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Ann-Margret

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Also Known As: Ann-Margaret Olsson Died:
Born: April 28, 1941 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Sweden Profession: actor, singer, dancer, cabaret performer, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Born Ann-Margaret Olsson in Stockholm, Sweden on April 28, 1941, the redhead who would one day be known simply as Ann-Margret spent the first five years of her life in her native country before her electrician father was offered a job in stateside. The family settled near Chicago, IL; first in Fox Lake, then in Wilmette where they lived in the funeral home where her mother worked as a receptionist. As a vivacious pre-teen, Ann-Margret began entering talent contests, taking her singing and dancing to national television at age 16 on "The Amateur Hour" (DuMont Network, 1946-49; NBC, 1949-1954; ABC, 1955-57). She joined a number of professional bands while still in school, but in 1960, George Burns discovered the cabaret performer singing and playing the maracas in the lounge of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Impressed with her presence, the comedian hired her for $100 per night to perform in his Christmas show at the Sahara Hotel. After landing a recording contract with RCA and releasing the first of many albums in 1961, she made her feature debut as Bette Davis' daughter in Frank Capra's wet-blanket remake, "A Pocketful of Miracles" (1961). The effort earned the actress a Golden Globe Award for Best...

Born Ann-Margaret Olsson in Stockholm, Sweden on April 28, 1941, the redhead who would one day be known simply as Ann-Margret spent the first five years of her life in her native country before her electrician father was offered a job in stateside. The family settled near Chicago, IL; first in Fox Lake, then in Wilmette where they lived in the funeral home where her mother worked as a receptionist. As a vivacious pre-teen, Ann-Margret began entering talent contests, taking her singing and dancing to national television at age 16 on "The Amateur Hour" (DuMont Network, 1946-49; NBC, 1949-1954; ABC, 1955-57). She joined a number of professional bands while still in school, but in 1960, George Burns discovered the cabaret performer singing and playing the maracas in the lounge of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Impressed with her presence, the comedian hired her for $100 per night to perform in his Christmas show at the Sahara Hotel. After landing a recording contract with RCA and releasing the first of many albums in 1961, she made her feature debut as Bette Davis' daughter in Frank Capra's wet-blanket remake, "A Pocketful of Miracles" (1961). The effort earned the actress a Golden Globe Award for Best Newcomer, and though her follow-up, a remake of "State Fair" (1962), bombed, she became the "It girl" of the moment when she sang the Oscar-nominated song "Bachelor in Paradise" at the 34th annual Academy Awards.

With her youthful, high-energy dancing style and breathy vocals, Ann-Margret helped resuscitate the nearly comatose Hollywood musical with her role as the small-town girl chosen to kiss a rock star in "Bye Bye Birdie" (1963). She also played a key role in making "Viva Las Vegas" (1964) Elvis Presley's best musical, matching the King step-for-step in the talent and sex appeal departments. The project also sparked a romance between the pair, who parted as friends and remained close confidantes throughout Elvis' tumultuous life. However "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Viva Las Vegas" were the high points of a flurry of forgettable films cranked out to capitalize on Ann-Margret's sex bomb image. She tackled her first serious role in the uninspired "Kitten with a Whip" (1964), playing a tough, conniving escapee from a reformatory; though some noticed the beginnings of a dramatic actress, most refused to take her seriously. A steady diet of fluff ensued until her 1967 marriage to Roger Smith, the former star of "77 Sunset Strip" (ABC, 1958-1964) who took over her management in partnership with Allan Carr. Smith and Carr groomed Ann-Margret as a variety artist, which begat a decade-long series of highly enjoyable musical-comedy TV specials, beginning with "The Ann-Margret Show" (CBS, 1968). She further survived the death of the Hollywood musical by becoming a staple of the Las Vegas scene where such productions still thrived, selling out shows weeks in advance.

During the 1970s, the cultural icon that had inspired and voiced Ann-Margrock on an episode of "The Flintstones" (ABC, 1960-66) finally won respect as a dramatic actress. Her powerful supporting performance as Jack Nicholson's neglected wife in Mike Nichols' "Carnal Knowledge" (1971) brought, in the words of one critic, "the only sign of humanity" to the picture. She would go on to win a Golden Globe and earn an Oscar nomination for the role. A life-threatening, 22-foot fall from a stage in 1972 temporarily disrupted her career and put the entertainer in a coma for three days, but she made a triumphant Las Vegas comeback an astonishing 10 weeks later. The high-profile accident brought in a staggering 51 million viewers to watch her "comeback" TV variety special, "Ann-Margret: When You're Smiling" (NBC, 1973), the following year. She went on to realize her dream of playing opposite John Wayne by landing role in the relaxed Western "The Train Robbers" (1973), following it up with a surprising and intense performance as deaf, dumb, and blind kid Roger Daltrey's mother in the rock musical "Tommy" (1975), for which she earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Though Ann-Margret remained busy during the late-1970s, few good roles and films presented themselves, with her acclaimed performance opposite Anthony Hopkins in Richard Attenborough's "Magic" (1978) outnumbered by lame comedies like "Middle Age Crazy" (1980).

Since meaty feature fare was at a minimum for aging actresses, Ann-Margret turned to television during the '80s as an outlet for her dramatic talent. Her TV movie debut, "Who Will Love My Children?" (ABC, 1983), was a stunner that earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. Encouraged by director John Erman to shed her glamour image to play the part of a cancer-stricken single mother who tries to place her 10 children with new families before she succumbs, Ann-Margret garnered the first of her many forthcoming Emmy nominations. The following year, she offered a Golden Globe-winning interpretation of Blanche DuBois alongside Treat Williams and Beverly D'Angelo in a TV adaptation of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (ABC, 1984). She gave another excellent performance as a complicating member of a trio in the feature film "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985), as "the other woman" who comes between married couple Gene Hackman and Ellen Burstyn. Ann-Margret's TV career continued steadily with the actress bringing some class to the enjoyably trashy Dominick Dunne-adapted miniseries, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (NBC, 1987), and holding her own opposite Julie Andrews in the touching AIDS drama "Our Sons" (ABC, 1991). These two TV films plus the follow-up miniseries, "Queen" (CBS, 1993) and the misbegotten "Gone with the Wind" (1939) sequel "Scarlett" (CBS, 1994), were all helmed by Erman, whose partnership with Ann-Margret yielded the actress four Emmy nominations altogether.

As she reached the half-century mark, the multi-faceted entertainer returned to the stage, starring in the biggest production ever staged by a single performer at Radio City Music Hall in 1991. Her profile boost continued with her biggest feature film success in years, as the attractive bone of contention between famous screen team Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in "Grumpy Old Men" (1993). Hot on the heels of that major box office success, she released the bestselling memoir, Ann-Margret: My Story for a reported $1 million publishing deal. She re-teamed with her co-stars for the equally popular sequel "Grumpier Old Men" in 1995. At this time, the actress kicked off a producing career through Ann-Margret Productions, creating vehicles for herself like "Following Her Heart" (NBC, 1994) and "Seduced By Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" (NBC, 1996). Her first foray into series TV came with her role as the matriarch of a large New Mexican ranching family in "Four Corners" (CBS, 1998), which unfortunately fizzled after only three episodes. An Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated leading role in the Lifetime biopic, "Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story" (1998), about the storied socialite; an almost unrecognizable turn as a wily grandmother in "Happy Face Murders" (Showtime, 1999); and a featured role as a 200-year-old Cinderella in the NBC fantasy miniseries, "The 10th Kingdom" (2000) continued her run as queen of dramatic TV movies.

Returning to feature films to kick off a new era of big screen "mother" roles, Ann-Margret played the estranged mom of a football team owner (Cameron Diaz) in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" (1999). The following year, she portrayed the wife of nearly washed-up movie mogul Burt Reynolds in "The Last Producer" (2000), also directed by Reynolds. On the small screen she excelled in the "ripped from the headlines" television movie, "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder" (2000), and she appeared in the CBS miniseries "Blonde" (2001), based on the Joyce Carol Oates book, as one of the influential women in the life of Marilyn Monr . In "A Woman is a Hell of a Thing" (2001), she was not used to best effect as the New Age-y stepmother of a men's magazine publisher, but that same year, she hit a music milestone when her Gospel album, God is Love: The Gospel Sessions, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Southern, Bluegrass or Country Gospel category. The tireless worker hit the road in a touring production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" before giving a dazzling performance in the telepic, "A Place Called Home" (2004), as an aging, reclusive Southern belle whose feistiness is pitted against a pair of con artists.

In a new century career swing towards light comedy features, Ann-Margret had a supporting role as the mother of Jimmy Fallon's rookie cop in the action-buddy film, "Taxi" (2004), and supported Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in the romantic comedy hit, "The Break-Up" (2006). She played Santa's mother-in-law in the holiday family offering "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (2006), but then the actress went into semi-retirement when she was diagnosed with the neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis. Thankfully, she returned to the small screen for an Emmy-winning guest appearance on an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Lucky (2011)
3.
4.
 Old Dogs (2009)
6.
 Memory (2007)
7.
 Break-Up, The (2006)
9.
 Taxi (2004) Washburn'S Mom
10.
 Interstate 60 (2003) Cameo Appearance
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1941:
Born in Valsjobyn, a tiny Swedish town near the Arctic Circle
1946:
Moved with mother to Fox Lake, Illinois, near Chicago; father had emigrated from Sweden several years earlier
:
Moved with family to Wilmette, Illinois, where they lived in the funeral parlor at which her mother was receptionist
1954:
At age 13, won a dancing and singing talent contest on a local TV station (date approximate)
1957:
Appeared on "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour" (ABC), winning prize as first runner-up
1958:
Made professional performing debut singing with Danny Ferguson's band for one summer month at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City
1959:
Formed jazz combo, the Suttletones, with three male classmates at Northwestern University; worked in Chicago nightclubs on weekends
1960:
Left school; headed for Las Vegas with group to play gig at the Nevada Hotel in June; job failed to materialize
1960:
Continued on with group to Los Angeles; found agents; worked in Newport Beach, California and Elko and Reno, Nevada
1960:
Noticed by George Burns while singing and playing the maracas in the lounge of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas; hired for $100 per night for ten nights to perform in his Christmas show at the Congo Room of the Sahara Hotel
1961:
Signed recording contract with RCA (date approximate)
1961:
First major TV appearance on the "Jack Benny Show" (CBS) led to a contract with 20th Century-Fox and her first movie
1961:
Film acting debut as Bette Davis' daughter in Frank Capra's "A Pocketful of Miracles"
1961:
Released first album "And Here She Is--Ann-Margret"
1962:
Performed the Oscar-nominated song "Bachelor in Paradise" at the Academy Awards ceremony; received write-up in <i>Show Magazine</i> that said: "In the space of three minutes, Ann-Margret became the hottest name in town"
1962:
Played sweet-but-seductive bombshell-next-door in third-rate film remake of the musical "State Fair"
1963:
Sang at President John F Kennedy's 46th birthday party, just as Marilyn Monroe had the year before
1963:
Co-starred as Kim McAfee in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit "Bye Bye Birdie"; sang on the popular soundtrack album
1964:
Performed at President Lyndon B Johnson's inaugural gala
1964:
Made motion picture exhibitors poll of top ten boxoffice stars, placing eighth; acted opposite Elvis Presley in "Viva Las Vegas"; also starred in "Kitten with a Whip" and "The Pleasure Seekers"
:
Turned down the female lead in "Cat Ballou" (1965)
1965:
Displayed plenty of cleavage in her sexy portrayal of Steve McQueen's trampy wife in "The Cincinnati Kid"
:
Inspired and voiced the character of Ann-Margrock on an episode of "The Flintstones" (ABC)
1968:
Hosted first TV special, "The Ann-Margret Show" (CBS)
1970:
Elicited some favorable reviews for her turn in Stanley Kramer misfire, "R.P.M"
1971:
Received increased critical respect and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in "Carnal Knowledge", directed by Mike Nichols
:
Performed regularly in Las Vegas; became known for a time as 'The Queen of Vegas', 'The Swedish Meatball' and, again in reference to her Scandinavian origins, 'The Vegas Valkyrie'
1972:
Fell 22 feet from a stage platform while performing at the Sahara Hotel, Lake Tahoe, Nevada (November 10); was in a coma for three days; suffered concussion and many fractures, including ones in her left arm, jaw, and five other facial bones; returned to the stage in ten weeks
1973:
Acted opposite John Wayne in "The Train Robbers"
1973:
Starred in TV musical variety special, "Ann-Margret ... When You're Smiling" (NBC), an edited version of her Las Vegas stage act; was her most popular TV special, drawing over 51 million viewers
1975:
Earned Oscar nomination as Best Actress for her turn as Nora Walker Hobbs in "Tommy", Ken Russell's film version of the Who's rock opera
1975:
Entertained President and Mrs Ford and the Shah and Empress of Iran at the White House
1977:
Headlined as Lady Booby in Tony Richardson's "Joseph Andrews", the director's failed attempt to recapture the glory of his "Tom Jones" (1963)
1978:
Gave another well-received performance alongside Anthony Hopkins in "Magic", directed by Richard Attenborough
:
Acknowledged she was an alcoholic and began treatment
1979:
Acted with Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Hal Needham's "The Villain"
1980:
Starred in last TV variety special (to date) "Ann-Margret's Hollywood Movie Girls" (ABC)
1981:
First film with Walter Matthau, "I Ought to Be in Pictures"
1982:
Portrayed Alan Bates' doting cousin in "The Return of the Soldier"
1983:
TV dramatic debut, "Who Will Love My Children?" (ABC); earned her an Emmy nomination; first collaboration with director John Erman who convinced her to shed her "glamour" image for the part of an Iowa farm wife dying of cancer
1984:
Scored a triumph as Blanche DuBois in the ABC-TV remake of "A Streetcar Named Desire", earning a second Emmy nomination; again directed by Erman
1985:
Played home-wrecking other woman in "Twice in a Lifetime", co-starring Gene Hackman and Ellen Burstyn
1986:
Turned in fine performance as Roy Scheider's wife in John Frankenheimer's "52 Pick-Up"
1987:
Earned another Emmy nomination for her miniseries debut, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (NBC), helmed by Erman; starred opposite Claudette Colbert who was returning to the screen after a 25-year absence
1991:
Made NYC debut at Radio City Music Hall
1993:
Co-starred with Jack Lemmon and Matthau in the hit comedy "Grumpy Old Men"
1993:
Picked up fourth Emmy nomination for the miniseries "Queen" (CBS), helmed by Erman; played a woman who aged from 35 to 85, ending up with a dowager's hump, bad teeth and failing eyesight (contact lenses gave the appearance of cataracts)
1994:
Portrayed madam Belle Watling in CBS miniseries "Scarlett", adapted from Alexandra Ripley's "sequel" to "Gone With the Wind"; sixth collaboration with Erman; network censors cut one of her scenes for US version
1994:
Produced (through Ann-Margret Productions) and starred in "Following Her Heart" (NBC), directed by Lee Grant; first time singing in a TV-movie; her mother helped her rehearse her role as a Swedish immigrant, guaranteeing an authentic accent
1995:
Reprised her role in the sequel "Grumpier Old Men"
1996:
Played a popular teacher who uses her wiles to convince three students into killing her husband in the fact-based NBC miniseries "Seduced By Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story"; produced through Ann-Margret Productions
1998:
TV series debut as regular, starring in the short-lived CBS midseason replacement "Four Corners"; show cancelled after three episodes aired; produced through Ann-Margret Productions
1998:
Won plaudits (and a fifth Emmy nod) for her impersonation of Pamela Harriman in the Lifetime biographical movie "Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story"
1999:
Was almost unrecognizable as a wily grandmother who frames her abusive younger boyfriend in "Happy Face Murders" (Showtime); first collaboration with actress Marg Helgenberger
1999:
Portrayed the estranged mother of a football team owner (Cameron Diaz) in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday"
2000:
Essayed the role of a 200-year-old Cinderella (who looks 55) in NBC fantasy miniseries "The 10th Kingdom"
2000:
Reteamed with Helgenberger (as Patsy Ramsey) for CBS miniseries "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town", a look at the murder of JonBenet Ramsey
2000:
Acted in Burt Reynolds' "The Last Producer" (shot in 1999); screened at Cannes; aired on USA Network in 2001
2001:
Starred as Miss Mona in a national tour of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"; debut as a musical theater performer; briefly withdrew from performances in late February to care for her ill mother
2001:
Co-starred in "A Woman's a Helluva Thing" (filmed 1999); screened at Seattle Film Festival
2006:
Joined with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in the comedy "The Break-Up"
2006:
Cast as Santa's mother-in-law in "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause"
2007:
Co-starred with Billy Zane in the psychological thriller, "Memory"
2009:
Appeared with Robin Williams and John Travolta in the comedy, "Old Dogs"
2010:
Guest-starred on NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois -
New Trier High School: Winnetka , Illinois - 1959

Notes

She has an official web site at www.ann-margret.com

Named Female Star of the Year by the United Motion Pictures Association three times

Received PHOTOPLAY Magazine's Gold Medal Award as Most Popular Actress in both 1971 and 1972

Awarded a citation for outstanding performances for her tours of Vietnam and the Far East, presented by former President Lyndon B Johnson

"When I die, I want Ann-Margret to dance on my coffin. If you don't see me in five minutes, you'll know I'm dead for sure." --John Wayne

"What I'm happy about is there's no bitterness in me. About anything. How can I be bitter when my life is so good." --Ann-Margret quoted in USA Today, February 9, 1994.

About the dichotomy of her sexy image and her spiritual beliefs, Ann-Margaret told the Los Angeles Times (February 5, 2002): I know it sounds really strange. But [the religious side] is a part of me that I have not had a chance to show. I've always believed in the Lord, and I really felt good being able to express myself that way."

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Burt Sugarman. Executive, producer. Prominent Hollywood businessman; briefly engaged in 1962; married TV host Mary Hart in 1989.
companion:
Elvis Presley. Singer, actor. Co-starred with Ann-Margret in "Viva Las Vegas" (1964); romantically involved for a time c. 1964; the two remained friends until Presley's 1977 death.
husband:
Roger Smith. Producer, writer, personal manager, businessman, former actor. Together since 1964; married on May 8, 1967; served as wife's personal manager; starred on TV series, "77 Sunset Strip" (ABC, 1958-63); has three children from a previous marriage; suffers from muscle-debilitating disease myasthenia gravis.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Gustav Olsson. Electrician. Had worked for a time in the USA during his youth; emigrated back to the USA in 1942 shortly after Ann-Margret's birth when he got a job with the Johnson Electrical Company; mother, initially reluctant to leave Sweden, and Ann-Margret followed in 1946.
mother:
Anna Olsson. Funeral parlor receptionist. Mother went to work after father became too ill to continue with his job at the electric company.
step-son:
Jordan Smith.
step-daughter:
Tracey Smith.
step-daughter:
Dallas Thomas Smith.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Exercises For the Tired Businessman"
"Ann-Margret: A Photo Extravaganza and Memoir" Delilah Books
"Ann-Margret: My Story" G.P. Putnam's Sons

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