Elvis Presley built relationships with a lot of women throughout his life, but none compared to the love affair he shared with Ann-Margret. The King of Rock and Roll and the Swedish-American star met on the set of the 1964 movie Viva Las Vegas. What followed was a year-long relationship that was built on mutual love and respect. But it all came crashing down when Elvis’ girlfriend, Priscilla Presley (Beaulieu at the time), found out. Elvis, however, could not stay away from Ann-Margret.
In the years that followed, Elvis and Ann-Margret moved on. The King married Priscilla on May 1, 1967, and exactly one week later, on May 8, 1967, Ann-Margret married Roger Smith, a Hollywood producer.
However, just a month later, Elvis visited Ann-Margret in Las Vegas where she was opening her first show in the City of Sin.
Billy Smith, a key member of the Memphis Mafia, heard this meeting was particularly powerful for Elvis as he ended up proposing to Ann-Margret during this brief meeting.
“I’m sure he made the first move to get back in touch,” Billy said in Alanna Nash’s book Elvis and the Memphis Mafia: “I’d heard he’d even proposed to her after she was already married to Roger.”
Billy pointed out that, in Ann-Margret’s memoir – My Story – she avoided this topic. “She just says he come backstage and got down on one knee and told her he still felt the same way he always had,” he explained.
Ann-Margret actually wrote in her book that Elvis “confessed his love” to her. She remembered that he had arrived at her dressing room door just before she went on stage. For the first time in years, they were alone together.
Ann-Margret – who had a custom gift made for Elvis after they split up – wrote that the old connection “burned as brightly and strong as it had years earlier” between the two stars.
Eventually, after going through various bouts of small talk, Ann-Margret said Elvis’ “smile faded”.
“His eyes lost their playfulness and turned serious,” Ann-Margret wrote. “Elvis then stepped forward and dropped to one knee.”
Elvis took Ann-Margret’s hands and told her “exactly how he still felt about her”. But this emotional confession wasn’t a surprise for the actress. She wrote how she still “intuitively knew that he still had feelings for her”.
While Ann-Margret never mentioned any kind of proposal in her retelling of the events, the fact that Elvis got on his knees and waxed lyrically about his love for her certainly sounds like he did exactly that.
Another of Elvis’ friends from the Memphis Mafia, Marty Lacker, felt the pair’s relationship was so strong that the King should have ended up with Ann-Margret, not Priscilla.
Marty explained that Ann-Margret “understood” why Elvis needed his Memphis Mafia friends around him at all times.
“I don’t ever recall any negative times associated with Ann,” he said. “Except when we’d go back to Memphis and Elvis was away from her. She used to write him letters and sign them Bunny or Thumper. And she’d call Graceland and use the same code.”
In a sombre final note, he added: “If Elvis had ended up with Thumper, this whole story might have wound up differently.”