was this Stockholm-born babe a vision of red hair and glitter, but a major triple threat: she could act, sing – and dance. ANN MARGRET was inspiration in movement – proof of this comes from a 1963 ELViS PRESLEY movie called ViVA LAS VEGAS. In what many argue is his best film – the success of ViVA LAS VEGAS had as much to do with the on and off screen chemistry between PRESLEY and ANN MARGRET as anything.
ANN MARGRET is a two-time Oscar nominee, five-time Golden Globe winner and superstar in her own right – and in our current day and age when many of our great Hollywood figures are whittling away in the face of ‘New Hollywood’ I like to look back in appreciation to the more simpler times now and again.
It was the summer of 1994 when ANN MARGRET: MY STORY came out and I was 15, but it didn’t stop me from spending my teenage savings on her life story. I can remember sitting in the back seat of the car on some family trek from Winnipeg – my nose stuffed in between the pages. A self-professed nerd, I loved reading stories of classic Hollywood stars and hers delivered all sorts of details of her long-time relationship with ELViS and other costars like BETTE DAViS, GEORGE BURNS, JOHN WAYNE, JACK NiCHOLSON and STEVE McQUEEN. From what I can actually remember it painted a picture of a multi-talented woman who also embodied the essence of someone ever so self-destructive.
I sort of fancied ANN MARGRET as the example of what MARiLYN MONROE could have been. MONROE’S dramatic impact in film falls so short of her potential and like MONROE there was a time when ANN MARGRET struggled to get beyond the confines of being a ‘sexpot’ in cinema as well. There is no shortage of bad ANN MARGRET films yet she did begin to resist those confines in effort to showcase her ability to handle roles with considerable more depth and substance. Roles that required more than relying on her curves and youthful disposition alone. MONROE only gave us the tip of the ice berg of what she could accomplish as a serious actress, whereas I was intrigued at the contrast of how there was then ANN MARGET, similar yet eventually breaking free to provide her audience more. While ANN MARGRET may never leave the iconic impact that is the legacy of MONROE, she has without a doubt left an impressive bunch of films to her credit nonetheless.
One of her greatest achievements in my opinion was 1971’s CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, directed by MiKE NiCHOLS. Finally she won good reviews for the first time in her career and had LiFE MAGAZiNE raving “It was like watching Minnie Mouse play Ophelia – brilliantly”. Even then I found it an intriguing comment. In a role fit for MONROE herself – ANN MARGRET owns it and proves that beneath the boobs and cascading red hair there was a woman with dimension and bristling nerves.
ANN MARGRET was undeniably talented and full of fire in her day. In addition to staring in a string of other hits and flops throughout the 1960’s and 70’s (BYE BYE BiRDIE, TOMMY, GRUMPY OLD MEN) she reigned as a LAS VEGAS nightclub star, shaking her groove thing on television variety shows with the likes of CHER and TiNA TURNER. Also, it was fun to sift through the plethora of ANN MARGRET images available online. Check them out below, along with a selection of youtube vids.