Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. The King of Rock and Roll died of cardiac arrest in his home, Graceland, where he was residing with his fiancée Ginger Alden, and his daughter Lisa Marie Presley. The devastating loss of the star was felt across the world and more than 30,000 fans arrived at the gates of Graceland to attend his funeral, which was held two days later on August 18.
Included in the leagues people who attended Elvis’ funeral was Ann-Margret.
Elvis and Ann-Margret held a special connection after first meeting in 1963 on the set of their 1964 movie Viva Las Vegas.
While their on-screen relationship thrilled cinemagoers, their off-screen romance blossomed into a full-blown love affair, prompting Ann-Margret to later call the star her “soulmate”.
After a year, Elvis had to end the relationship and return to Priscilla Presley (Beaulieu at the time), wherein he proposed and subsequently married the young woman.
At Elvis’ funeral, Ann-Margret held on tight to his father, Vernon.
Writing shortly after Elvis’ death and funeral, Vernon recalled: “Because I was dazed with shock and misery, I didn’t see or recognise some of the people at the funeral.
“Ann-Margret and I hugged each other and cried together, but I didn’t even see her husband, Roger Smith, who was close by.”
In her book, My Story, Ann-Magret recalled the same meeting. She said: “There was so much to say, to recount. But instead, we cried.”
She then recalled the last thing Elvis told his father about her. She wrote: “Vernon said softly: ‘He was so proud of you.'”
Ann-Margret opened up a brand new show at the Hilton in Las Vegas on August 15, 1977.
When an arrangement didn’t arrive, she knew something was wrong.
She then received a call from Elvis’ road manager, Joe Esposito, who told her the grave news.
The star picked up the phone and told him: “We’re coming.”
In an interview with Charlie Rose in 1994, Ann-Margret was asked: “He sent flowers and you knew he was dead when the flowers didn’t arrive – he’d send you flowers whenever you had a new engagement in the shape of a guitar?”
She confirmed: “It was unreal. It was just unreal… because I’m real private, and he was too.”