Elvis Presley starred alongside many beautiful women, some of whom he dated, during his Hollywood film career. But he really only found his match against Ann-Margret, who was seen in the business as the female version of The King and had even released her own version of Heartbreak Hotel. When they starred in Viva Las Vegas together in 1963, a publicity campaign surrounding their rumored romance turned out to be true. In fact, Ann-Margret wrote in her memoir that Elvis was her “soul mate” and, according to the King’s family, she was incredibly close to him for the rest of her life.
Elvis’s cousin, Billy Smith, is the last surviving original member of the Memphis mob and actually knew the King, even before he was famous. The star’s relative and his wife remember hanging out with Ann-Margret, now 81, around the production of Viva Las Vegas.
Speaking on their Elvis Fans Matter YouTube channel, they were asked: “Did you know Ann-Margaret, what was she like and did you like her?” Billy said, “Yeah, very much like Elvis. He had a great sense of humor and [was] always doing things you would expect a big star like that to do. She liked to ride a motorcycle and go out alone to spin. She was like that. She was a super nice person.” She then went on to say how the leading lady was unique compared to The King’s other lovers.
Billy’s wife, Jo, said: “I remember the first time we met her. We were having dinner at Joe and Joni’s and she pulled up a motorcycle…she came in and we all put her around the kitchen table and ate and she talked about entertaining the troops. She had just returned from Vietnam with Bob Hope. Just a down to earth person. To me, she looked a lot like Elvis. Very, very nice.”
Billy added: “Of course, she and Elvis were very close as everyone knows. And they kept in touch a lot. I think she more than anyone… Ann-Margret was probably the one who stayed the longest.”
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Following Elvis’s death on August 16, 1977, Ann-Margret traveled with her husband Roger Smith to Memphis the next day to attend his funeral.
Three months later, she would host a television special called Memories of Elvis, which included abridged versions of The King’s 1968 Comeback Special and the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite.
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