Five-time Golden Globe winner Ann-Margret, 82, recently released Born to Be Wild, a new album of covers, featuring her old friend Pat Boone and her Tommy costar Pete Townshend. She talked to AARP for the June/July issue of AARP The Magazine about keeping her relationship with Elvis under wraps, how she doesn’t mind being called a sex symbol and her 50-year relationship with her husband and manager Roger Smith.
Emerging from huddled masses
I started moving around to music and singing for Mother and Mooma, my grandma, when I was 4. Two years later, we moved from our little village in Sweden to America. We had relatives here, so my mother learned how to speak English from them. And I learned at school. I remember wanting to learn English as well as I possibly could because I felt like an outsider. I know how hard it must be for people who come here if they don’t know the language.
A showgirl makes her mark
George Burns discovered me when I was 19, singing in Las Vegas, and made me part of his annual holiday show. When I made State Fair, I posed for some photos with Pat Boone, kissing his shoulder. When the photo came out, the press said that I was nibbling him! That was very, very racy in 1962!
Bye Bye Birdie  was my third movie and the one that made me a star. [She lifts her shoulders and arms to match the dance to “A Lot of Livin’ to Do.”] We did that number for three weeks. Onna White did the choreography, and I instinctively did the steps the way I felt them, and I guess she agreed!