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Ann-Margret Gives Edge to Whorehouse

If a beloved child had many names, you could print a telephone directory on this one.

'The Animal' and 'The Sex Kitten' identifies her at once. But Ann-Margret is enough.

And now the Swedish (s)export from Valsjöbyn, is turning 60.

"It can't be possible", says Norman Jewison, director of 'The Cincinnatti Kid', Ann-Margret's second film. "She was so young, but very professional and so full of life. Plus I remember she liked to move about."

Dick Van Dyke did 'Bye Bye Birdie' with her in 1963, "You're kidding! You have no idea how old I suddenly feel. I danced with her in 'The Andy Williams Show'. We did 'I am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen' - and she was seventeen then".

Singer Pat Boone got his first movie kiss in 'State Fair' in 1962: "Is it even legal to turn 60?", he laughs. "She's an attractive and desireable 60-year old, who defies the passing of time".

As surprised is Julie Andrews, who did 'Our Sons' with Ann-Margret, 10 years ago. "I send her my love and hope she has a great birthday".

The old country is just a thought away. "To think of Sweden makes my eyes fill with tears", says Ann-Margret, who last year received the Sven E Eliasson Merit Award. The prize is awarded to a person who strenghten relations between the U.S. and Sweden, both cultural, trade, science and human relations.

Right now she is touring the U.S. with the musical 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas', her first in 7 years, travelling to 30 cities and ends in June, 2002.

"I was so nervous at the premiere, but now I'm fine.

The part as Madam Miss Mona Stangley fits her like a glove, as does Bob Mackie's tight stage clothes. Ann-Margret shakes her legs, sings a few numbers specially written for her, and then leaves the stage 2 hours later to the sound of the audience' appreciation.

She's at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago untill May 6, and celebrates her birthday on stage! "I do 2 shows, and in the evening I'll have a quiet dinner with my husband, Roger.

'The Windy City' is almost like home. When she, in 1946, as a 5-year old came to the U.S. with her mother Anna, it was to Fox Lake, 45 minutes outside of Chicago, they moved. "The nature reminded me of Sweden, but of course I was homesick, and I often cried".

Ann-Margret was discovered by comedian George Burns in 1960, and made her debut on the screen the following year, as Bette Davis' daughter in 'A Pocketful of Miracles'. The list of big names she has worked with in the 50-odd films through the years, is endless. You can start with Elvis (whom she dated), Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

Just like ABBA and Björn Borg, people in Sweden just don't realize just how big Ann-Margret really is. She has 5 Golden Globes, 2 Oscar-nominations ('Carnal Knowledge' and 'Tommy'), 6 Emmy-nominations and has been named 'Female Star of the Year' 3 times by The United Motion Picture Association. Her star-status was ultimately confirmed when she received her star on Hollywood Boulevard July 11, 1973.

Both her private and her professional career has had its ups and downs. She fell from a stage in 1972, crushing almost every bone in her face, and spent 3 days in a coma. 10 weeks later she made her come-back. Ann-Margret also wrote about her problems with alcohol, in her biography, 'My Story' in 1994.

Las summer she broke 4 ribs, and broke 3 bones in her left arm, while crashing her motorcycle. Her latest bike, is a lavender-colored Harley Davidson, with hand-painted daisies, has never been ridden, and still stands in her garage. "Roger has forbidden me to drive it, because of the tour, but when it finishes..."

Next you can see her in 'The Last Producer' with Burt Reynolds, and then 'A Woman's a Helluva Thing'. Burt Reynolds is exited, "I have never met the King or Queen of Sweden, but noone has more dignity and represents your beautiful country with more pride and grace than Ann-Margret. She is Sweden".

It all started 50 years ago at Nyängets Dance Hall, outside of Örnsköldsvik, while visiting her uncle Hasse Olsson. Ann-Margret appeared at a talent contest and received storming applause. They have followed her ever since.


By Keijo Liimatainen


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