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Roger Smith

A Star Makes Her Entrance

No Swede glitters more than Ann-Margret

My mobile phone began to ring 8.30 in the morning.

"Is it Borje? Hi, It's Ann-Margret. I'm in my car on my way to the airport. I have to appologize for my husband's behaviour. You may ask your questions now.

That's how Expressen as the only Swedish nwespaper got the only interview with our only true Hollywood star, during her visit.

Ann-Margret has made over 50 motion pictures, starred along with jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, John Wayne, Steve McQueen and Jack Lemmon. She sang for President John Kennedy at his private birthday party and she had a year-long romance with Elvis Presley, while shooting 'Viva Las Vegas'. She was last seen i Oliver Stone's 'Any Given Sunday'.

She has been in lots of TV-series and on lots of records. She has appeared in every major show-city with her stage-show. Twice nominated for an Oscar, 5 times for an Emmy, she has won 5 Golden Globe awards, been awarded Entertainer of the Year 3 times by the United Motion Picture Association.

Ann-Margret was in Sweden to pick the award as 'Swedish-American of the Year'. This Saturday I met her and her husband Roger Smith while attending the gala-dinner prepared at her honor at Restaurant Hasselbacken in Stockholm.

Then, there were over 200 people around her, and impossible to stage an interview. We did, however, get to hear her sing an emotional version of 'Violer Till Mor, the song she sang as a 5 year-old, entertaing passengers on the boat to the U.S. where she would stay for good.

Ann-Margret is really sentimental when it gets to things Swedish. She stomped her feet hard a couple of times, with her high heels, to keep back the tears.

She told us about her very first day in America, when her father and mother took her to a show at the Radio City Music Hall (where she much later would appear herself, then a superstar).

The dream to become an entertainer was born that day. But she had already had her first taste of the stage, as a little girl back home in Valsjobyn. It was war-times. At the café she entertained soldiers on leave.

I want her to tell more for the readers of Expressen. And Ann-Margret didn't mind doing an interview later.

"But you have to ask my husband if it's ok".

"Forget it, not a chance", said Mr Smith.

Yesterday, however, Ann-Margret told me how regretfulhe was for his behaviour. He had been tired and unbalanced. That's why she called. I was as glad as I was surprised.

"A superstar who is so humble, how can that be?"

"My mother and father, who sadly are no longer with us, raised me well. They taught me how to behave with other people. I will always live by that."

"How was Sweden?"

"Oh, like a dream! I hope I don't wake up. (Ann-Margret counts all her relatives so quick I can't keep up taking notes of all: aunt Hanna, 94, uncle Kalle and family, cousin Kaj and his wife Lilly and daugther Ann-Kajsa, uncle Hans Olsson with his wife Margareta and daughter Lotta, Hans's sister Eva married to Jack, Bertil and Lena...)"

"You didn't make it to Valsjobyn?"

"No, it's been 18 years. I almost start to cry when I think about it. My mother was from there, my dad was from Ornskoldsvik."

"Will we ever see you perform again?"

"That was also 18 years ago. At the China Theatre. Nothing is planned, but you never know."

"Have you stopped doing stage-shows?"

"I don't know. My latest were in Atlantic City in 1993. I had to cut back because of my husband. He was too tired, and couldn't keep up with my tempo and all my appearances."

"And you're 60?"

"Yes, but what does age matter? I'm so full of energy. My motto is to always do the best things possible, whatever age you are."

"And you are still called 'The Animal', how do you feel about that?"

"No problem. I'm an old animal now (laughs). But in good shape."

"You always get many questions about Elvis. Does that bother you?"

"Not in the least! But I keep many answers to myself. I respected Elvis when he was alive, and I respect him as much when he's dead. We had something special together, I think everybody knows that.#

"In your book, you write about your earlier alcoholism. Do you drink today?"

"No, no, I mustn't. In Sweden, the strongest thing I had was Ramlosa."

"And you're on a never-ending tour?"

"Yes, I'm Miss Mona in 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'. We have been on the road for 6 months now, and will go on for another year. Come this Thursday we'll be in Wisconsin. We usually play Thursday to Sunday, then we fly to the next city on Mondays. I just hope my stage clothes will fit me, I had so many cream-puffs in sweden."

"Have you gone tired of Hollywood?"

"Oh, no. I just wanted to do something else for a while."

"The tour sounds hard?"

"not at all. It's pure enjoyment for me. I love the mix of comedy and drama, music and dance."

"But you don't get to drive a motorcycle?"

"No, that's worst of all. I want to, I have 3 Harley Davidson's back home waiting."

"You crashed last year?"

"Yes, I broke a rib and hurt my shouulder, but you don't have to be riding a bike to hurt yourself. Last Christmas Eve, we were having 9 people for dinner, and I was calling for my 6 cats and my dog Jezebel, who also thinks he's a cat. Of course I fell with my high-heels and broke my ankle. My step-son, who's a doctor, took me to the hospital."

""Is it you cooking when you have guests?"

"No, I can't do anything, not cook, sew or bake."

"What's your favourite food?"

"My mother's Swedish meatballs!"

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By Börje Lundberg

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