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Roger Smith


»Please God, Be kind to me!«

Ann-Margret's wedding to Roger Smith draws nearer, according to current reports. Roger's divorce from his first wife, actress Victoria Shaw, mother of his children, is final. Roger and Ann-Margret have been together constantly. They have given conflicting stories to the press. Whey then, no wedding yet?

Basically, they have wanted to be sure, very sure, that this feeling they have for one another was one they could count on for keeps, forevermore, til Death did them part.

Ann-Margret and Roger have gone about this business of love like two mature adults. They put their mutual feeling through every conceivable test; they tried "apart-ness" and together-ness"; they studied each other's temperaments. Above all, they weathered - and successfully - the constant pryings of the press into the course of their romance.

Of course, now and then, Ann-Margret gets angry and refuses to see some editor or reporter whom she felt had made unpleasant or - in her view - unwarranted insinuations. She and Roger constantly asked the press to "leave us alone; let us work out our problems in our own way."

They are, in their way, almost too cautious. They look for problems, internal and external, behind every bush.

Now, as her wedding date nears, Ann-Margret kneels in fervent supplication and prays, in all the sincerity of her storm-tossed young heart, "Please God be kind to me..."

Will all the careful preparation, the patient waiting, the providing for all contingencies, the meticulous plans pay off, she wonders? Her shrewd, logical Scandlnavian mind, nurtured by the fervent Lutheran faith of her forebears, turns over all the ifs and buts,analyzes all the question marks.

As the day draws nearer and nearer when she will be Mrs. Roger Smith, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, from this day forward; does she wonder if all the hatches have been battened down, if her marital journey has been rendered as safe and secure as she and Roger can make it?

What are the things she worries about?

To begin; with, there is the matter of what the press has done to her romance. Whenever she and Roger took an innocent side trip, elopement rumors ran rampant. When they checked in at motels, while sight-seeing or on a pleasure jaunt, curious reporters spied on them, the California version of the notorious Italian "papararazzi" tried to get candid shots. Their conduct was always examplary and decorous; they took separate rooms in different areas of the motels; said good night and good morning. This pressattitude and its sly hints, was shocking to Ann-Margret, who may be a sex symbol to millions of American men, but who actually considers the on-screen sex-boat business to be just that - strictly business. Once those cameras stop whirling, unglamorous and "dull" as some people may find it, Ann-Margret reverts to her real-Iife self: an honest, clean-minded, sensible, shrewd Scandinavian girl who loves, honors and supports her parents, tries to conduct all, phases of her life with common sense, dignity and decorum, and believes love is a sacred and beautiful thing and should be sanctified, in its fullness, by the clergy and blessed with home and family ties

Roger's divorce was another problem. Ann-Margret did not like to think of the home Roger had, had to break up. She did not like to wonder if Victoria Shaw was lonely and hurt, or whether the chlldren missed him. Though she had come along after the Smiths had parted, and was in no way to blame for the difficu1ties inherent in Roger's first marriage, she couldn't help but feel like an intruder.

It has taken her a long time to get over this feelIng. She knows Roger, (and most understandably) has been cautious about entering into a second marriage. She knows he hates failures; she knows two strike outs in a row would wound his morale, and his self-image. She wanted to be sure as he himself came to be in time, concernin:g the permanency, the depth of the union they contemplated.

Now, friends say, both are at last certain.

Then, too, mindful of the two-careers-in-one family bugaboo, Ann-Margret wanted to be positive that Roger's career was again in high gear. When they first began going together, he was rapidly slipping into a "has-been" category, the days of his top TV-series fame having slipped into the past. Now, with success on the stage, and more recent exposure in TV shows like Mr. Roberts, Roger has regained much pf the lost ground and no longer has to worry about being labelled, "Mr. Ann-Margret." Mindful of Roger's masculine pride, Ann-Margret wanted, above all else, to wait for this deve{opment. Roger did, too. He wants iO be the breadwinner, the staff to lean on, in his family, as he was during his marriage to Victoria Shaw - and Ann-Margret was the first to feel that he deserves to indulge this male right in his second marriage, too.

Would Ann-Margret retire if she felt she would best serve her function as wife and mother? Would she do what Joanne Woodward did for Paul Newman?... sacrifice her career to her husband's, put all her energies into building him up, satisfying her own creative urges and energies as a wife and mother?

Or is she too mercurial, quicksilverish, intense and energetic to settle for a part-time acting career, like Joanne Woodward did, or abandon her career entirety?

Remember, though, that Ann-Margret was born in Sweden, and for all her forceful personality, flamboyant sexiness (on screen) and fantastic energy, she tends more toward the European than American concept of marriage, its duties, obligations and privileges.

If Roger Smith's career really gets Into high gear, if he asks her to retire, chances are she loves him enough to do just that.

What would her studio say? What would the public think? Anyone who reasons at all rationally would wish her luck, would cheer her on, if domesticity were to be her choice.

There are other satisfactions than in stardom. Ann-Margret has had all the glamor and glitter for five years now. Maybe she will see it for the tinselly thing it essentially is. Maybe the love of one fine man - her man - will become her be-all and end-all.

And maybe that is what she secretly prays for when she kneels by her bed these nights and whispers, "Please, God, be kind to me..."

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By Judith Gray

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