Ina Balin

Charro, 1969

Real Name: Ina Rosenberg
Born: November 12th, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York.
Died: June 20th, 1990.

Ina got her professional start on TV on The Perry Como Show. This led to roles on Broadway, and a minor role in the film The Black Orchid (1958), with Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn. Ina played Mary, the daughter of Anthony Quinn's character. In 1960, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for the pivotal supporting role of Paul Newman's love interest in From The Terrace. She also took one of the "New Star of the Year" awards that year. Her career looked promising enough that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voted her "International Star of Tomorrow" in 1961.

Her next role reflected that status, starring with John Wayne and Stuart Whitman in the western classic, The Comancheros. As the fiery, independent Pilar, Ina more than held her own with the established stars. As if that weren't enough, in her spare time, from 1961 to 1963, she and Mildred Traube owned and ran the Balin-Traube Gallery on New York's East 74th Street. She starred in the Jerry Lewis film, The Patsy in 1964, and in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), with Max Von Sydow, she played Martha of Bethany.

In Charro!, Ina plays Tracey, ex-girlfriend of Elvis' who runs the saloon in Rio Seco. Although Charro was an attempt to change Elvis' film image, it was a case of too-little-too-late. If a role like this had come along a few years back, it may have revived Elvis' hopes of having a "real" film career. However, filming of Charro took place straight after the filming of the 1968 "Comeback Special" that would revive his music career. Perhaps sensing that his career is in transition, Elvis doesn't put much more into his acting performance here than he does in any of the musicals. Too bad, too, 'cause he looks suitably scruffy in that beard, and could've done a lot worse than to make a few westerns like this (well, not exactly like this, maybe ones with better stories!) Anyway, it's worth it to see Elvis trying to look like Clint Eastwood, and it certainly doesn't hurt to see Ina in, shall we say, saloon-wear!

1970 brought a new experience for Ina. She had already been the first woman to do a handshake tour of a South Vietnam military hospital in the '60's. This time she accompanied the U.S.O. show. There she visited a small orphanage outside Saigon called An Lac. When the war came to an end in 1975, she helped evacuate Vietnamese and Asian-American orphans from An Lac, and ended up adopting three of the children. In 1980, she played herself in the TV-movie based on her experiences, The Children of An Lac.

Her last film performance was in the comedy That's Adequate, a mock documentary, with Bruce Willis, about a Hollywood studio that makes cheap movies based on everybody else's ideas! Sadly, Ina died in June of 1990.

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