JAILHOUSE ROCK – behind the scenes of Elvis Presley’s third movie (Part 9).
By Marius Ogieglo
The main female role was given to Judy Tyler (or rather Judith Mae Hess because that was her real name). Coming from a musical family (her father played the trumpet in the orchestras of Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman and her mother danced on Broadway in the popular series of shows “Ziegfeld Follies”), a twenty-four-year-old actress and singer, who most of the audience of the time associated mainly with Princess Summerfal Winterspring, i.e. the character she played for over two years (1950 – 1953) in the children’s television program “Howdy Doody”.
Tylor continued her television career throughout the 1950s, appearing on six episodes of NBC’s popular “Sid Caesar Presents Comedy Preview” (also known as “Caesar Presents”) and guest-starring on the legal series “Perry Mason.” ” (the episode with her participation was broadcast half a year after her untimely death). However, she paid much more attention to her performances on stage. She regularly appeared on Broadway and in 1955 she was offered to appear in the musical “Pipe Dream” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, which opened the door to Hollywood for her.
Unfortunately, the actress managed to appear in only two films – “Bob Girl Goes Calypso” directed by Howard W.Koch and “Jailhouse Rock”, described in this text.
Her promising career was interrupted by a fatal car accident that occurred just a few days after the end of filming a film starring Elvis Presley.
However, fate turned out to be much kinder for Jennifer Holden, another actress who partnered with Elvis on the set of his third film.
It is officially considered that “Jailhouse Rock” was her first serious role (incidentally, she played Sherry Wilson, a conceited actress with whom Presley’s character Vince Everett spends time after signing a contract with a film studio). However, she herself claimed in later interviews that she joined the cast of Presley’s new film thanks to her participation in the production of “Tip On A Dead Jockey” directed by Richard Thorpe. ” Well, I was in a movie called ‘Tip On A Dead Jockey’ with Robert Tylor and people like those in ‘Rebel Without A Cause,’” she said in Andrew Hearn’s Essential Interviews . “I couldn’t even take ten steps and say what I had to say. So I said what I wanted, and although the director liked it, Robert Tylor almost had a heart attack. Then the director promised me that I would appear in his next film. It turned out to be ‘Jailhouse Rock’ .
Despite her rather episodic role, Holden often and willingly talked about her cooperation with Elvis. One of her most popular stories, surprisingly, was not about an affair with a famous star, but about how one day after the filming had ended, the singer saved her from a burning trailer. ” After shooting the bassana scene, I returned to the dressing room and found that the switch was broken ,” she recalled years later. “ I pressed the switch on the door and suddenly flames shot straight at me. They literally poured out of the socket. I was so scared that I called Elvis for help. He ran and broke the door. Then he invited me to dinner .”
Of course, the media speculated a lot at that time about the relationship between Presley and her attractive co-star. She herself claimed that they ” were in love with each other ” because otherwise they would not have been able to create such a credible role on screen.
Elvis was also remembered equally well by Anne Neyland, known for her performance in the timeless musical “Singin’ In The Rain” with Gene Kelly in the title role, and with whom Presley also met outside the set. Their relationship, however, did not last long and broke up just a few months after the filming of “Jailhouse Rock” ended.
During this time, however, Neyland managed to make some sad and disturbing observations. ” Over the last three years, (Elvis, author’s note) has become accustomed to people harassing him wherever he goes, ” she said in one of the interviews. “ He got into it like hell. He’s so used to being alone or with a few close friends, going for drives, or listening to records, that you can’t get him out of it .”
When writing about the actresses who starred alongside Elvis in one of his best films, it is impossible not to mention Gloria Pall (or rather Gloria Pallatz) – undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures on American television in the 1950s. ” A woman too sexy for TV ,” as she was described in later media.
In the memory of viewers, especially the male part of the audience, Pall is remembered primarily as the host of the program “Voluptua” on KABC-TV. ” Every Wednesday, while the show’s romantic theme song played in the background, Pall would glide across Southland’s television screens in an evening gown, trailing a fur coat behind her,” Bizarella.com noted. ” Before she introduced the romantic movie of the week, she greeted viewers with a slightly breathless voice: ‘Welcome to my boudoir. I want you to feel that this is your special hideout. Relax, take off your shoes and loosen your ties . After these words, the actress disappeared behind a transparent screen where she changed clothes in front of the viewers. She emerged from behind the screen wearing only… a men’s pajama top. At the end of the program, she kissed the camera.
Broadcast at the turn of 1954 and 1955, the program caused such a strong wave of outrage from religious circles that the station authorities took it off the air after just seven weeks.
This was enough for magazines such as Playboy and Life to become interested in Pall’s story.
In addition to her television appearances, the New York-born actress and model also had small supporting roles in films such as “Ma And Pa Kettle On Vacation”, “Abbot And Costello Go To Mars” and “20,000 Leagues Under The “Sea”.
In the case of Gloria Pall, second-rate didn’t necessarily mean unmemorable. The scene from the movie “Jailhouse Rock”, in which she appeared, and actually featured her beautiful shapely legs (which Elvis’s character, Vince Everett, stared at after arriving at the Florita club), is considered to be absolutely iconic today (just like the photos with this shot) and is often associated and recalled when discussing Presley’s film achievements.
Information provided by Marius Ogieglo, EP Promised Land (Poland) http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/
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