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Ann-Margret (born April 28, 1941) is a Swedish-born American actress, singer and dancer. She has won the Golden Globe Award five times, and has been nominated for the Academy Award, Emmy Award and Grammy.


Early life

Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in Valsjöbyn, Jämtlands Iän, Sweden, the daughter of Anna (née Aronsson) and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. She was born in a small town "of lumberjacks and farmers high up near the Arctic Circle". Her father worked in the United States during his youth and immigrated back in 1942, working with the Johnson Electrical Company, while his wife and daughter stayed behind. Ann-Margret and her mother moved to the United States in November 1946, and her father took her to Radio City Music Hall on the day they arrived. They settled just outside of Chicago in Wilmette, Illinois. She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1949. She took her first dance lessons at the Marjorie Young School of Dance, and showed natural ability from the start, easily mimicking all the steps. Her parents were supportive of her love of dance and her mother handmade all her costumes. Mrs. Olsson worked as a funeral parlour receptionist after her husband suffered a severe injury on his job. While a teenager, Ann-Margret appeared on the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour, Don McNeill's Breakfast Club and Ted Mack's Amateur Hour. Through high school, she continued to star in theatricals and she attended Northwestern University for a time, where she was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, but did not graduate. As part of a group known as the "Suttletones", they performed at the "Mist", a Chicago nightclub and went to Las Vegas for a promised club date which fell through after they arrived. They plugged ahead to Los Angeles and through agent Georgia Lund, secured club dates in Newport Beach and Reno, where Ann-Margret had a chance encounter with Marilyn Monroe, who was on location for The Misfits. Monroe noticed the striking girl in a crowd of onlookers, then chatted privately with her, offering her encouragement. The group finally arrived at The Dunes in Las Vegas, which also headlined Tony Bennett and Al Hirt at that time. George Burns heard of her performance and she auditioned for his annual holiday show, in which she and Burns did a soft-shoe routine. Variety proclaimed, "George Burns has a gold mine in Ann-Margret...she has a definite style of her own, which can easily guide her to star status".

Recording career

Ann-Margret started recording for RCA in 1961 but her recording career was not as successful as her concurrent movie career. Her first RCA recording was "Lost Love" from her debut album And Here She Is: Ann-Margret, produced in Nashville with Chet Atkins on guitar, the Jordanaires (Elvis Presley's backup singers), and the Anita Kerr Singers, with liner notes by mentor George Burns. She had a sexy throaty singing voice and RCA attempted to capitalize on the 'female Elvis' comparison by having her record a version of "Heartbreak Hotel" and other songs stylistically similar to Presley's. She scored the minor hit "I Just Don't Understand" (from her debut album) which entered the Billboard Top 40 in the third week of August 1961 and stayed six weeks, peaking at 17. The song was later covered by The Beatles. Her only charting album was The Beauty and the Beard (1964) on which she was accompanied by trumpeter Al Hirt. She also sang at the Academy Awards presentation in 1962, singing the Oscar-nominated song "Bachelor in Paradise", which caused a sensation and brought her offers for television and live concerts. Her contract with RCA ended in 1966.

Film career

In 1961, at nineteen, she filmed a screen test at 20th Century Fox and was signed to a seven-year contract. Ann-Margret made her film début in a loan out to United Artists in Pocketful of Miracles, with Bette Davis. It was a remake of the 1933 movie Lady for a Day. Both versions were directed by Frank Capra. She followed that role with the successful 1962 remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical State Fair playing the "bad girl" role of Emily opposite Pat Boone. She had tested for the part of Margy, the "good girl", but she seemed too seductive to the studio bosses who decided on the switch. The two roles mimicked her real-life personality--shy and reserved off stage and wildly exuberant and sensuous on stage. As she summed up in her autobiography, she would easily transform herself from "Little Miss Lollipop to Sexpot-Banshee" once she stepped on stage and the music began.

Her next starring role, as the all-American teenager Kim from Sweet Apple, Ohio, in Bye Bye Birdie, made her a major star. The premiere at Radio City Music Hall, sixteen years after her first visit to the famed theater, was a smash hit--the highest first-week grossing film to date at that theater. Life magazine put her on the cover for the second time and announced that the "torrid dancing almost replaces the central heating in the theater". She was asked to sing "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home" at President John F. Kennedy's private birthday party at the Waldorf-Astoria, one year after Marilyn Monroe's famous "Happy Birthday".

Ann-Margret met Elvis Presley on the MGM soundstage when the two filmed Viva Las Vegas. They began a one-year affair that received considerable attention from the gossip columnists. The reports led to a showdown with Priscilla Presley, described by Priscilla in her 1985 book, Elvis and Me, including a discussion of Ann-Margret's attempt to "cut her off at the pass" with a press announcement that she and Elvis were engaged to be married. Ann-Margret states that although they discussed marriage, they were never engaged and they both knew that the affair would run its course. Comparisons of Ann-Margret as the "female Elvis" were not confined to the publicity agencies. The two of them were truly similar in many ways--both were quiet and shy offstage and electric onstage, treasured their families and believed strongly in God, loved speed and motorcycles, could be defiant of danger, and could be self-destructive at times. After the affair ended, Presley remained a very close friend and continued to send Ann-Margret flowers at the opening of each of her stage appearances.

In 1963, Ann-Margret guest-starred in an extremely popular episode of The Flintstones, voicing Ann-Margrock, an animated version of herself. She sang the (literally) rock-ing song, "Ain't Gonna Be A Fool." Decades later, she recorded the theme song, a modified version of the Viva Las Vegas theme, to the live-action film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas in character as Ann-Margrock.

While working on Once a Thief she re-encountered Roger Smith, who after his successful run on 77 Sunset Strip was performing a live club show at the Hungry i on a bill with Bill Cosby and Don Adams. That meeting began their courtship, which met with resistance from her parents.

Ann-Margret starred in The Cincinnati Kid in 1965 opposite Steve McQueen. She also co-starred along with friend Dean Martin in the spy spoof Murderer's Row (1966). Her redhead hair color (she is a 'natural brunette') was the idea of Sydney Guilaroff, the hairdresser who changed the hair color of other famous actresses such as Lucille Ball. She was offered the role in Cat Ballou which went to Jane Fonda, but her manager turned it down without telling her. In March 1966, Ann-Margret and entertainers Chuck Day and Mickey Jones teamed up for a USO tour to entertain U.S. servicemen in remote parts of Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. She still has great affection for the veterans and refers to them as "my gentlemen". Ann-Margret, Day and Jones reunited in November 2005 for an encore of this tour for veterans and troops at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

During a lull in her film career in the late 1960s, she performed live in Las Vegas, with her husband Roger Smith (whom she had married in 1967) taking over as her manager after that engagement. Elvis and his entourage came to see her during the show's five-week run and to celebrate backstage. She followed up with a television special on December 1, 1968 starring Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Danny Thomas and Carol Burnett. Then she went back to Saigon as part of Bob Hope's Christmas show. A second television special followed with Dean Martin and Lucille Ball. She returned to films with R.P.M. and C.C. and Company (featuring her first nude scenes). In 1971, she starred in Mike Nichols's Carnal Knowledge, marking a significant change from her sex-kitten musical roles and garnering a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The following year, while performing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, she fell 22 feet from the stage and suffered injuries including a broken left arm, cheekbone and jawbone, that put her out of commission for ten weeks after which she returned to the stage almost back to normal. Roger Smith flew a stolen plane from Burbank to Lake Tahoe and back to get her to surgeons at UCLA to repair her injuries.

Throughout the 1970s, Ann-Margret balanced her live musical performances with a string of critically acclaimed dramatic film roles that played against her glamorous image. In 1973 she starred with John Wayne in The Train Robbers. These included Tommy in 1975, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition, she has been nominated for ten Golden Globe Awards and has won five times, including her Best Actress for Tommy. She also did a string of successful TV specials, starting with The Ann-Margret Show for NBC in 1968.

In 1978, she co-starred with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the horror/suspense thriller Magic. Ann-Margret appeared partially unclad in the film, which involved a steamy nude love scene between her and Hopkins. This was only the second time she ever consented to appear nude. She required the scene to be shot on a closed set with the minimum number of persons present during filming. Additionally, no stills were shot of the scene. Subsequently, High Society magazine published a picture taken from the nude scene, which led to a lawsuit. The court held that Ann-Margret had no right of publicity in the film's release. There was no evidence regarding the extent of her release in relation with Magic; and the court considered her nudity to be "newsworthy"; that Ann-Margret's nonownership in the copyright was an important element; and that High Society was only a "tacky" publication. In 1989, an illustration was done of Oprah Winfrey that graced the cover of TV Guide, and although the head was Oprah's, the body was referenced from a 1979 publicity shot of Ann-Margret. The illustration was rendered so tightly in color pencil by freelance artist Chris Notarile that most people thought it was a composite photograph.

In 1993, she starred in Grumpy Old Men with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. The following year, Ann-Margret published an autobiography in 1994 titled Ann-Margret: My Story (ISBN 0-399-13891-9). In 1995, she was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history; she ranked 10th.

In 2001, she made her first appearance in a stage musical, playing the character of Mona Stangley in a new touring production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. She has also filmed the movie Mem-o-re, in which she starred with Billy Zane and Dennis Hopper.


Television work



  • "I Just Don't Understand" (1961) U.S #17
  • "It Do Me So Good" (1961) U.S #97
  • "What Am I Supposed To Do" (1962) U.S #85
  • "Sleep In the Grass" (1969) U.S #113 (Bubbling Under Chart)
  • "Love Rush" (1979) U.S #8 (Club Play Chart)
  • "Midnight Message" (1980) U.S #12 (Club Play Chart)


  • And Here She Is...Ann-Margret (1961)

* Side 1: "I Just Don't Understand"/"I Don't Hurt Anymore"
* Side 2: "Teach Me Tonight"/"Kansas City"

  • More and More American Hits (compilation) (1962)

* Side 2: "What Am I Supposed To Do"


  • And Here She Is...Ann-Margret (1961)
  • On the Way Up (1962)
  • The Vivacious One (1962)
  • Bachelor's Paradise (1963)
  • Beauty and the Beard (1964) (with Al Hirt) U.S. #83
  • David Merrick Presents Hits from His Broadway Hits (1964) (with David Merrick) U.S #141
  • Songs from "The Swinger (And Other Swingin' Songs) (1966)
  • The Cowboy and the Lady (1969) (with Lee Hazlewood)
  • Ann-Margret' (1979)
  • God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions (2001)
  • Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection (2004)
  • Love Rush (reissue of Ann-Margret) (2007)
  • Everybody Needs Somebody Sometimes (single, reissue) (2007)
  • All's Faire In Love" (2008)


  • State Fair (1962) U.S #12
  • Bye Bye Birdie (1963) U.S #2
  • The Pleasure Seekers (1965)
  • Tommy (1975) U.S #2
  • Newsies (1992) U.S #149

Theatre productions


Year Group Award Won? Film
1962 Grammy Awards Best New Artist No
Golden Laurel Top Female New Personality Yes
Golden Globe Most Promising Newcomer-Female Yes
1963 Golden Laurel Top Female Musical Performance Yes State Fair
Golden Laurel Top Female Star No
1963 Golden Laurel Top Female Comedy Performance Yes Bye Bye Birdie
Golden Laurel Top Female Star No
Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actress- Musical/Comedy No Bye Bye Birdie
Photoplay Awards Most Popular Female Star Yes
1965 Golden Laurel Musical Performance, Female Yes Viva Las Vegas
1966 Golden Laurel Musical Performance, Female Yes Made in Paris
1967 Golden Laurel Top Female Star No
1972 Academy Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role No Carnal Knowledge
Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role Yes
1975 Academy Award Best Actress in a Leading Role No Tommy
Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actress- Musical/Comedy Yes
1978 Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role No Joseph Andrews
1979 Saturn Award Best Actress No Magic
1981 Genie Award Best Performance by a Foreign Actress No Middle Age Crazy
1983 Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special No Who Will Love My Children?
Golden Apple Award Female Star of the Year Yes
1984 Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special No A Streetcar Named Desire
Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV Yes Who Will Love My Children?
1985 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV Yes A Streetcar Named Desire
1987 Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or a Special No The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
Crystal Award Women in Film Award Yes
1988 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV No The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
1993 Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or a Special No Queen: The Story of an American Family
1994 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV No Queen: The Story of an American Family
1999 Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie No Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV No Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
SAG Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries No Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
2001 Grammy Awards Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album (God is Love: The Gospel Sessions) No
2002 GMA Dove Awards Best Country Album (God is Love: The Gospel Sessions) No
2005 CineVegas International Film Festival Centennial Award Yes


External links

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