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What Ann-Margret saw from her hotel-window one night, almost spoiled her career. She just wanted to go home... What made her change her mind? Read more about the girl from the county of Jamtland who thinks sex is just a PR-stunt, and who has found security she's not yet ready to give up.
"The Animal" Ann-Margret from Valsjobyn in the county Jamtland has meade many "He-men" in Hollywood loose their speech. They whine: "So much for the Swedish sin..."
The 22-year-old Swede, who has made a fgantastic career and become America's new sex symbol, is one of Los Angeles' most sought after beauties.
Ann-Margret's ever present - and also very charming - bodyguard is called Mrs. Anna Olsson and is the mother of the beloved creature.
It's not that she is locked in a glass-house - on the contrary. She is often invited out and that too by the city's most prominent bachelors - Elvis Presley and Eddie Fisher to name a few- but "The Animal" Olsson almost always bring mum and dad as chaperone.
Nothing must happen to our daughter, they mean, like the two righteous parents they are. To the public, she's "The Animal", but back home she's still a child.
Whenever she travels, her mother is always with her as companion and as her secretary, to arrange press contacts, and to answer fan mail.
Ann-Margret is in no hurry to break loose from her parents. She has a need to feel the closeness, the security and the togetherness. She doesn't want to be independent - yet...
"The day will come when I leave home" says Ann-Margret. "I'm quite aware of the fact that you need a little space between your parents and marriage. You have to be yourself for a while - but I'm not yet ready for it".
The men who will be allowed as dates for Ann-Margret, are first introduced to her parents, and will have to make conversation with them, before 'The Animal' comes around. That's how she wants it. And, she says, that's how her admirers want it, the old fashioned way.
Eddie Fisher, who this summer courted Ann-Margret intensly, became so enchanted with her mother, he talked for hours with her, and he almost forgot to ask if he could see Ann-Margret. It is said that Mrs. Olsson receives as many flowers from the admirers, as the wanted daughter.
But it's not just for company and security Ann-Margret clings to her parents. She owes them a lot as well. A thank you for almost her whole career. Without them and their tireless efforts, their little girl maybe wouldn't have become what she is today. It's a long story and it must be told from the beginning.
Ann-Margret was born during the war, in 1941. Her parents, electrician Gustaf Olsson, and his wife Anna, then lived in Stockholm, and they had for long planned to go to America, wher Gustaf had lived since 1918. Two things occurred, the war and Ann-Margret. Times were unsure and to travel with a little child was a big risk. Ann-Margret's father went ahead, and her mother returned to her childhood town, Valsjobyn, with her 1-year-old daughter. Four years would pass before she dared to follow her husband.
In the beginning they lived in Chicago. Gustaf and Anna were both interested in singing and the theatre, but they hadn't had a chance to develop their talents. They decided to give Ann-Margret all the chances they themselves never had had.
So, when she was 6 years old, Ann-Margret was already taking dance-lessons. When she was ten, she also took piano, and when she was twelve, she started taking singing lessons.
It meant big sacrifices for Gustaf and Anna Olsson. They meant, that only the best teachers would do for their daughter. And those cost money. All their savings and earnings went to Ann-Margret's lessons. But it would prove to be an investment that became profitable. Still, it would take a long time before Ann-Margret's name would be name worth investing in.
After a few years in Chicago, the family moved to Winnetka, Illinois, where Gustaf Olsson started a small electronic business. Here, Ann-Margret also coninued in school, and her lessons. She was also in the school's drama group, but apparently she wasn't good enouh for any major parts. In 1960, something happened. Ann-Margret entered an amateur theatre contest - and won! That's when she started dreaming of a career on stage.
During vacations that year, she still had one more year to go in college, Ann-Margret toured with two class mates, on bass and drums. It went so well, that they made Ann-Margret continue touring and give up school.
Ann-Margret wasn't hard to persuade. They had half a promise of an engagement in Las Vegas, and they decided to start there. But how would they get there? A thousand-mile trip was impossible, if Ann-Margret's parents hadn't come to the rescue. Not only did they understand that she wanted to quit school just a year before graduation, they also gave them money for the trip, and then went on sending money, so that they would have a decent place to stay, between engagements.
While still living in Chicago, Ann-Margret ran between agents looking for bookings. She got the usual answers, that they would get back to her, and noone never did.
Then one day something happened.
"If you can be in Kansas City Saturday night, the job is yours. The engagement is for a month. The problem is, from Chicago to Kansas City, is about 200 kilometres. And Ann-Margret didn't have any stage clothes.
There was no discussion back home. Mummy Anna at once started calling friends and relatives , borrowing dresse for Ann-Margret. When that was done, daddy Gustaf drove Ann-Margret the 200 kilometres. He then had to return back home alone that same night to make it back in time for work Monday morning. Her mother stayed behind with Ann-Margret if she should need any help. And boy, did she need it.
One night the 17-year-old Ann-Margret happened to see a fight from her hotel window, a drunken, bloody fight, where a man was beaten to death with a whisky bottle. It was too much for her.
"Mother, I want to go back home", she cried. "I can't stay in this town, I don't care about show business and my career, I ant to go home".
Her mother answered calmly: "Of course you can go back home, if that's what you really want. But there's one thing that you have to understand. What you have witnessed here tonight is something horroble and ugly, but it's also a part of life. Your daddy and I have been trying to protect you as long as possible, but now your almost grown, and you have to know that there's both good and evil in life. You should also know that sad parts and disappointments only have to be coincidents in life, if you yourself have found strength in goodness, love and honesty to yourself and to your fellow men. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Do you still want to go home?"
Ann-Margret was discovered in Las Vegas. She had an opportunity to perform in comedian George Burns' show, and among the spectators was a powerful man from 20th Century Fox, Bob Goldstein. She got a film contract at once.
"Pocketful of Miracles" was Ann-Margret's first film and she was in the company of Bette Davis, who played the lead part. After that she was Pat Boone's partner in "State Fair". It continued with "Bye Bye Birdie" agains Bobby Rydell. That film opens here in the middle of November and it is planned that Ann-Margret will be here for the big premiere.
Tha will be the first time since 1951 that Ann-Margret comes home. She has been on hert way many times, but various engagements have alwys come before. Does she remember anything about Sweden? Surely. She was 5, when she left, and she still has family in Valsjobyn and Ornskoldsvik. And she still talks Swedish, a bit wobbly and unsurely, but still.
Without a doubt, it's her parents that have kept her interest for Sweden alive. Her mother still corresponds with the family back home, and even if she has all that she could ever want, the longing for Valsjobyn can be strong.
But for Ann-Margret America is everything. That's where she has built a career, that's where she has grown up, and feels at home. The green-eyed, red-haired Swede has become a household name in the U.S. In fact so big, she's the first girl ever, to make demands to Elvis Presley.
When they were filming "Viva Las Vegas" together, Ann-Margret refused to sign the contract if she couldn't have as much stage time as Elvis. It was unheard of. The girls in Elvis' previous films always had kept to the background, it was Elvis that was the star!
That wouldn't happen with Ann-Margret. And Elvis gave up. Ann-Margret says: "If you've become a name, you have to use it!"
The firm tone between them softened considerably once filming started. Rumours of a romance started, and they were seen together almost every night.
Ann-Margret found out, that Elvis wasn't as arrogant as it was said, but fun and very nice to be around. But anytning more than a light romance never happened and once again Ann-Margret's mother had to act. This time to deny rumours about marriage.
""If the rumours would have been about any other youngsters, there would never be so much talk. But Elvis is a very nice young man", she said.
Many names have been connected to Ann-Margret's, and only once have it been really serious. Ann-Margret says: "I don't believe in being together with anyone just to do so. I have been in love once and therefor I got engaged."
That fiancé was Bert Sugarman, a promising and very wealthy business man, but they broke up after a few short weeks.
Ann-Margret's parents thought she was too young for marriage, and the film company didn't like it either.
Ann-Margret sees the marriage of her parents as an example, a model, something she would like to be a part of herself. Her father is 18 years her mother's senior. She says: "They are so happy, and if I get married I want a marriage like theirs. I want to marry an older guy, who has the security and safety that younger ones miss. My husband should be the dominant one, he will decide what I shall think and say, and he must understand and know my every wish."
She still haven't found that man. So she still lives with her parents, where she is safe.
Ann-Margret's sexiness is already a legend in the U.S. The classic story about her, is about a father who says to his children: "Get out and play, because daddy is listening to Ann-Margret". X-rated even on a record.
Ann-Margret actually isn't sexy. Her face is childish, her eyes big and innocent. That face doesn't belong to an "Animal", but rather to a nice little girl, who runs around her mother. On stage however, she's a different person. She dances and sings with her whole body, firing those green eys, shaking her red hair.
"I don't think I'm sexy", she says, "it's probably just a PR trick, but it doesn't exactly hurt me, if the audience like it."
By Lisa Killander