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Ann-Margret is a Swedish-born actress, singer, and dancer who appeared in Viva Las Vegas with Elvis Presley, among others.
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Actress, singer, dancer. Born Ann-Margret Olsson, on April 28, 1941, in Valsjobyn, Sweden. Ann-Margret was born into a tightly knit family in a small fishing village near the Arctic Circle. Her parents, Gustav and Anna, migrated to America after World War II, and settled in the Chicago suburb of Fox Lake. The Olsson’s eventually relocated to Wilmette, Illinois, where they lived in the funeral parlor that employed Anna.
Ann-Margret was an introverted child, who found it difficult adjusting to American culture. In her early years, she used her love for song and dance as a means of expressing herself. She began to sing at weddings, private parties, and church socials. By the time she was 14, she had appeared in a number of school revues and drama productions, and was a frequent winner at local talent contests.
After graduating high school in 1959, Ann-Margret enrolled at Northwestern University as a speech major. Within her first few months at college, she teamed up with three male students to form a jazz combo - The Suttletones. After her freshman year, she withdrew from school, and headed for the West Coast with her newly formed band. They spent most of their time performing at various cabaret clubs in Reno, Las Vegas, and Southern California.
While performing in the lounge of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, Ann-Margret was given the opportunity to audition for Hollywood veteran George Burns. Immediately after, he invited her to perform for a 10-night engagement at the Sahara Hotel, where the 18-year-old earned rave reviews. A succession of offers followed, including a record contract from RCA, and a seven-year film contract from 20th Century Fox.
In the early 1960s, Ann-Margret's burgeoning career was chronicled in Life magazine, who classified her as Hollywood's next young starlet. She made her film debut as Bette Davis' daughter in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles (1961), and released her first album And Here She Is , Ann-Margret. In 1963, she co-starred in the film adaptation of the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie, alongside Dick Van Dyke. By the end of year, she had also established herself as a recording star with two albums, and five additional hit singles that appeared on the Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack. In addition, she was invited to serenade President John F. Kennedy at his 46th birthday party.
In 1964’s Viva Las Vegas, Ann-Margret was noted for her performance as Elvis Presley's love interest, a role that she was rumored to play on and offscreen. She continued to make a series of mildly successful films, including Kitten with a Whip and The Pleasure Seekers (both 1964). Although big box-office draws, Ann-Margret's early roles merely exploited her sex appeal, including her portrayal as Steve McQueen's promiscuous wife in The Cincinnati Kid (1965).
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