Jena Engstrom (born Liana Jeanne Moon on June 30, 1942 in Los Angeles, California) is an American former television actress. She appeared in more than three dozen episodes of various television series between 1960 and 1964.
Jena Engstrom began acting after graduating from high school and first appeared on television in the 1960 episode "Adopted" of the ABC crime drama, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor. She appeared in some thirty-seven television programs before making her final appearance opposite guest star Robert Culp in the 1964 episode, "The Stallion", of NBC's The Virginian.
Mother and daughter
Jena Engstrom is the daughter of actress Jean Engstrom (1920-1997) whose television career (1955-1966) overlapped her daughter’s and whose career also included movie and regional stage appearances. Most on-line databases and this article have listed only two of the three TV shows in which they appeared together. The first of the two shows listed is the April 1961 episode of the CBS program Rawhide titled "Incident of the Lost Idol" in which they appeared as mother and daughter. They had only one brief scene together as the story was not about their relationship. The second show listed is the January 1962 episode “To Sell Another Human Being” of ABC's The New Breed, starring Leslie Nielsen, in which mother Jean played a wealthy woman who with her husband (played by Richard Arlen) adopt a baby through an adoption mill. The police get involved when the baby's natural mother, played by daughter Jena, tries to get her baby back. The third television show in which they appeared together is an unidentified 30-minute religious program presented in 1961 in which they played mother and daughter. In this story a girl (Jena) has trouble relating to her parents until a session with teenagers at a church is recorded and the recording made available to the parents to listen to. Appearing in this show with Jean and Jena Engstrom are Robert Stevenson as Jena’s father and Richard Evans as her boyfriend. This film, minus the opening and closing credits, has been posted on-line.
Twenty-one of Jena Engstrom's thirty-seven roles were in television westerns. Some of her best acting opportunities occurred in this genre. She appeared three times each on Have Gun, Will Travel, and Wagon Train, as well as Rawhide, twice each on Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Laramie, and once each on The Tall Man, Death Valley Days, Frontier Circus, and Outlaws, as well as her final performance as an actress in The Virginian.
In “The Education of Sarah Jane” episode of Have Gun, Will Travel, Engstrom appeared as Sarah Jane opposite guest star Duane Eddy in a story of the youngest members of feuding clans that have been killing one another for generations. For Paladin (Richard Boone) his task is to bring an end to the madness. In the “Milly” episode of Gunsmoke, she played Milly Glover, an impoverished teenager hoping to break herself and her younger brother (Billy Hughes) from their abusive and alcoholic father (Malcolm Atterbury). She tries to escape poverty through marriage to an older man, but the three men (James Griffith, Don Dubbins, and Harry Swoger) to whom she proposes reject her. She plots revenge. In the episode “Chester’s Indian”, Engstrom plays Callie Dill, the repressed daughter of a storekeeper (Karl Swenson) who is helping a wrongfully detained Cheyenne brave (Eddie Little Sky) trying to return to his village. When Chester (Dennis Weaver) shoots and wounds the brave, Callie implores Chester to nurse him back to health. In 1962, in one of her three appearances on Rawhide, she had the title role of "The Child-Woman" in an episode also guest-starring Cesar Romero where in the storyline she plays a teenager willfully in the clutches of a domineering saloonkeeper. In 1961, she portrayed Laurie Manson in "The Incident of the Lost Idol". She retired from acting in 1964, not long after appearing on Wagon Train and in an episode of Perry Mason in which she plays Vera Janel in "The Case of the Illicit Illusion". Her final television appearance was on The Virginian in an episode broadcast in September 1964, "The Black Stallion". In that episode Engstrom portrays a rancher’s daughter in love with an alcoholic veterinarian (Robert Culp), who has been drafted by The Virginian co-star Randy Boone to care for an abused stallion.
Jena Engstrom left acting in 1964, possibly because of health considerations. In 1963, she was cast in what was to have been a recurring role of Jennie in the series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, starring Kurt Russell, but had to give up the role because of illness and was replaced by Donna Anderson.
In June 1964, she was replaced again because of ill health by Davey Davison in the episode "Children of Calamity" of Richard Crenna's CBS drama series, Slattery's People.
The acting credits of mother Jean and daughter Jena were confused at the time they were active in the business resulting in mixed credits in newspapers and problems with pay checks. For a long time the credits were confused on many Internet databases, and while some errors still exist, many have been corrected.
Several of the television series listed below have been released by their studios on DVDs that are available for sale or for rent.
Note: "Episode" column: 2.9 indicates Season 2, Episode 9, etc.
|AIR DATE||SHOW||EPISODE||EPISODE TITLE||CHARACTER||NOTES||DVD|
|Nov. 25, 1960||The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor||2.9||"Adopted"||Ann Martin||1st of 2 appearances on this show.|
|Feb. 5, 1961||Shirley Temple Theatre||2.19||"The Fawn"||Kathy|
|Feb. 25, 1961||Have Gun, Will Travel||4.23||"Fatal Flaw"||Cassandra Langford||1st of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Mar. 14, 1961||The Red Skelton Hour||10.17||"Freddy and the Baby"||Young Woman (Baby's Mother)||Yes|
|Apr. 19, 1961||The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet||9.30||"Selling Rick's Drums"||Betty Hamilton||Yes|
|Apr. 28, 1961||Rawhide||3.24||"Incident of the Lost Idol"||Laurie Manson||1st of 3 appearances on this show. Mother Jean Engstrom also appears in this episode.||Yes|
|Jun. 11, 1961||The Asphalt Jungle||1.11||"The Kidnapping"||Karen Meriden|
|Sep. 23, 1961||Have Gun, Will Travel||5.2||"The Education of Sarah Jane"||Sarah Jane Darrow||2nd of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Oct. 1, 1961||Bonanza||3.2||"Springtime"||Ann||1st of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Oct. 12, 1961||My Three Sons||2.3||"The Crush"||Mary Beth Jackson||Yes|
|Oct. 14, 1961||The Tall Man (TV series)||2.6||"An Item for Auction"||Mary Susan Naylack||Yes|
|Oct. 23, 1961||Death Valley Days||10.7||"Storm Over Truckee"||Maggie Woolf||Billed as Jenna Engstrom.|
|Oct. 30, 1961||The Everglades||1.4||"Primer for Pioneers"||Memory Jacks||The series is listed as "Everglades!" in the opening credits.|
|Nov. 1, 1961||Wagon Train||5.6||"The Jenna Douglas Story"||Sue Thompson||Yes|
|Nov. 2, 1961||Outlaws (1960 TV series)||2.5||"The Night Riders"||Louise Nichols|
|Nov. 25, 1961||Gunsmoke||7.9||"Milly"||Milly Glover||1st of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Dec. 26, 1961||Laramie (TV series)||3.13||"The Lawless Seven"||Ginny Hawks||1st of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Jan. 16, 1962||The New Breed (TV Series)||1.16||"To Sell Another Human Being"||Mother Jean Engstrom also appears in this episode.|
|Mar. 2, 1962||The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor||3.20||"Night Boat"||Frances||2nd of 2 appearances on this show.|
|Mar. 14, 1962||Wagon Train||5.24||"The Amos Billings Story"||Loan||2nd of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Mar. 17, 1962||Have Gun, Will Travel||5.26||"Alice"||Maya Ferguson||3rd of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Mar. 23, 1962||Rawhide (TV series)||4.24||"The Child-Woman"||Posie Mushgrove||2nd of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Apr. 5, 1962||Frontier Circus||1.20||"Mighty Like Rogues"||Betsy Ross Jukes||Yes|
|May 12, 1962||Gunsmoke||7.32||"Chester's Indian"||Callie Dill||2nd of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Oct. 26, 1962||Rawhide (TV series)||5.5||"Incident of the Four Horsemen"||Amy Galt||3rd of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Nov. 5,1962||Stoney Burke (TV series)||1.6||"A Matter of Pride"||Meryle Hill||Yes|
|Nov. 13, 1962||Laramie (TV series)||4.7||"The Sunday Shoot"||Nancy Tilford||2nd of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Dec. 2, 1962||Bonanza||4.10||"The Deadly Ones"||Molly Reed||2nd of 2 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Jan. 11, 1963||Route 66 (TV series)||3.16||"You Can't Pick Cotton in Tahiti"||Elva Dupree||Yes|
|Feb. 7, 1963||Dr. Kildare||2.18||"Good Luck Charm"||Marcia Laverly||Yes|
|Apr. 17, 1963||The Eleventh Hour (U.S. TV series)||1.27||"Try to Keep Alive Until Next Tuesday"||Marian Snyder||Yes|
|May 23, 1963||The Doctors and the Nurses||1.30||"Bitter Pill"||Jean Wheeler||The show was called The Nurses (CBS TV series) during the first season.|
|Sep 15, 1963||The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (TV series)||1.1||"The Day of Leaving"||Jennie||Jena Engstrom was replaced after this pilot episode because of illness|
|Feb. 7, 1964||77 Sunset Strip||6.20||"Queen of the Cats"||Marian Armstrong||Final episode of this series.77 Sunset Strip|
|Mar. 30, 1964||Wagon Train||7.20||"The Santiago Quesada Story"||Kim Case||3rd of 3 appearances on this show.||Yes|
|Apr. 9, 1964||Perry Mason (TV series)||7.25||"The Case of the Ilicit Illusion"||Vera Janel||Yes|
|Sep. 30, 1964||The Virginian (TV series)||3.3||"The Black Stallion"||Jodie Wingate||Episode also called "The Stallion"||Yes|