Two of the most exciting film stars – one a luscious young blonde and the other a leather-skinned, weather-beaten oldtimer meet in a western about a stolen half-million in gold.
The golden gal is Ann-Margret, whose star has been soaring brighter than ever though she took a tumble during a night club performance which nearly ended her career. The rugged veteran is John Wayne, known to his friends as Duke, who just goes on and on making motion pictures that break box office records. His some 200 films through the years have grossed close to $700 million. He has a magic which has made him the all-time top box office champion. A sometimes tender, sometimes electric relationship arises between the two in the film, “The Train Robbers”, a Batjac production for Warner Bros., which will soon be seen in St. Louis.
As for the story, Ann-Margret, portrays a sex-kittenish Mrs. Matt Loewe, induces John Wayne to help her recover a half-million in gold stolen by her late husband in a train robbery and cached in the boiler of a wrecked locomotive of 1870 vintage. She wants to return the gold to clear her husband’s name she says. Wayne and a party set out to help the widow find the money. But there are complications. Others, including some of the original train robbers are looking for the money too, so there’s a lot of shooting. It turns out that Mrs. Loewe is a beautiful imposter who learned about the hidden gold in a brothel where she worked.
Ann-Margret, whose career soared and the sank and the soared again to greater heights with her smash success in “Carnal Knowledge” a couple of years ago, has a last name. It’s Olsson. She was born in Stockholm, Sweden to Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Olsson, who came to the United States when Ann-Margret was 5 years old, settled in Fox Lake, Ill. Later they moved to Wilmette, Ill., where she attended high school. She spent a year at Northwestern University.
She took music and dancing lessons during childhood and teen years and her performances in various high school and musical productions led to her first professional job as a singer with a new young band.
She was “discovered” by comedian george Burns, appeared at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, and a new showbusiness star was born. She made her national television debut with Jack Benny and next was given a starring role in the movie “State Fair”. She followed this with such pictures as “A Pocketful of Miracles”, “Bye, Bye Birdie”, “Viva Las Vegas”, “The Cincinnati Kid”, “Stagecoach” and a dozen others. She was a big hit on television specials and became one of the superstar attractions in night clubs across the country.
In 1967 Ann-Margret married her producer-writer husband, Roger Smith. They live today on a seven-acre estate in Beverly Hills once owned by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
There was a time when her career sagged, but it was brought to life again by her touching and dramatic portrayal of Bobbi Templeton in Mike Nichol’s “Carnal Knowledge”, for which she recieved an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.
Shortly after completing her starring role in “The Train Robbers”, Ann-Margret went back to her night club work and met with an accident last September that almost ended her career. She was injured in a 22-foot fall from a stage scaffold at a Lake Tahoe hotel-casino, suffered five fractures of facial bones, a broken left arm, a concussion and a broken jaw. She recovered, underwent successful facial surgery, came back to undiminished stardom.
St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 28, 1973