If there was one woman who captured the heart of Elvis Presley like no other, it was Ann-Margret. Starring alongside Elvis in the 1963 film Viva Las Vegas, Ann-Margret quickly became one of his most memorable leading ladies. But their connection went far beyond the silver screen, creating a fairytale interlude in Elvis’s tumultuous life.
A Chance Encounter on the Set
In early July 1963, Elvis and Ann-Margret met for the first time on the set of Viva Las Vegas at Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood. Both were introduced to each other and the press as the stars of MGM’s upcoming film. Elvis, already a seasoned actor at 28, was captivated by the 22-year-old Ann-Margret, whose career was just beginning to take off after the success of Bye Bye Birdie. Little did they know that their meeting would kickstart a personal relationship that would forever change their lives.
The Music That Brought Them Together
Before filming began, Elvis and Ann-Margret recorded their musical numbers for the movie. They each had solo songs and came together for three incredible duets. The chemistry between them was palpable, and everyone on set could sense the sparks flying. As Ann-Margret later revealed, their connection went beyond the surface. They experienced music in a visceral way, moving in sync with each other’s rhythm. It was a magical and exhilarating experience that deepened their bond.
Understanding Each Other’s Worlds
As they worked together on Viva Las Vegas, Elvis and Ann-Margret discovered they had much in common. They both had a passion for motorcycles, cherished their families, valued privacy, and shared a devotion to God. They found solace in late-night conversations, strengthening their friendship. Elvis’s close-knit group, known as the Memphis Mafia, embraced Ann-Margret and found her understanding of their world refreshing. She respected their presence in Elvis’s life, something that his then-girlfriend Priscilla couldn’t comprehend.
The Controversy Behind the Camera
While their personal relationship blossomed, their egos sometimes clashed on set due to director George Sidney allegedly favoring Ann-Margret. Elvis expressed his frustration to his friends, believing he was being overshadowed by her in the film. Colonel Parker, Elvis’s manager, intervened, reminding the producers that this was an Elvis Presley picture. Though the controversy existed, it did not strain Elvis and Ann-Margret’s relationship. They remained deeply in love, even if it couldn’t be fully realized.
A Love That Couldn’t Last
As their love affair intensified, both Elvis and Ann-Margret knew it couldn’t endure. Elvis had a commitment to fulfill—one that involved marrying Priscilla. On May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla exchanged vows in Las Vegas. Just a week later, Ann-Margret married actor Roger Smith. Despite their separate paths, Elvis and Ann-Margret remained loyal friends until the end.
A Lifelong Connection
Throughout the 1970s, both Elvis and Ann-Margret faced their own personal struggles. Elvis battled prescription drug abuse, while Ann-Margret fought against alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, they continued to support each other. When Elvis performed in Las Vegas, Ann-Margret always attended his shows, and he reciprocated by sending her guitar-shaped floral arrangements. But tragedy struck in August 1977 when Elvis passed away. Ann-Margret, devastated by the loss, attended his funeral and later hosted an NBC tribute to honor his memory.
A Love that Lives On
The love between Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret may have been short-lived, but its impact endures. Their connection went beyond a typical Hollywood romance—they understood each other on a deep level. Some believe that if they had ended up together, Ann-Margret could have helped Elvis overcome his struggles with prescription drugs. Their story remains a testament to the intensity and vulnerability of their bond, forever etching them in the annals of music and film history.