Ann-Margret and Elvis first met on the set of their 1964 movie Viva Las Vegas. While they started off as colleagues, their relationship blossomed into lust, and eventually love.
They were together in secret for just over a year, while Elvis’ long-term girlfriend, Priscilla Presley, was none the wiser. This was no mere Hollywood fling, however. Ann-Margret once described Elvis as her “soul mate”.
So then, it was devastating for the pair of them when Priscilla found out about the affair and demanded that Elvis break it off. He did as he was told, and the lovers separated.
They remained on good terms, and saw one another over infrequently over the years, but considering they were both eventually married – him to Priscilla, her to producer Roger Smith – they couldn’t spend a lot of time together.
The truth about how Elvis felt about Ann-Margret was only revealed on the day of his funeral over ten years later.
Elvis died on August 16, 1977. He was found in the bathroom of Graceland by his girlfriend at the time, Ginger Alden, after suffering a heart attack. His daughter, Lisa Marie, was in the room next door.
Two days later, on August 18, 1977, a public funeral was held for the King at Graceland. Over 10,000 people attended the historic event, including friends, family, fans, famous faces and old flames.
Ann-Margret was the only person from Elvis’ Hollywood days that attended his funeral. While the King of Rock and Roll had had on-off relationships with women throughout his time in the movies, none were as close to him as the Swedish-American actress.
When she arrived she was greeted by Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley. Ann-Margret recalled the event in her memoir, My Story. She wrote: “There was so much to say, to recount. But instead, we cried.”
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In that moment of sorrow between Elvis’ father and his ex-lover, Vernon decided to deliver one final message to Ann-Margret.
Vernon, while embracing Ann-Margret, whispered in her ear: “He was so proud of you.”
Vernon himself recalled the event in an article years later. He said: “Because I was dazed with shock and misery, I didn’t see or recognise some of the people at the funeral. Ann-Margret and I hugged each other and cried together, but I didn’t even see her husband, Roger Smith, who was close by.”
The King’s father fell seriously ill two years later in 1979. When Ann-Margret heard this news, she flew to Memphis, Tennessee right away and visited.
Ann-Margret remembered: “We had a good visit, laughing and crying and trading stories.”
Vernon told Ann-Margret how much he missed his son. She replied: “I miss him too.”
Elvis’ father, Vernon, died later that year, on June 26, 1979.