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It has always been the other way around and she called the shots, but Roger Smith had a new kind of romantic bait.
BY THE TIME you read this, Ann-Margret, who has been called everything from a sex kitten to a wild-cat, may be married to Roger Smith. And she may not. This young star is so unpredictable, particularly about romance, that she can change her mindnd wIthout seeming reason.
Roger is deeply in love with her, but several other men have loved her too-and lost.
The general opinion in Hollywood is-this time the explosive young swede in love herself, that Roger has stirred her so deeply that she wants their courtship blessed by marriage.
Her romances have been many and much discussed. There was Elvis Presley, something of a challenge hlmself, and certainly not easily lured into wedlock. It's most doubtful that Ann-Margret wanted to marry him any more than he wanted to take ber as a bride.
But was a thing to watch for awhile. Those who know her well believe that she tried to lure him into a trap-it would have been fun for her to get the king really in tow and then reject him-but Elvis didn't take the bait.
Now with Roger Smith it is something entirely difterent. The soft-spoken, good-looking star of TV's 77 Sunset Strip, now in the re-run stage, wants Ann-Margret for keeps and says so. The uncanny thing about it is that she seems to be completely smitten with him.
They fly through Hollywood on motorcycles, like a pair of beatniks in black leather jackets, seeming to enjoy the speed and danger, and at the same time, obviously shutting out the rest of the world.
Roger is not a newcomer to love-he was married to lovely Victoria Shaw, Australian actress by whom he had children. They had a rough time during their marriage with Victoria's illness, among other things. But the marriage had been based on love, and it looked for awhile that everything would be straightened out. It wasn't.
Roger was successful in his TV show and he played Patrick Dennis in the movie version of Auntie Mame, but the real star of the picture was Rosalind Russell, of course.
When 77 Sunset Strip was not renewed on television, Roger started to look around. His career has not been doing too well since. This, of course, is bad-particularly so when the girl he loves is a star, a big star. He is much in danger of becoming Mr. Ann-Margret.
Does Roger realize that he is dealing with a pro at love, that his girl, who says she's really very shy, is In fact a real femme fatale? She dated some real heart-breakers, learned to play the game. Perhaps he is blinding himself to the dangers-other men have done it, have thought love could conquer all and that the great emotion could change anyone, even an unpredictable siren.
Ann-Margret, born Olsen, is a Swede, and Swedes are known for the smoldering fires that do not often show themselves, but when they do, burst into unbelievable flames.
Acting, she puts herself completely into a role. There was the time while making 'Kitten With A Whip' when she bashed fellow actor, Skip Ward, so hard with a prop bottle that he had a lump on his head. She'd let her emotions go-had put everything into that wallop and it has to be a strong one when it's an easily shattered prop bottle to do that much damage.
Then there was the incident while she was doing 'Once A Thief' with Alain Delon as her co-star. She was supposed to throw an ashtray at him. Director Ralph Nelson explained it carefully to her, told her she must make it real, as if she really means it. Ann took him at his word, picked up a heavy ceramic ashtray and hurled it in the general direction of Delon, but somewhere her aim was off and the ashtray hit, not Delon or somewhere in between, but Nelson. The blood gushed, everyone panicked, Ann-Margret cried, a doctor and ambulance were called, and Nelson had to have nineteen stitches taken, and was told that plastic surgery would be necessary to eliminate the scar.
Ann's realistic approach, her play-acting of fury, was that real. In both incidents, she was terribly contrite and upset.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what happened," she cried.
In 'Bus Riley's back in Town' she clawed up the face of actor Michael Parks in her attempt at realism, and again she was sorry.
As in the case of the first two accidents, little was made of this, but the fact remained that the volatile star bad certainly exposed the tiger side of her make-up.
There have been many theories on her behavior in these cases. An insider who claims to know what he's talking about says "Secretly she doesn't lIke most men. In those scenes of violence she suddenly gets an opportunity to give vent to a feelIng she may have been smothering without knowing it."
A Beverly Hills psychiatrist had quite another theory.
"It's quite normal, for the girl to let herself go at these times. There is a latent instinct to do battle in human beings, and it's closer to the surface than most people realize."
What about Roger Smith? If they marry or have married by this time, will the domestic spats all young couple have bring out tiger in her, send her into battle with him? This is something that if you asked him about it, he would no doubt say, "But she was acting then. That wasn't for real."
It was real enough to leave scars on three victims, you might reply. And where does acting end and realism take over?
But there is still another way to look at the love affair of these two. Ann-Margret worked hard, very hard to get where she is today. She wrote in her diary when she was ten years old, "Guess what, dear diary, today I'm. going to have singing and dancing lessons. At last, my dream is coming true. Maybe I'll even be big movie star lIke Ginger Rogers, ha, ha. I must admit to you dear diary, that I want to be famous. Your lIttle Ann.Margret Olsen is going to be famousl"
At seven, she told her diary, "I feel I'm getting closer to my goal; No matter how long it takes, I'm determined to stick it out."
Where was the opportunity for the usual teenage fun, dates, that sort of thing? When really has she had time to fall in love, to think of herself as a human being and not as a star? Could it be that the kitten who's dated so many, made gossip columns, has finally fallen in love?
Roger is a few years older, he's sophisticated and intelligent. He has had experience with marriage, even though his own failed. He knows how to treat a woman. In the early days of their marriage, Victoria Shaw said, "He's so gentle-thoughtful. He brings flowers at the most unexpected times."
Yes, he knows how to play the game-even with fiery little Ann-Margret, who had one serious romance with Burt Sugarman, a Hollywood business man to whom she was engaged. She broke the engagement because she said she had to be sure and she wasn't. Burt, it was rumored, was very upset about it.
But now Ann-Margret and Roger are everywhere together, both of them glowing, living in an enchanted world of their own. If she loves him as much as she say, as much as her actions indicate, then she may be in a trap herself-instead of it being the other way around.
How will she react to people who are bound to point out that his career is not doing so well, that being married to her may step it up? (Oh, yes, cynical, cruel people do make remarks of this kind.) Can she take it, can she stand up against this kind of talk?
Victoria said that Roger was so often moody. How will Ann-Margret react to that? Will she take it in her wifely stride as a gentle kitten should, or will she turn into a tiger and throw the first thing that's handy-at her mate?
As we said. Ann-Margret is really very unpredictable.