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The Girl Elvis Presley Will Marry

Somewhere in this great, wide, wacky and wonderful world lives the girl Elvis Presley is going to marry. She doesn’t know it yet for lots of reasons. And all of them are—he hasn’t asked her.

That’s because the odds are a million to one he hasn’t even met her.

Nevertheless, every female who has fallen under the Presley spell is secretly convinced she knows the kind of girl for Elvis. If she’s an unmarried female, she’s also secretly convinced she just might be the type herself!

But Jan Shepard, a beautiful and very happily married actress, really is the girl with the inside track on what Elvis needs in a wife. It’s a subject she’s gone into with him many a time.

“We started out,” said Jan, “with me acting the part of his sister in ‘King Creole,’ and gradually we developed a kind of brother-and-sister relationship in real life. I honestly believe I think and worry now about Elvis the way his own sister would, if he had one.

“Naturally I want nothing but the best for him. But since Elvis is a very special sort of person, the kind of wife he should have needn’t necessarily be right for anyone else. I don’t mean he’s special because he’s a talent who turned out to be the biggest sensation in the entertainment world, though that’s part of it and automatically sets him in a category all by himself. The question is: What makes him unique in any category? It’s some unusual combinations of things that are rarely found in one individual. He’s shy and he’s daring . . . Modest and confident . . . Demonstrative and reserved . . . Smart and naive. I could go on and on.

“The wonder of it all is that these endless opposites—these contradictory qualities and characteristics—never set up conflicts in him. They never make him inconsistent. He has an absolutely fantastic capacity for bringing every one of them into natural harmony and perfect balance with the others so they all add up—smooth and sure—to the one-and-only personality that is Elvis.

“So now you have at least some idea of why it will take a very special girl to make Elvis completely happy by recognizing and giving the right value to all his many phases.

“First of all, she has to be a girl to whom marriage is as sacred as it is to Elvis himself, and his feelings are very deep and idealistic. The wonderful relationship his father and mother had is the goal he’ll subconsciously look for in his own marriage. When he says, ‘I do,’ it won’t be with his fingers crossed. It will be a forever-after pledge.”

Jan, who is just a few weeks away from parenthood she’ll share with hubby Dirk London (Morgan Earp, Wyatt’s younger brother in the TV series), paused and tenderly fingered her own wedding band, designed to cradle her magnificent pearl-and-gold engagement ring.

“The girl Elvis marries,” she went on, “should be—well—affectionate and freely able to show the warmth of her feelings, without reservation. You know, even with his friends, he’s very demonstrative. He can’t be near them without a spontaneous little pat now and then, or reaching out with those warm, strong hands of his for a reassuring touch of the fingers.

“ ‘That’s the way we are in my family,’ he told me one time. ‘We don’t just stand there. We show each other our feelings. I’ve got to express what I feel . . . I simply can’t hold it inside of me.’

Mrs. Presley will have to be sensitive—particularly to his sensitivity, for Elvis has a very deep and abiding concern about hurting other people


“So that rules out the cool, sophisticated, chic type who worries about getting her hair mussed or her lipstick smeared.” Jan warned. “She wouldn’t fit into life with Elvis.

“His wife will have to be sensitive—sensitive in particular to his sensitivity. Elvis gets hurt himself at times and he doesn’t like it a bit. But you should see how upset he gets in his concern about hurting others. This can be something of a problem until you get to know him.

“One day in the early part of our acquaintance, I’d had a late call and by the time I showed up on the set, Dolores Hart and Elvis were in the middle of a delicate mood scene for ‘King Creole.’ I immediately saw what was going on and quietly crept away to my dressing room, tiptoeing off without a word. I know how fragile these mood scenes can be, and I didn’t want to break into anything.

“Later in the afternoon Elvis came up to me and said kind of uncomfortably, ‘I’d like to talk to you.’ He pulled me over to a quiet corner and asked, ‘Is something wrong? Have I done anything to hurt you?’

“At first I thought he was kidding. Then I realized he was genuinely upset about my not having greeted him. After I explained, he was quick to understand, but he said very earnestly, ‘Please don’t ever do that again!”

“Like a good sister, I didn’t. In fact, we made a joke of the whole thing, and the incident started us off on a running gag of wildly extravagant daily greetings that must have looked and sounded crazy to people who didn’t know anything about our little crisis in sensitivity.

“This girl Elvis marries will have to be strong—but so subtle shell never let him know it. She will have to encourage him without arousing any suspicions that would make him wonder if he’s being weak when he worries about how he’s doing. Shell have to be able to lift his spirits when they’re down, and do it so cleverly he’ll never even notice. She must never do anything to rob him of his essentially masculine destiny of dominating his world—especially that part of it which revolves around the man-woman relationship.

“If she’s an actress, or some other kind of a career girl, she should remember every day in. every way to make him feel that he comes first. That he’s the boss. Above all, that he needs her companionship as much as her love.

“Whether she’s an actress or not isn’t going to be especially important for Elvis’ future wife, as long as she knows how to play the role of companion. She ought to be able to drop everything and go out on the road with him, or anywhere else, so he’ll never be depressed by the fearful loneliness he dreads so much. One wife—the right one—who knows how to be a companion, would replace the whole gang of hangers-on that follow him almost everywhere he goes. Except for his real friends among them, they’d disappear like a shadow at high noon. And don’t think for a minute that Elvis isn’t perfectly aware of who his real pals are, as opposed to the fair-weather-friend variety.

“Maybe more than most of us, he finds his security in fellowship. It’s a pattern that began, I think, in his close-knit family circle and, as the years went by, expanded to include a great many others who one way or another manage to give him this needed sense of security. I also think this dislike of being alone is what has kept him running around with so many different girls.

“I hope people who don’t know Elvis personally realize that he never talks about the girls he goes out with unless he can say something good. He gets no kick out of gossip. Elvis goes out with each one of these girls, no matter how casually, because he sees something very nice in her. And not because he’s on. the prowl. He’s most definitely no Good Time Charlie.

“The girl he finally marries should be a model of patience—let him set his own pace in arriving at decisions. Elvis is not a type to leap headlong into anything, least of all marriage. He’s cautious, all right, but not exclusively for his own sake. There are a lot of times he’s that way simply out of fairness to others.

“Once when we were talking about marriage, he said, ‘You can think you’re so much in love with someone—and she thinks she’s in love with you. You want to sweep her off her feet and get married. She’s willing to go along with it—but something holds you back.

“ ‘Then in about two weeks the romance is gone and there’s only a pleasant, take-it-or-leave-it friendship left between you and her. What if you’d gotten married? Where would that leave the girl? Tied to a guy who’d cheated her out of the real, lasting love she has a right to expect in marriage.’

“There is living logic behind Elvis’ deep sense of moral obligation toward everyone and everything he comes in contact with,” declared Jan. “From all I’ve been able to learn, he never was the kind of kid who says, ‘What the heck do I owe anybody? I didn’t ask to be born!’ Instead, without saying it in so many words, of course, his attitude is, ‘What can I do to justify the fact of my existence when others, who might have meant so much to the world, must remain unborn.’

“I think,” she serene “most people know Elvis is the survivor of a pair of twin babies. What they may not know is that his birth cost his mother all possibility of bearing the other children she and his father had hoped to have. So he’s always felt he had to make up for it by being everything to his parents—and to the rest of the world—that those unborn brothers and sisters might have been. That’s a heavy load and quite different from the way the average only child feels about the gift of life.

“This leads up to my next point. The girl who becomes Mrs. Presley should want to have lots of kids. Elvis does.”

Elvis’ critics are few, but when they go into action they’re about as noisy a crew as ever attacked a public figure. And, Jan asserts, his wife is going to have to be able to take this in stride.

Whatever his detractors happen to be criticizing him for at any given time, their ultimate squawk, sneer or outraged scream always turns out to be that he over-sells sex—a commodity known to have flourished with considerable success long before Elvis came on the scene.

Sure Elvis is sexy, but that doesn’t prove he’s an evil influence. Not unless there is something evil about the rhythm that makes the world go around. Elvis is the personification of this rhythm. Even when he’s merely standing and talking to you. his foot taps . . . his body moves . . . he’s rhythm in the raw.

“When we were working together,” Jan recalled, “Elvis and I were having lunch one day at the Paramount commissary, where our producer, Hal Wallis, was seated at a nearby table. Elvis, as usual. was tapping away and swaying to his ever-present rhythm while he ate. Pretty soon Mr. Wallis came over.

“ ‘What’s the matter, Elvis?’ he asked. ‘What’s this foot tapping?’

“Elvis gave him one of those slow, shy smiles and said, ‘Mr. Wallis, when that foot stops moving—then’s the time you’ve got to worry!’

“After he gets over his first shyness with people. Elvis likes nothing better than to surprise—and be surprised by—them. That’s the way his wife had better like it, too. He loves an unexpected gag.

“For a long time I had been pestering him for some pictures to pass out among my friends—who were pestering me for them. He always made up some excuse. No pictures. Well, before Elvis went into the Army, Dolores Hart gave me a surprise birthday party, and do you know what Elvis brought along for me? A marvelous camera—so I could take those darn pictures myself and get it over with. The snapper-surprise came later, when he handed me a batch of autographed photos of himself so I wouldn’t have to ‘waste’ my own film on him!

“Besides liking surprises, his wife will do well to have a sense of humor, too, and get a kick out of teasing and practical jokes. But she need never be afraid that the teasing will be mean or the practical jokes cruel. Remember he can’t stand hurting anybody.

“His bride ought to have initiative without aggressiveness. I saw one girl bulldoze herself right out of a possible date with Elvis when she made a pitch for him to take her out on the town less than five minutes after she had been introduced to him. He was very polite about his refusal and didn’t embarrass her, but he never went out with her, either.

“I don’t think Elvis’ wife need necessarily be a big brain. I do believe, though, that she should have a good head and an interest in learning, because Elvis himself has a tremendous capacity for growth and development. He has nowhere near reached his peak yet.

“While we were making ‘King Creole’ I saw him in the process of development and maturing. In front of my eyes, he was growing from a boy to a man. He was aware of it-and recognized the change that was going on in him.

“ ‘Before this,’ he said, “I just did my pictures and that was that! Now I want to work so hard. I want to be so good!

“Another thing Elvis’ ideal wife will need is to be appreciative. It will be one more bond between them. Once when he was about to do a scene in which he was supposed to express his appreciation to a big audience for giving him a break, our director, Mike Curtiz, wanted to rehearse him in his lines. Elvis, in his polite way, asked to be allowed to do the scene without following the script.

“ ‘I know what this is,” he said. ‘I know how to thank people.’ And he ad libbed the entire thank-you speech in one take.

“His appreciation of other people’s abilities and achievements is enormous. I’ll never forget the day a mutual friend told him that Marlon Brando had said he’d ‘like to meet this kid Elvis.’ As it happened, Marlon was lunching at the studio that day and we urged Elvis to stop at his table and say hello as we were leaving the cafe. He ducked his head, and like a kid taking a dare, he marched over and tapped Brando’s shoulder.

“He just barely managed a hesitant ‘hello.’ Then Marlon stood up to shake hands and exchange a few words. It was all too much for Elvis. He got completely tongue-tied and scrammed. Quick.

“He needs a girl who will understand this little boy quality in him and not mistake his natural shyness with strangers for lack of self-respect. He’ll also need loyalty and faithfulness without end. No playing around for him or the wife he ought to have.”

Jan, who is co-star of one of the newest science-fiction thrillers, “The Attack Of The Giant Leeches,” protests against any of that best-friend bunk about her relationship with Elvis. “Let’s say I’m part of the multi-patterned patchwork quilt that makes up the design of his life,” she proposed, “and that I’m glad I was there to take my place in the period of transition before he entered the Army.

“These are just some of the things Elvis and I spoke about when the talk turned, as it so often did, to his one-of-these-days marriage. Sometimes when we talked over the pros and cons, I’d give him advice. Mostly, though, I agreed with his ideas. Lots of people would be surprised at how well he knows himself and how right he is about what kind of a wife he ought to have. But even Elvis can’t know everything, and I don’t believe he wants to. After all, a guy’s entitled to a few eyeopeners in his marriage, even when he’s like Elvis and has an uncanny way of knowing what’s right for him.

“When he gets married hell be surprised that in some mysterious way his taste in clothes is changed. He’ll wake up one fine day and find that he’s forgotten to worry about being alone any more. He’ll remember with a smile that security is no longer a problem for him. Just another word in the dictionary.

“Most of all, I’m sure hell be amazed to discover that the girl he married is not simply a girl, but a woman. This truth will come to him like dawn out of a dark sky: You give things to a girl and that makes her glad. Very, very glad. But a woman’s greatest joy comes from offering the gift of happiness only she can bring to her husband.”

The Number One entertainer of the world must have learned quite a lot about marriage from this young actress who preferred to interrupt her career at a critical stage and have a baby, rather than give her home life second place to the spotlight sweepstakes.

It makes you understand why Elvis once told Jan, “If I’d ever had a sister. I hope she would have been just like you!”





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