Elvis Presley and Me
My thanks to all of you who have written in after reading Part I of my story about Elvis, wanting to know more about me. Here are my answers to your questions.
I have lived all my twenty-four years in Beverly Hills, California. I have blue eyes and long dark blonde hair. I’m 5 foot 3½ inches tall, weigh ninety-eight pounds, and I look younger than I am. My education includes BEVERLY HILLS HIGH SCHOOL, STEPHENS COLLEGE, Columbia, Mo. and U.C.L.A. I would rather ride horseback than eat, and have some nice horses of my own in the San Fernando Valley. I enjoy most other warm weather Sports, too.
I am engaged to a wonderful guy. His name is Jim Cauthen, he’s 6 foot 4½ inches tall, and he is a business executive. Like Elvis, he is from the South, and they know and understand each other. Jim enjoys Elvis’ records and shows just as much as I do, even though he is far from being a teen-ager. He’s thirty-two.
I met Elvis quite a while ago, before he became so world famous. We just always seemed to get along. Just like El, I like cars and sometimes I go overboard. When we haven’t seen each other for a while, we always ask, “What are you driving now?” We get into long discussions about the merits of our current chariots, as opposed to the bombs we just unloaded.
Everywhere I go now, El’s fans recognize me and they come up and talk to me about Elvis. I like to talk to them because I know the shyness that you feel at first. I was very shy, but I managed to overcome it. I realized when I was in my teens that I wasn’t going to be a raving beauty—but not many other people are either, so the best thing to do was make the most of it by looking neat and clean, and concentrating on my personality. It worked out fine.
I’m for all types of popular music, but I don’t dig opera. I can’t sing one note on key, but that doesn’t stop me. I like almost everything El sings because his music makes me happy. I have every record he has ever made and a tape recording of every TV program he has been on. Sometimes we play back his old TV appearances and talk about them.
My favorite hobby, which is rapidly becoming a profession, is drawing. As a matter of fact, I recently completed a portrait of Elvis. He really flipped when he saw it, said it is the best likeness of himself that he has ever seen. Everyone likes it so much, that MODERN SCREEN is going to print it in a forthcoming issue, so watch for it.
If you have any further questions about me, or if you want to hear more about Elvis as I know him, write to me in care of MODERN SCREEN and I’ll do my best to answer.
What really bugs Elvis:
those soft fried eggs
It seems funny, but it was usually about four o’clock before we’d go out to the hotel dining room for breakfast. I’ve seen people do a double take as we walked along and they’d hear Elvis talk about what we’d do “after we eat breakfast”—and it was already late afternoon!
Lots of people think that Elvis just eats pork chops at every meal. All the time we had meals together, I’ve never seen him eat them once! But he’d order fried eggs hard as a rock, lots of toast, milk, lots of bacon. When the waitress had all that written down and was walking away he’d stop her and say, “Ma’am, before you bring that, could I have half a cantaloupe with ice cream in it?”
Then Elvis would sit and stare off into space. Sometimes when the eggs came they wouldn’t be cooked hard enough, and Elvis would apologetically .ask the waitress if she couldn’t take them back and get them cooked rock hard. When she was gone he’d say, not complaining but just wondering, “I can’t figure it out, why the cook can’t cook those eggs the way I want ’em. It may sound crazy to him, but I’m the one whose eating them. Not him.”
After awhile the eggs would come back like granite, and he’d beam all over. Then he’d order another cantaloupe with ice cream!
When Elvis eats, he listens. Not that he’s concentrating on himself. I got the feeling that he’s listening for a reason. It’s the way he soaks up knowledge. He’d lean over to me and whisper, asking what someone meant. Maybe other people thought he was being romantic; he was only finding out things he didn’t know about!
those Dean comparisons
In the back of his mind all that Elvis thinks about is being a really good actor. Not a big star, because in the entertainment field he’s already a big star—and he’d be foolish if he didn’t know it. He’s used to public demonstrations and displays of affection, and they don’t go to his head.
He doesn’t want to be typed, to be a second anybody else. Although they don’t look alike, people have compared him to Jimmy Dean in his popularity and his naturalness. He doesn’t want to act like somebody else acts, but the way he feels. And he’s said: “I don’t want people to say I’m a second anybody. I don’t try to act like or copy anybody. I’m just me and I think when people see me in pictures they’ll know I’m not trying to copy anybody. I really want to be a good actor.” He studies his script, figures out the part and knows how he wants to play it. He just acts himself.
I’ve had to take a lot of abuse and ribbing from people around Hollywood for being friends with El, people saying he had no talent . . . people saying he wouldn’t get anywhere and was just a flash in the pan. But I’ve always stuck up for him. I predicted in the beginning he’d be a big hit. No one can really be happier than I am to see him come out here to Hollywood, make his first movie, see the way the kids love him, the crowds at the airport. It justifies all my faith in him.
I’d heard Elvis sing for the first time on a trip through the south and when I came back to Hollywood I told everybody about him. Everybody just laughed and said, “What’s an Elvis Presley?”
But I guess I’m going to have the last laugh!
And I know how happy the people in Memphis are about his success. No one who knows him eyer speaks badly of him. Everybody asks me, “Do you think he’ll change? Like all the rest of them do?” I think the answer is no.
people who hold grudges
Only once since I’ve known Elvis did we have a real disagreement. I was disappointed and hurt, sort of, at something he had done. When he called me on the ’phone to ask me if I’d pick him up at the usual time, since we hadn’t talked that day, I snapped back, “No, you can walk!” and hung up. I later found out that he confided to a mutual friend that he was very upset . . . and hurt . . . that we had had this disagreement. I felt so badly. Of course I did pick him up, but we rode along in silence. When I let him out I whispered to him what I always say before he goes on. That night I didn’t sit at ringside but stood in the back. When he came out he went to his table and sat down for dinner. I was seated next to him and Cousin Gene was on the other side with other people. But to Elvis and me it seemed like there was no one else at the table. This barrier was between us like a wall of ice.
We went through the ritual of ordering, talked to other people and we were both hurt inside. I knew that I had forgiven him—and he had forgiven me for exploding—and I felt that since I was the older, and presumably the wiser, that it was my place to make the overture that would set everything to rights. I put my hand on the arm of his chair and he reached out and put his hand on mine and we looked at each other. I excused myself from the table. He came after and gave me sort of a sullen look. We found a table and the corners of his eyes began to twinkle and he smiled at me. Then he whispered in my ear and suddenly everything was all right again. Then the whole incident was completely erased.
What I whispered was, “I understand El, its okay—I forgive you—you didn’t mean it” What he whispered to me was, “I’m sorry: I didn’t mean it. I’m truly sorry.” After that everything was all right. It seemed we were closer friends than ever.
But deep down inside we both remember the pain that comes when someone you are fond of does something to hurt you. And the pain that comes with trying to right the wrong. Most of all, El and I dislike people who can’t forgive.
unnecessary phone calls
I remember one time when Elvis heard his name blare out over the hotel loudspeaker and he got up and went to the hotel ’phone. It wasn’t in a booth, and I overheard Elvis talking, saying. “Yes ma’am. No ma’am. Where did you say you were calling from, ma’am?” I didn’t listen any more. When it was over I said, “What was all that about?” He said, “It was some lady said she was from Los Angeles and maybe I would remember her in the green dress. But I don’t remember a green dress. My goodness, there were so many people.” It was then that we decided that I would take over for the time being as El’s unofficial private secretary, because of the great number of calls. I kept track, and the calls from all over the country averaged one every five minutes. Mostly the people were very understanding, but now and then it was hard to explain to someone who had spent money on a long distance call just why it was that Elvis. who was rehearsing or something, couldn’t drop everything and come and talk on the ’phone. I know how it is—after you’ve heard a record, or perhaps someone who’s made a fine speech over TV, the urge is to get right on the ’phone and call them up. Usually, if you think about it, it’s better if you sit down and write a letter.
going to bed late
After shows in places like Las Vegas, where the last performances wind up at two o’clock, Elvis is like any other performer. He has a late supper; then he relaxes . . . talks to friends. He doesn’t finally get to bed until about four or four-thirty in the morning. This seems a little crazy to us who live more regulated lives, but that’s show business. And while I was in Vegas, I was living half my day while Elvis and his group were still sleeping!
I’d have a late lunch and then as Colonel Parker suggested, I’d start thinking about getting Elvis acquainted with the world.
For instance, if he had an interview appointment over the phone—from Canada at three o’clock, say—I’ll go over to his bungalow, toot on the horn or hammer on the door and Cousin would stick his head out. I’d ask about Elvis and he’d say, “He’s still sleeping.” I’d say, “Okay, do you wake him or do I make noise?”
“Never mind, I’ll wake him,” he’d answer. Then Elvis would call out, “What sort of a day is it?” I’d tell him and he’d ask, “Did you get my guitar strings like I asked?” and I’d say, “Yup.” And I’d hear him mumble, “It’s funny about those strings, why I break so many. I guess I’m just enthusiastic!”
After a while Elvis would come out dressed in frontier pants, no socks, no shirt and point at me and say, “You ain’t nothing but a houn’ dog!”
Then we’d sing and fool around, getting the day off to a good start. And Id press him for the interview.
Right on schedule the phone would ring.
Once, I remember, Elvis picked up the phone, listened for a minute and said, “Yes, I heard that rumor that I was dead. And because of my folks and everything I felt badly about it. I don’t know why people would start things like that.” Then he’d answer more questions. Always polite, he’d say, “Thanks very much for being interested in me, taking the trouble to call.” And he meant it.
actin’ real natural
Elvis is fiercely loyal. I’ve often seen it. For instance, once a girl at a nearby table loudly made fun of the way I had said “please pass the toast,” trying to make me seem ridiculous. El turned to her and said, “I don’t want to hear another word out of you.”
He may not be sophisticated, but he knew that her lack of manners was wrong. . . . even though he might not know what fork to use himself!
He hates slighting remarks, even though they are not about people he knows. I’ve heard him say, “That’s not a nice way to talk.” I’ve seen him really shame thoughtless people, and it’s made me proud to know him. Of the girls who have been around him, I have noticed that he likes those with good manners. I’ve heard him say, “Man, did you ever hear a girl so loud and noisy?” And again: “I don’t mind people being happy, but I don’t like people trying to attract attention by being loud!
I get mad when people say things about El that aren’t true. I guess the best way is just to have the truth made known about Elvis.
El gets along well wherever he is. He never demands fancy accommodations or asks for special services. In fact he seems quite amazed at all the services available in hotels. He’s a smart boy and people who think he isn’t are sadly mistaken. If a person’s intelligence is to be determined by his grammar, that’s a poor standard to judge by.
laughing and cutting up
El is extremely polite. Around strangers he is very shy and quiet. When he knows you well—as he knows me and his cousin Gene—he can talk and laugh and cut up and say exactly what he feels like saying. He thinks so rapidly that he sometimes stammers when his thoughts get ahead of his words.
For instance, one afternoon Cousin Gene, Elvis and I were walking down the street when El saw a boy about our age getting on his motorcycle. We walked over to him and he looked at El and El said, “That’s some motorcycle.” They got into a discussion and El told him about the one he had at home. The boy got on his ’cycle and El yelled after him, “Yes sir, that’s sure some bike!” The boy went off with a roar. Two seconds after Elvis said, “It’s really a lousy motorcycle, but look how good he feels!”
El doesn’t drink, smoke or care for night clubs, except to perform in. He’s generous and ambitious. He’s not sophisticated. Not jaded. He loves life.
El is like someone who found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Once when we had known each other for only a little while a group of us decided to go to the movies and we were talking about how we’d get there. I suggested taking my car, which was just outside the hotel. When we walked out he asked which car was mine. I pointed to my Cadillac coup de ville. He asked if that was the first Cadillac I ever had and I said, “No.” He lapsed into silence as we drove away. It was only in a later discussion that it came out what he was thinking—he found it hard to realize that there are some people who have always had the things that he is just now becoming accustomed to . . . that there is nothing wrong about having or not haying. It’s the way of the world.
Very often, while he was having dinner after his show, a lot of people would come over and ask for autographs—or just to talk. He’d let his food get cold.
And sometimes in the middle of signing an autograph, he’d look over at his cousin and say, “Goolytwash.” The people wouldn’t know what he was saying, but it was a name that Sheky Green had made up for an aria in an Italian Opera. Goolytwash was sort of a favorite secret password which wed pass around at odd moments.
Seems ridiculous, I suppose, but it made us happy.
—BY JUDY SPRECKELS
Elvis Presley can currently be seen in the 20th Century-Fox film Love Me Tender.
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE MARCH 1957