Diane Jergens Poster

Biography

Cute, elfin-like blonde Dianna Irgens was born in Minneapolis of Norwegian and Austro-Hungarian ancestry to Norman Clifford Irgens and Anna Agnes Irgens, the youngest of three children. She gained her first performing experience in high school and first auditioned for films at the age of eight. After several movie bit parts, Dianna kick-started her career in the early 1950s as a member of songwriter Jimmy McHugh and His Singing Starlets, a smash hit all-star musical revue which toured coast-to-coast. Her first notable foray into films was playing the younger sister of Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias in a 1954 Allied Artists biopic. This was followed by -- often uncredited -- yeoman work as guest star in assorted early TV dramas and comedies. While full of promise and possessed of a fresh-faced 'girl-next-door' quality, few of her films seriously tested her mettle as an actress. The majority were pleasant if unexceptional B-pictures tailored to appeal to juvenile audiences. Some, like High School Confidential! (1958) -- an 'expose' of dope peddling to teenagers -- were lurid exploitation flicks. Others, like Island of Lost Women (1959), were pure Hollywood hokum.

Diana's career nonetheless peaked between 1955 and 1961 when she was regularly featured on television in The Bob Cummings Show (1955) (as Bob's wholesome girlfriend) and she may also be remembered in several episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952). On the big screen she had a small part in the classic Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedy Desk Set (1957) and played James Stewart's daughter in The FBI Story (1959). By the mid-1960s, Diane was done with acting. By then she had happily retired, married actor-singer Randy Sparks (founder of The New Christy Minstrels) and given birth to three children. The family eventually moved to the historic gold rush town of Mokelumne Hill in northern California, where, for several years, they owned and operated a popular saloon filled with Western memorabilia known as the Hole in the Wall.