Elvis Presley movies regularly featured up and comer starlettes sprinkled through the cast.
Raquel Welsh made her movie debut in Roustabout – the scene is an outside shower and Elvis steals her towel. Seriously, who could blame him?
Terri Garr appeared as a dancing girl in several Elvis movies, of particular significance is Viva Las Vegas.
For this post, we are just gonna look at the starlette co-stars – rather than atmosphere and extras.
Debra Padget was from an acting family with a stage mom so infamous that Milton Berle referenced The Mother when she appeared with Elvis to promote their showmance.
Elvis was rather seriously besmitten with Miss Padget, but her mother had her eye on no less than Howard Hughes for her girl. Neither got their wish – and Debra, like Dolores Hart before her, eventually left acting for religion.
Judy Tyler danced her way from stage to small screen with Howdy Doody to the big screen with Elvis.
Judy was married so they were just friends. Judy and her husband were killed in a car accident and Elvis was never able to watch this film out of grief. Much the same for Loving You since his beloved Mom is in that one.
Dolores Hart in Loving You and King Creole – she left Hollywood to be a nun, yet was permitted to be an academy voter – demonstrating the reach and influence of the Catholic Church. Hart appeared at the Oscars with her documentary God is Bigger than Elvis and they didn’t win.
Joan Blackman got to marry Elvis in Blue Hawaii and Kid Galahad – the two movies where he shows the most skin – surfing and boxing… although he showered in GI Blues and Live a Little, Love a Little.
Tuesday Weld, (later Oscar nominated) the Sex Kitten Bad Girl, and Millie Perkins, girl next door in Wild in the Country (Anne Frank in a later film)- after Elvis died – Tuesday played an Elvis romance in the fictional Heartbreak Hotel and Millie played Gladys Presley in the 1990 There’s Good Rocking Tonight Elvis tv series.
Canadian born Anne Helm plays Elvis’ eventual romance in Follow That Dream, she continued doing tv into the 1980s.
Girls Girls Girls had Stella Stevens lose Elvis to Laurel Goodwin (star trek) – that Ginger vs Maryanne dilemma was a frequent Elvis theme and an admonishment to women about girls you have fun with vs ones you marry.
It Happened at the World’s Fair paired Elvis with Joan O’Brien, but kid actor Kurt Russell stole the spotlight and later played Elvis as his first adult movie role. I don’t think there’s a boy starlet category, teen idol maybe. Elvis romances Yvonne Craig in the opening scene.
Kissing Cousins – Brunette Elvis romances both Tatum Sisters while Blonde Elvis wrassels a GI Gal into marriage. Kissing Cousins features a Mountain Gang of women, including Former US Present Ronald Reagan’s daughter from his first marriage.
Roustabout – again, Raquel Welsh was just a sexy sight gag while Elvis romances Joan Freeman, who’s the circus owner’s daughter. This is the second movie where Elvis was markedly prettier than his female lead; Follow that Dream and Double Trouble are the other 2 and the 3 women share a facial type of larger foreheads – and all three of the characters outsmart the Elvis Character.
Jocelyn Lane, another business woman’s daughter of a spa ranch wins Elvis after a campy ghost town adventure in Tickle Me – one of the cheapest Elvis movies, but with a rocking soundtrack using Elvis existing non-movie songs rather than pay for new songs. Elvis was probably relieved.
Paradise Hawaiian Style is one of the few movies that had Elvis in an inter-racial romance, but Suzanna Leigh gets him after he sorts out his business plan.
Around this point, the Elvis movies shifted from Elvis doing his thing and getting caught by a girl to Elvis being job focussed and surrounded by other people’s children – Operation Matrimony was still the Girl Lead’s objective – and the caper movies begin.
Elvis is often paired with a television star who didn’t really transition into movie careers.
Fans often point to King Creole. Flaming Star and a few others and lament Elvis not getting a chance to really act.
But, Elvis never took acting lessons or acting seriously. He resisted altering his look and learning accents to expand his range of possible roles. As a young man in his 20s, having supporting roles in all male cowboy or military movies wouldn’t have given him his Patton speech recitation.
Elvis Presley was such a unique person, he has become an archetype of his own.
before him, no one had heard of being a rock star, now everyone wants to be one. no matter what their job is.