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Roger Smith

"My whole life is like a dream, I hope I never wake up"

Ann-Margret Olsson-Smith visited Sweden the other week and Svensk Damtidning, as the only magazine, got an interview with our only true Hollywood star.

We meet Ann-Margret at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. Whole guests mingle, nibbling sandwiches and a large buffet, Ann-Margret is satisfied with just a cup of tea. She knows what's best for her, after years of substance- and alcohol abuse.

"I don't drink anything stronger than Ramlosa these days", she says.
Tomorrow, she will receive the award as This Year's Swedish-American, from His Majesty the King of Sweden. She has met him before, and she says he's always very nice.
"It's a great honor for me, I still feel half Swedish. Half my family still live in Sweden", she explains.
Ann-Margret was born in Stockholm in 1941. A few months later her mother moved back home to Valsjobyn in Jamtland, while her father moved to the U.S. to seek his fortune. Since the world was at war, he didn't want his family to join him, but as soon as the war was over, his little family came to the new home in Fox Hill, outside Chicago.

The parents signed their daughter up for dancing lessons, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Since she was discovered in the 60s, Ann-Margret has made a career both on stage and on the screen, sung with the band The Suttletones, appeared on George Burns TV-show, shot over 50 films and starred in several TV-series.

She was early called "The new Cinderella of Hollywood", and was later nick-named "The Animal". Something she still gets to here...

"I'm an old Animal these days, but in pretty good shape", she says smiling.

This spring she was 60, but it hasn't stopped her from working.

"Why does your age have to matter? I feel full of energy and I love to be on stage, and I always do my best, no matter how old I am. I still feel young".

Back home she has had success as Madame Mona in the touring version of the musical 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'.

"I love to tour, and I never tire to be on stage", Ann-Margret says.

And sexuality is something that has gone hand in hand with Ann-Margret.

"Even if I have been called sex-symbol and all that, I'm a one-man woman. There's only one man that has won my heart", she says.

That man is of course Roger Smith, the ex-actor. He is constantly by her side.

"We've been a couple for 37 years now, so I'm getting a bit tired of him, that's not too hard to understand, is it?" jokes Ann-Margret, when she introduces him.

Then she becomes serious, and explains that Roger is the love of her life, and she wouldn't manage a day without him.

They were married in Las Vegas in 1967. Roger should be very happy that she said yes to him - Ann-Margret hadn't been short on marriage proposals, even Elvis was turned down.

"The Animal" and Elvis met while filming 'Viva Las Vegas' in the 60s.

"We had something special together. Elvis was strong and sensitive at the same time. And very exciting obviously", Ann-Margret says, and continues:

"He touched something deep inside me".

Even if they never were married, they stayed close friends. Ann-Margret was the only celebrity who was allowed in the church at Elvis' funeral.

Today, Ann-margret and her husband lead a quiet, yet luxurious life, at their home in Beverly Hills. House, well, actually, it's more like a mansion, high up in the hills in Benedict Canyon. They have a tennis court, a park-like garden and of course the obligatory swimming pool.

Her husband has for a long time suffered from an incurable muscle desease and Ann-Margret has more than once cancelled various engagements to be by his side at difficult times.

His illness has also been one of the reasons she isn't doing big stage productions any more. The latest was in Las Vegas and Atlantic City in 1993.

"I had to stop doing something for Roger. He couldn't keep up with my tempo, doing films, TV and stage shows, and I wanted to spend more time with him. But he goes with me now when I'm touring with the musical, it works fine."

She doesn't mourn not having children of her own anymore. Instead, she enjoys being step-mother to Roger's three children from a previous marriage.

Ann-Margret loves driving fast! She loves her three Harley Davidsons, but since an accident last year, when she hurt a shoulder and broke a rib, she takes it easy.
"I want to ride all the time, but I'm not allowed!"

Instead they focus on meeting their friends, and the odd glamorous Hollywood party, she is after all a big star.

Rounding up, we ask her to describe her life, she closes her eyes behind her sun-glasses, and whispers:

"It's like a dream, I hope I never wake up".

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By Catarina Hurtig

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