Viva Ann-Margret! by Michael Mackey, Host of Long Island Morning Edition

Apr 29, 2016

This week our WPPB TBT celebrates the 75th birthday of sizzling, sex-kitten hot, actress, singer and dancer Ann-Margret.

Born in Sweden on April 28,1941 as Ann-Margret Olsson, her family in 1946 moved to America. On day one in the U.S.A. her father took his only child to Radio City Music Hall before leading wife and daughter to a new life in suburban Chicago. Generally introverted Ann found freedom of expression through performance. As a teenager, the now naturalized American girl made multiple appearances in school theatrical productions and local talent contests; including a 1958 telecast of Ted Mack's Amateur Hour. 

After a term at Northwestern University, Ann toured with a  group known as the Suttletones leading to a date at The Dunes in Las Vegas, where the 19 year old was discovered by George Burns. In his annual holiday show, 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.”

Now on a meteoric rise to stardom, in 1961 Ann-Margret is featured in an 8 page Life Magazine picture story, begins recording for RCA Victor, is signed to a seven-year film contract with 20th Century Fox, and makes her network television debut on The Jack Benny Program.

Ann-Margret soon becomes one of the 1960s' most popular entertainers; a decade highlighted by her TV Specials, record releases, Las Vegas nightclub act, two visits entertaining troops in Vietnam, and national recognition as a "superstar sex symbol.”

In 1972 while performing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Ann-Margret falls 22 feet from an elevated platform to the stage and suffers injuries including a broken left arm, cheekbone, and jawbone. Remarkably, ten weeks later she returns to the stage, her nightclub act in Las Vegas and Miami drawing better crowds than ever.

Ann-Margret's career in show business would remain a multi-tiered enterprise succeeding well into the 21st century; principally managed by her husband Roger Smith. They've been married since 1967. Ann-Margret's notable films include Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), 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: Special Victims Unit.

In November 2015, Ann-Margret received the Charles Durning patriotism award for her work entertaining deployed troops. This past March at the 22nd Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Ann-Margret was given the 2016 King Vidor Award. Photos from these recent events show the septuagenarian looking sexy still.

So let's celebrate our birthday girl's everlasting sizzle with a look back at her on...and off screen...romance with Elvis Presley in a dynamic scene from their only film together, Viva Las Vegas! Click here to watch the video!