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Close Encounters of the Elvis Kind

Growing up in the Heart of Screenland has its perks. Like getting to watch Elvis Presley at work. Elvis was on the Culver City lots a few times. For scenes from Jailhouse Rock (1957), It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Harum Scarum (1965), The Trouble with Girls (1969), and rehearsals for That’s the Way It Is (1970). Elvis rehearsed at MGM Studios in 1970 on July 14, 15, and 29 before performing the special live in Las Vegas.

My sister Beverly was one of the lucky teens to eyewitness the scene pictured above from Viva Las Vegas being filmed at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium from a door just to the left of the stage. She describes they rehearsed the scene over and over and they let her and a small group watch. Afterwards, Elvis came outside and spoke to them and fondly remembers, “He was so nice and handsome.”

Jo Anne Lillie Fogarty recounts: “The most fun experience about working at MGM was getting stuck in a stage with my workmate and they suddenly closed the doors and said ‘Lights!’ We watched from a corner Elvis perform the opening song to It Happened at the World’s Fair. It was a one-take, and all applauded the King and the doors opened and we were able to escape without getting in trouble being on a closed set.”

Joy Agnew warmly recalls: “We were 13 and waiting for a bus at Overland and Washington in 1963 and we saw ELVIS out the window of his limo and say ‘HI GIRLS!'”

You can see the Culver City stages and backlots in some of his films along with other fun co-stars like Yvonne Craig, a.k.a. Batgirl, and Mary Ann Mobley. He swam in Esther Williams’ swimming pool on MGM Lot 2 in Jailhouse Rock and ran all over 40-acres in Harum Scarum forever linking him to the city’s history. A small town embraced Elvis, was impacted by his visits, his genuine kind and playful nature and enjoyed his marvelous talent.

Thank you, Elvis. Thank you very much.

Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas
Elvis Presley at MGM

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