ELVIS PRESLEY – KING CREOLE – Elvis’ Best Movie Role (Part 10)

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– Elvis’s best movie role –
(Part 10)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

In early March, filming was moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans, a day’s journey away. However, before Elvis and the rest of the cast went on location filming in the largest city in Louisiana, on February 22, they attended Jan Shepard’s birthday party organized by Dolores Hart. “ All the studio kids were there ,” Shepard recalled to Joe Krein. “ It was a really big surprise for me. I was there for about ten minutes when Elvis came in with his boys. He had a large stuffed tiger under his arm. He knew I liked cats so he gave me this tiger and named it Danny Boy . In addition to the mentioned mascot, the singer also gave his film sister a camera.

Information about Presley’s arrival in New Orleans quickly hit the front pages of the local press. “ Elvis Presley – minus the sideburns, arrived in New Orleans Saturday afternoon ,” reported The Times Picayune. ” He came to town by train to shoot exteriors for Paramount’s new production, ‘King Creole.’ He will be here for a full week before returning to Hollywood.

According to Paramount’s director of promotions and advertising, Art Sarnot, the reason the handsome singer didn’t fly into the city is because he had a “bad experience with this mode of transportation .”

At the same time, the author of the quoted text added that the remaining members of the crew, including actresses Dolores Hart and Carolyn Jones, who chose air transport, landed safely at Moisant International Airport (later named after Louis Armstrong) at a quarter to 5 p.m.

Straight from the station, Elvis and his entourage went to the Roosevelt Hotel, one of the most impressive and largest hotels in the entire city, where so many fans were already milling about that Presley had difficulty getting inside.

Opened to guests in 1893, the building, which owed its then name (previously called Grunewald Hotel) to the twenty-sixth president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, housed over five hundred rooms, several restaurants, including the famous mahogany bar and a grand ballroom, in which has so far performed, among others, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo. ” Immediately after checking into the Roosevelt Hotel, however, Elvis did not give interviews because ‘he was tired after the long journey ,'” The Times Picayune further reported.

Instead of meeting journalists, the singer went straight to the tenth floor, which he rented entirely for himself and the people accompanying him for the duration of the filming .

An undoubted advantage of the hotel where Elvis stayed was the fact that it was located just one block from the famous French Quarter. That is, stretching between Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue, Decatur Street and Rampart Street, the oldest part of New Orleans.

And it is this former pearl of architecture – originally full of buildings in the French colonial style, and after the great fire of 1794, which destroyed a large part of the city, rebuilt in accordance with Spanish trends (as the city remained under Spanish rule), i.e. buildings painted in pastel colors, equipped with intricately decorated cast iron balconies, the very next day – March 3, 1958, it became the background for Danny Fisher’s film story.

” (Elvis, author’s note) will not leave the hotel until half past eight on Sunday morning to shoot some scenes in the French Quarter ,” noted The Times Picayune. ” Most of the New Orleans filming will take place in the Bourbon Street area, although Sarnot said part of the film will also be shot on Lake Pontchartrain .”

However, when Presley and the film crew arrived at the place (it supposedly took the singer about two hours to complete this short route!) they saw a sea of ??people! A huge crowd of teenage fans of the singer, who completely filled both the charming city center and its surroundings. “ The crowd was so big that our taxi almost ended up upside down ,” recalled Alan Fortas, quoted by Jerry Hopkins. ” Thousands of people. Hal Wallis couldn’t believe it .”

Presley’s associate also added that before leaving for New Orleans, Colonel Parker informed Wallis that additional security measures would be needed during filming. However, he apparently ignored this warning, claiming that he had previously worked with stars such as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and was doing great with it. “ Okay. But this is Elvis Presley ,” Parker reportedly said briefly.

As a result, dozens of local policemen had to be deployed to restore order and allow the filmmakers to work. ” When we were shooting King Creole, so many people came that we couldn’t walk normally on the streets of New Orleans ,” Dolores Hart remembered. ” It was a circus. You wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see these crowds. The police were literally everywhere. We had to go to hotel rooms between scenes to wait it out .”

Even Mayor DeLesseps “Chep” Morrison Sr., who had been in office since 1946, succumbed to this collective madness and declared March 1, 1958, Elvis Presley Day and then closed all local schools on this occasion so that their students could go to meet their idol.

Elvis’ visit to New Orleans turned out to be a real sensation. Every day, Presley’s stay on the set was closely followed not only by his admirers but also by dozens of journalists, who then described everything they saw in the most widely read press titles. “ Police held back crowds gathered in the French Quarter on Sunday while Paramount cameras filmed ‘King Creole,’ ” the Daily World reported on March 4. “ The remaining filming will continue at a location that has not been made public .”

The secret location was Lake Pontchartrain. The second largest salt lake in the United States, its southern shore borders New Orleans to the north.

It was there that the final and most moving scenes of Presley’s fourth film were shot. One of them was the tragic death of the film’s Ronnie, played by Carolyn Jones, who arrived on the set that day with a high fever. ” It’s good that I was supposed to die then because that’s exactly how I felt and, I think, that’s how I looked ,” the actress joked in later interviews.

Jones also said she tried to get Elvis to just simulate their kiss. ” Couldn’t you somehow get around it and not kiss me? “, she was going to ask him. ” I am so sick that I will infect you and you will not join the army .” To which Elvis jokingly replied, ” Okay, maybe this will help me avoid the army .”

Of course, despite efforts to keep the final location a secret, Elvis fans quickly found out about it and flocked to the site. The gathered crowd was so large that the singer had to be evacuated by motorboat to a taxi a few kilometers away and safely returned to the hotel.

Location filming in New Orleans ended on March 13, 1958.

  • Elvis or those responsible for his stay in a given city rented entire hotel floors for him for safety reasons. This practice was also used in the 1970s during his US tours. This allowed for privacy and to keep fans away, who still managed to find a way to get to the unused level and get closer to their idol.

Information provided by Mariusz Ogieglo, EP Promised Land (Poland) http://www.elvispromisedland.pl/

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