Hollywood Legend Ann-Margret on Faith, Love and Recovery
By Julie Blim
The 700 Club
Girl next door and sex kitten - these starkly contrasting qualities have captivated us for decades. Ann-Margret became a star when she was barely out of high school. Her career has been stellar. But her personal life has taken some tough turns.
700 Club producer Scott Ross recently visited with Ann-Margret, singer, entertainer and movie star.
Scott Ross: You don't do many of these interviews, do you?
Ann-Margret: No. I just love my privacy.
Scott: Well, we'll leave now.
Ann-Margret: I love our home. We've been here since 1968.
Scott: You're really an introspective person. You're not a show business person. You don't run around and go to the parties. I don’t see you on the red carpet. And you like to be at home with Roger, the dog and your motorcycle and the kitties.
Scott: Let me run something by you… your life. Every one of these is going to bring back a memory. This is mind blowing to me, George Burns, who discovered you.
Ann-Margret: Yes, he discovered me. And he said, ‘You wanna come to Vegas with me?’
Scott: Did you have any inkling at that time what that was opening up to you?
Ann-Margret: Everything came from that performance - those ten days and ten nights in Las Vegas.
Scott: Jack Benny, Bobby Darin, whom I love, Pat Boone - and you were the first person to kiss him onscreen? Is that true?
Ann-Margret: I was the first person. I kissed him on his shoulder – wooooooooo. Oh, at that time, I sort of nibbled on his shoulder.
Scott: And of course, Elvis, Steve McQueen, Lucille Ball, Jack Nicholson, The Duke (John Wayne), Bette Davis, Dean Martin, Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and we don’t have time for the rest. That's unbelievable!
Ann-Margret: I am so blessed. I have been so very blessed in my life.
Scott: For a little girl from Sweden, five years of age, to move to this pantheon of
artists and stars…
Ann Margret: Ever since I was four years old, I loved making people smile, making them think, making them feel good, feel some kind of emotion.
Scott: But it was like a rocket. The thing took off, one thing after another, after another and you were out there.
Ann-Margret: So blessed.
Scott: Is that how you view it? As a blessing?
Ann-Margret: “So blessed, oh my goodness.”
Hollywood magazines predicted a wedding between Ann-Margret and Elvis. But, it was another handsome actor, Roger Smith, who captured her heart.
Ann-Margret: I knew on the third date that we were going to be married.
Scott: Did you let him know that?
Ann-Margret: No. No, it just felt right.
Scott: And he himself quite a successful actor, 77 Sunset Strip… He was quite the man at the time.
Ann-Margret: He still is.
Scott: I don’t question it.
Ann-Margret: He had more faith in me than I did. One of the main things about my view of him was that he would protect me.
Scott: He gave you a safe place.
Ann-Margret: Yes, he did.
In 1980 Roger was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease that causes extreme weakness.
Ann-Margret: It affects people differently, but he has been in remission now for a long time.
Scott: But you’ve stuck it out, too. There are people who leave marriages today because they don’t like the same restaurant.
Ann-Margret: Both of you have to want it to work, and we do. And, we still like each other, and we still laugh. How ‘bout that?
In 1994, Ann-Margret talked candidly about her life and career in her autobiography, Ann-Margret, My Story.
Scott: And it caused you to have to really examine yourself, too.
Ann-Margret: You have to go through a lot of things.
Scott: You did? And again, you wrote about it. And the size of that drove you to drinking?
Ann-Margret: That’s something I dealt with. I dealt with it.
Scott: …and you overcame it?
Ann-Margret: I dealt with it. You never really overcome it. But I dealt with it.
Scott: How did you deal with it?
Ann-Margret: And I have constantly been dealing with it.
Scott: It’s still a battle today?
Ann-Margret: You always have to be aware of it. But, I have been without it now for 32 years. All my life I’ve had this feeling, deep, deep, deep inside of me… my faith and my feelings.
Scott: How would you identify the something that was inside you?
Ann-Margret: I mean you go outside and you see flowers. You see the trees. You see all your loved ones, you see… and then you think of Who created it all.
In her first six years in Sweden, and later in the U.S., Ann-Margret and her family attended the Lutheran Church. She says she prays and looks for the good in people.
Scott: Your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, that part of it. Is that a reality to you?
Ann-Margret: Oh yes. I want to say something which is really important to me. If I thought that I would never see my mother and father again, I couldn’t make it. I could not go a step further. Okay?
Scott: So knowing that, you know the Lord and that your parents did. That assures you of that.
Scott: So after all the accolades, awards and everything else, I think there was a point when you said, ‘None of that really counts.’
Ann-Margret: Friends and family. That’s what it is. That’s what it’s all about.
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