen Kraus on the hit sitcom ‘Benson,’ has passed away at the age of 90. Swenson died of natural causes on July 23 at a board and care facility in Los Angeles, according to her son Mark. Her husband, Lowell Harris, was by her side at the time of her passing.
Swenson’s career in television took off when she joined the cast of ‘Benson’ in 1979. The show, which aired for seven years, followed the life of Benson DuBois, played by Robert Guillaume, who served as the head of household affairs for a widowed governor. Swenson’s character, Gretchen Kraus, was the beloved German cook who provided comedic relief and served as a foil to Benson’s witty banter. Her portrayal earned her three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
Prior to ‘Benson,’ Swenson had a recurring role as Ingrid Svenson on the sitcom ‘Soap,’ which served as the basis for the spin-off show. She appeared in over 150 episodes of ‘Benson,’ solidifying her status as a household name and a talented comedic actress.
In addition to her television work, Swenson had a successful career on Broadway. She received two Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical for her performances as Lizzie Curry in ‘110 in the Shade’ and Irene Adler in ‘Baker Street.’ Swenson’s talent extended beyond acting, as she was also a trained lyrical soprano.
Swenson’s film credits include supporting roles in ‘Advise and Consent’ and ‘The Miracle Worker,’ where she portrayed Helen Keller’s mother. She showcased her versatility as an actress in both dramatic and comedic roles.
Off-screen, Swenson was married to Lowell Harris, a sound engineer, for 70 years. The couple had two children, one of whom tragically passed away before her. Swenson’s final wish was to be cremated, with her ashes to be laid to rest alongside her late son in San Rafael, CA.
Fans and colleagues remember Swenson as a talented and beloved actress who brought joy and laughter to audiences. Her contributions to the entertainment industry, both on television and on stage, will be remembered and cherished.
Inga Swenson’s passing marks the end of an era in television and theater. Her legacy as Gretchen Kraus on ‘Benson’ and her Tony-nominated performances on Broadway will continue to inspire future generations of actors and entertainers. She will be greatly missed but forever remembered for her immense talent and unforgettable performances.