Ann-Margret: Elvis Presley co-star’s ‘devastating’ fall and facial surgery

Viva Las Vegas: Elvis stars in 1964 teaser with Ann-Margret

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Just a few years after Ann-Margret wowed audiences in her role as Rusty Martin alongside Elvis Presley in 1964’s Viva Las Vegas, the Swedish-American actress experienced a major fall. Showbiz CheatSheet explains the actress suffered a “devastating facial injury in 1972 when Ann-Margret took a 22-foot fall from a platform at a Lake Tahoe casino during a performance”.


On September 14, 1972, The New York Times revealed Ann Margret was undergoing surgery for fractures to her face.

The article said: “Ann‐Margret, who was seriously injured in a fall from a stage platform, underwent facial surgery today at the U.C.L.A. Medical Center.

“The operation took about three hours. Hospital officials said a statement on the condition of the 31‐year‐old actress‐dancer would not be made until later.

“Ann‐Margret suffered several facial fractures, a concussion, a broken jaw and a broken arm Sunday when she fell from a 22‐foot‐high platform just before her performance at a Lake Tahoe casino.”

There were also rumours the actress had broken a kneecap during the fall, though this was later disproved.

A 1983 interview with Ann-Margret revealed her husband, Roger Smith, had insisted “on flying her to Los Angeles where surgery from inside the mouth repaired the serious damage and left her famous beauty intact.”

Writing in her 1994 memoir, Ann-Margret: My Story, the actress claimed that Elvis had supported her during this time.

The pair reportedly had a romantic affair during the filming of Viva Las Vegas.

She explained that, although they had ended their romance some years previously, having both moved on, he had already sent her flowers.

One night, while in Las Vegas, he asked to visit her in her suite.

Ann-Margret wrote: “He wanted to know all about the accident, my recovery.

“It was so easy for us to lapse into the closeness we’d always shared, but it was clear from some of Elvis’s comments that he really missed having me in his life.”

During her recovery, Ann-Margret told interviewer Roger Ebert that she received “thousands of letters”.

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She spent this time reading and responding to every one of them.

Facial surgery is a serious operation, and according to the NHS, any kind of plastic or facial reconstruction surgery “has an associated risk”.

The NHS states: “The degree of risk depends on the size of the affected area, the surgeon’s level of experience, and the overall health of the person having the procedure.

“Some procedures carry specific risks, but general risks include pain and discomfort.”

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