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Sunday, January 26, 2014


Ann-Margret Olsson

Ann-Margret: the woman so nice (to look at), they named her twice! The shy Swede turned American redhead was one of the biggest stars in the '60s and remains one of the greatest sex symbols of all time. After transferring to the states, Ann-Margret Olsson started her artistic education by taking dance classes, and by the time she graduated from high school, she decided to drop out of college, leave Illinois behind, and pursue a career as a singer. With an onstage presence that contrasted her true demeanor, her sensuality and sense of fun, when combined with her out of this world beauty, made her stand out from the pack. George Burns was the first to give her a leg up in the showbiz community, adding her to his own holiday show after witnessing her in action.

Ann wanted to be a singer most of all, and her first professional coup was getting a contract with RCA. She would record many albums and even some popular singles, but it would be the camera that loved her best. Small parts in State Fair and Pocketful of Miracles did not prepare the world, nor herself, for the cataclysm of sexual power she would unearth in Bye Bye Birdie. Twenty-two upon the film's release-- a mockery of the effect of Elvis Presley on civilization, and their reaction to his entry into war-- Ann possessed an incredibly mature sexuality and feral aggression that separated her from the other cookie-cutter, apple pie girls on the silver screen. She was a friendly femme fatale. Mixed with her touches of vulnerability and still present innocence-- however valiantly her character "Kim McAfee" tried to ignore her youth-- Ann was immediately likable, desirable, and incomparable. Labeled the female Elvis, it only made sense that she be partnered in a film with him, Viva Las Vegas, which led to a classic, swingin' sixties film, a torrid romance, and a lifelong friendship.

Ann's career had its ups and downs, as she was obviously typecast for her bountiful physical features more than her depth, but any stalls in her career were combatted by her passion and willingness to take chances. Thus, the hottest ticket in Hollywood who turned heads in The Cincinnati Kid, later re-emerged as a complicated leading lady, using the strengths of her sexual allure to reveal the complicated nature underlying a pretty girl's facade, particularly as that beauty faded with age. Her work in the iconic Tommy as well as that in Carnal Knowledge had a shocking effect on a public who still held onto an image of her sex-kitten persona, one that she fearlessly broke down before them. One of her greatest triumphs was appearing opposite the two comic greats Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men and its sequel, playing the aged but still vibrant object of desire to two weathered oafs lives. 

Throughout her 7 decades on this earth, Ann has maintained her beauty, her vivacity, and her charm. The shade of her hair may be false, but the firecracker of her spirit is one-hundred percent authentic. It still illuminates our world and shakes things up. Viva la femme!

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