men who would be King
HE MADE the 1963 film "It Happened at the World's Fair," Elvis
Presley got a kick out of it ... right on the shins, delivered
by a kid actor named Kurt Russell. The kick was written into
the script, so Elvis didn't take it personally. Indeed, he
treated Russell well.
then, that 16 years after "It Happened at the World's Fair,"
Russell took on the lead role of the ABC 1979 TV biopic "Elvis."
Advertisement Russell played Elvis, but didn't "sing" Elvis.
Presley estate did not give its blessing to the film, so Russell
lip-synched to songs recorded by Presley sound-alike Ronnie
week, CBS will premiere a new Elvis flick starring Irish actor
Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the lead. The film has the imprimatur
of the Presley family, so Rhys Meyers lip-synchs to original
Russell was a good choice to play the King, the choice of
John Carpenter to direct "Elvis" seemed an odd one, unless
the object were to portray Elvis as a psychotic killer; Carpenter
had helmed the seminal bleeder "Halloween" just a year before
"Elvis." In his favor, Carpenter was a big Elvis fan and had
a musical background; indeed, he'd composed the music for
he had the same name as the character Elvis had played in
"Change of Habit." Playing Elvis' mother, Gladys, was double
Oscar winner Shelley Winters. And playing Elvis' dad, Vernon,
was ... Bing Russell, Kurt's father, who'd played Deputy Clem
Foster on "Bonanza" from 1961 to 1973. Playing Priscilla was
Season Hubley, who would become Kurt Russell's wife that same
year. The two were divorced in 1984, just around the time
Russell began a long-term relationship with Goldie Hawn. (They're
"Elvis," Russell and Carpenter would team as star and director
on "Escape From New York," "The Thing," "Big Trouble in Little
China" and "Escape From L.A." Kurt Russell starred in what
western series in 1963 and 1964? Sweet nothin' Director John
Carpenter comes by his musical talent naturally -- his father,
Howard, was a music professor at Western Kentucky University
and a violinist whose work on Brenda Lee's first No. 1, "I'm
Sorry," earned him a gold record.
Elvis, Brenda Lee is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. And like Elvis,
Lee had a manager, Dub Albritten, who was as shrewd as the
King's Col. Tom Parker. Dubbed "Little Miss Dynamite," Lee
as a kid singer had the voice of a woman in the body of a
pixie, and had made the country charts at the ripe age of
12. In the late '50s, Albritten made an attempt to expand
Lee's popularity by having her booked into Olympia Music Hall
in Paris. This would mean international exposure.
the French promoter thought Lee, given her big voice, was
an adult. The booking was nearly canceled, until, according
to "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits," Albritten "saved
the day by planting a story in the French newspapers that
Brenda Lee was a 32-year-old midget." Lee broke out big in
1960, with her first Top 40 single, "Sweet Nothin's," the
seasonal standard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and
two No. 1 singles, "I'm Sorry" and "I Want to be Wanted."
In all, Lee put 29 singles in the Top 40 during her pop career
between 1960 and 1967.
Lee's "I'm Sorry" took over No. 1 from what single by one-hit-wonders
the Hollywood Argyles? Return to tender Elvis Presley and
Katharine Hepburn. Poor Southern boy and Eastern sophisticate.
Peanut butter and caviar. And yet these two came close to
playing brother and sister in the film "The Rainmaker." After
Elvis had exploded in 1956, he was signed to a film contract
by Paramount and tested for a role in the drama "The Rainmaker."
test went well enough, but Paramount producer Hal Wallis and
Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker, felt the film wasn't the
right debut vehicle for their boy -- Elvis wouldn't be singing,
and he was likely to be overshadowed not only by Hepburn,
but by co-star Burt Lancaster. So Elvis was loaned out to
Fox for his screen debut in "Love Me Tender."
film was set in 1865, but didn't know much about history.
Elvis shook his moneymaker and sang like it was 1956, because
that's what kids were paying to see, historical appropriateness
be damned. Elvis did four tunes, including the title song,
which like every Elvis tune of the period passed go and went
right to No. 1.
the only time in his film career, Elvis was billed third,
behind Richard Egan and Debra Paget. Also in the cast were
James Drury, later of "The Virginian," Mildred Dunnock, Neville
Brand and William Campbell. This last, who played one of Elvis'
three brothers, is cited by the Internet Movie Database as
the same William Campbell who was supposed to have taken Paul
McCartney's place in the Beatles amid the "Paul is Dead" nonsense.
sources identify the fake-Paul William Campbell as a Canadian
or a Scot who underwent plastic surgery to resemble McCartney.
Doesn't matter; it's all cranberry sauce. This much is true
of the "Love Me Tender" William Campbell -- he was born in
New Jersey and he was married from 1952 to 1958 to Judith
Exner Campbell, she of the later affairs with JFK and Sam
Source: The Star Ledger)