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Q: I recently saw an actress by the name of Jena Engstrom on '60s episodes of "Have Gun -- Will Travel" and "Gunsmoke," but I have not seen or heard anything about her since. Could you update me about her?

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More of the same -- that's about the best update I can offer.

Jena Engstrom had a whirlwind of a screen career, appearing in 26 different titles (often playing multiple roles on the same show) in just five working years.

Most of those titles were western TV series, and her career, though brief, still managed to cover of all the classics of the era. Along with the two you mentioned, "Have Gun -- Will Travel" and "Gunsmoke" (she appeared twice in each show, though in a different part each time), she also appeared twice in "Bonanza" and three times on "Rawhide." Her final TV role came in 1964 on yet another western hit, "The Virginian."

The next year she made her big-screen debut in the largely forgotten religious teen drama "The Restless Ones." Indeed, its only real claim to fame is an appearance by the populist preacher Billy Graham.

But instead of being her launching point out of a career as a TV bit player, "The Restless Ones" was Engstrom's final role, and she retired from the screen at the ripe old age of 24.

Given the brevity of her career and the lack of a regular, starring role from which to build a fan-base, not much more is known about her.

The only bit of trivia that's available is the fact that she's the daughter of another longtime TV guest player, Jean Engstrom. The two played mother and daughter in the "Rawhide" episode "The Incident of the Lost Idol" in 1961.

 

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