On Saturday night here in Los Angeles legendary actor Ann-Margret finally won an Emmy after 6 previous nominations (she’s also been nominated twice for an Oscar). While the main Emmy awards are next Sunday, the “Creative Arts” subset were handed out Saturday night to behind-the-scenes people and actors nominated for guest-starring roles. The now 69-year-old performer won her statuette for Guest Actress in a Drama Series on Law & Order: SVU. Why they would not have category like this air on the main show is beyond me, but that’s another issue.

I mention Ann-Margret because in this day of Hollywood leading the charge against our military, making movies and television shows that regularly cast our troops as villains, it’s worth remembering that not all actors are, or have been, that way. Some have a genuine and deep appreciation for what our military does and a love for this country. Ann-Margret is one of those people.

While she has never been publicly politically active or worn her personal politics on her sleeve, we know where she stands when it comes to our veterans. While Jane Fonda was encouraging the enemy in North Vietnam, Ann-Margret regularly traveled with Bob Hope to the war theater to entertain our troops. Considering the left’s attitude even then about that war, not every one was rushing to join Hope’s team, but Ann-Margret was there and was one of his “regulars.”

While that was quite some time ago, her commitment and appreciation for our troops has been consistent. Probably the most illustrative story of her impact on our vets is already all over the net, but it’s worth bringing to you here. It’s the simple telling by the wife of a Vietnam vet who went with her husband to a book-signing so he could meet Ann-Margret. What happened changed his life.

At a book signing, actress Ann-Margret autographed a tattered photo presented to her by an ex-G.I. and thanked him for serving his country.

Richard, (my husband), never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he had a rather grainy, 8 x 10 black & white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margaret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.

A few years ago, Ann Margaret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 o’clock for the 7:30 signing. When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot, and disappeared behind a parking garage.

Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted. Richard was disappointed, but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI’s so far from home.

Ann Margaret came out looking as beautiful as ever and, as 2nd in line, it was soon Richard’s turn. He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it. Richard said, “I understand. I just wanted her to see it”.

She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for “my gentlemen”. With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him.

She then made quite a to do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them. There weren’t too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then posed for pictures and acted as if he was the only one there.

Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. When I asked if he’d like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears. “That’s the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army”, he said.

Richard, like many others, came home to people who spit on him and shouted ugly things at him. That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet.

I’ll never forget Ann Margaret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband. I now make it a point to say Thank You to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces.

Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.

If you’d like to pass on this story, feel free to do so. Perhaps it will help others to become aware of how important it is to acknowledge the contribution our service people make.

It is a true story, I know that personally, and for you more suspicious types, the myth-busting Snopes website also confirms it. It’s more than worth sharing, and something you should know about especially, finally, with her Emmy win this weekend. Ann-Marget’s one of the good ones.

In 1983, A-M was also up for an Emmy, but lost to Barbara Stanwyck. During Stanwyck’s acceptance speech she paid “personal tribute” to Ann-Margret and praised her performance. Liz Smith has an article on A-M from earlier this month and recounts that along with much else. Here’s the clip of that now legendary moment, which is wonderful just as a reminder of the time when we could actually enjoy television and the Emmy awards:

And one more clip for those interested in our popular culture, this time from the Charlie Rose show in 1994. A-M was promoting her autobiography and Rose talks with her about her relationship with Elvis. You get a sense of this private woman’s character, sensitivity, and sincerity in her defense of Presley. I know there are a lot of people out there who have no sense of who Ann-Margret is. Her career has perhaps not been like that of a Katherine Hepburn or Barbara Stanwyck, but she’s worth a first, or a second look as an excellent actor and wonderful performer, in addition to one of the more decent people in the entertainment industry.

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17 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. MainelyRight says:

    Nice. Very nice.

  2. RuBegonia says:

    Ann-Margret: wistful, private, loyal – enduring.
    The Bye Bye Birdie movie finale
    has a permanent place in the American Music Video Vault -both innocent and provocative, and quite controversial in its time.

  3. thierry says:

    you need to add her to the list of the wonders sweden has given us- because that’s where she was born.

    kitten with a whip.

    i was curious as to what other celebrities during that contentious time went to entertain troops in viet nam:

    rachel welch, ursula andress, nancy sinatra, jayne mansfield, tammy alter ego mamie van doren, martha raye( who was wounded- twice), melody patterson( the blonde in ‘f-troop’ in the leather fringy jacket.), chris noel( also an ‘ elvis girl’. a helicopter she was in was shot down. she now runs a shelter for homeless vets, a tireless advocate for them. http://www.chrisnoel.com/ ) ,anita bryant, jill st. john, tippi hedren, rita moreno, patricia neal, joey heatherton. redd foxx and james brown went too. as well as the greatest dance duo ever- the nicholas brothers( michael jackson who? these guys are it. their routine in ‘stormy weather’ is jaw dropping.)

    raymond burr funded numerous USO shows himself. (and in his life he gave tons of money to charities to foster children. but we wouldn’t want to be supported by or even speak to the homos, now would we, the reason for the decline and fall of civilization.)

    while most of the rest of their entertainment brethren could have cared less about our troops some actively denigrating and demonizing them for their service. chris noel’s career in hollywood was effectively destroyed by her support of the troops and jane fonda is an extremely successful actress and cultural icon. obama is the ultimate distillation of these self loathing and hateful freaks-are we at last done with them and their strangle hold on the culture?

    • MACVEL says:

      Raymond Burr–is Aaron Burr an ancestor?

      • thierry says:

        raymond was a canadian… and aaron was from newark nj…

        newark? that seems so wrong.

        besides being in ‘perry mason’ and ‘iron sides’ ray was in “Godzilla, King of Monsters! “. cosmically this means something, i think.

        • MACVEL says:

          Aaron was also a traitor. In any event, Ann-Margret was a patriot.

          • thierry says:

            oh ,so am i to infer that homosexual equals, also, traitor ?

            the man was a famous actor who chose at the expense of his career to support our troops and often with his own money .like ann margaret he was not even born here. he is fondly recalled by them for his unerring support. he’s not a patriot?

          • angelaisms says:

            Calm down, Thierry, Macvel just said that Aaron Burr was a traitor. Nothing about Raymond Burr.

          • Tammy says:

            Only the TAMs could get us from Ann-Margret to Aaron Burr *and* Raymond Burr. *And* fight about it. I’m impressed 😉

  4. trevy says:

    Good to know that one of the “Right” people finally gets honored by those too-political awards shows.

  5. JuanitaDugas says:

    Gosh, that clip was uncomfortble to watch. Rose is an ass and Ann-Margaret, after all these years, is STILL a loving faithful friend!!

    • Tammy says:

      I know! Classic Charlie Rose, self-obsessed, won’t shut up, interrupts, tries to put words in her mouth and it ends with her simply sitting there smiling at him, as he babbles self-consciously about Michael Landon and death…”Michael? No I didn’t know him…” Classy all the way, but let that rope unfurl.

  6. naga5 says:

    thanks. that was a great read on ann-margret.

  7. Tinker says:

    I’ve always loved Ann-Margret. Class, poise, character, a patriot…from the old Hollywood mold. And a great actress–so glad she won.

    And how about that catagory for best actress and Stanwyck’s graciousness? You know it’s getting bad when we’re waxing nostalgic for the 80’s!

    Thanks for this Tammy!

  8. kaps1 says:

    Gorgeous on the inside and gorgeous on the outside….lovely.

  9. pzinni says:

    Thanks for sharing the story. I’m fortunate to be in a place where as a civilian physician I have the pleasure and honor for caring for our Veterans. I always thank them for their service and sacrifice for our country. I can’t tell you how many of them are surprised, then thankful for the simple gesture. And then I always close by vocally saying “God Bless you for serving”. Again, a majority acknowledged the Christian praise. To quote Malcolm Gladwell, I believe we are at a “Tipping Point”, where the sleeping giant of Christian citizens are awakening to acknowledge all those that have served, continue to serve and those, as yourself, who expose government and politicians for their own views.
    Thank you again for fighting the good fight.

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