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In 1960, Ann-Margret’s career got a big boost when she was discovered by legendary comedian, George Burns. He had auditioned her as a potential chorus girl for his Las Vegas act. However, Burns was so impressed with the young lady’s talent that he singled her out as a special part of the show. He gave her three songs to perform - and did a Vaudevillian soft-shoe dance with her during the finale. A friendship formed between the legendary performer, his wife and the budding actress. With George Burns as a mentor, success was imminent. Indeed, following her Vegas experience, she was asked to do a screen test for 20th Century Fox. Her performance resulted in a 7 year contract with Fox and a contract with RCA Records. Her premiere recording was, And Here She Is.... Ann-Margret

In 1961 the actress made her film debut in Pocket Full of Miracles playing Bette Davis’ daughter, Louise. A second film followed: the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, State Fair. Later that year, she won a Golden Globe as “International Star of Tomorrow.” By 1963, Ann-Margret had achieved star billing in her third film, the hit musical, Bye, Bye Birdie with Dick Van Dyle and Janet Leigh. This role was a great success and showcased the lovely actress/dancer/singer’s energetic persona. An unusual opportunity came Ann’s way when she was incorporated into an episode of the famous animated cartoon series, The Flintstones. She played herself as pre-historic Ann-Margrock.

In 1964, the silver screen caught fire when Ann-Margret teamed up for a film with Elvis Presley. Sparks flew with genuine chemistry when she and Elvis sang and danced in the smash hit, Viva Las Vegas! Onscreen as Rusty Martin (she) and Lucky Jackson (he) - as well as offscreen - the duo radiated obvious attraction. Indeed, while filming, Presley and Ann-Margret had a very close personal relationship and would talk for hours into the night. They were very much alike in many ways such as their belief in God and closeness to their families. Ann-Margret was even said to be the female version of Elvis Presley since they were both “wild in public and shy in person.” Even though their romance was curtailed due to Elvis’s existing relationship and engagement to Priscilla Beauleiu, a special friendship endured for the rest of Elvis’s life.

For the next few years, Ann-Margret did films such as The Pleasure Seekers, Stagecoach, and The Cincinnati Kid. In 1965, Ann was touched to receive a letter and petition signed by 3,000 soldiers serving in Vietnam requesting her to come entertain them. The decision, despite the dangers involved, was an easy one, considering Ann-Margret’s patriotism and appreciation for the soldiers who were fighting on the side of her adopted country. So in March 1966, she departed for Saigon and a 15-day tour of entertaining the troops.

In 1966, Ann-Margret became engaged to Roger Smith, handsome star of television's "Route 66". They wed in 1967 and have been one of Hollywood’s marital success stories. In 1968, she had the honor of having her own television show called, appropriately, The Ann-Margret Show. She continued to star in a number of films, most notably 1971’s Carnal Knowledge and The Who's 1975 rock opera Tommy, for which she won a Foreign Press ociation’s Golden Globe for Best Actress. On July 11,1973, Ann-Margret got her own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

A happy marriage and a successful career with a promising new nightclub engagement at the Sahara Hotel in Lake Tahoe.......Ann-Margret’s life was looking great. Then near-fatal tragedy struck. On September 9, 1972, while performing her nightclub act, a platform suddenly collapsed, plummeting the singer 22 feet to the ground, smashing the bones in her face , breaking her jaw in two places, and breaking her left arm. For the first time, Roger was not with his wife at a performance. When he was notified of the accident,he forbade any treatment of his wife until he could bring her home to her own doctors. He frantically sought about for a means of transportation and finally decided upon a small plane, which he stole from the airport and piloted, himself, at top speed to Ann-Margret's side. Amid the protests of Lake Tahoe doctors, he gently carried his wife to the plane and flew her back home. The actress remained comatose for four days. Miraculously, despite the destruction which had taken place inside her mouth and jaw, Ann-Margret's face was unharmed. Smith instructed the surgeon to perform his work without making any incision in her face. With amazing skill, the doctor reconstructed the tiny broken bones in the actress's face and re-positioned them around a ball of thread. When Ann-Margret awoke, her jaws were wired completely shut. After courageously enduring wired jaws and intricate reconstructive facial surgeries, Ann-Margret was eventually and remarkably returned to her former beauty.

While many would be tempted to give up after such a misfortune, Ann-Margret worked hard to regain her strength as quickly as possible. Her primary motivation was her beloved father - who was dying of cancer and whom she knew was very worried about his daughter's accident and recovery. With remarkable determination and strength of spirit, Ann-Margret recuperated in time to resume her show by Thanksgiving. Her perseverance paid off when she won the Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year Award. She went on to do several television dramas that netted her three Best Emmys.

In 1993, Ann-Margret wowed audiences anew with her role in the movie Grumpy Old Men. In the film, a long-running feud between neighbors (played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) is ignited afresh by the vivacious and gorgeous new neighbor, Ann-Margret. The two men compete heartily for the affections of the lovely lady, but Jack wins out and a wedding finale concludes the tale. In the sequel, Grumpier Old Men, Ann-Margret returns with husband, Jack, to watch as curmudgenly Matthau first wars, then woos and eventually weds Sophia Loren.

Ann-Margret fans were delighted when the usually-private star opened up with an entertaining autobiography, entitled, Ann-Margret - My Story. The book remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for several weeks.

Today, Ann-Margret continues to perform and delight audiences with her charm, beauty and still-sultry voice. Her marriage to Roger Smith is a strong and happy one. For a time, Mrs. Smith, who considered herself to be the dependent one in the relationship had to take on a strength of her own, as Roger battled the debilitating neuro-muscular disease, myesthenia gravis. Remarkably and happily, Roger's disease is in remission as of this writing.

Viva Las Vegas
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