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Ann Margret 1968.jpg
Ann-Margret in 1968
BornAnn-Margret Olsson
(1941-04-28) April 28, 1941 (age 73)
Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden
EducationNew Trier High School
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationActress, singer, dancer
Years active1961–present
Spouse(s)Roger Smith (m. 1967)
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Not to be confused with Anna Margaret.
Ann Margret 1968.jpg
Ann-Margret in 1968
BornAnn-Margret Olsson
(1941-04-28) April 28, 1941 (age 73)
Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden
EducationNew Trier High School
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationActress, singer, dancer
Years active1961–present
Spouse(s)Roger Smith (m. 1967)

Ann-Margret Smith (born April 28, 1941) is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer whose professional name is Ann-Margret.

As an actress, she is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), and Tommy (1975). She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. In 2010, she won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU.

Her singing and acting careers span five decades, starting in 1961; initially she was billed as a female version of Elvis Presley. She had a minor hit in 1961 and a charting album in 1964, and scored a disco hit in 1979. In 2001 she recorded a critically acclaimed gospel album, and an album of Christmas songs from 2004 continues to be available.

Early life[edit]

Ann-Margret was born in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden,[1][2] the daughter of Anna (née Aronsson) and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. She later described Valsjöbyn as a small town "of lumberjacks and farmers high up near the Arctic Circle".[this quote needs a citation] Her father worked in the United States during his youth and moved there again in 1942, working with the Johnson Electrical Company, while his wife and daughter stayed behind.[citation needed]

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, Illinois, in Wilmette. She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1949 and took her first dance lessons at the Marjorie Young School of Dance, showing natural ability from the start, easily mimicking all the steps. Her parents were supportive; her mother handmade all her costumes. Ann-Margret's mother became a funeral parlor receptionist[1] after her husband suffered a severe injury on his job.[3] While a teenager, Ann-Margret appeared on the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour, Don McNeill's Breakfast Club and Ted Mack's Amateur Hour.

While she attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, she continued to star in theatricals. In 1959, she enrolled at Northwestern University, 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[who?] performed at the Mist, a Chicago nightclub, and went to Las Vegas, Nevada, 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.[citation needed]

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 performed a softshoe 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."[4]



Ann-Margret began recording for RCA Victor in 1961. Her first RCA Victor 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 second LP), which entered the Billboard Top 40 in the third week of August 1961 and stayed six weeks, peaking at #17.[5] The song was later covered in live performances by The Beatles and was recorded during a live performance at the BBC. 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 "Theme from Bachelor in Paradise." Her contract with RCA Victor ended in 1966. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she had hits on the dance charts, the most successful being 1979's "Love Rush," which peaked at #8 on the disco/dance charts.[6] In 2001, working with Grammy Award-Winning producer-arranger-musician Art Greenhaw who calls Ann-Margret his favorite female vocalist, she recorded the critically acclaimed album God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions. The album went on to earn a Grammy Nomination and a Dove Nomination for best album of the year in a gospel category. Her album Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection, also produced and arranged by Art Greenhaw, was recorded in 2004 and continues to be available every year during the holiday season.[7]



Publicity photo from 1960s

In 1961, she filmed a screen test at 20th Century Fox and was signed to a seven-year contract. Ann-Margret made her film debut 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.

Then came a 1962 remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical State Fair, playing the "bad girl" role of Emily opposite Bobby Darin and 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.[8] The two roles mimicked her real-life personality — shy and reserved offstage, but wildly exuberant and sensuous onstage. 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.[9]

Her next starring role, as the all-American teenager Kim from Sweet Apple, Ohio, in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), made her a major star. The premiere at Radio City Music Hall, 16 years after her first visit to the famed theater, was a smash hit: the highest first-week grossing film to date at that venue. 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."[10] 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."[11]

Ann-Margret met Elvis Presley on the MGM soundstage when the two filmed Viva Las Vegas (1964). She recorded three duets with Presley for the film, "The Lady Loves Me", "You're The Boss" and a duet version with Presley of his song, "Today, Tomorrow, and Forever", only "The Lady Loves Me" made it into the final film and none of which were commercially released until years after Presley's death, due to concerns by Colonel Tom Parker that Ann-Margret's presence threatened to overshadow Elvis'.[12] Ann-Margret introduced Presley to David Winters, whom she recommended as a choreographer for their film. Viva Las Vegas was Winters' first feature film choreography job and was his first of four movies with Presley and his first of five films, including Kitten with a Whip (1964), Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965), Made in Paris (1966) and The Swinger (1966), and two TV specials with Ann-Margret.[13] Ann-Margret was Winters's dance student at the time and Winters credits Ann-Margret as being 'that special person who changes your life'.[14] Winters was nominated for the 1970 Emmy Award for 'Outstanding Achievement in Choreography' for his CBS Television Special: "Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love" (1969)[15][16]

In 1963, Ann-Margret guest-starred in a popular episode of the animated TV series The Flintstones, voicing Ann-Margrock, an animated version of herself. She sang the ballad "The Littlest Lamb" as a lullaby and 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 the film Once a Thief (1965), she met future husband Roger Smith, who, after his successful run on the private-eye television series 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 Murderers' Row (1966). Finally she starred as the lead in The Swinger in 1966 with Tony Franciosa.

Her red hair-color (she is a "natural brunette") was the idea of Sydney Guilaroff, a hairdresser who changed the hair-color of other famous actresses such as Lucille Ball.

She was offered the title role in Cat Ballou (1965), but her manager turned it down without telling her.[17] 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.[18]

During a lull in her film career in July 1967, Ann-Margret gave her first live performance in Las Vegas, with her husband Roger Smith (whom she had married in 1967) taking over as her manager after that engagement. Elvis Presley and his entourage came to see her during the show's five-week run and to celebrate backstage. From thereon until his death, Presley sent her a guitar-shaped floral arrangement for each of her Vegas openings. After the first Vegas run ended, she followed up with a CBS television special "The Ann-Margret Show", produced and directed by David Winters on December 1, 1968,[19] with guest-stars Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Danny Thomas, and Carol Burnett. Then she went back to Saigon as part of Hope's Christmas show. A second Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) television special followed, directed and choreographed by David Winters[20] and produced and distributed by Winters' company Winters-Rosen[21] with Dean Martin and Lucille Ball.


In 1970, she returned to films with R. P. M., where she starred alongside Anthony Quinn, and C.C. and Company. David Winters and the show were nominated for a Primetime Emmy in Outstanding Choreography.[22]

In 1971, she starred in Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge, playing the over-loving girlfriend of a viciously abusive Jack Nicholson and garnering a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

On the set of The Train Robbers in Durango, Mexico, in June 1972, she told Nancy Anderson of Copley News Service that she had been on the "grapefruit diet" and had lost almost twenty pounds (134 to 115) eating unsweetened citrus.[23]

On Sunday, September 10, 1972, while performing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, she fell 22 feet from an elevated platform to the stage and suffered injuries including a broken left arm, cheekbone and jawbone. Husband Roger Smith flew a stolen plane from Burbank, California, to Lake Tahoe in order to get his wife to the surgeons at the medical center at UCLA for treatment. She required meticulous facial reconstructive surgery that required wiring her mouth shut and putting her on a liquid diet. Unable to work for ten weeks, she ultimately returned to the stage almost back to normal.[24]

At the American Film Festival of Deauville, 1988

Throughout the 1970s, Ann-Margret balanced her live musical performances with a string of dramatic film roles that played against her glamorous image. In 1973 she starred with John Wayne in The Train Robbers. Then came the musical Tommy in 1975, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition, she has been nominated for 10 Golden Globe Awards and has won five, including her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Tommy. She also did a string of successful TV specials, starting with The Ann-Margret Show for NBC / CBS in 1968.

On August 17, 1977, Ann-Margret and Roger Smith traveled to Memphis to attend Elvis Presley's funeral.[25] Three months later, she hosted Memories Of Elvis featuring abridged versions of the Elvis 1968 TV and Aloha from Hawaii specials.[26] In 1978, she co-starred with Anthony Hopkins in the horror/suspense thriller Magic.


In 1982, Ann-Margret co-starred with Walter Matthau and Dinah Manoff in the film version of Neil Simon's play I Ought to Be in Pictures. That same year, she appeared with a six-year-old Angelina Jolie in Lookin' to Get Out, playing Jolie's mother. To round out 1982, she appeared alongside Alan Bates, Glenda Jackson, and Julie Christie in the film adaptation of The Return of the Soldier. She also starred in the TV movies Who Will Love My Children? (1983) and a remake of A Streetcar Named Desire (1984). These performances collectively won her two Golden Globe Awards and two Emmy nominations. She appeared as the wife of Roy Scheider's character in the 1986 crime thriller 52 Pick-Up.

In 1989, an illustration was done of Oprah Winfrey that was on 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.[27]

1990s and 2000s[edit]

In 1992 she co-starred with Robert Duvall and Christian Bale in the Disney musical, Newsies. In 1993, Ann-Margret starred in the hit comedy Grumpy Old Men reuniting with Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Her character returned for Grumpier Old Men (1995), the equally successful sequel which this time co-starred Sophia Loren.

Ann-Margret published an autobiography in 1994 titled Ann-Margret: My Story,[28] in which she publicly acknowledged her battle with and ongoing recovery from alcoholism. In 1995, she was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history; she ranked 10th.

She also filmed Any Given Sunday (1999) for director Oliver Stone, portraying the mother of football team owner Cameron Diaz. She filmed a cameo appearance for The Limey but her entire performance was cut from the movie.[29]

Ann-Margret also starred in several TV movies, including Queen: The Story of an American Family (1993) and Life of the Party (1999), the latter of which she received nominations for an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

She made guest appearances on the television shows Touched by an Angel in 2000 and three episodes of Third Watch in 2003. In 2001, she made her first appearance in a stage musical, playing the character of brothel owner Mona Stangley in a new touring production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.The production co-starred Gary Sandy and Ed Dixon. She played Jimmy Fallon's mother in the 2004 comedy Taxi, co-starring Queen Latifah. In 2001, Ann-Margret worked with Art Greenhaw on the album God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions. The critically acclaimed project resulted in her first Grammy Award nomination and first Dove Award nomination for Best Album of the Year in a Gospel category. They teamed up again in 2004 for the album Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection. She performed material from the album at two auditorium church services at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and broadcast worldwide on the program Hour of Power.[30]

In 2006, Ann-Margret had supporting roles in the box-office hits The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause with Tim Allen. She also starred in several independent films, such as Memory (2006) with Billy Zane and Dennis Hopper. In 2009, she appeared in the comedy Old Dogs with John Travolta and Robin Williams.


Ann-Margret guest-starred in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "Bedtime," which first aired on March 31, 2010.[31] She received her sixth Emmy nomination for her performance. She also appeared in the Lifetime series, Army Wives, in the episode "Guns and Roses" (Season 4, Episode 5), which originally aired May 9, 2010. On August 29, 2010, she won an Emmy Award for Guest Performance by an Actress for her "SVU" performance. It was the first Emmy win of her career, and she received a standing ovation from the Emmy venue audience as she approached the stage to receive her award.

On October 14, 2010, Ann-Margret appeared on CBS' CSI.[32]

In 2014, she appeared in a recurring role in the second season of the Showtime original series Ray Donovan.[33]

Personal life[edit]

She has been married to Roger Smith since May 8, 1967; he was an actor who later became her manager. Prior to this she was romantically linked to Elvis Presley during the filming of Viva Las Vegas.

She rode a 500 cc Triumph T100C Tiger motorcycle in The Swinger (1966) and used the same model, fitted with a non-standard electric starter, in her stage show and her TV specials. A keen motorcyclist, she was featured in Triumph Motorcycles' official advertisements in the 1960s. She suffered three broken ribs and a fractured shoulder when she was thrown off a motorcycle she was riding in rural Minnesota in 2000.[34]


In the 2005 CBS miniseries Elvis, she is portrayed by Rose McGowan, in which her affair with Elvis Presley (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is depicted during the filming of Viva Las Vegas.









Theatre productions[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

1962Grammy AwardBest New ArtistNominated
1962Golden LaurelTop Female New PersonalityWon
1962Golden GlobeMost Promising Newcomer — FemaleWon
1963Golden LaurelTop Female Musical PerformanceWonState Fair
1963Golden LaurelTop Female StarNominated
1964Golden LaurelTop Female Comedy PerformanceWonBye Bye Birdie
1964Golden LaurelTop Female StarNominated
1964Golden GlobeBest Motion Picture Actress — Musical/ComedyNominatedBye Bye Birdie
1964Photoplay AwardMost Popular Female StarWon
1965Golden LaurelMusical Performance, FemaleWonViva Las Vegas
1966Golden LaurelMusical Performance, FemaleWonMade in Paris
1967Golden LaurelTop Female StarNominated
1972Academy AwardBest Actress in a Supporting RoleNominatedCarnal Knowledge
1972Golden GlobeBest Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting RoleWonCarnal Knowledge
1975Academy AwardBest Actress in a Leading RoleNominatedTommy
1975Golden GlobeBest Motion Picture Actress — Musical/ComedyWonTommy
1978Golden GlobeBest Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting RoleNominatedJoseph Andrews
1979Saturn AwardBest ActressNominatedMagic
1981Genie AwardBest Performance by a Foreign ActressNominatedMiddle Age Crazy
1983EmmyOutstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a SpecialNominatedWho Will Love My Children?
1983Golden Apple AwardFemale Star of the YearWon
1984EmmyOutstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a SpecialNominatedStreetcar Named Desire, AA Streetcar Named Desire
1984Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TVWonWho Will Love My Children?
1985Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TVWonStreetcar Named Desire, AA Streetcar Named Desire
1987EmmyOutstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or a SpecialNominatedTwo Mrs. Grenvilles, TheThe Two Mrs. Grenvilles
1987Women in Film Crystal AwardFor outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[35]Recipient
1988Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TVNominatedTwo Mrs. Grenvilles, TheThe Two Mrs. Grenvilles
1993EmmyOutstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or a SpecialNominatedQueen: The Story of an American Family
1994Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TVNominatedQueen: The Story of an American Family
1999EmmyOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a MovieNominatedLife of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
1999Golden GlobeBest Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TVNominatedLife of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
1999SAG AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or MiniseriesNominatedLife of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story
2001Grammy AwardBest Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel AlbumNominatedGod is Love: The Gospel Sessions
2002GMA Dove AwardBest Country AlbumNominatedGod is Love: The Gospel Sessions
2005CineVegas International Film FestivalCentennial AwardWon
2010EmmyOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesWonLaw & Order: SVU
2013Ft. Lauderdale International Film FestivalLifetime Achievement AwardRecipient


  1. ^ a b "Ann-Margret Biography". Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  2. ^ Ann-Margret biografi, Svensk Filmdatabas (Swedish) retrieved 2014-05-01
  3. ^ "Ann-Margret biography". Yahoo movies. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  4. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, p. 77.
  5. ^ "I Just Don't Understand, Ann Margret". Billboard Top 100. 1961-10-02. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 21. ISBN 0-89820-156-X. 
  7. ^ official records, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences; official records, Gospel Music Association; Mesquite (Texas) News, 2001 Volumes; holiday record release data, Select-O-Hits Distribution, 2004-2010
  8. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, p. 91.
  9. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, p. 96.
  10. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, p. 102.
  11. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, p. 104.
  12. ^ Paul Lichter, Elvis in Vegas, New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2011, p. 64
  13. ^ David Winters Bio IMDb web site
  14. ^ Ann Margret Bio IMDb web site
  15. ^ "Ann-Margret: From Hollywood With Love" The New York Times
  16. ^ Ann Margret Bio
  17. ^ Passafiume, Andrea (ed.) "Cat Ballou" on
  18. ^ Ann-Margret Will Entertain Her Troops Again at Aviation Nation. Las Vegas Events. 20 September 2005
  19. ^ The Ann Margret Show at IMDb
  20. ^ "From Hollywood with Love" at IMdb
  21. ^ "Company credits for Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love" at IMDb
  22. ^ "Awards for Ann-Margret: From Hollywood with Love" at IMDb
  23. ^ Anderson, Nancy (June 4, 1972). "John Wayne A Father Figure On Movie Set in Durango, Mexico". The Joplin Globe (Copley New Service). 
  24. ^ Ann-Margret 1994, pp. 236–254.
  25. ^ Alanna Nash (8 July 2003). The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley. Simon & Schuster. pp. 312–. ISBN 978-1-4391-3695-9. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Gillian G. Gaar (1 March 2011). Return of the King: Elivs [i.e. Elvis] Presley's Great Comeback. pp. 310–. ISBN 978-1-4587-3190-6. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Going Too Far With the Winfrey Diet". (New York Times). 1989-08-30. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  28. ^ Ann-Margret 1994.
  29. ^ "The New Cult Canon: The Limey filmmaker commentary track". February 12, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  30. ^ Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2004, Local section
  31. ^ "Exclusive: Ann-Margret to Guest on SVU". 
  32. ^ "Keck's Exclusives: How CSI Nabbed Ann-Margret". Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Ann-Margret Discusses Being a Showbiz Survivor". CNN. January 1, 2001. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  35. ^ Past Recipients Crystal Award WIF web site


External links[edit]