Monday, May 2, 2011

Yet ANOTHER Fabulous Redhead turns 70: Ann-Margret Edition

I've always had a major soft spot for Ann-Margret and think she's been both under-rated and under-utilized. She's so lovely (and still is! Was I the only one who caught the Law & Order in which she played a nutty stalker?).

Born in Sweden in 1941 (like every other fabulous redhead on Earth) and moved to the US when she was six. She catapulted to stardom in 1963 with her starring role in Bye-Bye Birdy. There was a great moment in the first season of Mad Men when they screened her opening number from the film and all the men found it sexy as hell, but Peggy found it to be embarrassing to watch. She has a point. Ann-Margret is trying so hard, it seems a bit - desperate. She was never a particularly relaxed performer.

I adore her in Viva Las Vegas in which she stars opposite Elvis, and for once (for both of them) it's an even match. They were simply the two sexiest people on the face of the Earth at that exact moment in time and they subsequently had a year long affair - about which she doesn't really speak. Subsequently, she married to actor/manager Roger Smith, a relationship that's lasted about 45 years. She is also one of the few performers who has the honor of being a Flintstone character!

But it's that sense of discomfort I wanted to write about a bit. I think she's a little hard to watch sometimes because she appears so eager to please. So many beautiful women on screen can just sit there and let the world bask in their loveliness. Not Ann-Margret. She always looks like she's working - I mean, look at the picture above. I find her scenes with Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge to be almost unwatchable; he's so cruel to her. You can feel the desperation leaching out of her pores. I really hate that film, and it's one of those situations where my loathing is so intense I'm not sure if I trust it.

Ann-Margret has made a series of awful films in the last twenty years, not that actresses in her age range have a great deal of choice if they wish to keep working. She's an aging sex kitten, and that's exactly what she portrayed in her recent L&O turn. She was creepy and weird and histrionic and pretty riveting.

All hail this most vivacious of screen presences on this momentous birthday!

For other entries in my Fabulous Redheads Turning 70 coverage go here and here.

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