Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret Sang This Song Together Like Cats

Elvis Presley recorded songs in many genres; however, he didn’t really make comedy music. Despite this, he and Ann-Margret once performed a duet where they acted like cats to make their friends laugh. Interestingly, the song was a hit — but not for Elvis.

Elvis Presley holding a guitar and standing next to Ann-Margret
Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Why Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret felt ‘fiery passion’ together

According to the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, Elvis really connected with Ann-Margret, his co-star in the 1964 film Viva Las Vegas. Elvis’ friend Joe Esposito said Ann-Margret was the female version of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Ann-Margret felt she got along so well with the “Heartbreak Hotel” singer because they both loved music.

“Music ignited a fiery pent-up passion inside Elvis and inside me,” Ann-Margret said. “It was an odd, embarrassing, funny, inspiring, and wonderful sensation. We looked at each other move and saw virtual mirror images.”

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How Elvis Presley’s friends reacted when he and Ann-Margret sang like cats

Ann-Margret got along with Elvis’ friends as well. She was close enough to them they started using a nickname: Rusty, the name of her character in Viva Las Vegas. One night, Ann-Margret and Elvis decided to entertain his posse by singing Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” in an unconventional way while everyone was watching television.

“We snuck out of the living room,” Ann-Margret recalled. “Then, without warning, he pushed open the big double glass doors. Everyone turned and looked. We were both on the ground, stretched out like cats, and in a husky growl he sang, ‘you got me runnin’.’ I answered in a similar voice, ‘You got me hidin’.’ As we traded lyrics, we crawled across the carpeted room in time with the music while everyone clapped and laughed.”

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The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ‘Baby What You Want Me to Do’ wasn’t a hit, but another version of the song was

“Baby What You Want Me to Do” was notable beyond this unusual anecdote about Elvis and Ann-Margret. Reed’s version of the song reached No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 14 weeks. Reed released 10 songs that reached the chart; however, “Baby What You Want Me to Do” was his only single to peak in the top 40. 

Reed wasn’t the only soul artist to sing “Baby What You Want Me to Do.” Etta James released a rendition on her album Etta James Rocks the House. The album hit No. 96 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 10 weeks. 

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While Ann-Margret recorded many cover songs, she never recorded “Baby What You Want Me to Do.” On the other hand, Elvis covered the song in his ’68 Comeback Special, four years after his cat-themed rendition with Ann-Margret. While more people saw Elvis sing “Baby What You Want Me to Do” in his ’68 Comeback Special than saw him perform the song in his living room, the latter performance was definitely more unique.