Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley on the Jimmy Dean WMAL-TV Show, March 23, 1956

By Linda Zabriskie Johnson

 

Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley
Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley

 

Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley on the Jimmy Dean WMAL-TV Show, March 23, 1956:


Dean, wearing boots and a neckerchief on camera, was fronting his own solid group back then, the Texas Wildcats. He was a local star getting national attention. Young Elvis showed up in a smart sports jacket-he didn’t bother with a tie-and flashed some argyle socks. The host and his interviewee should have had some decent chemistry. Their on-air chat went basically like this:


Jimmy: So, you’re gonna be on the S.S. Mount Vernon tonight, are you Elvis?
Elvis: Yep.
Jimmy: Have you ever worked on a boat before?
Elvis: Nope.
Jimmy: I imagine you’re looking forward to this, aren’t you?
Elvis: Yep.


Dean later remembered the interview as ‘possibly the worst I’ve ever done‘.


When both he and Elvis were Las Vegas regulars years later, Dean recalled that Elvis apologized for his brevity in the D.C. studio, saying he was simply scared of the camera.


Jimmy Dean Remembers Elvis Presley:


Elvis played Vegas regularly back in the late sixties, and there were many times he would drop in and visit our show at the Desert Inn. Afterward he would usually end up backstage, where he’d hug my neck and always flatter me with ‘You country genius son of a bitch … you country genius son of a bitch!‘.

Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley
Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley


He used to come over quite often when he was working at the Hilton and I was at The Desert Inn. He would come over after the last show, he liked my vocal backing group, they were his favorite singers.


I know that many times I saw him when I was finishing my show, standing backstage. When we sang together it was gospel songs. Sometimes I’d look over and Elvis would be standing in the wings while we were finishing up our show, but one particular night he came in without me knowing it. While at the Desert Inn I would use a wireless microphone when I performed, and that night there was obviously something wrong with the one I had. It kept cutting out, so I said to the sound engineer, ‘Can you get me another microphone out here?‘ I tried continuing with the show while I waited, but no new microphone showed up. I asked again for a replacement, but still no mike. Finally, as I was getting ready to blow a fuse, the audience erupted with gasps and cheers of delight. Unbeknownst to me, Elvis was coming out of the wings and across the stage to deliver my microphone. He said, ‘Is this the item you were looking for, sir?‘ Well, needless to say, the rest my show that evening was shot to hell – Elvis Presley was in the house. I guess it’s no secret that Elvis had a passion for acting and movies, and when the movie Patton with George C. Scott came out, he couldn’t wait to tell me about it. He said, ‘Dean, you’ve got to go see this movie‘. I told him I didn’t want to go see it, that I happened to be a big fan of General Patton’s and I didn’t want to see anybody tear him down for some of the things he did. But I finally did go see it, and it turned out to be one of my favorite films of all time.


After I saw Patton, Elvis was visiting backstage again one night, and as we were talking about it, he went into this monologue from the movie that must have lasted for ten minutes. It was the entire opening scene that George C. Scott performed in front of a huge American flag, and Elvis knew it by heart. He did it well too. I got the feeling it was that kind of role he would have liked to have sunk his teeth into if he’d had the chance.


I remember that Elvis would sometimes call us before the last show of the night and say, ‘Hey, Dean, would you and the guys hang around after the show?‘ He loved to come over to our gig at the end of the evening and sing with my backup vocal group, the Imperials. And anybody who says Elvis couldn’t go anywhere without an entourage of bodyguards doesn’t know what they’re talking about. He’d show up at our dressing room door and it would just be him and a driver. To me Elvis was a person with multiple personalities, because he was somebody one day and somebody different the next. But I used to watch him there with that wonderful look on his face – with no gyrations and no put-on – and I’d say to myself, I don’t really know if I know Elvis Presley, but I think that’s him, that one there singing those gospel songs.

 

Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley
Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley


A lot of times Elvis would cut his show by a couple of numbers and come watch the last part of ours, and then afterward we’d go down to my dressing room. Our piano player Joe Moscheo would sit down at the piano, and Elvis and the Imperials would start singing – nothing but gospel songs and spirituals.


Information provided by Linda Zabriskie Johnson

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