Courtesy of Marshall Terrill, EIN is pleased to bring
fans an interview with the authors of the soon to be released book,
Sergeant Presley: Our Untold Story of Elvis’ Missing Years’.
Rex Mansfield was inducted into the Army on the same
day as Elvis Presley in March 1958. He went with him through basic
training with him in Texas, and travelled with the King to Germany
and became close friends for the next 18 months. Elisabeth Stefaniak
was a young German girl in 1958, and was hired to answer Presley's
fan mail. Elisabeth became romantically involved with Elvis, but
was torn between her love for the King, and an ordinary solider
named Rex Mansfield. Elisabeth eventually chose Rex and they married
in June 1960 but never saw Presley again. Rex and Elisabeth's book,
"Sergeant Presley: Our Untold Story of Elvis' Missing Years" is
a story three people: Rex, who becomes a close friend of Elvis;
Elisabeth, who becomes one of Elvis' girlfriends; and Elvis himself,
during the "missing years."
1.) Rex, when and how did you meet Elvis Presley?
Rex Mansfield: I FIRST MET ELVIS ON MARCH 24, 1958 AT THE US ARMY INDUCTION
CENTER AT KENNEDY VETERANS HOSPITAL IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE.
2.) From your personal perspective, did Elvis appear
to enjoy the experience of being in the Army?
RM: YES, HE
DEFINITELY ENJOYED HIS ARMY EXPERIENCE. ELVIS BECAME A MAN
IN HIS OWN RIGHT WHILE SERVING HIS COUNTRY IN THE US ARMY.
3.) Rex, how patriotic was Elvis about his country?
RM:ELVIS LOVED HIS COUNTRY AND THOUGHT OF AMERICA AS THE GREATEST
COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. HE WAS VERY PATRIOTIC.
4.) Was there a particular incident in your mind that
solidified your friendship with Elvis?
RM: ELVIS' NUMBER 1 GIRLFRIEND
AT THAT WAS ANITA WOOD. SHE PAID HIM A SURPRISE VISIT ONE
WEEKEND WHILE WE WERE IN BASIC TRAINING. ELVIS WAS SCHEDULED
FOR GUARD DUTY THAT NIGHT. ELVIS OFFERED TO PAY ME A NICE
SUM OF MONEY IF I WOULD AGREE TO PULL HIS GUARD DUTY FOR HIM.
I AGREED TO PULL THE GUARD DUTY BUT I REFUSED TO TAKE HIS MONEY
SAYING I WOULD DO THAT FOR ANYBODY IN A SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCE.
ELVIS WAS IMPRESSED WITH MY RESPONSE AND FROM THAT TIME ON I WAS
ONE OF HIS CLOSE FRIENDS.
5.) Rex, what were the good personality traits you saw
in Elvis, and what were some that were not so good?
TRAITS: HE WAS SINCERE, PERSONABLE, KIND HEARTED, HUMOROUS
HE HAD A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR), POLITE, LIKEABLE AND FUN TO BE AROUND.
NOT SO GOOD TRAITS: HE WAS EGOTISTICAL AND NEEDED HIS EGO
FED CONSTANTLY, HE WAS SUSPICIOUS OF EVERYBODY, JEALOUS AND VERY
POSSESSIVE OF THOSE AROUND HIM.
6.) You took a trip with Elvis to Paris, France.
What was that experience like?
RM: IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE AND
THE MOST EXCITING TRIP I HAD EVER TAKEN IN MY LIFE AT THAT TIME.
BEING ELVIS' CLOSE FRIEND AND TRAVEL COMPANION, DURING THIS TRIP,
MADE ME FEEL LIKE A CELEBRITY. IT WAS REALLY A GREAT EXPERIENCE.
7.) Elisabeth, under what circumstances did you meet
Elisabeth Mansfield: I MET ELVIS IN NOVEMBER 1958 AT THE "TOWER
THEATRE' (US ARMY POST THEATRE AT GRAFENWOREHR, GERMANY, US TRAINING
CENTER). I ONLY EXPECTED TO SEE HIM AND GET HIS AUTOGRAPH
BUT WAS INVITED BY HIM TO SIT NEXT TO HIM FOR THE ENTIRE MOVIE AND
ELVIS THEN WALKING ME HOME FROM THE MOVIE.
8.) How did it come to pass that Elvis asked you to
become his secretary?
EM: AT THAT TIME ELVIS DID NOT HAVE
A SECRETARY IN GERMANY AND THOUSANDS OF FAN LETTERS WERE ALREADY
COMING TO HIM EVERY DAY. HE NEED A SECRETARY THAT SPOKE AND
READ BOTH ENGLISH AND GERMANY AND I WAS QUALIFIED. HE ASKED
ME TO BECOME HIS SECRETARY AND MOVE TO BAD NAUHEIM, GERMANY, WHERE
I WOULD LIVE AND WORK FROM HIS HOME. WITH THE APPROVAL OF
MY PARENTS, I GRATEFULLY ACCEPTED HIS KIND OFFER AND MOVED WITHIN
9.) Elisabeth, describe some of your daily duties as
EM: ANSWERING FAN MAIL FROM EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
BUT MOSTLY GERMAN FAN MAIL. ANSWERING THE DOOR DURING AUTOGRAPH
HOURS DURING THE EVENING WHEN ELVIS WAS HOME. I ALSO HELPED
GRANDMA WITH THE MEALS.
10.) You were also in close contact with Vernon, Elvis'
father. What was he like?
EM: ACTUALLY, VERNON WAS MORE MY
BOSS THAN ELVIS BECAUSE HE WAS HOME DURING THE DAY WHEN ELVIS WAS
PULLING DUTY AT THE KASERN IN FRIEDBURG, GERMANY. VERNON WAS
A VERY ATTRACTIVE MAN WITH A GOOD SINGING VOICE AND FUN TO WORK
11.) Rex and Elisabeth: Under what circumstances
did the two of you fall for each other?
RM & EM: ELVIS'
GRANDMA, MINNIE PRESLEY, LOVED ELISABETH AND LIKED ME A LOT.
SHE DID NOT LIKE THE WAY ELVIS WAS IGNORING ELISABETH, ESPECIALLY
WHEN PRISCILLA CAME INTO HIS LIFE. GRANDMA WANTED ELISABETH
TO HAVE A GOOD LIFE AND A GOOD HUSBAND. SHE INSISTED THAT
THE TWO OF US GET TOGETHER SAYING TO EACH OF US PRIVATELY AND LATER
IN HER BEDROOM TOGETHER THAT WE WOULD BE REALLY GOOD FOR EACH OTHER.
SHE DID ALL THIS FOR US IN SECRET BECAUSE SHE KNEW ELVIS WOULD NOT
APPROVE OUR RELATIONSHIP. WE BEGAN SEEING EACH OTHER IN SECRET
AND FELL IN LOVE. THE REST IS HISTORY.
12.) If Elvis would have known about your romance, what
course of action do you think he would have taken and why?
RM & EM: HE WOULD HAVE KICKED US BOTH OUT OF HIS INNER CIRCLE
AND HOUSE BECAUSE WHAT WE DID WAS AGAINST HIS RULES. HIS EGO
WOULD NOT HAVE ALLOWED US TO STAY WITH HIM AND CONTINUE DATING EACH
13.) Rex and Elisabeth: Elvis actually offered
you two jobs to come and work for him at Graceland. Why did
you turn him down?
RM & EM: FOR THE SAME REASONS AS ABOVE.
ALSO, WE KNEW THAT WE COULD NOT HAVE A SUCCESSFUL MARRIED LIFE BEING
AROUND ELVIS ALL THE TIME.
14.) Did you ever see Elvis again after 1960,
and if not, why not?
RM & EM: NO, WE NEVER SAY HIM IN PERSON
AGAIN AFTER MARCH OF 1960. WE HAD ONE GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO
SEE AND VISIT WITH HIM BUT WERE ADVISED AGAINST IT BY A FRIEND FROM
ELVIS'S INNER CIRCLE. AT THAT TIME ELVIS WAS HAVING BIG PROBLEMS
WITH HIS MARRIAGE TO PRISCILLA, WOULD HAVE BEEN MOST DIFFICULT TO
DEAL WITH AND MOST LIKELY WOULD HAVE TAKEN OUT HIS FRUSTRATIONS
15.) For Rex and Elisabeth: What do you think
of Elvis Presley today and the fact that he's bigger 25 years after
his death than he was alive?
RM & EM: ELVIS WAS EXTREMELY
GIFTED AS A ENTERTAINER AND SINGER AND WAS TRULY ONE OF A KIND.
THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER PERSON LIKE ELVIS. HE WAS DESTINED
FOR GREATNESS AND WE THINK GOD HAD A PLAN FOR ELVIS FOLLOWING HIS
WORLDWIDE FAME. THERE IS NO TELLING WHAT TREMENDOUS INFLUENCE
FOR GOOD ELVIS COULD HAVE HAD OUR GENERATION HAD HE CHOSEN TO DO
IT "GOD'S WAY" INSTEAD OF HIS WAY. HOWEVER, THIS MATTER IS
NOT FOR US OR ANYONE ELSE TO JUDGE. WE ARE NOT SURPRISED AT
ALL THAT HE IS BIGGER TODAY THAN AT HIS EARLY AND UNTIMELY DEATH
25 YEARS AGO.