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Ann-Margret Had Affair with ‘Animal’ Elvis before Her 50-Year Marriage & near Fatal Accident

Esther NJeri
Nov 20, 2021
04:40 A.M.

Ann-Margret has lived a fulfilling life. With a successful career in film and an affair with Elvis Presley, she has had it all, but her 50-year-marriage to Roger Smith remains her proudest accomplishment yet.

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Born Ann-Margret Olsson in the Jamtland county of Sweden, Ann-Margret relocated to the U.S. at only six years of age. Before going to Las Vegas to follow her dream of being a world-famous singer, she studied at Northwestern University.

She debuted her music career with her 1961 single "I Just Don't Understand," which ranked in the top 20 in the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.

That same year, she embarked on her acting journey in "Pocketful of Miracles," playing Betty Davis' daughter. Her second appearance in a film was in the musical "State Fair" the following year.

Relatively new to the acting scenes, Ann-Margaret hit her career breakthrough when she featured in the musical comedy film "Bye, Bye Birdie." She reached the pinnacle of her career the following year after she starred alongside Elvis Presley on the "Viva Las Vegas."

Her roles in "Bye, Bye Birdie" and "Viva Las Vegas" saw her become a Golden Globe nominee. They also placed her on the radar, as she began getting recognized as a teen idol and a Top 10 Box Office star.

Ann-Margret at the screening of "The Cincinnati Kid" at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival | Photo: Getty Images

Ann-Margret at the screening of "The Cincinnati Kid" at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival | Photo: Getty Images

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The '70s saw her get back on the horse after a career hiatus in the late '60s. She began doing song-and-dance shows and even her very own TV specials.

The 1975 film "Tommy" saw her get nominated for an Oscar, and her career continued making headlines for the rest of the '70s and '80s.

She continues to grace the industry with her acting skills. Her most recent project is the 2018 "The Kominsky Method," where she plays a possible love interest for Norman, a recently widowed agent.

Ann-Margret at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel on December 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Ann-Margret at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel on December 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

AN AFFAIR WITH THE KING OF 'ROCK AND ROLL'

Ann-Margret met Elvis Presley when she was cast for her role in "Viva Las Vegas." They had an instant connection, one that oozed off the screen, and Ann-Margret would later describe it as an irresistible force, saying:

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"We both felt a current, electricity that went straight through us. It would become a force we couldn't control."

Presley was a flirt, and among the women that fell under his spell, he'd never experience one quite like Ann-Margret. She was not intimidated by his glamour, and on-set, she commanded as much attention as he did.

Elvis Presley strums his acoustic guitar in a portrait in 1956 | Photo: Getty Images

Elvis Presley strums his acoustic guitar in a portrait in 1956 | Photo: Getty Images

Having never experienced something like that before, Presley was at a loss. He could not understand Ann-Margret's effect on him until one of the Memphis Mafia brusquely told him that she was the female version of him.

They were mirror images of each other, and their similarities were mind-blowing. They both internalized music the same way and experienced the same embarrassing yet wonderful sensation.

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Besides their careful, polite, and quiet dispositions, they also shared a love for something else — a daredevil love for powerful motorcycles.

Elvis Presley performing on the Elvis comeback TV special on June 27, 1968, in California | Photo: Getty Images

Elvis Presley performing on the Elvis comeback TV special on June 27, 1968, in California | Photo: Getty Images

Even after they married different people, their love for each other was evident, and their connection never-fading until Presley took his last breath in 1977. Ann-Margret was one of the few people that got invited to Presley's funeral.

ROGER SMITH

Even though her affair with Presley did not lead to marriage, Ann-Margret is forever grateful that she married her one true love — Roger Smith. Their marriage lasted five decades.

Accomplished as she was as an actress and a musician, Ann-Margret maintains that her marriage is one of her most significant accomplishments.

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Postcard photo of Roger Smith sent to fans in response to mail. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Postcard photo of Roger Smith sent to fans in response to mail. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

The two met around the same time that Ann-Margret appeared on "Pocketful of Miracles" in 1961. She was barely an adult then, but her reputation in the industry preceded her.

To Smith, who was in his late 20's, Ann-Margret was no ordinary woman. While others fell to his feet and swooned over the handsome actor, Ann-Margret ignored him most whenever they interacted, which spiked Smith's interest in her.

The pair would, however, not cross each other's paths until five years later. Smith was long separated from his first wife, and for their first date, Smith invited Ann-Margret to a club in San Francisco where he was performing.

Ann-Margret and Roger Smith pose for a portrait in 1980 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Ann-Margret and Roger Smith pose for a portrait in 1980 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

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The next night, he took her out for dinner, followed by a ride in his private plane the following day. At first sight, it was not love for Ann-Margret, but she already knew she would marry him by the third date. She told the New York Times in 1994, according to Closer Weekly:

"The man that I married is the man I knew I was going to marry on the third date."

The duo tied the knot in a Las Vegas civil ceremony after dating for a year. Unlike many marriages in Hollywood, theirs lasted over five decades, only cut short by Smith's passing in 2017.

Ann-Margret and husband Roger Smith at the 2010 Creative Arts Emmy Awards | Photo: Getty Images

Ann-Margret and husband Roger Smith at the 2010 Creative Arts Emmy Awards | Photo: Getty Images

For Ann-Margret, Smith was the right man from the beginning, but her parents seemed to disagree. When they began their relationship, the "Man of a Thousand Faces" actor was a father of three and was still not legally divorced from his first wife.

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However, they waited until his divorce was finalized before they could exchange vows in the smoke-filled room at the Las Vegas Riviera Hotel in 1967.

Throughout their marriage, Smith helped Ann-Margret make wiser business decisions, helped her take pride in her career, and believed in her. He soon became her manager and helped her land more prominent roles, elevating her career even further.

Actress Ann-Margaret attends the 2016 USO Gala on October 20, 2016 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington. | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Ann-Margaret attends the 2016 USO Gala on October 20, 2016 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington. | Photo: Getty Images

NEAR-FATAL ACCIDENT

Their marriage was filled with bliss and weathered many storms, including a chronic illness, substance abuse, and a near-fatal accident threatening to end Ann-Margret's career.

"The Grumpy Old Men" actress was performing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in 1972, when she fell off an elevated platform, breaking her jawbone, cheekbone, and left arm.

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Always by her side, her husband piloted a plane from California to the UCLA medical center, where Ann-Margret received treatment.

A snapshot of Swedish-American actress Ann Margret from a 1968 television special. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

A snapshot of Swedish-American actress Ann Margret from a 1968 television special. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

For the next ten weeks, she could not eat as the facial reconstructive surgery she had undergone required her jaws to be wired shut. Thus, she could only feed on a liquid diet.

Luckily for her, she healed pretty well and returned to the stage a few months later, looking so good it almost seemed like the accident never happened.

Sadly, Smith passed on in 2017, following a long battle with a rare neuromuscular disease, Myasthenia Gravis. The disease caused difficulties in speaking, swallowing, and muscle weakness in the legs and arms.

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Actress Ann-Margret attends the Deauville American Film Festival (Normandy, France) in September 1988. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Actress Ann-Margret attends the Deauville American Film Festival (Normandy, France) in September 1988. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

ANN-MARGRET'S RELATIONSHIP WITH SMITH'S KIDS

Devastated as she was by the death of her life-long partner, Ann-Margret had an army behind her — Smith's children from his first marriage, Tracey, Jordan, and Dallas Smith.

Despite mourning the loss of their father, the three were by her side, helping her through the grief. Ann-Margret is also reported to be a doting grandmother to her step-children's babies.

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