Viva Las Vegas
"I was very flattered by the sex-kitten thing because I never thought of myself as that." Ann-Margret
Swedish actress, singer and dancer Ann-Margret, who came to America at age 6, was discovered by the legendary comedian/actor George Burns at age 21 when she was a cabaret singer. She soon got both a record deal at RCA and a film contract at 20th Century Fox and broke into films with small roles in ''Pocketful of Miracles'' (1961) and ''State Fair'' (1962). She has since appeared in more than 50 feature films.
After gaining world attention with lively performances singing in ''Bye Bye Birdie'' (1963) and the Elvis Presley musical ''Viva Las Vegas'' (1964), the red-head screen siren garnered respect following her Oscar Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in Mike Nichols' "Carnal Knowledge" (1971) and Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Ken Russell's big screen version of The Who's 1969 rock opera, "Tommy" (1975). Ann-Margret also has won five Golden Globes, as well as several Emmy and Grammy Award nominations in recognition of her work. She has a star on the Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Blvd.
Most recently, she was seen as Santa's mother-in-law in "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," and with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in the comedy "The Break-Up" (both in 2006). Next, she will co-star with Chris Evans, Ellen Burstyn and Bryce Dallas Howard in an upcoming romantic drama film titled "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond."
5' 5" Ann-Margret was one of Empire magazine's ''100 Sexiest Stars in Film History'' (1995). She was briefly engaged to prominent Hollywood businessman Burt Sugarman in 1962 and was romantically involved with Elvis Presley in 1964. She has been married to actor and scriptwriter Roger Smith since 1967.
Childhood and Family:
In Valsjöbyn, a tiny Swedish town near the Arctic Circle, Ann-Margret Olsson was born on April 28, 1941, to Gustav Olsson and Anna Aronsson. Her father, who worked for a time in the United States during his youth, immigrated back to the United States in 1942 when he got a job with the Johnson Electrical Company in the suburbs of Chicago. Ann-Margret and her mother followed Mr. Olsson to the United States in November 1946 and Mr. Olsson took little Ann-Margret to Radio City Music Hall on the first day they arrived. The family settled just outside of Chicago in Wilmette, Illinois, and Ann-Margret became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1949. Mrs. Olsson later went to work as a funeral parlor receptionist when Mr. Olsson became too ill to continue with his job at the electric company.
Ann-Margret, nicknamed ''Slugger,'' took her first dance lessons at the Marjorie Young School of Dance. She attended New Trier High School, in Winnetka, Illinois, where she was a cheerleader. She graduated in the spring of 1959 and that fall entered Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, where she majored in speech with a minor in drama. She never graduated from the university as she left for Las Vegas to pursue a career as a singer. She is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and was initiated into the Tau chapter (Northwestern) in 1960.
Ann-Margret was romantically involved for a time with The King of Rock 'n' Roll Elvis Presley, her co-star in "Viva Las Vegas" (1964) and the two remained friends until Presley's 1977 death. She was also briefly engaged to prominent Hollywood businessman Burt Sugarman in 1962, before eventually marrying her present husband, actor and scriptwriter Roger Smith (born on December 18, 1932) on May 8, 1967.
In 1972, Ann-Margret survived a dramatic 22-foot fall from a stage in a Lake Tahoe concert. She suffered a personal setback in 1980 when her husband was diagnosed with Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease. She devoted more time to her family and helped care for her husband and three stepchildren: Tracey Smith (born on July 3, 1957), Jordan Smith (born on October 4, 1958) and Dallas Thomas Smith (born on December 23, 1961). In August 2000, Ann-Margret, a keen motorcyclist, suffered three broken ribs and a fractured shoulder when she was thrown from a motorcycle she was driving in rural Minnesota.
Bye Bye Birdie
Arriving in America at age 6, Sweden-born Ann-Margret, who took her first dance lessons at the Marjorie Young School of Dance, won a dancing and singing talent contest at a local TV station at age 13 and appeared on the ''Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour,'' ''Don McNeill's Breakfast Club'' and ''Ted Mack's Amateur Hour'' (ABC). Through high school, she continued to star in theatricals while making her professional performing debut singing with Danny Ferguson's band for one month in 1958 at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City.
During her freshmen year at Northwestern University, Ann-Margret formed a jazz group called ''The Suttletones'' with three male classmates. They soon found themselves spending weekends performing in Chicago and Los Angeles nightclubs. After finding agents, the group branched out their show to places like Newport Beach, California, and Reno, Nevada.
Ann-Margret left the university in 1960 to perform at the Nevada Hotel in June in Las Vegas, but the job failed to materialize. That same year, she sang and played the maracas in the lounge of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas and was spotted by actor/comedian George Burns who hired her for $100 per night for ten nights to perform in his Christmas show at the Congo Room of the Sahara Hotel. Soon after, she received a record deal at RCA and a film contract at 20th Century Fox.
In 1961, Ann-Margret released her debut album titled "And Here She Is—Ann-Margret." She also made her first film as Louise, the daughter of Bette Davis' street peddler lead character, in Frank Capra's Oscar-nominated drama/comedy, "Pocketful of Miracles," and made her first major TV appearance on the CBS' "Jack Benny Show." The following year, she performed the Oscar-nominated song "Bachelor in Paradise" at the Academy Awards ceremony. The newcomer was also cast as the sweet, but seductive, bombshell-next-door in the film remake of the musical "State Fair," which won her Golden Laurel's Top Female Musical Performance award. That same year, Ann-Margret won Golden Globe's Most Promising Newcomer – Female and Golden Laurel's Top Female New Personality.
Next, Ann-Margret co-starred as Kim McAfee in the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical "Bye Bye Birdie" (1963) and sang on the popular soundtrack. Her performance in the film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy. Also that year, following in the footsteps of Marilyn Monroe, Ann-Margaret sang at President John F Kennedy's 46th birthday party (Monroe sang the previous year). Additionally, she voiced the character of Ann-Margrock on an episode of the ABC animated series "The Flintstones."
George Sidney's romantic musical motion picture "Viva Las Vegas" (1964) catapulted Ann-Margret's name to stardom when she co-starred with Elvis Presley in the film. She subsequently went on to star in Douglas Heyes' film adaptation of Robert Wade and William Miller's 1959 pulp novel, "Kitten with a Whip," and in Jean Negulesco's film version of John H. Secondari's novel, "The Pleasure Seekers" (both in 1964). She also performed at President Lyndon B Johnson's inaugural gala that year.
After turning down the female lead in "Cat Ballou" (1965), which eventually went to Jane Fonda, Ann-Margret showed plenty of cleavage in her sexy portrayal of Steve McQueen's trampy wife in Norman Jewison's take on Richard Jessup's novel, "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965). Three years later, she hosted her first TV special, "The Ann-Margret Show" (1968; CBS).
In the early 1970s, Ann-Margret elicited some favorable reviews for her performance opposite Anthony Quinn in Stanley Kramer misfire "R.P.M," but garnered increased critical respect following her nomination of Best Supporting Actress (Academy Awards) for her turn as Bobbie, opposite Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel, in Mike Nichols' "Carnal Knowledge." Although she didn't win the Oscar, Ann-Margret took home a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture.
After a near-fatal accident at a Lake Tahoe concert in 1972, Ann-Margret returned to work in 1973 acting opposite John Wayne in writer/director Burt Kennedy's Western "The Train Robbers" and played the lead in the NBC musical variety special "Ann-Margret ... When You're Smiling," an edited version of her Las Vegas stage act, which drew over 51 million viewers and became her most popular TV special.
The mid 1970s saw Ann-Margret receive another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress, for her portrayal of Nora Walker Hobbs in Ken Russell's big screen version of The Who's 1969 rock opera, "Tommy" (1975). Again, she won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy although she didn’t take home the Oscar. She also entertained President and Mrs. Ford and the Shah and Empress of Iran at the White House.
Ann-Margret spent the rest of the 1970s starring in Tony Richardson's "Joseph Andrews" (1977) and delivered a well-received performance, alongside Anthony Hopkins, in Richard Attenborough's Golden Globe-nominated film adaptation of William Goldman's psychological thriller novel, "Magic" (1978). She was also paired up with Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hal Needham's Western film "The Villain" (1979).
Entering the new decade, Ann-Margret starred in her last TV variety special to date, "Ann-Margret's Hollywood Movie Girls" (1980; ABC) and made her first film with Walter Matthau, playing his adoring girlfriend Steffy, in Herbert Ross's film adaptation of Neil Simon's three-character comedy-drama play, "I Ought to Be in Pictures" (1981). She also became Alan Bates' all-too caring cousin Jenny in Alan Bridges's film version of Rebecca West's 1918 novel, "The Return of the Soldier" (1982) and made a TV dramatic debut as an Iowa farm mother of ten who is dying of cancer in the ABC movie directed by John Erman, "Who Will Love My Children" (1983), which earned her an Emmy nomination.
In 1984, Ann-Margret reunited with Erman for the ABC-TV remake of "A Streetcar Named Desire," which again earned her an Emmy nomination. She then played the home-wrecking other woman in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985) with Gene Hackman and Ellen Burstyn, and appeared in a print ad for Blackglama furs. After offering a fine performance as Roy Scheider's wife in John Frankenheimer's "52 Pick-Up" (1986), she was again directed by Erman for the NBC novel-based miniseries "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (1987; opposite Claudette Colbert who was returning to the screen after a 25-year absence), which earned her another Emmy nomination.
Ann-Margret, who was taken to Radio City Music Hall by her father as a little girl, made her debut at Radio City Music Hall in 1991. Two years later, she co-starred with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Donald Petrie's hit comedy "Grumpy Old Men." She then received another Emmy nomination for her portrayal of a woman who aged from 35 to 85 in the CBS miniseries "Queen," which was helmed by Erman. She next made her sixth collaboration with Erman in CBS’ miniseries "Scarlett" (1994), adapted from Alexandra Ripley's "sequel" to "Gone With the Wind" in which she portrayed Madam Belle Watling.
Also in 1994, Ann-Margret, who owns Ann-Margret Productions, produced and starred as a Swedish immigrant in the NBC movie "Following Her Heart," which was directed by Lee Grant. That same year, she released her autobiography, "Ann-Margret: My Story."
After reprising her role in the sequel "Grumpier Old Men" (1995), Ann-Margret produced and starred as a popular teacher who convinces three students to kill her husband in the true story-based NBC miniseries "Seduced By Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" (1996). She then produced and played her first TV series regular in the short-lived CBS midseason replacement "Four Corners" (1998), which was canceled after three episodes, and received another Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Pamela Harriman in the Lifetime biopic "Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story" (1998). She closed out the decade with a role as the estranged mother of a football team owner (Cameron Diaz) in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and as a wily grandmother who frames her abusive younger boyfriend in the Showtime movie "Happy Face Murders," which marked her first collaboration with actress Marg Helgenberger.
Entering the new millennium, Ann-Margret had a motorcycle accident in rural Minnesota and suffered three broken ribs and a fractured shoulder. However, she quickly returned to work in Burt Reynolds' Cannes-screened "The Last Producer" (aired on the USA Network in 2001) and played the role of a 200-year-old Cinderella (who looks 55) in NBC’s fantasy miniseries "The 10th Kingdom." She also teamed up again with Helgenberger in the CBS miniseries "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder."
Afterward, Ann-Margret co-starred in the Seattle Film Festival-screened "A Woman's a Helluva Thing" and in a national tour of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” In March 2003, she performed in her first nightclub act in more than a decade at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (her last live performance was at Caesars in Atlantic City 11 years before).
Recently, Ann-Margret was seen in "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” the comedy "The Break-Up" and opposite Billy Zane in the psychological thriller "Memory" (all three in 2006). She will soon wrap up her upcoming film titled "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond," a romantic drama in which she will play a spinster aunt who controls her family's fortune, alongside Chris Evans, Ellen Burstyn and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1985
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, "Who Will Love My Children?" 1984
Golden Apple: Female Star of the Year, 1983
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy, "Tommy," 1976
Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture, "Carnal Knowledge," 1972
Sour Apple: Least Cooperative Actress, 1965
Photoplay: Most Popular Female Star, 1964
Sour Apple: Least Cooperative Actress, 1963
Golden Laurel: Top Female Musical Performance, "State Fair," 1963
Golden Laurel: Top Female New Personality, 1962
Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer - Female, 1962