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Ann-Margret found her big break in Bye Bye Birdie, a musical about a young girl’s obsession with a hip-swinging rock and roll icon based on Elvis Presley.
Soon after, she teamed with Director George Sidney again, but this time, she got to work with the King himself. Originally titled Only Girl in Town, Viva Las Vegas grossed more than 4 million dollars in 1964.
1. Ann-Margret and Elvis hit it off.
They met on the set and became fast friends. Fun for Elvis ranged from relaxing at home with his friends to renting out a theme park to buying an exclusive evening at the movie theater. Ann-Margret and Elvis also liked riding motorcycles, and they would ride together in California after the production ended.
2. Originally, there were three duets.
“She Loves Me” is the only duet in the film thanks to Elvis’ manager, Colonel Parker. He felt that the focus was switching too much to Ann-Margret and had one of the songs cut and one of the duets turned into a solo for Presley. Parker was also concerned when the camera focused too much on Ann-Margret since he viewed the film as a vehicle for the King.
3. Keep an eye out for Teri Garr.
Garr danced in the background of six Elvis movies, including Viva Las Vegas. The gig came thanks to a dance class that included Ann-Margret. When she was hired for the movie, she brought the dance instructor on-board, and the other dancers were able to audition. Garr was one of several dancers who were called back to work on subsequent films with the King. She even got invited to a party at Elvis’ house. She said, “He respected what people did and I remember that so well that he was so sweet.”