Welcome to another edition of Classic Hotties. This week we're profiling an especially beloved hottie who made a huge impact on film and TV starting in the early 60s and continues to do so right up till the present day. That lady is the lovely Ann Margret. Being somewhat like a combination of Amber Heard and Katy Perry, Ann was probably the most influential, female, pop culture talent of the early 1960s. Talented both as a singer and actress, she set the bar for how to be a diverse young talent in Hollywood - an example many a young thang has since followed to chart the course of their own careers.
Born Ann-Margret Olsen in Stockholm, Sweden in 1941, Ann was raised in that country until the age of 5, when she and her family came to America and became naturalized soon after. Ann showed a great deal of interest and ability in performing from a young age, and so naturally desired to pursue a career in entertainment. After appearing on TV at the age of 16, Ann briefly attended college, but soon decided to forgo higher education after being discovered by none other than legendary cigar-sucker George Burns while doing a stage production in college. With little more than her dreams to work with, she set out for Las Vegas to perform in Burns' stage show. It wasn't long before she would sign her first big record deal at RCA and a contract at 20th Century Fox.
Both her acting and recording debuts came in the same year, 1961, and soon Ann was having huge successes with both careers. Her first single shot to the top of the charts and her role as Emily in the musical STATE FAIR won her a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer." She then went on to even more success in movies like BYE BYE BIRDY and VIVA LAS VEGAS, both of which made her one of the first teen sensations of the 1960s.
Though those early movie roles were a great career boost, they also set the tone for a lot of the film roles that would follow for her. Ann's demeanor was typically one where her down-to-earth off screen personality often clashed with a sultry vibe that would come over her when in front of a camera. Not surprisingly, this steamy on camera persona often got her cast in the sex pot/bad girl roles in many of the movies she did early in her career. Rumors also began to swirl about her relationships, based mostly on her remarkable on screen intensity and much publicized affair with co-star Elvis Presley, who was said to have been quite enamored with her right up to his death. Though it was common knowledge among many that the two had been an item, it was only much later in her autobiography that she publicly admitted to it.
Perhaps burdoned by all the press and feeling as though typecasting as the "bad girl" was inevitable, Ann gave her movie career a break in the late 60s and returned to her Las Vegas roots, doing song and dance shows and the occasional TV appearance. She couldn't stay away from Tinseltown long though, and after some rather forgettable performances, Ann returned to the spotlight with her Oscar-nominated performance in the controversial 1971 Mike Nichols film CARNAL KNOWLEDGE. Always a bit of a sexual firebrand, Ann didn't shy away from doing her first nude scene in this movie, along with pretty much everyone else who was in it with her.
And even when tragedy struck, Ann could hang tough. Like in 1972, when she fell 22 feet from a stage in Las Vegas, horribly mangling both her body and face in the process. Being one tough little hottie, she was back at it exactly 10 weeks later, as if nothing had ever happened.
One often repeated aspect of her first few decades in Hollywood was a desire for roles that highlighted both her acting and musical talents. It was with this in mind that Ann received one of her most well remembered and celebrated roles - that of Nora, the mother of pinball prodigy Tommy, in the 1975 movie adaptation of the hit record and musical by legendary 60s rock group The Who. Ann would go on to receive a second Oscar nomination for this role.
Later decades would see things cool down a bit for Ann, although she has remained active both in TV and films. One particularly bright note many younger folks will probably recall was Ann's role as Ariel in the GRUMPY OLD MEN movies, in which she played the love interest for Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. She might still have been a little young for the likes of those guys in the early 90s, but she was nonetheless still very much worthy of all the the attention even into her 50s.
Now at the age of 71, Ann doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slipping, having recently won an Emmy for a guest starring role on Law & Order: SVU, her first Emmy win after 6 nominations. In her distinguished career as an actress and a musician, there isn't much Ann hasn't been nominated for and even won a few times. And as a hottie, she still stands as one of the most beloved beauties of the 1960s and the 20th century as a whole. Not bad for a spunky Swedish import.