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Roger Smith

"I live for the audience!"

After a succesful 2-month tour of the northeastern U.S., she's heading for Toronto, Canada on May 2. After that she hits Connecticut and New York before touching ground in her favorite city, Las Vegas on May 11. 4 nights at the Orleans Hotel, to where she will return in November after having spent most of the summer shooting pictures.

"How I manage? I live for the audience. It's what keeps me running", Ann-Margret who'll be 65 on the 28th, says.

She doesn't mind being called "The Animal" or a "Sex Kitten". Being labelled "pensioneer" however, will never fit the sassy Swedish export and superstar Ann-Margret Olsson, from Valsjobyn.

She has had a fantastic career, more than 4 decades, she has starred in more than 70 films and TV-series, around 60 albums, 2 Oscar nominations, 5 Golden Globe trophies, and 4 Emmy nominations. And she's still more active than ever.. She's considered a living legend in her adopted home country, the U.S.A.

It was to Fox Lake, Illinois, that her parents, Anna and Gustav Olsson moved in 1947. It was also in Chicago in 1960 that entertainer George Burns offered the sweet young song- and dance talented student at the Northwestern University a part in his Las Vegas show, after having seen her in a student musical.

Ann-Margret has never regretted dropping out of school. A year after her Las Vegas debut in 1961, she had a record hit with "I Just Don't Understand", and she got great reviews for her first film, "Pocketful of Miracles". A suitable title for a career that sky-rocketed in Hollywood during the 60s, where the curvy Swede was launched as a sex-symbol, dropped the Olsson, and became just Ann-Margret, with the addition "The Animal".

She starred against names like Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Jack Lemmon, and let's not forget Elvis Presley. Their much talked about romance helped her career, and even if their love affair ended, they were friends until his death in 1977. Elvis always sent flowers when she premiered her shows. Once in the form of a guitar!

"We had that kind of electricity between us, and it became a power we just couldn't control", Ann-Margret commented later.

Apart from doing films, Ann-Margret also entertained the audiences with her fantastic shows. Shows that she took on tour all over the U.S. That she had more than just a pretty face and a nice figure, she showed in the film "Carnal Knowledge". A part that gave her her first Oscar nomination.

Everything in her life wasn't hunky dory, though. The same year she managed a dramatic fall on stage, and practically broke every bone in her face, a few ribs and was in a coma for three days. Ten weeks later she was back on stage again.

Since 1967, Ann-Margret is married to former actor, now her manager, Roger Smith. Next year they will celebrate something quite unusual in Hollywood, their Ruby Wedding. It hasn't always been roses. The fact that Ann-Margret never had children of her own, Roger has three from a former marriage, drove her to a dependency on alcohol and pills in the 70s. When Roger was diagnosed with Myasthena Gravis in 1985, she was clean since 5 years.

2001 was a big year for Ann-Margret. When she became 60 on April 28, she was, for the first time since 1960, on a Chicago stage, starring in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas". The praise continued when she in June was presented with the award "This Year's Swedish-American", and came to Stockholm to receive a medal from his majesty The King of Sweden.

"The biggest thing that ever happened to me", she said then.

There has been some talk about her bringing her latest show back to Sweden, though nothing is for sure. What's for certain though, is that during this year, Ann-Margret will be in the following films, opening in the U.S., the thriller "Tales of the Rat Fink", the comedy "Santa Clause 3" where she starrs along with Tim Allen, and "The Break Up" starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, and Ann-Margret has a small part. Otherwise it's live - very much alive - in Las Vegas, on November 23 that counts.

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by Monica Frime

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