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GI Blues
– See the new Elvis!-
(Part 4)

By Mariusz Ogieglo

In addition to the actresses mentioned above, you could also see Erika Peters, Edit Angold, Britt Ekland, Leoda Richards, Bess Flowers, Marianna Gaba and Judith Rawlins.

The most important male roles were played by Robert Ivers (or rather Robert Prestlien, because that was his false name) and James Douglas.

The first of them was cast as the nice Cookie, the double bassist in The Three Blazers and a friend of Elvis’ Tulsa McClean.

Ivers began his career in the first half of the 1950s, playing episodes in such productions as “Broken Lance” with Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner in the main roles, “Violent Saturday” with Richard Fleischer and Richard Egan and in the western “Ten Wanted Man”. However, he received his first serious role only in 1957, i.e. a year after signing a contract with Paramount Pictures. He then starred alongside Jerry Lewis in the comedy “The Delicate Delinquent”.


In the 1960s, considered by some media to be the successor to James Dean, Ivers tried to continue his acting career, appearing in such cinema classics as “The Errand Boy” or “The Young And The Brave”. However, more often than on the big screen, the actor could be seen in popular television series, such as “Bat Masterson” broadcast by NBC or “Hawaiian Eye” broadcast by ABC.

Ultimately, in the 1970s, Ivers abandoned Hollywood and focused on journalistic work, presenting news, current affairs programs and even weather forecasts on various television channels.

In 2003 (just a few months after the actor’s death in February of the same year), Presley’s fans awarded him an award in the category “Best Male Screen Duo” created with Elvis. The award was presented during the annual Elvis Week in Memphis.

In turn, James Douglas, who was sometimes confused with the famous American boxer due to the similarity of his name and surname, played Ricky – Sigrid Maier’s husband in the film.

The performance alongside Elvis was his debut on the big screen and… the beginning of a very short adventure with film. After appearing on GIBlues, Douglas appeared in it only once more, in the 1962 war drama Sweet Birth Of Youth. The following years of his career were filled mainly with appearances in television soap operas, the most popular of which was “As The World Turns”, broadcast by CBS.

Listing the actors who starred alongside Presley in his first film after leaving the civilian world, it is impossible to ignore Arch Johnson (actually Achibald Johnson), the extremely charismatic but also slightly naive Sergeant McGraw.

The beginnings of this actor’s film career date back to the first half of the 1950s, when he made his debut on the big screen as a taxi driver in the famous thriller “Niagara” starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten.

Slightly smaller roles in the newly created comedy were also given to Ludwig Stossel, Ron Starr, Kenneth Becker, Beach Dickerson, John Hudson, Fred Essler, Mickey Knox, Trent Dolan, Jeremy Slate, Robert Boon, Edson Stroll, Joe Gray, Edward Faulkner, Fred Kruger, Leon Alton, Gene Roth, Murray Pollack, Torber Meyer, Hugh Manning, Bill Couch, Harold Miller, Eddie Baker, Fred Stromsoe, George Bruggeman and Arthur Tovey.

The next day, after getting to know the cast and starting the so-called pre-production stage, i.e. on April 22, Elvis spent the evening at the Crossbow Inn club. According to some sources, “talented Louisiana blues singer” Lance LeGault also performed that day. And it was then that the two artists were to meet for the first time.


However, LeGault himself remembered the course of the meeting, which marked the beginning of the actor’s long-term cooperation as a choreographer and Elvis’s understudy, in a completely different way. ” (Elvis, author’s note) He came to me when he was doing ‘Wild In The Country’ and he brought Tuesday Weld with him ,” he recalled in one of the interviews.

Three days later, on April 25, in the morning, two days of sound checks and costume fittings began in the sound hall belonging to Paramount Pictures. Their course was closely followed by Ray Campi (actually Raymond Charles Campi), an American rock’n’roll singer, known in the community as The Rockabilly Rebel. ” When I walked into the sound stage around ten in the morning, I saw a lot of people doing a lot of different things ,” he said of his visit to the set. “ Musicians like Scotty Moore set up their instruments and amps. The others gathered around DJFontana, who was just spreading his legs under his drum kit. Charlie O’Curran pulled out a stack of sheets of paper with lyrics and placed them on the piano. He was hired by a film company to rehearse songs that would soon be recorded for RCA in Hollywood. Learning them was the first thing that had to be done because the words had to be on tape when filming started – so Elvis could sing along to them on playback .

One of the first people the musician managed to talk to were members of the quartet The Jordanaires. After a while, they were to be joined by… Elvis.

” A moment later, a man with an acoustic bass in his hands approached the corner where I was sitting, ” Campi recalled. “ After the first look, I knew it wasn’t Bill Black but a regular studio musician […]. I talked to him for a while. Like me, he was an outsider. However, I quickly realized that a young man wearing black pants, two-tone shoes and a colorful shirt was sitting less than two meters from me. Like me, he was intrigued by all the commotion going on in the room. Especially since we were among the few who had little to do there. It was then that I introduced myself to Elvis Presley for the second time in my life .

The singers talked to each other for a short while, recalling their first meeting in 1957. Their chat was interrupted by Charles O’Curran, who ” came over to us from behind his piano across the hall to show Elvis copies of the songs they wanted to try out that day .”

Campi stayed at rehearsal until five in the afternoon, when he had to go to Beverly Hills, to the Fine Arts Theater where he worked.

In his extensive memoirs, however, the singer drew attention to an issue that was quite important, especially for collectors and seekers of lost Elvis recordings. He questioned the existence of any tapes documenting the sound tests described above. ” I’m not sure if these rehearsals were recorded on tape ,” he said. “ I think there were sound engineers who stayed in the control room the whole time, and microphones were placed in various places around the hall. But were any recordings made? I don’t remember that. I don’t remember anyone calling the approach numbers, but I don’t think the tape was turned off for any reason. I assume the tape may have been included only for later informational purposes .”

Information provided by EP Promised Land (Poland), Mariusz Ogieglo

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