Ann-Margret was born in Stockholm, the daughter of Anna (née Aronsson) and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. While young she moved with her parents to Valsjöbyn, Jämtlands län, which she later described as a small town "of lumberjacks and farmers high up near the Arctic Circle". Her father worked in the United States during his youth and moved there again in 1942.
She is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), and Tommy (1975). She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. In 2010, she won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU.
She has been married to Roger Smith since May 8, 1967; he was an actor who later became her manager. Smith is now semi-retired due to myasthenia gravis.
She was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta but did not graduate.
Ann-Margret began recording for RCA in 1961. Her first RCA recording was "Lost Love" from her debut album And Here She Is: Ann-Margret, produced in Nashville with Chet Atkins on guitar, the Jordanaires (Elvis Presley's backup singers), and the Anita Kerr Singers, with liner notes by mentor George Burns. Her contract with RCA ended in 1966. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she had hits on the dance charts, the most successful being 1979's "Love Rush," which peaked at #8 on the disco/dance charts.
In 1961, she filmed a screen test at 20th Century Fox and was signed to a seven-year contract.Ann-Margret made her film debut in a loan-out to United Artists in Pocketful of Miracles, with Bette Davis.
Then came a 1962 remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical State Fair, playing the "bad girl" role of Emily opposite Bobby Darin and Pat Boone.
Her next starring role, as the all-American teenager Kim from Sweet Apple, Ohio, in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), made her a major star.
Ann-Margret met Elvis Presley on the MGM soundstage when the two filmed Viva Las Vegas (1964).
In 1963, Ann-Margret guest-starred in a popular episode of the animated TV series The Flintstones, voicing Ann-Margrock, an animated version of herself.
During a lull in her film career in July 1967, Ann-Margret gave her first live performance in Las Vegas.
In 1971, she starred in Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge, playing the over-loving girlfriend of a viciously abusive Jack Nicholson and garnering a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Throughout the 1970s, Ann-Margret balanced her live musical performances with a string of dramatic film roles that played against her glamorous image. In 1973 she starred with John Wayne in The Train Robbers. Then came the musical Tommy in 1975, for which she was nominated the Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition, she has been nominated for 10 Golden Globe Awards and has won five, including her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Tommy. She also did a string of successful TV specials, starting with The Ann-Margret Show for NBC / CBS in 1968.
In 1982, Ann-Margret co-starred with Walter Matthau and Dinah Manoff in the film version of Neil Simon's play I Ought to Be in Pictures.
In 1992 she co-starred with Robert Duvall and Christian Bale in the Disney musical, Newsies. In 1993, Ann-Margret starred in the hit comedy Grumpy Old Men reuniting with Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Her character returned for Grumpier Old Men (1995), the equally successful sequel which this time co-starred Sophia Loren.
In 2006, Ann-Margret had supporting roles in the box-office hits The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause with Tim Allen. She also starred in several independent films, such as Memory (2006) with Billy Zane and Dennis Hopper. In 2009, she appeared in the comedy Old Dogs with John Travolta and Robin Williams.
On October 14, 2010, Ann-Margret appeared on CBS' CSI.