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Roger Smith

Lance-Krystopher LOVES Ann-Margret!

Ann-Margret was my first love in the “Hollywood Screen Goddess” category. As a young boy in the early 1970s, I dreamed of going to Las Vegas to see her perform a very exciting act in which she appeared on stage riding a motorcycle.

However, just before a 1972 performance, Ann-Margret fell 22 feet from a scaffold onto the stage, landing on her face. Critically injured, it was feared that she might not survive her injuries. I was certain that I had forever missed my chance to meet her because it looked like she would never perform again. Fortunately, both she and her career survived, and are still going strong 30 years later!

I first met Ann-Margret in 1975 at the Chicago premiere of the film Tommy. Appearing on stage in a red beaded Bob Mackie gown, she was as exciting and glamorous in person as she was in her movies. The theater handed out little 5x7 photos of her, and it was on one of those photos that I obtained my first Ann-Margret autograph.

In 1983 I was thrilled to discover that she was bringing her nightclub act to San Francisco, where I was living at the time. I bought a ticket for her opening night show. Armed with several photos, I waited at the stage door. A large truck that transported equipment for the show was parked nearby. You can imagine my surprise when I looked inside the truck and found a backstage pass lying on the floor, evidently lost by one of the stagehands! I took the pass as a souvenir, not realizing what good fortune it would bring me.

I met Ann-Margret and her husband Roger Smith before the show, and she graciously signed several photos for me. She was as sweet as could be, commenting on the photos and the films they were from. I went into the theater still excited from having met her again, and was dazzled by her incredible performance!

The next day I looked at the backstage pass I had found, and had an idea. Armed with the pass, I went back to the theatre that night and walked right in as if I was part of the show! I know it was a terrible thing for me to do, but I was young and addicted to Ann-Margret, so I just went for it.

For the entire San Francisco run, that pass got me into every performance! I took hundreds of photos, documenting every aspect of the show. I also met many of the people working with her, including Neal Peters, a fan who had written a book about her and had become a close friend.

I guess everyone got used to seeing me around, because only once did someone from the show ask me who I was. I told the lady that I was a huge fan and just wanted to see Ann-Margret as many times as I could. She told me I could keep the pass as long as I didn’t try to sneak backstage with it.

For the rest of the run, every time this wonderful woman she saw me, she winked. I suspected that she also told Ann-Margret about me, because the star always greeted me by name after that!

Since the next stop on the tour was my hometown of Chicago, I flew there to spend a week and got to see her show several more times, again using my pass. What a thrill it was to see my idol on stage every night! The summer of 1983 provided me with a lifetime of Ann-Margret memories that I will cherish forever.

I saw the Ann-Margret show again in the early ’90s at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I bought a ticket and tipped the maitre’d $20 for a front-row table. Seeing her perform there was another dream come true, even though I had to pay for the privilege this time!

I didn’t see A-M again until May 2001, when she returned to Chicago to appear in a revival of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I bought tickets for second-row seats for one of the shows, and planned my stakeout of the stage door for autographs.

Having heard that she was ill, I brought roses and a get-well balloon along with some herbal tea and some posters for her to sign. She came right up to me, thanked me for the roses and tea, and said she would sign one item. I was thrilled to see her again, and she graciously signed a huge 16x20 vintage photo for me.

Later I discovered that after the performance, some of the actors would appear in the lobby to solicit donations for Broadway Cares, an AIDS charity. For a $50 donation, you could get a poster from the show pre-signed by all the cast members, including Ann-Margret. Since the donation was for a worthy cause and the poster was very pretty, I bought one. Of course, it wasn’t as much fun as getting an in-person autograph, but it still makes a great souvenir of the show.

I returned to the theater for several more nights, hoping to obtain Ann-Margret’s autograph on some other items, but it wasn’t to be. Although she greeted me by name and thanked me again for the tea and roses, she politely refused to sign any more photos. I even brought roses for her 60th birthday on April 28, but she still refused. Night after night she smiled as she walked past her fans, politely declining to sign for them as well.

Although I was unable to obtain any more autographs from her, I was thrilled to know that I had received possibly the only in-person autograph she gave while she was here in Chicago! My only regret is that I wasn’t able to obtain her autograph on my favorite poster – her famous Blackglama ad (What becomes a legend most?) from the early ’80s.

I hope that if Ann-Margret reads this story, she won’t be mad at me for sneaking into all those shows so many years ago. I know her infamous fan Neal Peters would understand, and I think
Ann-Margret would too.

And if we should meet again one day, I hope she’ll sign my Blackglama poster. Maybe something like this: “To Lance-Krystopher, from one legend to another, Ann-Margret.” It would be a wonderful gift from a beautiful woman who has made so many of my dreams come true over the years.

Yes, Lance-Krystopher loves Ann-Margret!

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by Lance Krystopher who is a flight attendant, performance artist and freelance writer based in Chicago. He can be reached at LanceLovesAnn_Margret@hotmail.com or at http://members.aol.com/Lance666.

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