Ann-Margret, Awaiting UNLV Honors, Recalls Elvis Presley and ‘Viva Las Vegas’

Posted on: April 5, 2021, 04:17h. 

Last updated on: April 6, 2021, 03:22h.

Looking back on her career, film star Ann-Margret recently recalled her time in Las Vegas with Elvis Presley.

Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley
Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley dance during a scene in the 1964 movie Viva Las Vegas. She is being honored this month at UNLV. (Image: Showbiz Cheat Sheet)

Only four years after the Rat Pack helped bring attention to Las Vegas with the heist movie Ocean’s 11, Ann-Margret and Presley added more sparkle to the Southern Nevada city in their 1964 hit film, Viva Las Vegas.

A longtime casino showroom headliner, Ann-Margret is set to be inducted into the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame on April 13. This is the 17 annual event. Past inductees include Phyllis McGuire, The Killers, Wayne Newton, and Siegfried & Roy.

In an interview with John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ann-Margret discussed her memories of Las Vegas and her co-star, Elvis Presley. In the interview, she referred to him as “E.P.”

We were friends for a long time, E.P. and I,” she said. “We met on the movie. We had several things in common, including a love for Las Vegas. We dated, and we just had a great time together.”

‘A Great Movie’

Presley died in 1977 at age 42 of heart complications. He is buried at Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tenn. 

In addition to his many movies and hit songs, Presley was a fixture for years in Las Vegas casino showrooms. Throughout the decades, Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas have made themselves up to look like Presley, pantomiming his lip curl and hip thrust.

What can I say?” Ann-Margret said of Presley. Yes, certainly admired and respected him. We were a lot alike and made a great movie together.”

She told the newspaper she has not seen the movie since it came out.

I never see my movies more than once,” she said. “I like to keep it that way, in my memories.”

Starting at the Dunes

Ann-Margret got her start as a singer and dancer at the Dunes hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. 

Comedian George Burns discovered her there and hired her for his holiday show at the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Strip. Her showroom performances in Las Vegas led to a recording contract and movie roles, according to the Turner Classic Movies website.

Ann-Margret told the newspaper her performing career began in 1960, when she was “a toddler, very young.”

I had been at Northwestern for about a year, and three gentlemen and I created a band called the Suttletones and were hired by the Dunes lounge,” she said. “We were on at like 5 in the afternoon until 8 oclock at night. Nobody came to see us perform. They were in there to drink and talk.”

The Dunes was demolished in 1993. The Bellagio Hotel and Casino was built at that location on the west side of the Strip under resort developer Steve Wynns direction. The Sahara is still in operation.

Among others being honored at the Hall of Fame induction are writer Dave Hickey, magician Mac King, and comedian Carrot Top, whose legal name is Scott Thompson.