Ann-Margret Olsson is a Swedish-American actress, singer and dancer whose professional name is Ann-Margret. She became famous for her starring roles in Bye, Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, The Cincinnati Kid, Carnal Knowledge, and Tommy. Her later career includes character roles in Grumpy Old Men, Any Given Sunday, The Santa Clause 3, and The Break-Up. She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. On August 21, 2010, she won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU.
Ann-Margret was born in Stockholm, the daughter of Anna and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. While young she moved with her parents to Valsjöbyn, Jämtlands län, which she later described as a small town “of lumberjacks and farmers high up near the Arctic Circle”. Her father worked in the United States during his youth and moved there again in 1942, working with the Johnson Electrical Company, while his wife and daughter stayed behind.
Ann-Margret and her mother moved to the United States in November 1946, and her father took her to Radio City Music Hall on the day they arrived. They settled just outside of Chicago in Wilmette, Illinois. She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1949 and took her first dance lessons at the Marjorie Young School of Dance, showing natural ability from the start, easily mimicking all the steps. Her parents were supportive and her mother handmade all her costumes. Ann-Margret’s mother was a funeral parlor receptionist after her husband suffered a severe injury on his job. While a teenager, Ann-Margret appeared on the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour, Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club and Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.
Through high school, where she graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, she continued to star in theatricals and she attended Northwestern University, where she was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta but did not graduate. As part of a group known as the “Suttletones,” they performed at the Mist, a Chicago nightclub, and went to Las Vegas for a promised club date which fell through after they arrived. They plugged ahead to Los Angeles and, through agent Georgia Lund, secured club dates in Newport Beach and Reno, where Ann-Margret had a chance encounter with Marilyn Monroe, who was on location for The Misfits. Monroe noticed the striking girl in a crowd of onlookers, then chatted privately with her, offering her encouragement.