Aug. 13, 2001 -- Ann-Margret was known as America's sex kitten when she rocketed to fame in the early 1960s. In the '70s she made her mark as a serious actress, with Academy Award nominations for her roles in Carnal Knowledge and Tommy. Along the way she conquered Las Vegas, starred in critically acclaimed television dramas, and battled back from a near fatal on-stage accident.
Now the actress is taking on a new role as spokeswoman for a campaign to raise awareness about the bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis. She is still stunning, still sexy, but she is also something else. Ann-Margret turned 60 three months ago, and she wants the world to know about it.
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"Sixty is just a wonderful time of life, because you know yourself," she tells WebMD. "It was so different 30 years ago. When someone turned even 40 it was a major deal. They were considered to be on a downward spiral. And 50 ... my goodness!"
The actress says she had no hesitations when approached by the "What 60 Looks Like Now" campaign, even though it meant going public with her age. The education effort is sponsored by the National Council on the Aging, with financing from Merck pharmaceuticals, which manufacturers the osteoporosis drug FOSAMAX.
"Everyone knows everyone's age in Hollywood anyway," she says. "It is true that Hollywood is still obsessed with age, but who cares? Who really cares? This is just so important."
She says women who stay active and fit should not fear aging, and a survey commissioned by the campaign suggests many don't. Of 400 60- to 69-year-old women participating in the survey, 56% said they were more active and healthier than they had expected to be at that age, and 70% said their 60s were the best time of their lives.
However, while almost all the women questioned agreed that maintaining good health is important, only about half of them had undergone a bone density test designed to identify osteoporosis.
"The one thing that I want to get out there, especially to postmenopausal women, is that they should call their doctor, make an appointment, and find out if a bone density test is right for them," the actress says. "The test is so simple. You don't even take off your clothes. It takes about seven minutes, and it's painless. There is nothing to it."