‘Viva Las Vegas’ Turns 60! Bet You Didn’t Know These 7 Things About It

VIVA LAS VEGAS, poster art, from left: Ann-Margret, Elvis Presley, 1964.
Everett Collection

Sure, everybody knows the song, and if you are an Elvis fan, you of course know this is one of his biggest movie hits, which he starred in alongside one of the most popular female sensations of the 1960s, Swedish-born actress Ann-Margret. The camera did not lie, as the two together were on fire both onscreen and off. In honor of its 60th anniversary, here are some fun nuggets of knowledge.

1It wasn’t going to be the duo’s first role together

VIVA LAS VEGAS, Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret, 1964

Everett Collection

Ann-Margret’s casting in Viva came after her stellar performance in Bye Bye Birdie, the film adaptation of a Broadway musical that was inspired by Elvis being drafted into the army. Of course, Elvis was the first choice to play his fictional alter ego of Conrad Birdie, but Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker shot it down, and the role went to Jess Pearson.

2Elvis wasn’t sure he wanted to do the film

VIVA LAS VEGAS, Elvis Presley, 1964

Everett Collection

Presley was a little hesitant to sign on to Viva Las Vegas, because he had never been cast against a female lead, and Ann-Margret was wildly popular at the time. He was afraid his talent wouldn’t match up to hers.

3There was no script

VIVA LAS VEGAS, from left, Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret, on-set, 1964

Everett Collection

When Elvis did decide to join the cast, the only thing anyone knew is this would be an ELVIS movie. While there was no initial script, MGM executives assumed it would be figured out during production; the script was written in 11 days.

4Director George Sidney & Col. Parker butt major heads

George Sidneyand Col. Tom Parker

Everett Collection; Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images

Like two parents at a soccer match arguing over whose kid got more play time, Parker was constantly pushing Elvis to have more screen time, better closeups, and songs plus threatened to pull Elvis from the film. Sidney had other ideas, plus control of the camera shots. Being director Sidney also got the last say, he snuck in footage of Margret dancing during the end credits.

5Do you own the original soundtrack?

Viv Las Vegas EP cover

Heritage Auctions, HA.com

The answer would most likely be no. Due to the constant bickering between Sidney & Parker — Parker insisted Margret’s name be moved from the album cover, and Sidney refused — so no full soundtrack was officially released. There was, however, a four-song EP. Margaret did end up with two songs in the film, compared to Elvis’ six, and they had one duet: “The Lady Loves Me.”  It wasn’t until 1993 that 12 songs from the film were released on CD. Several other iterations of the soundtrack have been released since, but songs with Ann-Margret on lead vocals have never officially been released.

6Sparks were flying

VIVA LAS VEGAS, Ann-Margret, Elvis Presley, 1964.

Everett Collection

Elvis and Ann were the hottest thing to hit the screen in 1964, and the rumors didn’t stop there. While Elvis was dating future wife Priscilla Presley during filming, she was still living in Memphis at Graceland while Elvis was off in Hollywood. As the two lead stars spent more time with each other, they discovered just how much they had in common. The press couldn’t get enough of this romantic love connection. Eventually, rumors were circulating that he had dumped Priscilla for the beautiful Swede and the two had secretly gotten engaged. It didn’t help when a set photo was leaked of the two being married in the film that the public thought was real. Priscilla rightfully so was outraged. Not long after that, Elvis ended things with Margret, and two years later they finally got married.

7Now, about that “Viva Las Vegas” song!

That hip-shaking groovy tune was filmed as a continuous shot and was the only Elvis movie to do so. We dare you to listen to it without dancing in your seat or singing along as you read some more interesting stuff about it.

Here are some more fun facts you might not know about it:

It was only released as a B-side single, and reached 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Elvis never performed it live, ever.

Las Vegas has adopted it as its theme song, even though they haven’t been able to officially secure the rights.

Many have covered it, most notably the punk rock band The Dead Kennedys, Bruce Springsteen and ZZ Top. Even Ann-Margret did a cover of it in 2000.

It was certified gold almost 30 years after its release.

The Vegas Golden Knights, Vegas’ NHL team, play it any time they win a home game.


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