Elvis Presley stars in Blue Hawaii trailer in 1961
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It was 60 years that Elvis Presley starred in Blue Hawaii, one of his post-army movies. The musical, which featured his hit song Can’t Help Falling in Love, saw The King play Chadwick Gates, who returned home to Hawaii after serving in the armed forces. Incredibly, Elvis’ mother Sarah Lee Gates was played by Angela Lansbury, despite being just nine years older than him.
Lansbury is still alive and well at 95-years-old and in an unearthed interview from several years ago shared her memories of working with Elvis on Blue Hawaii.
In the video below, the Hollywood star, who received her first Oscar nomination in 1944, said: “Well obviously I was awed by being in the presence, but he was an awfully nice young man in those days.
“He always was a wonderfully nice young man, a very caring person.
“He had terrible problems of a very personal nature, but in those days he’d just come out of the army.”
Remembering Elvis being in better shape than he was in his later years, Lansbury said: “He was fit, he was slender and he was top of his form. And he couldn’t have been nicer to me.
“We had a lovely time, it was a wonderful location. We were on Kauai in the Hawaiian islands. I’ll never forget it, it was really wonderful.”
Asked if she spent much time hanging out on set with Elvis, she said: “Yes, we sat around and I had some wonderful scenes with the man who played my husband [Roland Winters] and the three of us together.
“And she was such a funny character! Her whole reaction to her son who she didn’t understand at all. [Elvis] loved it, he thought it was terribly funny. He was very sweet.”
Ahead of shooting Blue Hawaii in 1961, Elvis was flown out to the islands early to perform a benefit show.
During the attack on Pearl Harbour 20 years previously, the USS Arizona battleship was sunk with 1177 losing their lives.
To this day the ship remains submerged with a memorial over the top that Elvis’ concert helped raise money for.
The King’s ticket sales made $64,000 towards the project and the performance took place on March 25, 1961.
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The concert itself was attended by 4000 adoring fans and Elvis wore his famous gold lamé suit jacket, which he’d first sported in 1957.
Among the hits that The King sang in his 15-song set that night were Are You Lonesome Tonight, Don’t Be Cruel and All Shock Up, before finishing with Hound Dog.
Sadly. The Colonel’s plans for a filmed TV special deal didn’t come through for what would be Elvis’ final live performance until his 1968 Comeback Special.
On May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona memorial was dedicated and Elvis returned to his beloved Hawaii in 1965 to visit it for himself where he laid a wreath.
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