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Roger Smith

When people call me sexy, I think of my husband

On stage, Ann-Margret is like a cat-like predator. Off stage, however, she's very shy, and seldom leaves her husband's side.

Superstar Ann-Margret Olsson-Smith is the Swede with 2 faces. On stage she's an animal, but when the spotlights are turned off, she becomes the shy, weak, unsure little girl from the north of Sweden. Far from snobbery, egomania and bad superstar manners.

"When I'm on stage, it almost feels like I've been hit with electricity", she tells us during her visit in Sweden. "In private, I'm actually very shy".

By her side is, apart from her mother Anna, also her husband, Roger Smith. They never leave each other, not even for a minute - he's always by her side, big, strong, like a guardian. Whenever she's upset, tired or feels like crying, over seeing her old country, Roger's immediately there for her, to give her a hug, compliment her or to put his arm around her thin waist.

"All my dreams have come through", she says, when we talk about her career. And sure, ever since that day, 17 years ago, when she met the handsome Roger. He as an actor himself, but gave up his own career, and has since acted as manager, producer and advisor for his wife.

"He's everthing to me!", Ann-Margret says. "I'm a nervous person, When I feel like screaming, it's Roger who's there to calm me down. It's for him I become an animal on stage, and it's him I think about whenever I'm called a sex symbol.

What makes Ann-Margret happy is the love, triumph and success in her life. She and Roger are considered the happiest couple in Hollywood. Even though, in Hollywood, divorces are a dime a dozen, they have been married for 15 years!

They seldom go out to big parties, they prefer to stay at home with family and friends.

Their luxurious house is in Benedict Canyon over-looking Beverly Hills. It used to belong to another famous couple, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

In her kitchen, Ann-Margret has put old-style furniture and carpets from Sweden. The house has a huge pool, a cinema and a dance-studio, where she rehearses her Las Vegas-shows.

But her life has also had its downsides. Many tears have fallen, and Ann-Margret cries easily.

When she returned to Sweden tears came, also after her shows, when she was faced with thunderous applause.

In her personal life, two things stick out, her not having children of her own, and Roger's disease. Newspapers have called him "dying", but that's a bit far-fetched. He has a muscular disease, Myasthenia Gravis (MG), which is heridatery and incurable. He could feel really ill one day, and feel great the next. Right now, he has felt terrific for a month. He has a handsome tan, which goes well with his gray hair.

Roger and Ann-Margret haven't given up on finding a treatment for his disease. They try to live as normal as they can, even if the anxiety is always there.

""They go from highs to lows all the time", Ann-Margret's mother says. "They try to see it from the bright side. Ann-Margret has taken him to all the best clinics in the U.S., but doctors don't know how to treat him. Sometimes he's in such pain, and he gets depressed. The only thing they can do is let him rest and take his medication.

"Recently, however, they met a woman who gave them some hope. She had lived with MG for 20 years", she continues.

The other sad part of Ann-Margret's life, is not having any children of her own. Though she's close to 40, she still hasn't given up hope of being pregnant. A child is what she longs for the most.

"It's so sad", sighs her mother Anna Olsson. "Doctors can't find anything wrong with either her or Roger. She still has her hopes up high, but when she calls me, crying 'not this time either, mum', what do you as a mother say?"

Ann-Margret and Roger have discussed adoption, but don't think it's the right solution.

"It's not quite the same thing", Anna says. "Roger has three children from a previous marriage, one daughter and two sons. They have become like Ann-Margret's own children, even if they are grown up. They often come to visit, and I actually feel like a granny when they do!"

The sadness and the accidents have made Ann-Margret and Roger really tight. The huge and unreal 17 carat ring, which sits on her finger, has become the symbol for their love and their will to never give up. Roger gave it to his wife 10 years ago, when she had an accident on stage. She was depressed and had almost given up her will to live.

It wasn't the ring that made her get on with her life, but since that day that ring has become the proof of their love.

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By Karin Lennmor

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