Diversity worked well for Ina Balin, as for Queens 1

The childhood home of actress Ina Balin, The California at 64-20 Saunders St. in Rego Park, as it looks today.

Ina Balin was born in Brooklyn on Nov. 12, 1937 into a family of Borsch Belt entertainers. Her parents were Samuel Rosenberg and Betty Friedman.

Three years later a brother, Richard, entered the family. Sadly her parents Samuel and Betty divorced when she was 9 years old. Ina and her brother were placed in a boarding school, Montessori Children’s Village, in Bucks County, Penn.

In 1951 her life changed when her mother married wealthy shoe magnate Harold Balin. The family was reunited and moved into a brand-new Sam LeFrak luxury building called The California at 64-20 Saunders St. in Rego Park. He adopted the children and their last name became Balin. Ina graduated Forest Hills High School in 1953 at age 16.

Her big break first came at age 15 when she played the Virgin Mary in the Nativity scene on “The Perry Como Show.” More roles came her way as she had the ability to play Jewish, Italian, Mexican, Spanish and Greek, perhaps reflecting Queens’ signature diversity. She acted opposite giants like John Wayne, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis. She lost her beloved mother in 1976 and her career was cut short in 1990 when she passed away at age 52. Her brother Richard is still active as a actor, director and writer.

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