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Ann-Margret (Ann-Margret Olsson)


  1. Natalie Wood, Gypsy, 1962.   She conquered Hollywood with her “Bachelor in Paradise” song ’n’ dance on the 1962 Oscarcast. And Warners obviously saw her as the young Gypsy Rose Lee. But Wood had a Warner Bros contract.   The real Gypsy Rose Lee gave striptease lessons to Wood (hardly required considering her exuberant love life!) and, unlike West Side Story, Nat sang for herself.
  2. Carol Lynley, Under The Yum-Yum Tree, 1963.     Yum-yum was not quite the word  for this meal.
  3. Carol Lynley, Bunny Lake Is Missing, 1964.     The Columbia suits wanted Fonda and Ryan O’Neal.Producer-director-ogre Otto Preminger didn’t. Wasn’t keen on Ann-Margret, either.
  4. Jane Fonda, Cat Ballou, 1965.     Refused by her agents, after four consecutive duds. She  promptly sacked her agent. “I didn't set out to make bad movies but somehow I did a string of them.”
  5. Shirley MacLaine, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, 1965.     Not a good year for agents.She already worked with Alain Delon in Hollywood.
  6. Nancy Kovack, Frankie and Johnny, 1965.   But as Nellie… Under her contract, Annie owed the unfortunately named producer Edward Small one more, er, Small; production. He suggested this Presley picture,  but…  been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.  She was Elvis' gal  in Viva Las Vegas in 1963.
  7. Shelley Fabares, Girl Happy, 1966.     The legend:  Colonel Parker prevented  a second film for her and Elvis to (a) prevent any revelation of their affair since Viva Las Vegas, 1964, or (b) to  kill Rusty’s  hold over E.  (She actually  thought he should make more substantial movies!).  The truth:  "The female Elvis"  didn’t need the male Elvis - on-screen. She was getting better scripts than he was: Once A Thief, The Cincinatti Kid, Stagecoach…    Years later, Allan Carr  tried to get them back together for...Grease. 
  8. Ursula Andress, La decima vittima (The 10th Victim), Italy-France, 1965. Two licensed hunter-killers of the 21st Century are each other’s target for their tenth kill, and the riches that go with it. With his short blond hair and her gun in her bra, they have a robotic sheen,. He’s Marcello Mastroianni, she his real on-off lover, Ursula Andress…  after Ann-Margret, Sue Lyon and Kim Novak turned the other chic.
  9. Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde, 1966.
  10. Vanessa Redgrave, Camelot, 1966. Julie Andrews followed her Broadway success in My Fair Lady with Lerner and Loewe’s next musical about King Arthur and Guenevere. She naturally looked forward to filming both. Except (a) head brother Jack Warner stupidly chose the non-singing Audrey Hepburn in MFL and (b) Julie had no wish to put up with Richard Harris again after Hawaii, which is when he started his big push for what had been (the now too pricey) Richard Burton’s throne. The full Warner list for (a British queen, remember) ranged from sublime Brits (Julie Christie, Petula Clark, Marianne Faithfull, Elizabeth Taylor, Jan Waters) to the ridiculous Ann-Margret, Polly Bergen, Cher, Audrey Hepburn and Liza Minnelli. Plus Mitzi Gaynor and Shirley Jones, nine and 12 years after their all-American South Pacific and Oklahoma!  triumphs.  

  11. Katharine Ross, The Graduate, 1967.  
  12. Sharon Tate, The Valley of the Dolls, 1967.
  13. Marianne McAndrew, Hello, Dolly!, 1968.    Annie and Phyllis Newman were tested for Irene Molloy - finally sung on the soundtrack by Gilda Maiken asnd Melissa Stafford.    La Barb was not about to allow someone that pretty to take the shine off her.
  14. Julia Foster, Half A Sixpence, 1967.     Paramount didn’t quite understand what it had in the musical based on HG Wells’ very British Kipps - wanting Annie, (or Julie Andrews) opposite Dick Van Dyke and Bob Hope!
  15. Julie Andrews, The Sound of  Music, 1968.    Among the rash of offers after she conquered Hollywood in the  ’62 Oscarcast. Instead, Fox displayed her in State Fair.   “When I see myself on-screen, I don’t know who that person is.”
  16. Jacqueline Bisset, The Detective, 1968.      After Frank Sinatra dropped Mia Farrow (his wife!) for being delayed on Rosemary’s Baby. Next, he had  her served with divorce papers on Rosemary’s set.  Nice guy!
  17. Marianne McAndrew, Hello, Dolly, 1969.     She tested to be Irene Molloy. but La Barbra was obviously not keen on such a beauty in the line-up  of... the biggest musical flop in Hollywood history.
  18. Joey Heatherton, Bluebeard, 1972.     She missed the big Budapest birthday bash for Liz Taylor, while wisely avoiding being one of Burton’s eight murder victims.
  19. Liza Minnelli, Cabaret, 1971.  Confirming the fact that director Bob Fosse was here to stay (alas not for long enough), Cabaret stems from the Weimar Berlin stories by Christopher Isherwood who based his main character (he is the other one!) Sally Bowles on the British often naked teenage libertine flapper-actress-singer-writer Jean Ross -  later Communist , Spanish civil war correspondent and lover of jazz pianist (later actor) Peter van Eyck.     On her father’s advice, Minnelli (rejected for the Broadway production!) chanelled Louise  Brooks as Sally. Isherwood said Liza was too talented  such a “medicore” singer.  Never said what he thought of her ten rivals: Ursula Andfess, Julie Andrews, Ann-Margret, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Jill Ireland (!), Glenda Jackson, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Brenda Vaccaro and Natalie Wood.
  20. Faye Dunaway, After The Fall, TV, 1974. A film of the Arthur Miller play about Marilyn with Paul Newman or Sophia  Loren (!)  became Plummer and Ann-Margret - then Dunaway.Miller also wrote the script - no kinder about poor Marilyn.

  21. Twiggy, W, 1974.      Ron Shusett, of the Alien team, wrote it for her and she was to co-produce with husband Roger Smith, before her near fatal fall during a Lake Tahoe stage show. Role was re-written (and costumed!) for Twigs and the man she went on to marry, the late Michael Witney.
  22. Lynn Redgrave, The Happy Hooker, 1975.      “You’re kidding, right?”  Lynn said much the same. But she craved a new image.  Didn't work.
  23. Faye Dunaway, The Disappearance of Aimee, TV, 1976.   Faye replaced Ann-Margret as the missing evangelist, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson. And suffered for it, as co-star Bette Davis took an instant dislike to her - as she did to all actors younger  than herself, like Karen Black in her previous Burnt Offerings.  (And even regarding her elders as well, such as poor Lilian Gish in The Whales of August). UK director Anthony Harvey recalled when he’d set the couple up for a two-shot. ‘I would then look through the camera, and I couldn't see Bette." She had imoved her chair away to avoid any close comparison with her younger co-star – playing her daughter, for heaven’s sake!  Indeed, various jokers would later say that Faye only over-did Bette’s nemesis, Joan Crawford, in Mommie Dearest, 1981, to get back into Bette’s good books!
  24. Valerie Perrine, Superman, 1978
  25. Eileen Brennan, The Cheap Detective, 1978.     Changed roles when Lily Tomlin dropped out of the Neil Simon package. Not that it pleased her. “I  always leave [my screenings] with a migraine.”
  26. Olivia Newton-John, Grease, 1978.     Having resuscitated her career, kaftan king Allan Carr could only think of her - and Elvis - when he bought the rights in 1972.   Five years later, Presley was dead.  Of sheer boredom.
  27. Brooke Adams, Cuba, 1979.      “She might have made it a very different different love story,” declared Richard Lester. “And even more of why I was interested in making the film would have disappeared.”
  28. Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People, 1979.    Novelist Judith Guest’s anatomy of a family more in pain than love reminded Robert Redford of “the missed signals” of his own upbringing, - it became his directing debut. He considered Ann-Margret or Lee Remick for Beth, the “ideal” if rather sterile wife and mother.  Being a close friend, Natalie Wood thought she should play it.  Redford preferred MTM. “There a lot of Beth in her.” (Feeling betrayed, Natalie never spoke to him again).  Donald Sutherland, as Beth’s husband, tells her: “You're so cautious...” MTM agreed she was the same, “a hang back person when things get uncomfortable.“  Redford noted this and caught it on film. Annie tested with Timothy Hutton as the (Oscar-winning) son. When he asked if she’d got the part, Redford said: “No  - it looked too much like a love scene.”
  29. Jessica Lange, The Postman Always  Rings Twice, 1981.    After Nicholson’s original  plans fell  through in 1977, MGM’s James Aubrey suggested pairing Annie and Mitchum.  Not a bad idea.
  30. Maggie Smith, The Missionary, 1982.     By the end of ’81, exec producer Dennis O’Brien was “suddenly strong” on Annie. Not for long.  An early ’82 meeting decided, as the scenarist and star Michael Palin told his diary, “to eliminate any spectacular, but possibly dumb, beauties in favour of Maggie Smith - attractive, striking, skillful.”  She reminded Palin of his late sister Angela:  “Bright, but brittle.”

  31. Susan Blakely, Will There Really Be A Morning?, TV, 1983.    Hubby Roger Smith first bought rights to Frances Farmer’s autobiography, just ahead of Michelle Phillips who was not surprised that Blakely (and producer husband Steve Jaffe) never gave up, even after Jessica Lange's 1982 Frances movie beat her TVersion. “When Susie gets her teeth into something, she never lets go.”
  32. Glenn Close, The Stone Boy, 1986.     “When Robert Duvall signed,” director Christopher Cain told me,  “everybody wanted in -  they were walking in off the street.”
  33. Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in  the Mist, l988.    Peter Guber’s (surprise) choice  when  setting up  his Warners  project  of primatologist Dian  Fossey’s  life,  before merging with producer Arnold Glimcher’s Universal version of the autobiography set for (pregnant) Jessica Lange.
  34. Madonna, Evita, 1996. Another of the numerous early notions. By the time,  the musical was made, she  was  55 -  22 years older than Eva Peron at her death. 
  35. Jacki Weaver, Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks, 2013.    Annie quit when her husband, Roger Smith, fell ill. The Cate/Naomi/Nicole/Sydney actress  of the 70s, Weaver had made 43 Aussie films before being discovered by Hollywood in 2011. She was an important part of the 70s’ start of the new Aussie wave: Stork, Alvin Purple, Petersen, Caddie and, of course, Picnic At  Hanging Rock.
  36. Holland Taylor, Mr Mercedes, TV, 2017-2019.    Due to a family illness, Annie had to leave the adaptation of Stephen King's Bill Hodges Trilogy.  Showrunner David E Kelly called in Taylor, from his two of his TV series, Ally McBeal, 1999-2000, and her Emmy award winning role in The Practice, 1998-2003….  Brendan Gleeson was Hodges. It was written for him, said the author about the 274th of his  staggering 313 screen credits since Carrie in 1976.  (King Kameo: man with knife through his neck).











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