Actress and singer Ann-Margaret is one of the most famous actresses of the 1960s and beyond. She continued her career through the following decades and into the 21st century.
Ann-Margaret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden, to Anna Regina (Aronsson) and Carl Gustav Olsson, who worked for an electrical company. She came to America at age 6. She studied at Northwestern University and left for Las Vegas to pursue a career as a singer. Ann-Margaret was discovered by George Burns and soon afterward got both a record deal at RCA and a film contract at 20th Century Fox. In 1961, her single “I Just Don’t Understand” charted in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Her acting debut followed the same year as Bette Davis’ daughter in Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles (1961). She appeared in the musical State Fair (1962) a year later before her breakthrough in 1963. With Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and Viva Las Vegas (1964) opposite Elvis Presley, she became a Top 10 Box Office star, teen idol and even Golden Globe nominated actress. She was marketed as Hollywood’s hottest young star and in the years to come got awarded the infamous nickname “sex kitten.” Her following pictures were sometimes ripped apart by critics (Bus Riley’s Back in Town (1965) and The Swinger (1966)), sometimes praised (The Cincinnati Kid (1965)). She couldn’t escape being typecast because of her great looks. By the late 1960s, her career stalled, and she turned to Italy for new projects. She returned and, by 1970, she was back in the public image with Hollywood films (R.P.M. (1970) opposite Anthony Quinn), Las Vegas sing-and-dance shows and her own television specials. She finally overcame her image with her Oscar-nominated turn in Mike Nichols’ Carnal Knowledge (1971) and succeeded in changing her image from sex kitten to respected actress. A near-fatal accident at a Lake Tahoe show in 1972 only momentarily stopped her career. She was again Oscar-nominated in 1975 for Tommy (1975), the rock opera film of the British rock band The Who. Her career continued with successful films throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s.
Biography by Scott Yanow
Trumpeter divided his professional career between symphony orchestras, dance bands, and various New Orleans clubs.
A virtuoso on the trumpet, Al Hirt was often “overqualified” for the Dixieland and pop music that he performed. He studied classical trumpet at the Cincinnati Conservatory (1940-1943) and was influenced by the playing of Harry James. He freelanced in swing bands (including both Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Ray McKinley) before returning to New Orleans in the late ’40s and becoming involved in the Dixieland movement. He teamed up with clarinetist Pete Fountain on an occasional basis from 1955 on, and became famous by the end of the decade. An outstanding technician with a wide range, along with a propensity for playing far too many notes, Hirt had some instrumental pop hits in the 1960s. He also recorded swing and country music, but mostly stuck to Dixieland in his live performances. He remained a household name throughout his career, although one often feels that he could have done so much more with his talent. Hirt’s early Audiofidelity recordings (1958-1960) and collaborations with Fountain are the most rewarding of his long career; he died at his home in New Orleans on April 27, 1999.
ABOUT THE SONG, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
A Film Lover’s Journey through American Cinema
Baby, It’s Cold Outside sung first by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban and then by Betty Garrett and Red Skelton in Neptune’s Daughter (1949).
Baby, It’s Cold Outside has become a popular holiday standard, but it wasn’t written to be a Christmas song at all.
Lynn Garland and Frank Loesser belt out a tune for Life Magazine.
Composer Frank Loesser, best known for Guys and Dolls, wrote Baby, It’s Cold Outside as a duet with his wife, Lynn Garland. The couple debuted the song at a 1944 housewarming party. It was a huge success and Loesser and Garland performed it frequently thereafter as a polite way to signal to lingering party guests that it was time to leave.
In 1949, Loesser was writing songs for Neptune’s Daughter, a musical for MGM’s swimming sensation Esther Williams. The studio wanted a romantic duet for Williams and co-star Ricardo Montalban. Loesser originally offered his 1948 song, (I’d Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China, but the studio nixed the number because they felt it promoted an “immoral liasion.” In a pinch, Loesser offered Baby, It’s Cold Outside instead (Garland was reportedly furious that Loesser sold “their song” to the studio).
Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams in a publicity still for Neptune’s Daughter (1949).
Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a duet for a couple, who are having a good-natured quarrel over how to spend the evening. One partner, known as “the wolf,” wants to stay in and have a romantic evening by the fireside, while the other partner, known as “the mouse,” wants to scurry off to other responsibilities. “The wolf” and “the mouse” can be played by performers of either gender and that’s the way it’s done in Neptune’s Daughter.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside is performed twice in Neptune’s Daughter (both versions are in the clip above). First, South American polo player Jose O’Rourke (Montalban) tries to persuade swimsuit designer Eve Barrett (Williams) to spend a romantic evening in. Next, Eve’s man-hungry sister, Betty (Betty Garrett) pursues the girl-shy masseur Jack Spratt (Red Skelton).
Baby, It’s Cold Outside was an immediate sensation. It was recorded nine times in 1949 alone. First out of the gate was Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark (their version is above). There was also a country-music parody version with lyrics like “Dad’ll get the shotgun down” by June Carter and duo Homer and Jethro .
Loesser won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and Baby, It’s Cold Outside has rarely been out of the public consciousness since. It’s become a standard Christmas tune thanks to its witty lyrics filled with wintertime imagery. The song was revived again in 2003 for the Christmas movie Elf, with Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell singing the duet.