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Ann-Margret wows crowd in Flint at Bikes on the Bricks

FLINT, Michigan -- The second annual Bikes on the Bricks festival Saturday in downtown Flint may go down as one of the coolest moments in Brian Ashley's life, and it has little to do with the bikes.

Staring wide eyed at the main stage, Ashley composed himself only long enough to whip out a cellphone and call his father to tell him that award-winning actress Ann-Margret, was standing just a few feet away.

"You won't believe this," he said. "I'm looking at her right now. Right in front of me!"

Actress Ann-Margret speaks to bikers and motorcycle enthusaists during Bikes on Bricks on Saginaw St. in downtown Flint. Behind her is friend and Flint Mayor Don Williamson.

The actress made a surprise appearance at the event as the guest of Mayor Don Williamson and wife Patsy Lou.

Ashley was nearly in shock that he finally got a chance to meet her. He's the artist behind what Ann-Margret at that very moment, was describing to the crowd as her "girlie bike."

"I have a very feminine bike," Ann-Margret said of her custom Harley, a gift from the Williamsons. "It's lavender, with little daisies. I love bikes."

Ashley, who owns Brian Ashley Airbrushing in Burton, said about six years ago, someone saw his work and hired him to paint the bike.

"I never got to meet her, but she sent me an e-mail to say that she was enjoying the bike," he said.

Later he discovered she'd posed on the bike for the cover of a national magazine.

"I just can't believe it," Ashley said, after getting a hug from the screen siren as family members clicked cameras nearby.

Earlier, Flint's first family and Ann-Margret cruised the festival in golf carts, admiring the thousands of motorcycles, choppers and trikes on display.

Actress Ann-Margret hops on the back on a motorcycle with Inkster Police Officer John Hankins and takes a spin. Hankins is a big fan of the star and says he and his wife watch her movies all the time.

Ann-Margret was seated on the passenger side as husband Roger Smith, of 1960's hit TV show "77 Sunset Strip" fame, made his way up N. Saginaw Street, trailing the mayor, who was driving the cart in front.

Her bangs peaking from beneath a black turban, Ann-Margret shivered a bit, and tucked family pet, Missy, inside the jacket of her lavender knit pant suit to keep warm. But the chilly temps didn't stop her from pausing often to sign autographs and greet fans.

"I love all of your movies," gushed Tim "Stump" Morris of Flint.

"Awe, even the clunkers," Margret said, reaching for the pen and pad he offered up for an autograph.

Law enforcement there for a competition, even seemed star struck as they jockeyed to have Ann-Margret pose on their cruisers.

Inkster officer John Hankins didn't even seem to mind when she lightly scuffed his paint job with heel of her boot.

The actress also shared a little about her latest movie role in the Medieval-themed romantic comedy "All's Faire in Love," that was on location at the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Groveland Township, near Holly.

"My character owns the fair and so she's made herself the queen," she said. "I wear this beautiful 17th century outfit."

When some scenes were filmed in downtown Flint last month, Jerry Preston, president of the Flint Area Convention & Visitors Bureau said Ann-Margret called to see whether he could put her in touch with the Williamsons.

Ann-Margret confirmed she's known them for years, and that they were introduced by a mutual friend, actor Burt Reynolds.

Mayor Williamson was mum on the friendship, only saying, "it's Ann's day."


from The Flint Journal Online News


By Shena Abercrombie


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