Meet Ann-Margret Olsson, Elvis Presley’s not-so-secret girlfriend: the Swedish Hollywood star played The King’s wife in Viva Las Vegas – but real-life fiancée Priscilla rightly had doubts

Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret Olsson in hit film, Viva Las Vegas. Was the on-screen chemistry replicated off-screen? Photo: @annmargretolsson_/Instagram

She was just five years old when her family made the move from Valsjobyn, Sweden, to Wilmette, Illinois. A career in music and dance awaited – after winning a string of talent competitions in her adolescence, Ann-Margret Olsson was a name people started taking seriously.

Ann-Margret Olsson was born in Valsjobyn, Sweden. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram
It didn’t take her long to meet fellow star and undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. So, who is the woman who stole Elvis Presley’s heart and who many fans consider the one who got away, thanks to fiancée Priscilla?

Here’s what you need to know about the 60s beauty.

The breakout

Ann-Margret Olsson was a bombshell of her time. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram

Born in 1941, Olsson’s big break came when actor and comedian George Burns heard her sing at a hotel and offered her a 10-night performance gig at the Sahara Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She was just 18. After that, the combination of her strong vocals, dance moves and looks made her transition to a Hollywood in thrall with the booming musical general both quick and natural - her debut role alongside Bette Davis in 1961’s Pocketful of Miracles earned her the Golden Globe for New Star of the Year – Actress.

Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley shared singing and acting talents. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram

After starring in musicals State Fair (1962) and Bye Bye Birdie (1963) - opposite heyday heartthrobs Pat Boone and Dick Van Dyke - she was ready for the hottest role in Hollywood: love interest of The King. Sure, she was already famous. But the Elvis Presley era changed her forever.

The start

Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley met on the set of a film they worked on together. Photo: @annmargretolsson_/Instagram

The couple met in the summer of 1963. According to an Elvis biography, for Viva Las Vegas the musician and his manager had agreed to have a “leading lady” for the first time. Olsson was a star in her own right and a Hollywood darling, and therefore an ideal fit.


Milking the pairing to the max, the publicity department for set up the meeting between the pair and it was a photo op for the press. “Under the watchful gaze of director George Sidney, a studio photographer snapped shots of what the film company executives figured would be a historic moment,” Olsson outlined in her memoir, Ann-Margret: My Story.

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Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley starred in hit film Viva Las Vegas together. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram

Later, they met to record duets for the film soundtrack and it was here that their romance sparked. Apparently the connection was so instant, people remarked that Olsson was the female version of Presley. The intimacy reportedly continued long after filming finished for Viva Las Vegas - widely regarded as Presley’s best movie to this day.

The romance

Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley hit it off as soon as they met, apparently. Photo: @annmargretolsson_/Instagram

Soon enough rumours started circulating that the pair were an item. They were often seen about together, alone. She said they would drive up to a hill and look down on the city and just talk. According to Verve Times, Olsson was spending nights in Presley’s hotel suite, but in Olsson’s words it was a “secret” relationship.

Ann-Margret Olsson made it big in Hollywood thanks to her role in Viva Las Vegas. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram

Back in Memphis, Priscilla was assured that all of the pictures of Elvis and Olsson were part of a publicity stunt for the film. However, according to reports Priscilla still said Olsson was the person she most feared in the lead up to her wedding.

The beginning of the end

The wedding scene of Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas. Photo: @annmargret_official/Instagram

Although shooting for Viva Las Vegas had ended, the couple were still seeing each other. But trouble began to brew when Olsson appeared at the film’s premiere in London and was asked about her relationship with Presley. Even though she tried to avoid any talk about the romance, press reports at the time insinuated that she and Presley were even engaged.

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Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley had to end their relationship after news surfaced that they were romantically involved off-screen too. Photo: @annmargretolsson_/Instagram

Although she tried to explain she had been misquoted, the press had already caused issues between Elvis and Priscilla by then. According to The Things, Elvis was reminded by Priscilla’s parents that he had promised to marry her and he had to do good on his word.

Friends forever

Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley abruptly stopped seeing each other. Photo: @ann.margret.olsson/Instagram

Although their relationship ended abruptly, the couple remained friends until Presley’s death, in 1977. They attended each other’s shows and Presley would notoriously send Olsson gifts to her hotel room before she performed. The Swedish actress wrote in her autobiography about how Presley sent her a guitar-shaped floral arrangement each time she played in Las Vegas.

Ann-Margret Olsson and Elvis Presley stayed in touch until his tragic death in 1977. Photo: @annmargretolsson_/Instagram

She told broadcaster Charlie Rose in 1994 that Presley trusted her. She said “it was extremely special, it was very strong”. In the interview Olsson said they were together for a year and that their relationship was “very strong and very real”.

Olsson went on to marry American actor Roger Smith in 1967 and the two stayed together until his death in 2017. The Swedish icon is now 81 years old.

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  • The Swedish-born singer landed her defining leading role with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1964’s Viva Las Vegas – apparently, they hit it off right away
  • But with Elvis’ fiancé Priscilla waiting in Memphis, they had to keep the affair quiet – though many fans think the Jailhouse Rock singer should’ve married Olsson