“The Pace! That Hazard!”: Ann-Margret Is Nonetheless Using Her Harley at 81

Ann-Margret is unstoppable. At 81 years previous, the movie and music icon reveals no indicators of slowing down as she’s simply launched her new album, Born to Be Wild. For the challenge, the Bye Bye Birdie star teamed up with a number of the music trade’s greatest names, like Pat Boone, the Who’s Pete Townshend, and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, to file previous requirements that she’s at all times wished to carry out onstage, however by no means had the possibility to. “I had a good time doing it,” she tells Self-importance Honest. “I’m thrilled everyone wished to do one thing. What can I say, I’m so grateful.”

The quilt of Born to Be Wild options a picture of Ann-Margret from the ’60s astride a Triumph bike, as she was as soon as the face of the model. However the lifelong motorcyclist admits that she wasn’t at all times such a daredevil. Rising up in Valsjöbyn, Sweden, earlier than shifting to the States, she was “taught to curtsy after I met somebody, to curtsy after I stated thanks, and that was totally different from everyone right here.” She says with amusing, “I actually discovered that out!” However even with such a prim and correct upbringing, the actor confesses that she at all times had a style for journey. “My uncle, my mom’s brother, had an enormous bike. And Valsjöbyn was 10 minutes away from Norway, so my uncle would take me on these nice rides to Norway,” she explains. The highway they might journey lower via the area’s gorgeous countryside, she remembers. “You look to the fitting, and it was the mountains. You look to the left, it was the fjords. And naturally, coming to America, I’ve these recollections, and that by no means went away, that factor of being on prime of a bike.”

Ann-Margret has been cruising round on two wheels ever since, effusively describing her lavender Harley-Davidson embellished with tiny white daisies as “shining brilliantly” within the solar throughout our dialog. And it’s not the one Harley in her life—the singer additionally has a 19-year-old cat named after the bike producer—a present from her late husband of fifty years, Roger Smith. She admits that Smith, who handed away in 2017, “wasn’t thrilled that I liked [motorcycles] a lot,” however she provides, “That is how sensible he was. He had by no means been on a bike earlier than, however he purchased himself one and obtained on it and began using with me as a result of he knew how I liked them. That’s a sensible man.” 

The Grumpy Outdated Males star notes that the key to her and Smith’s lengthy and pleased marriage was figuring out each other in and out. “You simply know what that individual thinks and you’ll by no means do one thing that you understand he’s so towards,” she says—until that factor is using her Harley into her golden years. “When he retired, he offered his bike, and I stated, ‘No approach am I going to promote my bike,” the singer says jovially. “From time to time I’ll take it out, figuring out, after all, that Roger has warned me.” She nonetheless finds herself hopping again on her bike due to “the joy! The pace! That hazard!” However, she admits, she’s not a complete insurgent, saying, “I don’t need to get any tickets although!” 

On the pinnacle of her profession, Ann-Margret was an inescapable popular culture presence, sometimes called “the feminine Elvis Presley.” All through the a long time, she’s appeared in seminal roles in movies like Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, Tommy, and Carnal Information, to call only a few. In her autobiography, Ann-Margret: My Story, the actor described how her job demanded that she have the ability to rework from “Little Miss Lollipop to Sexpot-Banshee” when she stepped on set. Maybe that’s why the actor says she nonetheless doesn’t acknowledge that individual onscreen. “I don’t know who that’s. I nonetheless don’t know who that’s,” she reveals. “Look, I’m a loopy girl. So it’s enjoyable for me to behave and be one other individual. Approach deep down inside, I’m nonetheless that lady that curtsies.”

Whereas Ann-Margret has lengthy been Hollywood’s golden lady, she’s additionally confronted her fair proportion of struggles and setbacks. In 1972, throughout a efficiency in Lake Tahoe, she fell 22 ft off an elevated platform and suffered a damaged left arm, cheekbone, and jawbone, which required her to get intensive facial reconstructive surgical procedure and wire her jaw shut. In 2000, she was thrown off her beloved Harley whereas using in rural Minnesota, leading to three damaged ribs and a fractured shoulder. She’s additionally spoken overtly prior to now about her struggles with alcoholism, despair, and infertility. When requested how, regardless of all of that, she has discovered the power to persevere, she explains, “Effectively, ’trigger it’s not gonna get me down. I’m simply gonna stand up on that bike once more. I’m going to stand up from no matter occurred to me. I’ll stand up and go.

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