How did you start Inger's biography ?
First, I would suggest the readers to go to the preface
site before reading this interview. They will then have a better understanding
of some of my answers. As I was researching her life, I found that Inger
had a very full and interesting life. Many of the magazine (not the fan
ones, as they are almost always inaccurate) articles I found I accepted
as being true. For example: Inger was in an airplane accident in Lisbon, Portugal
in 1961. One article said 20 people died in the crash and another said
80 people perished. The truth was, of the 93 passengers and 10 crew members
on board, no one was killed nor were there any serious injuries, although
Inger did cut her finger slightly in her escape before the plane exploded.
As I collected more and more true facts, I thought I might write a magazine article about her. However, like a snowball rolling down hill, I kept getting additional facts and decided I had enough information for a truthful book about her.
How did you organize the biography and actually write it ?
I do not know how others do it, but I'll share my techniques with you. First of all, I did not have a computer, but I did have a word processor. I typed (in line) all the years of her life. For 1934 I typed under the year: Oct 18 - born in a hospital at Kungsholman, Stockholm, Sweden. As I received more information I would type dates and one line notes and put them in chronological order. Later, I would fill in the brief information with short paragraphs. When my outline was about 20 pages long, my ex-wife transferred it to her computer. About once a week I would take her more expanded paragraphs to add. Once the computer material started looking like a book, I started editing it. Unfortunately her computer was an older IBM clone and the printing wasn't the greatest. The discs were the old large ones so they couldn't be used on the newer computers. Then a girl friend of mine offered to retype the whole book - all 70,000 words - on her newer computer. Later my ex-wife bought a new computer, so any changes I want to make now I can do on her computer without bothering my friend. I have had a lot of help on the book and I am grateful to everyone who believed in the project.
Did you face any difficulties in gathering information on her ?
Yes, plenty! Most came from our state and federal governments. On one occasion I had to get a Congressman to assist me. Most records are in public domain, but getting the agencies to send them promptly is another thing. Another problem was locating some of her childhood friends as many had moved and did not keep in touch with their peers. Being a former private investigator really helped. Also, I did not have any cooperation from her family, except one aunt. I might add that if I ever decide to do another biography, I will not attempt it without the cooperation of the family. I am not complaining, as this has been a labor of love and I don't regret it in any way.
Tell us something rare or weird you discovered in your research...
I think it was the thing that started the whole research project: that was the fact that her estate was still in probate after 18 years. I think it took only 12 years to settle the estate of Howard Hughes and his was a complicated one.
How many people did you interview and who helped the most ?
To be honest I never really kept track of all those I contacted. I would
guess it would be between 200-300 people. Remember, not everyone had much
information to convey. Some only met Inger for a few minutes or had acted
with her, but did not get to know her. Many helped me with great details,
but the longest interview lasted about four hours. It was with one of the
producers of The Farmer's Daughter. You must remember that many
people only knew her at various periods of her life. In a way I am very
fortunate, since I have interviewed people from all the periods of her
life. There is no one person in her life who was with her continually from
her childhood to her death. Hopefully, the biography covers her total existence
on this earth.
Another person who was a big help was a female attorney who worked for our army in Germany. She saw me on Entertainment Tonight several years ago. They did a segment on Inger during Sweeps Month about her "tragic life". Anyway, she contacted them and we got in touch. She came over for a month and we met. She is a real fan and knows much about Inger. She can look at a photo from the series and know what episode it came from. In her collection she had articles, photos, etc on Inger and was an enormous help to the project.
When you met Inger, many years ago, what were your personal impressions ?
Besides being gracious, warm, charming and beautiful, there was a special quality about her. Although I was only 22 when we met, I had known many women, but I never met anyone like her nor have I since. She was "down to earth" on the day we met until the day she died. There was a certain aura about her that is hard to describe.
Were you a fan of Inger before you started the book ?
No. This may sound strange, but let me explain. I have lived in the Hollywood area since I was 20 years old. I know or have known many, many actors, directors, producers and others in the enbtertainment field. Early on I was involved in the record industry for a while. As a character actor friend of mine, Doug Fowley, once said about celebrities, They go to the bathroom just like the rest of us. So when I started the project it was my curiosity about her probate and not as a fan. I had no articles about her, no photos - nothing except the memory of meeting her.
The Farmer's Daughter is a typical American TV series. What impact do you think it would have if presented to the current crop of young TV viewers ?
First of all, of the 101 episodes, I have only seen about a dozen or so shows. Some were touching, some were funny and some were corny. Today, sitcoms contain more violence, sex and stupidity. To the kids of today, they would not appreciate it. If you are over 40, you would enjoy the nostalgia.
On this site we often receive mailings from people who tell us how deep Inger's work has touched them. In your opinion, is Inger still remembered ?
Definitely! As of this interview, your site is a year old and over 8,000 people have visited it!! Next question!
How intense was your research?
Very!! I went to Stockholm, London and New York City to do interviews. Later, I found a fan in Philadelphia that had three of her personal scrapbooks. They were too delicate to copy, so I went back there to view them. Many months my telephone bills were horrendous. I probably spent a total of six months in libraries and various research collections. When I started the book I only had two pages of notes from the probate records. Now I have a footlocker filled with information on her (and I'm not exaggerating).
What do you plan to do after the biography is published?
Since I started this project I have amassed about 700 photographs of Inger. I have many rare stills of her that few people have ever seen, including many candids of her. I plan to do a picture book about her next. I also have written a one woman play of her life in two acts. In the play she is giving an interview about her life. The text came from the biography, so much of the play is in her own words. I am currently trying to get it produced as it could create interest in the biography. However, I am running into the same problems that I have with trying to sell the biography. Once these projects get going I want to see her get at least one star on Hollywood Blvd.
Tell us a little about your biography. How long is it ? What themes are explored and what are your plans to publish it?
The biography is over 70,000 words long. There are no special themes.
I cover her life from the craddle to the grave. The unique thing about
the biography is that there are many quotes in her own words. These came
from letters that she had written and from people who knew her. The book
contains many details that no one has ever seen before - from her school
report cards in Sweden, the manifest of the boat she came to America on,
to her autopsy and the words read at her memorial service. Unless I win
the lottery, the publishing is not in my hands. I have been turned down
by publishers as they say no one today knows who she was. Maybe these young
editors read too much and don't watch television enough. In the last six
years Inger has appeared on television in the Los Angeles area at least
once a week on average. Naturally, teens will not buy the biography unless
they are true movie fans. The buyers will be those over 40 who remember
her fine acting career.
Demographics show that there are 65 million people in the U.S. over 50 years old. I could not find figures for those between 40-50, but there has to be a lot of them. The fact that over 8,000 people have visited your Internet site in a year's time shows that there is still interest in her life and career. What I need is a believer who has connections in the publishing industry. Or a connection with a biography-type TV show to create more interest in her life. By the way, I have contacted all of them and have been turned down. Any help from a site visitor would be highly appreciated.
Thank you for the interview and a special thanks for writing this important work. Hopefully we will be able to read it in the near future !!
(As stated earlier, Bill Patterson's book has since been published and is available.