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By Mariusz Ogieglo

Elvis Is Back!
Presley arrived in Los Angeles on April 20, 1960. He was accompanied on the trip by, among others, Charlie Hodge, whom the singer met during his military service. ” The train ride to California was amazing for me ,” recalled the singer’s friend. “ There were crowds of people at every little station. All over the United States. They waved as soon as the train arrived because they knew Elvis was on it .

The many-hour journey was also an excellent opportunity for journalists to ask the newly minted Sergeant Presley a few questions. Among other things, what he thinks about the changes that have taken place in music during his absence from the country. ” Is rock’n’roll dead? “, they asked. “ Many people say yes. In my opinion, it has only changed a little. The music has changed. She’s made a lot of progress ,” Elvis noted. ” It’s better? “, they asked. “ I think he’s improving all the time. You see, the arrangements are much better now. More instruments are added to them and so on. It’s getting better. But when I started in 1956, I also heard that rock’n’roll was going to die, that it was already dead. I’m not saying that it will never die, because it could die even tomorrow – completely. I don’t know ,” Presley explained.

The interest in Elvis coming to Los Angeles was so great that Colonel Parker and the people responsible for his stay in the city decided to take extraordinary security measures.

To avoid the crowds of admirers, onlookers and photojournalists who had been waiting for the singer at Union Station for hours, Presley was taken to a side street a few meters away where a taxi was already parked. One of several, because, as Charlie Hodge remembered, ” when we got to Los Angeles, we were put in five or six different cars and each of us went in a different direction. I don’t know which one Elvis was in but they didn’t know that either so they didn’t know which one to follow. And so we went to the hotel in Beverly Hills .”


The group, which included Colonel Parker, Elvis and several of his friends, stayed at the elegant Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The next day, the pre-production stage began at Paramount Pictures studios.

Apart from Presley, several really hot and recognized names in the industry were involved in the film.

The main female role, for which Dolores Hart, Joan Blackman and Ursula Andress competed, was finally awarded to Juliet Prowse – the star of the musical “Can Can” and Frank Sinatra’s private partner. ” When I first heard that I was going to be making a movie with Elvis, I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ “That loud rock’n’roll and those terrible sideburns ,” the actress recalled in one of her interviews. ” But when I saw him on the set of ‘GIBlues’ I realized that he was completely different .” According to Lilly, Elvis ” was an example of a boy who was torn apart by people who didn’t know what he was really like .” In Peter Haining’s book, she explained: ” Only because when he performed on stage, some people thought he was vulgar, or worse, an exhibitionist. In reality, however, he was neither vulgar nor showing off. Simply put, he was a man who was under great pressure from other people and trapped by his own fame. Beneath the surface he was very emotional and sincere .”

Born on September 25, 1936 in Bombay, India, Juliet Prowse was, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, a very popular actress, dancer and singer who knew the realities of show business very well. ” Like Elvis, Juliet attracted a lot of media attention ,” wrote Peter Heining, author of The Private Life of Elvis. ” She knew perfectly well how someone of her position could be constantly persecuted by tabloid magazines, of which there are many in America, inventing various scandals about her .” She also drew attention to this problem in one of her interviews, saying that: ” an additional problem was (in relation to Presley, author’s note) that Hollywood is literally crazy about popularity. Whatever is done there, it is always exaggerated .”

While working on the comedy “GI Blues”, Prowse was dating Frank Sinatra, whom she met in 1959 on the set of the film “Can Can”. ” (Sinatra, author’s note) He was a bachelor then and had no obligations, so he could date any girl he liked. Sometimes even more than one. I had nothing against it , “the actress recalled her relationship with the famous singer.

Nevertheless, the sensation-hungry media immediately began to speculate about her alleged affair with Presley, and the tabloid press was literally full of flashy headlines such as “Elvis steals Sinatra’s girlfriend.” The actress herself not only did not deny these revelations, but even fueled the rumors, claiming that ” Elvis and I became interested in each other when we started working together .”

Over time, all this media hype, as well as the fact that Elvis spent almost every free moment with Juliet between shots, became a source of jokes among the members of the film crew. Sonny West, Presley’s friend and bodyguard, told the following story in an interview: ” One day we were making a joke about Elvis. He and Juliet were in one of those trailers at the time – a sort of wardrobe on wheels. They were placed around the sound stage so that he didn’t have to go back to his dressing room. […] All that was in it was a sofa, a table where make-up was done and a large mirror . Continuing his story, West said, ” So, Elvis and Juliet were sitting inside the trailer and we were all standing outside. At one point we knocked on the door saying, ‘Hey Elvis! Frank’s coming!’ Elvis opened the door and sure enough, Frank was gone. We laughed so hard about it. But Elvis also asked, ‘don’t do that again. This is not funny’ “.

Despite requests, Red West repeated the joke some time later, and the antics of his co-workers lulled Presley’s guard so much that when one day Sinatra actually showed up on the set to visit his girlfriend, the singer did not respond to the warnings. Fortunately, however, the whole story had a happy ending. Hearing his colleagues’ conversation with the famous singer taking place in front of the entrance to the trailer, he went to meet him and prevented a scandal from breaking out. In the book included in the four-disc set “Cafe Europa” there is even a mention that Frank Sinatra found his partner sitting on the couch with a script in her hand.

Apart from Juliet Prowse, Elvis also had other beauties as his camera partners. One of them was Leticia Roman, born in Italy in 1941, who in “GIBlues” played the role of Tina, a charming waitress from the Cafe Europa club and Lilly’s roommate.

GIBlues – see the new Elvis!

The media also attributed a fiery romance with Presley to the actress making her debut on the big screen. Although, as could be deduced from what was allegedly her own statement quoted by one of the newspapers in June 1960, Presley was supposed to be courting an attractive Italian woman. ” He keeps asking me to go on a date with him, but I refuse ,” Roman claimed. ” I don’t think it would be a good idea. It seems to me that this will be nothing more than a date for advertising purposes. Besides, I don’t think my parents would agree to it .

Sigrid Maier played the role of Marla, the girlfriend of one of the members of McClean’s Tulsa film group.

Information provided by Mariusz Ogieglo EP Promised Land (Poland)

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