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Roger Smith

Ann-Margret Tells Why
She Delayed Doing Show

Annie Olsen will be on television Sunday night, and if that doesn't wake up the men in your house, this is sure to: Ann-Margret has a CBS special Sunday night.

The curvaceous, vivacious girl who forgot her last name when she entered show business is all excited about it, too. There are a couple of million resons for the excitement, among them the $3 million the network is paying her for three specials in two years, and the additional $100,000 the soft drink sponsor has paid her for bubbling over with joy in the commercials.

Back in April of 1961, Ann-Margret made her television debut on the "Jack Benny Program".

"So I always said that when the time came for me to do a special, I'd be sure to ask Jack to be my guest", Ann-Margret told me.

Jack and Danny Thomas will make cameo appearances. Bob Hope will be guest-starred.

"I'll be going to Vietnam and other Pacific spots with Bob in two weeks to entertain the troops", she said. "I'm really looking forward to that tour, but it will mean I'll be away for Christmas".

Home is Beverly Hills, where she and her husband, actor-produver Roger Smith, reside. They bought the estate where the late Humphrey Bogart lived with his wife, Lauren Bacall.

Ever since Ann-Margret burned up an Oscar awards telecast several years ago with her singing of "Bachelor in Paradise", everybody in television has been trying to star her in a special.

"I had hardly arrived home when the phone started ringing", she recalled. "The whole idea seemed to be to grab me for a special to capitalize on that Oscar publicity".

I told her I thought the whole thing had backfired, that the torrid rendition had given her publicity which eventually got in the way of her gaining full recognition as an actress.

"Exactly", she agreed. "And that's why I didn't do specials. I didn't like any of the formats, and I didn't think any of them would futher my career much, either as a singer, a dancer or an actress, and especially as an actress".

Portions of Sunday night's variety special were filmed in the countryside of her native Sweden, which Ann-Margret left with her parents when she was six years old.

"I was brought up in Illinois, and I didn't come to Hollywood until seven years ago, so I guess I don't have any deep roots anywhere", she said.

The rest of the special was taped at CBS' Television City in Hollywood.

"I'm very proud of my nightclub act, and I feature some of the material from it on the special", Ann-Margret explained.

Although it was television that made her hyphenated name famous, she has preferred to emphasize movies and nightclubs in her career.

"I've been so busy with movies and nightclubs that I've had very little time for television. I've just finished "The Puzzle" with Laurence Harvey, and there's talk of starting work soon on another film", she said.

Her husband and his partner, Allan Carr, plan to produce four movies.

"I won't be in any of them.

"Roger says he can't afford my fees, and maybe he's right. I've been lucky, I guess. I'm in the high brackets now".

She got there through such films as "Pocketful of Miracles", "The Pleasure Seekers", "Stete Fair" and "Bye Bye Birdie".

Life for Ann-Margret hasn't always been in the high brackets.

Until four years ago, her father worked as an electrician at the movie studios.

"It may sound corny to say it these days, but I owe so much to my parents", she says.

"I think much of what all of us are depends on what our parents gave us. And mine gave me the fines gift of all - love".

"We never had much money, but we got along. I've learned the value of money; it can do a lot of things. But my parents gave me a sense of values".

It was a side of Ann-Margret I frankly had never expected.

Ann-Margret in sexy costumes, yes. Ann-Margret riding a motorcycle through the Hollywood hills, yes. But not Ann-Margret talking like she's about to guest on Lawrence Welk's show.

She sighed.

"Well, it's like I've been saying - when I perform I guess I only show one side. How could anybody get to know a person by seeing them perform? The better the performer, the more they project just that one public facet of themselves. You know what I mean?"

Darned if I do.


By Frank Judge


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