Did You Know…? Elvis Presley’s MoviesPosted by Elvis Presley's Graceland on Mar 27, 2015 | 48 comments
Elvis was a natural performer who ruled on both the stage and the silver screen.
Fans love his movies as much as they do his music. In fact, many Elvis Presley movie songs went on to become wildly popular in their own right. This month, we’re asking fans to vote for their favorite Elvis movies in our March Madness-style bracket, Elvis Movie Madness, to determine the fan favorite.
We’re in round three – Elite 8 – right now, with a few more rounds of voting to come before the winner is crowned. Which one do you think will win? “Blue Hawaii,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “King Creole”? Or is your bet on a dark horse?
Here are some fun Elvis Presley movie facts about each of the 16 films that made it to the Sweet 16 in Elvis Movie Madness – and don’t forget to vote for your favorite!
LOVE ME TENDER
- “Love Me Tender” was released Nov. 21, 1956, and it was the first Elvis Presley movie to be broadcast on television, on Dec. 11, 1963.
- The original title was “The Reno Brothers.” When advanced sales for the single “Love Me Tender” passed the million mark, the film’s name was changed.
- Actor Neville Brand, whose character kills Elvis’ character, was a highly-decorated GI in World War II.
- This is Elvis’ first color motion picture, and the working titles were “Running Wild” and “Lonesome Cowboy.”
- Elvis’ parents visited him in Hollywood while he was filming, and they were included as extras in a scene seated in the audience in the fourth row. Elvis’ bandmates, DJ Fonanta, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, are also in the film.
- Elvis dyed his hair black for this film, believing black would show up better on screen instead of naturally brown hair. Elvis continued to dye his hair like this for the rest of his life, stopping only while he was in the Army.
- For this film, Elvis was assigned Clark Gable’s former dressing room.
- When filming wrapped, Elvis boarded a train for Memphis. He was excited to get to his new home, Graceland, so he left the train in Louisiana and rented a car to drive the rest of the way. He spent his first night in Graceland on June 26, 1957.
- Working titles for this film were “Danny” and “Sing, You Sinners.”
- Elvis stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans during filming. Security was, of course, tight. The elevator operators were told not to stop on the 10th floor, the floor on which Elvis was staying. One night after filming, Elvis tried to get to the floor, but the elevator operator – not recognizing the star – said he couldn’t stop on the 10th floor because Elvis Presley was staying there.
- Dolores Hart, niece of singer Mario Lanza, starred in this film as Elvis’ leading lady for a second time. She later left acting and became a nun. Today, she is a Mother Superior, and she’s a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures.
The film received positive reviews and many fans and film critics consider it the best Elvis Presley movie.
- Titles considered for this movie were “Christmas in Berlin” and “Café Europa.”
- Hannerl Melcher, Miss Austria 1957 and a Las Vegas showgirl, was an extra, and she and Elvis became friends. She and her roommate spent Christmas 1958 with the Presley family at Graceland.
- This movie’s working title was “Hawaiian Beach Boy.”
- Elvis’ costars in this movie starred with him in several other films. For example, Howard McNear (Mr. Chapman) also starred in “Fun in Acapulco” and “Follow That Dream.” Guy Lee (Ping Pong) was also in “Girls! Girls! Girls!”
- Elvis trained as a boxer would for this role, using punching bags, doing road work, dieting and sparring with professional boxers.
- This movie was filmed in the mountains of Idyllwild, California, in the winter of 1961. Actors wore summer costumes in the cold weather and tried to make sure their breath didn’t show up on camera.
- World champion junior welterweight boxer Mushy Callahan was Elvis’ boxing coach.
GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!
- Working titles included “A Girl in Every Port,” “Welcome Aboard” and “Gumbo Ya-Ya.”
- The three Ling children in the story were played by siblings Ginny Tiu, Elizabeth Tiu and Alexander Tiu. Another sibling, Vicky Tiu, starred with Elvis in “It Happened at the World’s Fair.”
- Look for Elvis’ entourage in the film. Red West plays the bongos on a fishing boat. Allan Fortas catches a fish. Hal Blaine is a drummer in the lounge band, while Elvis’ stand-in, Lance Le Gault, plays the bass.
IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR
- To spot Elvis’ entourage in the masses of people at the fair, they all wore special uniforms.
- Vicky Tiu (Sue-Lin) later became the first lady of Hawaii, as her husband, Ben Cayetano, was the state’s governor.
- Memphis’ mayor and Vernon Presley visited Elvis on the set to accept Elvis’ annual donation of $50,000 for Memphis-area charities.
FUN IN ACAPULCO
- This film was shot in Hollywood, not Mexico.
- Paramount promoted the movie with special souvenir “passports” they created.
- The Beatles saw this film at a Miami, Florida drive-in during their first U.S. tour.
VIVA LAS VEGAS
- This was the highest-grossing Elvis Presley movie.
- Actress/dancer Teri Garr, who played roles in several Elvis movies, was one of the many showgirls in this movie. Elvis’ long-time stand-in and movie double Lance Le Gault was an extra in the “Sons of the Lone Star State” scene.
- The Little Church of the West, which is seen in the film, is where stars such as Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Angelina Jolie and Mickey Rooney have all gotten married. It’s now on the registry of National Historic Places.
- Screenwriters Allan Weiss and Anthony Lawrence received a nomination from the Screen Writers Guild of America in 1965 for their work on “Roustabout.”
- Elvis and director John Rich butted heads over Elvis’ entourage and their practical jokes. Elvis defended them: “If my guys go, so do I.”
- Valerie is played by Shelley Fabares, who went on to star in two more of Elvis’ films. He later said she was his favorite actress to work with.
- Bandmates in the film were Gary Crosby (Andy), son of Bing Crosby, and Jimmy Hawkins (Doc), who played Tommy in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Jimmy would later become a regular on the “Donna Reed Show” as Shelley Fabares’ character’s boyfriend.
- Allied Artists Studio, which produced this film, was in deep financial trouble. Col. Parker agreed to cut Elvis’ fee of $1 million to $750,000 plus 50% of the profits, and they used songs that had already been recorded instead of cutting brand new soundtrack. The film turned out to be the third-highest grossing film for the studio and kept it from bankruptcy for a while longer.
- The film was promoted by the sale of “Tickle Me” colored feathers and feather pens. RCA purchased Elvis’ custom gold-appointed Cadillac, and it went on tour to promote the film.
- Jocelyn Lane, who starred as Elvis’ leading lady, retired from acting in 1971 when she married a Spanish prince. Today she designs jewelry.
CHANGE OF HABIT
- This is Elvis’ last feature film. It was a part of a deal worked out by Col. Parker for the NBC 1968 TV special “Elvis” and it was co-produced by NBC and Universal Pictures.
- Darlene Love and her group The Blossoms, who appear with Elvis in the 1968 TV special, also appear in this movie.
ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS
- The working title was simply “Elvis.”
- 2015 is the 45th anniversary of this documentary. Elvis Presley’s Graceland just opened a new exhibit, which a part of the VIP tour experience, that focuses on the film. Fans can see photos, Elvis’ jumpsuits and much more in this exhibit.
Which Elvis movie is your favorite? Don’t forget to vote! You can vote once per day, and the more you vote, the more times you’re entered to win an Elvis movie prize pack.
And if you love Elvis’ films, you must see all of the movie artifacts at Graceland. There’s an entire section dedicated to Elvis’ movies, and it includes a number of costumes, scripts, props and much more. These special artifacts are only at Graceland in Memphis.