Ann-Margret Vs. Peggy Olson: It's On

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While Episode Three of Mad Men had plenty of musical moments to remember -- from concertina recitals to blackfaced showstoppers to baked a cappella-offs -- its second episode had just one. In a darkened boardroom, we were sent via Sterling Cooper WABAC Machine to 1963 for Ann-Margret's uncharacteristically shrill performance of the title song to Bye, Bye Birdie, upon which they were to base their campaign for Patio diet cola. Against a blue backdrop, the Swedish-born sex kitten and infrequent Flintstones guest star pined for the Broadway-musicalized version of Elvis, (who she'd ironically be blue-balling in Viva Las Vegas the very next year), along the way earning the respect of deeply closeted Charles Strouse fan Sal Romano, and a slap from Peggy Olson, who observes, "Let's assume we can get a girl who can match Ann-Margret's ability to be 25 and act 14."

Ann-Margret was watching:

"My daughter-in-law called and said: 'Did you know that you're on 'Mad Men'?" says the 68-year-old actress, who will be honoured in Toronto next week by the charitable organization Best Buddies Canada.

"I said no. So I looked and I was just so shocked, so surprised. How very flattering. My goodness."

"I just was sitting there wondering: OK, when is the other shoe going to fall," she says, noting she'd only ever watched one episode of "Mad Men" before that.

"When are they going to say something bad? It's a very strange feeling, to see myself. I was sitting there so nervous!"

Here's the full number, and a late-'70s Johnny Carson performance of "I Got the Music in Me" for good measure.

· Ann-Margret 'shocked' to see herself in 'Mad Men' [Canadian Press]



Comments

  • Rosie says:

    If I were Ann-Margret, I would be upset over what was said on "MAD MAD". Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of the criticisms toward the actress' performance in that scene. Many fans took Peggy's comments at face value, completely forgetting that the actress' shrill singing was DELIBERATE. She was spoofing teenage girls infatuated with rock stars. Why Weiner failed to point this out is beyond me.

  • stolidog says:

    um, because it's just a television show?

  • Rosie says:

    So, it's a television show. So what? That means Matt Weiner had the right to completely misinterpret a movie scene, because he wanted to express a message about sexuality and feminism? Hey, if you don't mind, that's great. Frankly, it pissed off and struck me as an example of sloppy writing.

  • Amrita says:

    And that's why Peggy noted "her ability to be 25 and act 14". Peggy was being snide but she did recognize that this was deliberate on AM's part. Just because she saw it and understood it, however, doesn't mean she had to like it or that everyone should then have interrupted the scene to have a short discussion about the merits and context of that clip. Esp as it was contemporaneous and so the characters would all have known the context already.
    If you want a show that explains the context of everything it slips in as an aside, then Mad Men is not it.

  • stolidog says:

    on television, you can do what you want, because it's TELEVISION. Fox News completely misenterprets everything, and they're still going strong.

  • Rosie says:

    And that's why Peggy noted "her ability to be 25 and act 14". Peggy was being snide but she did recognize that this was deliberate on AM's part. Just because she saw it and understood it, however, doesn't mean she had to like it or that everyone should then have interrupted the scene to have a short discussion about the merits and context of that clip. Esp as it was contemporaneous and so the characters would all have known the context already.
    We don't even know whether Peggy understood that the scene was a parody. Her tone certainly didn't imply it. At least not to me. Why didn't Peggy simply point out that the entire scene was a spoof, including on the part of Ann-Margret? Why did she have to make a snide comment about the actress' singing voice, especially since it wasn't Ann-Margret's true voice? Peggy should have known that it wasn't. Moviegoers had already experienced the actress' real singing voice in a movie that came out a year earlier called "STATE FAIR".

    • Bugga comes says:

      Yeah Anne can't sing. She's horrible. Just watched her singing Mack the knife. She sucks. She's proof that talentless but cute hacks have been crowding the media since it first came to be. She's just like Taylor Swift!

  • Rosie says:

    "on television, you can do what you want, because it's TELEVISION. Fox News completely misenterprets everything, and they're still going strong."
    Oh Gee! That's a solid explanation. By the way, Ann-Margret was 21 when she filmed BYE BYE BIRDIE. She was barely 22 years old around the time of "Love Among the Ruins". If Weiner couldn't get her age right, he shouldn't have allowed Peggy to comment upon it in the first place.

  • Stolidog says:

    Rosie....O'Donnell? It's just like watching you on the View. Neat.

  • ChrisStH says:

    I think the shrill comment hit too close to home for our friend Rosie.

  • Kimberly says:

    Who cares if it was deliberate or not? Just because we know she can sing better, doesn't mean we have to enjoy her singing when its not at its best. And from Peggy's POV, she doesn't like the falseness of it, the idea that that's how women are supposed to act. She also makes the point later in the show on how dishonest the image was. And really Ann Margaret was shrill, I know I was cringing a little at the song even before Peggy criticized it.

  • gypsy says:

    Good lord rosie. Get over it already! I've seen you on every MM discussion on the internet talking about how Peggy was too stupid to understand the Ann-Margret scene, and how she was wrong wrong wrong about her actual age. Do you have an Ann-Margret obsession?
    Geez. Let it go.

  • Michelle says:

    Where to start? It was a character's opinion and not a statement of fact. The character, living in 1963 and without access to Wiki, was estimating her age. Peggy was being snide, because part of Peggy was jealous at the rapt attention of the men, which was repeated later with Don also being charmed. Hence the imitation and hence going out to flirt -- she wanted to experience some of that attention.
    Well-written characters behave realistically -- which means they're sometimes petty, or jealous, or just generally don't like someone. If she'd sat there gushing about the wonders of Ann-Margret, that wouldn't have been true to the character and would have made the scene largely useless.

  • Rosie says:

    Which is exactly how I had viewed Peggy's reaction to Ann-Margret's performance in that segment. But for some reason, every time Peggy's character is criticized, many fans castigate the person who had dished out the criticism.

  • Riprap says:

    Peggy's character was reacting in large part to Ann-Margaret's effect on the men in the room, and their assertion that this scene from Bye Bye Birdie was a good choice to sell diet soda.

  • simone says:

    You are taking great umbrage while having no reason to know whether Peggy knew it was a parody or not. She found the video itself shrill (I agree) and A-M in the video looking to be 25 acting like 14. (I agree.) So A-M was a couple of years younger - who cares?
    YOu have some kind of weird major chip on your shoulder about this scene.
    Peggy didn't like this video. She didn't like its affect on the men in her office. That's fitting for the character.
    Btw, do you know the exact age of EVERY Hollywood actor or singer you might chat about at work?
    I found your comments interesting and informative at first, but your tone and defensiveness are exhibiting some serious lack of "fair and balanced" :)

  • TomL says:

    Actually, she was 22 playing 16. But I never believed Ann-Margret's Kim was 16, especially in the sexy "Gotta Lotta Livin' to Do" number.

  • TomL says:

    I was a kid when "Bye, Bye, Birdie" came out. I was obsessed with the movie and with Ann-Margret. I loved those blue screen opening and closing numbers. I suppose I should thank George Sidney, the director, who was supposedly in love with A-M, for making 16-year-old Kim McAfee so damned hot. It was great to see it revived on "Mad Men."

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