Oscar Actors: Ann-Margret—Impact of Award on Her Career

Ann-Margret’s career not only benefitted from her first nomination, but also got a tremendous boost when she appeared at the 1962 Oscar show, April 9, in which she sang “Bachelor in Paradise,” one of the nominated songs.

The song was from the popular musical remake, State Fair, which Fox had released just weeks, in March, before the Oscar show.

In the space of three minutes, Ann-Margaret became “the Hottest Name in Town.” It did help that in January of that year, Ann-Margret received from  the Hollywood Foreign Press Association a Golden Globe as “Star of Tomorrow.”

The scholar Joe Bob Briggs has poignantly observed that Ann-Margret was a transitional figure in American culture.  She became a box-office star right after Sandra Dee, representing a different screen image.

And yet, as Briggs noted, it’s almost impossible to realize how drastically American culture has changed from 1962 to 1964.  The rise of the Beatles, after their controversial but extremely successful 1964 visit to the U.S., signaled that change for the Fab Four not only revolutionized the world of music, but the entire real of fashion and pop culture.

Ann-Margret’ Oscar appearance got her screen work but no recognition as a serious actress, having begun her career as a song and dance femme in night clubs.

It took an imaginative director, Mike Nichols, and a good supporting part, as Bobbie Templeton, Jack Nicholson’s love-starved actress-girlfriend in “Carnal Knowledge” (1971) to change her then “prevalent screen image, as a teenage sex kitten, in Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, and Kitten with a Whip.

The Oscar nomination brought critical acclaim and bolstered Ann-Margret’s self-confidence, forcing her to mature as an actress.

Life magazine put her on the cover, prompting Ann-Margret to say: “The critics had an image of me, and they wouldn’t accept any other.  I was a cartoon character, a joke.”

For Time magazine: “It was like watching Minnie Mouse play Ophelia–brilliantly.”