Elvis Presley Ann-Margret: ‘Our affair was a force we couldn’t control’

Viva Las Vegas: Elvis stars in 1964 teaser with Ann-Margret

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When Elvis Presley first met Ann-Margret in 1964 he did not expect his life to change. The stars were introduced officially just before filming started on their romantic musical movie Viva Las Vegas. Before long, the pair had hit it off and became inseparable. Ann-Margret inserted herself as a regular member of Elvis’ entourage, the Memphis Mafia, and spent as much time with the King as possible. Looking back on the relationship, Ann-Margret explained their similarities.

Ann-Margret wrote in her memoir, My Story, that she and the King were destined to be together. She said: “We were indeed soul mates, shy on the outside, but unbridled within.”

But there was a darker side to the connection Elvis and Ann-Margret shared. She explained: “We both lived on the edge, and we both were self-destructive in our own ways… In many ways, both of us, despite fame and whatever else we’d achieved so quickly, had remained very childlike and emotionally dependent.”

Despite this, the impassioned lovers could not help but be drawn to one another.

Ann-Margret said of her relationship with Elvis: “We both felt a current, an electricity that went straight through us. It would become a force we couldn’t control.”

Years later, when asked about how she felt about Priscilla Presley – Elvis’ girlfriend at the time, who remained in Graceland – Ann-Margret quipped: “She wasn’t here.”

Eventually, however, Priscilla did come between couple.

After just over a year of being together, Elvis and Ann-Margret split up. The story goes that Priscilla found out about Elvis’ transgressions, prompting him to break it off and finally do what he had promised her parents: Ask the young woman to be his wife. A short while later, on May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married.

A heartbroken Ann-Margret remembered the split. She said: “There were other factors in Elvis’s life that forced him apart from me, and I understood them. Elvis had always been honest with me, but still, it was a confusing situation.”

Eventually, she added, everything “halted” between the lovers. 

Elvis Presley stars in trailer for 1967 film Easy Come, Easy Go

Ann-Margret explained: “We knew the relationship had to end, that Elvis had to fulfil his commitment.” 

That commitment was, of course, marrying Priscilla, which he promised to do when he brought her to the USA from Germany in 1962. But, if Elvis had not been betrothed to marry Priscilla, would he have married Ann-Margret instead? His friend and Memphis Mafia member Lamar Fike believed so. Ann-Margret became one of “the guys” in the Memphis Mafia, and was well-loved by all of the group’s members. 

Lamar said: “I think Elvis would have married [Ann-Margret] in a New York second. But he made it clear he’d do it only if Ann quit the business.”

Ann-Margret’s career was skyrocketing at the time. She made a splash in Hollywood after appearing in Bye Bye Birdy, before taking the lead role in Viva Las Vegas. Before long, she had her own Las Vegas residency slot.

Lamar continued: “Elvis believed in the old Southern idea of the wife stays home and cooks dinner and has it on the table when the husband gets home. And Ann was very career-oriented. She wouldn’t do it. She’d worked all her life to get where she was, and she wasn’t going to let anybody stand in her way.”

The week after Elvis got hitched, on May 8, 1967, Ann-Margret got married to Roger Smith.

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