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Roger Smith


"I Can Always Have Someone On The Side"

Love for Ann-Margret is a nine letter word - and it's spelled p-u-b-l-i-c-i-t-y. Ever since the redhead from Sweden and Illinois hit the film capital she's been seen on the arm of one handsome gent after another.

And all her dates have a common denominator - an innate ability to land on the front page - with pictures and Annie attached, natch. Annie believes that stardom and exposure are inseparably linked to each other - and if a studio arranged "date" will add a clipping to her scrapbook, it beats holding hands in a dimly lit coffee shop with a nobody.

A naturally shrewd and competitive lass, Annie realizes that her career - in fact her very person - is like a product. It must be advertised and exploited as fully as possible in order to make the buying public aware that it exists, and once the public is made aware, this interest must be maintained so that they will continue to buy.

Though Ann-Margret is a television age movie star without allegiance or a contract to any one studio (she has picture commitments with several) she has expressed a strange desire to return to the old Hollywood days when stars were built up by a studio - when they were told how to dress, act and live.

In an interview to the Saturday Evening Post Ann said, "I wish the days were back when Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn and other strong men really controlled the stars. ... The industry needs leaders who know how stars feel and what they need. ... Men who tell you what to do, what to wear, how to fix your hair, where to go... and that goes for dating too. I have no objections to a studio telling me whom to date. Anyway, I could always have someone on the side!"

Since none of the major studios to whom she is contracted is currently arranging her love life, Annie has taken on the task herself - albeit with some assistance from her co-managers. her dates have included Eddie Fisher, Burt Sugarman (to whom she was briefly engaged), Hugh O'Brian and Elvis Presley. The Presley romance lasted through out the filming of their movie, MGM's Viva Las Vegas and there was an item about the sizzling romance practically every day the movie was shooting. The romance had so blossomed that when Annie traveled to England to attend a command performance of Bye Bye Birdie, she wore a large and conspicious diamond, told the press that she and Elvis were in love, and implied that he gave her the ring. Later, she took back the whole story. But it served its purpose - Annie got front-page coverage in newspapers all over the world, and it fully lived up to Bobby Roberts' (her co-manager) credo, "The basis of show business is to stay in demand, and we'll do anything to do that".

This credo, coupled with Annie's tenacity, has made her one of the hottest and fastest rising stars in films. Her salary, which was estimated at $25,000 about three years ago, is now expected to reach $500,000. She has grown into a corporate entity, much as any corporation, and this fact was brought out by the normally staid and publicity shy Wall Street Journal, the financial newspaper, which recently ran a long feature on Annie and her activities and which called her "the dream-come-true-girl".

Ann-Margret is now 23. Her star is definitely rising - eventually it will go into a permanent orbit, and her worries about "arriving" will be over for good. What will she do with her private life then? Will she marry a Hollywood movie star whose career will equal hers and stay perpetually in the limelight? Or will she look for a quieter type - a man who is removed from the pressures and publicity necessary to her professional life? She has made it perfectly clear in the past that she won't "let anyone interfere with my becoming a performer".

Yet over and beyond the professional actress and the will to succeed, there is a lonely girl who saves all mementoes in a childhood toy box, who wants to keep treasures and put them in a special room - a "room of rememberance".

Somewhere along the way, the sentimental girl and the hard businesswoman will clash and the winner will determine Ann-Margret's future.

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