The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid's Obituary


Elvis And Ingrid

Did Uri Geller find his reputation for spoon bending a liability when he bought a metal, unproduced Elvis record that twas recorded before he became King, had been bent in the mail?
Ingrid and Elvis Picture

Ingrid gives Elvis pride of place.

This may sound incredible but someone recently accused me of being a name dropper. Moi - impossible! Which reminds me of my first meeting with the King - Elvis Presley. It was during my Hollywood period when I was convinced I was the super-star- in-waiting. A number of other super-stars- in- waiting had been the victims of attacks by good old boys who thought that SSIW’s were there for their entertainment . I decided that it was just as well to get some idea of self defence. So I joined the Nishijama Dojo in Los Angeles to learn Shotokan Karate. After a couple of visits, to my utter disbelief, Elvis Presley and a couple of minders walked in. Elvis was very focussed and hardly glanced around long enough to see me simpering. I took to hanging around the dojo after that in the hope of seeing him again and maybe getting a smile. The smile didn’t happen so I gently dropped the hint to Sensei Nishijama that I would love to do a kata with Elvis. I laid it on a bit. Told him an enhance version of my super star standing and made sure I was on hand whenever Elvis turned up. My sychophancy paid off. After more prompting Nishijama had a quiet word with Elvis and the King, probably to save the Sensei’s eardrums imploding, agreed to a quiet kata. All went well until I haishu-uchi’d when I should have mae geri’d. Result was a hefty kick in the boobs from the King’s flaying foot. All very painful. Not so much from the kick but from embarrassment. Elvis was very sorry but didn’t offer to rub the aching accoutrement for me. I admired him for that. But it was the end of my aspiration to blend our work-outs into a harmonious double act.

A couple of years or so after this I was in Las Vegas doing publicity for WHERE EAGLES DARE at the Hilton. Elvis was appearing there in the Cabaret.. I was being interviewed by the pool when Elvis and his crew walked past. I couldn’t let it go. I leapt to my feet and squealed “Elvis”. He looked my way, twitched his mouth as he did when a full smile was too much trouble and walked on. I shoved the cameraman aside and confronted the King. “I’m Ingrid Pitt” I said breathlessly. “Remember me?” He looked a bit worried but as I had a camera crew backing me up decided to play along. “Hi. How are you?”. He hadn’t a clue who I was but I managed to grab a couple of minutes of his time before he mooched off to wherever he was going before being attacked by the mad woman of Shiloh. Excitedly I asked the crew how much they had on film. I nearly had apoplexy when they told me they had been so overwhelmed by my chat with Elvis that they hadn’t thought to film the momentous event.

That evening my grovelling paid off. Our MGM PR man had a word with Elvis’s PR man and when Elvis went onstage he dedicated ‘Love Me Tender” to me and vowed to be first in the queue to see Where Eagles Dare. I never saw him again but I did witness a bizarre incident when I was having a cup of tea at the Thames side home of premier spoon bender and renegade from the jungle, Uri Geller. Just as I breezed up the drive the postman arrived. Uri was excited. He had found on the Internet an unproduced recording of Elvis singing a song onto a disk in a booth before he was famous. He was toying with the idea of getting the song rearranged and having his mate Michael Jackson record it. Probably in duet - if he could get in touch with Elvis’s spectral wraith. Until he opened the package. Some wag had obviously seen who it was addressed to and thought what a prime wheeze it would be to bend the aluminium record. Just to show Uri that he wasn’t alone in his ability to bend metal objects. As you can imagine Uri was not amused. What made our ceremonial tea drinking even more bizarre was that I was sitting in front of a half life size statue of the King. O.K - name dropping session on hold - for the moment!

Uri Geller's Elvis Statue

Uri's half size statue of the King of Rock and Roll.

Elvis Presley, after all these years - he died in 1977 - still has an unbreakable hold on his adoring fans. “Elvis lives” has become a mantra for the Elvisites and some are still willing to believe that he isn’t dead but lives in splendid isolation in some out of the way place like Brazil, Nantucket or even the dark side of the moon. And if you are staying in an American hotel in the Convention season you usually find yourself thigh deep in Elvis impersonators. When he wasn’t strutting his stuff or strumming his guitar he managed to star in over 30 films. Most of them would have killed a budding actor stone dead but such was, and is, his popularity that he managed to turn the turkeys into geese which laid golden eggs. Elvis himself was a collector of guitars. The ones he prized most were made in Spain by guitar maker extraordinaire Fransico Slolera. At least is what Paco told me when I dropped into his shop in Madrid.He was a bit blase about the sales. Complained that he thought that Elvis could at least have picked up his guitars in person. I’m not quite sure how it happened but when I walked out of the shop I was carrying a guitar. I do vaguely remember agreeing that everyone should learn to play and then confessing that all I had was a balalaika. And then I was paying over more than I could afford for one of his guitars. It didn’t turn out too badly. I was fronting a Spanish chat show called ‘Aqui Espana’ and I got him a spot on the show to plug his gear and he tore up the cheque I had given him. A suitable quid pro quo I thought.

What is amazing about the boy with the quiff from Memphis is the amount of collectibles that have been linked to his name. Even his home, Gracelands, generates an income of millions of dollars a year from visitors. Who, it is calculated, makes the town of Memphis richer by $150,000,000 per annum. And the town’s folk are mightily grateful. In that part of America it is hard not to buy anything which hasn’t a tenuous link with the King of Rock and Roll. Statues of all shapes and sizes stare balefully from shop windows and range from miniature to mannekin. Made in every material that can be shaped, and some that can’t, the product of skilled artisans or crude amateurs, they are certain to find a buyer sooner or later. Even food stuffs like cereals, ice creams, popcorn or more culinary items like cheese and butter are decorated with the Elvis logo. All this of course pulls in huge sums of money. All of which adds to the coffers of the Elvis Presley Foundation. The King’s memory is jealously guarded by the men in suits toting a calculator. It is considered very unwise to try and peddle anything with a picture of Elvis on it without checking it out and paying the asking price to the accountants. Which is curious considering some of the below standard goods that seem to be permanently on sale. The sequin studded cat-suits, Elvis guitars and many of the statuettes are well produced - but expensive. The British chapter of the Elvis Presley Fan Club does try to act as whistle blower for any of the shoddy goods that do slip through the net. The Club has been in existence since 1957. It has charted the popularity of its patron exhaustively and today is as strong as it has ever been in spite of it being almost 30 years since Elvis died. The members still make pilgrimage to Gracelands and have news on what is happening in Elvisland disseminated on a regular basis. Communication has always been one of the strongest elements of the Fan Club. Its first official Newsletter, sent out only two months after the clubs formation, ran to an impressive 30 pages.

The first piece of official Elvis merchandising was a lucky charm. At least the first conscious piece of memorabilia. Soon the usual plethora of artifacts hit the shelves. Lipsticks, chewing gum wrappers bearing the nauseating message that, ‘When Elvis’s voice throbs, so does ones heart’. A tad tortuous and only for the Elvis addict I would have thought.. The Elvis quiff promoted a large selection of combs. Some just had a garish imitation of the king’s features while other had a guitar and face glued onto the side. Not very practical but who was going to complain? An early goody was a gilt badge featuring a disc surmounted by a crown. Over the years it has altered slightly but it is still available from the Fan Club. A life style choice can include some of the pricier Elvis orientated memorabilia. Juke boxes, pin ball machines and even furniture has been marketed to satisfy the demand of the cognoscente for a little bit of Elvis. Naturally the wallpaper in any room is important and the Elvis industry has not been coy. It is still possible to buy brilliantly decorated wallpaper to brighten up the spare room.

It is said that when Picasso visited a restaurant instead of paying the bill in cash he would scribble something unrecognisable on a napkin and present it to the bemused owner. I don’t know if the King ever did this but there are probably a great number of people around the world who wish they had got Elvis to scribble something when they had the chance. Now Elvis signatures range from £700 on a scrappy piece of paper to a hefty £2000 for an autographed photograph. In fact anything from the hey-day of the Memphis warbler is earning a crust or two. In fact I’ve got the karate ghi that I was wearing when the famous Elvis foot came in contact with...... That must be worth a bob or two now......?

MM May 2004

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt