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The 4 Roles That Defined Ann-Margret's Career

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:46 AM

Ann-Margret broke onto the scene playing the ingenue, a persona that defined her early career. Ann-Margret's roles matured with her and she didn’t shy away from gritty dramas and flawed characters. Throughout the 1960s she was sometimes referred to as the female Elvis Presley for her fiery and charismatic performances.

The following roles demonstrate how Ann-Margret evolved as an actress and how dramatic performances defined much of her later career.

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1. Kim McAfee, “Bye Bye Birdie” (1963)
At just 22 years old, Ann-Margret carried her own alongside Hollywood heavyweights Janet Leigh, Dick Van Dyke, and Maureen Stapleton. She shot to stardom in her role as an adoring teenage fan of Conrad Birdie, an Elvis-like teen idol about to depart for military duty.

Ann-Margret so impressed director George Sidney that he changed the musical to give her more screen time, trimming Janet Leigh’s character to a supporting role. Ann-Margret earned a second Golden Globe nomination for her performance in what was just her third film.

2. Bobbie Templeton, “Carnal Knowledge” (1971)
As the girlfriend of the mentally and emotionally abusive Jonathan (Jack Nicholson), Ann-Margret’s Bobbie embarks on a downward spiral that culminates in a near-fatal drug overdose. An actress who gave up her career in the hopes of starting a family with Jonathan, Bobbie does eventually become his wife and the mother of his child, though the relationship ends in divorce.

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The role marked a turning point for Ann-Margret and a move away from her singing and dancing roles and sexpot image. New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther described her performance in the Mike Nichols film as “a perfect balance between the character's desperation, her aggressiveness, and her surprising simplicity.” The role garnered her praise and an Academy Award nomination, and defined her career as she transitioned into adult roles.

3. Nora Walker, “Tommy” (1975)
Ann-Margret won her second Golden Globe award in this rock opera based on the 1969 album of the same name by rock band The Who. In it, she portrays the mother of Tommy (Roger Daltrey), a young man who is blind and deaf but possesses a gift for playing pinball.

Film critic Roger Ebert called Ann-Margret’s performance “simply great.” The film also starred Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson. Ann-Margret received her second Academy Award nomination for the film and won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical/Comedy.

4. Ariel Truax, “Grumpy Old Men” (1993)
Ann-Margret proved she still had sex appeal as the exuberant widow who moves to town and sparks a rivalry between divorced John (Jack Lemmon) and widower Max (Walter Matthau) who have known each other since childhood and share a love-hate relationship. Her character, an outgoing artist and former professor, ushers in a second act for both men, who have been alone for several years.

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Ann-Margret broke onto the scene playing the ingenue, a persona that defined her early career. Ann-Margret's roles matured with her and she didn't shy away from gritty dramas and flawed characters.
ann-margret, roles, career
Thursday, 14 May 2015 09:46 AM
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