ANN-MARGRET Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Ann-Margret Olsson                                                                           
Born: 28 April 1941 Valsjöbyn, Jämtlands Iän, Sweden                                           
Ann-Margret (born April 28, 1941) is a five-time Golden Globe Award-winning,                       
Academy Award-, Emmy Award- and Grammy-nominated Swedish-born American actress,                   
singer and dancer.                                                                                 
Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland, Sweden, the                     
daughter of Anna (née Aronsson) and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. She               
grew up 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"                                                                                   
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 singer), 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.                                     
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.                                                               
In 1961, at nineteen, she filmed a screen test at Twentieth Century Fox and was                   
signed to a seven-year contract. Ann-Margret made her film début in a loan out                   
to Paramount Studios in Pocketful of Miracles, a remake of the 1933 Bette Davis                   
vehicle 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               
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,                       
both treasured their families and believed strongly in God, both loved speed and                   
motorcycles, both could be defiant of danger, and both 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 episode of The Flintstones, voicing "Ann-Margrock",       
an animated version of herself. Decades later, she recorded the theme song to                     
the live-action film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas in character as "Ann-Margrock".           
The song she recorded was a modified version of the "Viva Las Vegas" theme.                       
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-Margrock’ in The Flintstones.                                                             
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 (they were married in 1967) taking over as                     
her manager after that engagement. The act opened with Ann-Margret arriving at                     
center stage on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, flanked by twelve other dancers on                   
bikes all bathed in swirling psychedelic lights. Elvis and his entourage came to                   
see her during the show's five-week run and to celebrate backstage. She followed                   
that up with a television special on December 1, 1968, for sponsor Canada Dry,                     
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.                                                                               
Ann-Margret in a publicity shot for her 1976 television special on NBC                             
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.                     
A few months later, Smith received custody of his three teenage                                   
children and with Ann they formed a new family.                                                   
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. 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 1989 a photo of Oprah Winfrey graced the cover of TV Guide and although the                     
head was Oprah's the body came from a 1979 publicity shot of Ann-Margret. The                     
photo was created without the permission of either Winfrey or Ann-Margret.                         
The photo was later mentioned in the television sitcom Mama's Family episode 127                   
entitled 'Pinup Mama'.                                                                             
In 1993, she starred in Grumpy Old Men with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon and                     
continues to act in films.                                                                         
Ann-Margret published an autobiography in 1994 titled Ann Margret: My Story.                       
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.                     
Ann-Margret has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Blvd.                       
Rose McGowan portrayed Ann-Margret in the 2005 television miniseries, Elvis.                       
Roger Smith has been suffering from myasthenia gravis since 1979 and Ann has                       
devoted much of her later life to caring for him.