HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELVIS!
In honor of Elvis’s birthday, TCM is running a marathon of his movies today starting with King Creole, and followed by G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Fun in Acalpulco, Roustabout, and Elvis on Tour. Below are some anecdotes from the starlets I interviewed that worked with the King on these movies. All are from my book Drive-in Dream Girls:
“My first reaction was that I thought he was just so handsome. Elvis was also extraordinarily polite with me because I think I was the only girl there that he didn’t date. I felt so sad about that actually. But we just hit it off as friends. We just liked to sit and talk—to my forever regrets!” – Darlene Tompkins, Blue Hawaii (pictured below, 2nd from left)
“I had to be up at five a.m. so it wasn’t convenient for me. I told Joe to thank Elvis for the invite and to send him my regrets but I’d see him in make-up in the morning. And that’s where we first met—in make-up. I was a big fan of Elvis’ music but meeting Elvis Presley did not knock me out. He was charming and sweet. He apologized for calling me in the middle of the night. I told me I was sorry that I was too tired to come down. We got along famously and had no problems whatsoever.
“Elvis did not like Girls! Girls! Girls!. He didn’t like it at all. He was very uncomfortable with performing. He also felt very unsure of himself as far as acting went. He deferred to me continually because he felt I knew more about acting, whatever the hell that is. He was not comfortable with making movies but it was a living and he was indulged. He made quite a bit of money and he supported a lot of people. Hal Wallis had him on a bare-bones contract because Elvis signed a multiple picture deal with Wallis very early on. Once Elvis commented to me, ‘One thing about working with Wallis is that he spends a lot of money on the production, the accommodations and the catering because he has me so cheap. With the money he makes on my movies, he then can afford to go off and do [a film like] Beckett.’” – Laurel Goodwin, Girls! Girls! Girls!
“I almost didn’t do Roustabout because doing an Elvis Presley movie at the time was not really much of a steppingstone. Now I’m glad I did the two films [the other being Frankie and Johnny] with Elvis because they’re the main things I’m remembered for today. I thought Elvis Presley was very nice and very, very polite. It was ‘Yes, Sir, Yes, Mam.’ To me it was ‘Yes, Madam’ because I played Madame Mijanou. He’d say it with that little giggle of his. Elvis also liked to tease me and thought I’d be a good ‘business woman’ in some ‘house’ somewhere. Despite that little joke he was a very shy, Southern gentleman. I enjoyed working with him and can’t say one bad thing about him. Ladies thinks it was so amazing that I was lucky enough to have kissed him. All I can say is that his lips were very soft.” – Sue Ane Langdon, Roustabout