Clint

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My cell rings. It’s the restaurant.

“Can you hostess tonight? Clint Eastwood is coming in.” I say yes and think “Maybe I’ll get discovered?”  I’m only 50.  I put on a flattering dress and tell my Mom.

“Your Aunt Judy had her first screen kiss with him. Or maybe it was Clint’s first screen kiss. I don’t remember. He knew your father.” My Dad died when I was seven.

When I get to work the Chef tells me this is the fourth restaurant Eastwood has dined where he was cooking.

“You’re not supposed to talk to him. Did they call ahead and say that?”

“No.”

Clint’s late. I spend a half hour hanging out with his sister and his oldest daughter at the hostess stand talking about dogs. His Sister has the same eyes and wears the years just like him. They’re both sweethearts. It’s Clint’s birthday.

When he arrives I’m at another table so I let him find his family without any fanfare. Then I go to the table and tentatively ask if they want to hear the schpeel?

“Yeah, we’ll hear the schpeel,” says Clint Eastwood.

So I tell him the restaurant used to be Aimee Semple McPherson’s retreat. She was an evangelist from the 30’s with flaming red hair and came down a spiral staircase. There was a scandal where Aimee disappeared into the ocean and showed up a month later saying she’d been kidnapped.

“Oh good ole Aimee,” he says like he knows all about her and smiles.

A couple of hours later, I’m all alone outdoors at the hostess stand. Slow night. It’s cold and I have my sweater wrapped around me. I’m reading about Aimee Semple McPherson but I’m really thinking if I’m going to say something to Clint Eastwood when he leaves?

Then he’s there suddenly, walking fast, twirling his keys with his family close behind. He’s almost past me, my hearts beating fast. I’m such a chicken. Life’s short, fuck it.

“You knew my Dad, Nick Adams.” He stops in his tracks and quits twirling his keys by snapping them into his hand. Shit. Did I blow it? Should I not have said anything? Is he going to make my day? He and my Dad both had westerns on the air at the same time.rawhide-clint-eastwood-1959-66

Clint was Rawhide. Daddy was Johnny Yuma, The Rebel who rode off into the sunset and left me behind to gag on the dust, just like the little girl in Unforgiven. Walking Rebel photo_0003 copy

Eastwood’s other daughter’s name is Allison, we both have the same name. Clint doesn’t know that, he doesn’t know me. I’m a hostess. I’m a child of celebrity casualty.

I watch him think, Nick Adams, haven’t heard that name in awhile. He looks at the ground, not at me, then grins like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

“Same generation,” he says. Keeps walking and I hear his sister say to him, “I remember Nick Adams.”

Clint gets in his brand new Mercedes.

I don’t look to see if he looks back. Why would he? I’m nobody.

(Excerpt from upcoming “The Daddy Box” A Prurient Memoir by Allyson Adams)

The James Dean I Knew

 

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Nick Adams and James Dean at the Observatory while filming Rebel Without a Cause 1955.

Before my father met Elvis, the legendary Dean had just been tragically killed in his Porsche Spyder “Little Bastard” in 1955, one month before the release of Rebel Without a Cause, and before the completion of Giant. Daddy and James were notorious friends and Nick was a talented impersonator who did the voiceover for James Dean’s drunken scene in Giant because Dean mumbled. The scene is often referred to as the Last Supper because it was the last scene in which Dean acted.

Nick writes of Dean, “There was an intensity, an eagerness for life in Jimmy…It would burst out in sudden whims for scuffling and horseplay…”

In “The James Dean I Knew,” Nick Adams writes…

“Hamlet wore horn rimmed glasses…Jimmy would have gotten a kick out of that line. More than anything else in the world Jimmy wanted to play Hamlet. Hamlet has been described many ways, but sometimes I wonder if old Bill Shakespeare didn’t picture “The Prince of Denmark” as being of average height, with a short broad jaw, short nose, gray eyes, brown hair and horn rimmed glasses.

I’m sure that if Mr. Shakespeare could have seen that smile, that twitch of the head, that walk with a slight slouch, that boyish magnetism, those eyes that showed a limitless hopeful expectancy-I’m sure the great writer would have said: “That’s my Hamlet, but what about the glasses?” And Jimmy would have replied, “I don’t wear them when I’m acting!”

I first met Jimmy about five years ago in 1951. We made TV commercials together. We be-bopped around a juke box with two girls, singing “Pepsi-Cola Hits the Spot.” Yes, I’m sure Jimmy would have gotten a big laugh out that line.

Here is a boy who was born in an obscure town in Indiana. He grew up on a farm. He never owned a home. He never wrote a novel. He had no credentials except himself. With this alone he became one of the finest actors in the country, the envy of millions, and one of the most popular motion picture stars since Rudolph Valentino.

Some people turned against him, some denied him, some criticized, some laughed, some cried, but I am sure that I am justified in saying that no one has affected or crept into the hearts of so many in so short a time.

“Billy The Kid!” Are you kidding me? You mean to say they did the “Kid” on TV…No kidding!” Jimmy was doing the part of Jett Rink in “Giant” when he said this. We were having lunch together in the commissary at Warner Brothers. I had seen a TV show the night before in which the life of “Billy The Kid” was portrayed. The second most important thing in the world for Jimmy was to do the life of “Billy The Kid.”

I think it’s sort of ironical that the two parts Jimmy wanted to do the most are both legendary. In a way “Billy The Kid” was a lot like Jimmy. They say the “Kid” was a slim, slight little fellow- didn’t look like much, but he never wasted a bullet- as Jimmy never wasted a minute. He always had a couple of dozen projects going. He was always searching. Jimmy always said that the ordinary human being has many basic needs. He feels them deep within himself. If any of these needs aren’t filled, the result is a longing, a restlessness, a disappointment and these can lead to illness.

Jimmy will never get to do the two parts he loved most. At least not in this world. But I have a feeling that somewhere, someplace, Jimmy is unsheathing his foil readying for the scene with Laertes.

James Dean was born on February 8th, 1931, and everyone who knew him agreed that there was no false pride or insecurity in Jimmy’s makeup. He was naturally simple, genuine, and humble. He was shy, too. He didn’t want to make any fuss about his success or fame.

The second time I saw Jimmy was while I was stationed in New London, Connecticut. His first Broadway play was being tried out in Hartford, and Jimmy sent me a ticket. We had corresponded a few times and he knew where I was stationed. After the curtain fell for the last time that evening I just sat bewildered and amazed how improved Jimmy had become since our TV commercial days.

I went backstage and congratulated him and then we went to a broken down coffee shop and sat and talked for about three hours until finally the owner threw us out. I learned a lot that night and because of many of the things that Jimmy told me, I built more confidence in myself and my work.” (End of Nick Adams passage from “The James Dean I Knew.”)

James Dean died on September 30, 1955. His legend lives on.

 

 

September 26, 1956

58 years ago on September 26, 1956, Elvis Presley performed at his Tupelo Homecoming Concert in Mississippi. Daddy was there to lend support and open Elvis’ concert doing comedic impersonations of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Marlon Brando. Elvis wowed his hometown and this was to be one of the most important moments in his life.

“When Elvis came up on that stage I thought someone had just dropped an Atomic Bomb. They cheered so loud I thought I was going to lose an eardrum. Someone told me the population of Tupelo was 12,000. Well there were close to 50,000 people at Elvis’ Homecoming.” (The Rebel and the King excerpt by Nick Adams)

Elvis was about to give a show to many who had only thought of him as the poor boy with a bad Daddy. Elvis, ten years earlier, a gangly 11 year old with glasses and a dimestore guitar he bought at Tupelo Hardware, had won fifth place in a talent show singing Ole Shep.

“Elvis told everyone what a great thrill this was for so many reasons. One of them was because he used to sneak into this very same fair when he was younger because he didn’t have any money to buy a ticket. Elvis said, “Last time I was here, I didn’t even have a nickel.” (Excerpt by Nick Adams)

In honor of this anniversary, The Rebel & the King is now available on AmazonBuy Here after a successful, pre-release tour surrounding Elvis Week at Graceland in August. The video “Walking in Memphis with The Rebel and the King” that Roy Turner put together of Maria Sanderson’s photos, Big Jim, Hal Lansky, all the interviews clips and his special archival collection of Elvis history- says it all. Marc Cohen’s “Walking in Memphis” seems to be written for my Elvis pilgrimage. But, in all honesty, TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI is the star of the trip because that’s where I met Roy Turner, which is kind of a strange story.

Right around the time I was publishing the book I went to my healer just after reading Elaine Dundy’s scathing portrayal of Nick Adams in her book, Elvis and Gladys.Buy Elvis and Gladys by Elaine Dundy Little did I know, my healer was Elaine Dundy’s (New York socialite and famed writer of The Dud Avocado) best friend.Elaine Dundy Foundation During our session, my healer confessed that she never gives messages, but this one was so strong that she had to deliver it. Elaine Dundy was directing me to contact Roy Turner. OMG, I just read something she wrote about my father. How can I get a hold of her? She died four years ago. Okaaay…As fate would have it, I was too busy to contact Roy, so Roy contacted me. I went out on a limb and told him about my psychic, medium communication with Elaine. Roy assured me he knew Elaine Dundy’s spirit well. He and I were soul mates from then on.

Roy brought me into the soul of Elvis by introducing me to Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo. Roy was my ambassador to all the warm (Tupelo, in August, everybody is warm) friendly Elvis fans with stories to tell and pictures to share. Here I was in the midst of a true American tale of rags to riches where Elvis with the faith of a mustard seed became the entertainer of his dreams. And it is Elaine Dundy’s writings that gave me the greatest insight into the boy Elvis. I hit the motherlode in Tupelo and will never be the same.

Make sure to pick up a copy of THE NEW, EXPANDED edition of The Rebel and The King by Nick Adams. http://therebelandtheking.com/buybook.html The new edition includes “Elvis and The Mississippi-Alabama Fair” written by Elaine Dundy on April 17, 2005 before her death when she was practically blind from a degenerative disease and still writing with a special keyboard. This never before published essay is a key insight into the significance of the Tupelo Homecoming on Elvis. This new edition also includes an introduction by ROY TURNER! Roy is the “go to guy” for the history of Elvis. Roy Turner InterviewThere are 33 photos in this one! So check it out. Feel free to write a review of the book and let me know how you like it! Thank you to everybody who keeps making this journey an adventure.

Most of all, here’s to The King Elvis!

Peace,

Allyson

Nick Adams On The Last Wagon (1956).

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I love this excerpt from The Rebel & The King in chapter The Greatest Night of my Life.

Originally posted on 50 Westerns From The 50s.:

I’m really intrigued by the new book by Nick Adams and his daughter, Allyson — The Rebel And The King. Turns out Nick Adams had written a manuscript about his time hanging out with Elvis around the time of Love Me Tender (1956).

Allyson discovered it among her dad’s belongings over 40 years later. You can read more about the book’s background here.

Here’s a brief excerpt, concerning Nick, Elvis, Natalie Wood and Delmer Daves’ The Last Wagon (1956) —

“While in Hollywood, Nat, Elvis and I went to see a private showing of my biggest part to date, The Last Wagon, at the Academy Theatre on Melrose Avenue. When my name came on the screen in large letters I started to cry because to me it was something I had worked eight hard years to achieve. For a second, my mind flashed back to all the…

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Walking in Memphis

Roy Turner made this video about my trip to Memphis and Tupelo during Elvis Week 2012 for the book launch of The Rebel & The King by Nick Adams. I hope you enjoy it!

The new, expanded version of The Rebel and The King by Nick Adams can be purchased here and you will receive an autographed copy with an additional Elvis and Nick photograph. Get your copy while they last! The Rebel & The King Official Website

The Destiny of Elvis Presley by Elaine Dundy

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From my earliest visits to Tupelo to research the phenomenon of Elvis who lived there for his first thirteen years I was struck by how may pivotal, positive signal post there were in these formative years. For me the most fateful – the event most determining the course of his early life – took place in the Mississippi-Alabama Fair held every September in Tupelo. It was a time of joy and excitement for the children. Better than Christmas, they said, because it lasted for a whole week…

from Elvis and the Mississippi – Alabama Fair By Elaine Dundy April 7, 2005
(THIS ESSAY APPEARS IN THE NEW EXPANDED EDITION OF The Rebel & The King by Nick Adams, includes 33 photos and an introduction by historian Roy Turner. Published by WaterDancer Press, available on Amazon or signed copy by Allyson Adams can be ordered at http://www.TheRebelAndTheKing.com Buy Book)

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I look at two photos of Elvis when he sang at the fair, first at the age of 10 and second when re returned in triumph 11 years later. And before my eyes is living proof that it is the ugly duckling who turns into a swan. Of his 10 year old self Elvis, grown, would comment casually that he wore glasses, thought he came in firth in the children’s talent contest at the fair, and was sure he got a walloping for going on rides when he was forbidden to. In the photograph there are the eyeglasses alright. More revealing are his clothes. His ill-fitting trousers are obviously hand-me-downs. In fact, he is wearing suspenders to keep them up.

11 years later at 21, Elvis the Swan is Elvis Complete who had become the ecstasy of the teenagers and the agony of their parents. It was all in place: his pompadour and sideburns, his spectacular clothes, his features full formed. The Swan is rocking, rotating, vibrating his body at breakneck speed to the beat of his heart, his golden voice finding new meaning to each song. What’s more his return to the Fair was celebrated as “Elvis Presley Day” and there was even a parade on Main Street.

Before I went to Tupelo I expected Elvis’ first years to be downtrodden and poverty stricken. The truth turned out to be different. By circumstance and temperament Elvis was a go-getter who made his own luck. Of the positive things first on the list was his mother Gladys. The right child had the right parent. Both realized it was Elvis’ talent that would fulfill their desires. Both were forceful dreamers whose needs dovetailed. Intuitively Gladys knew when to hover protectively and when to let him go. She walked him to and from school so he wouldn’t play hooky. But, alone, after school, he would hitch the long mile to the country radio station WELO where he closely watched the performers and learned from them.

Looking back old timers remember Gladys, a beautiful 16 year old dancing a wild Charleston. She had a fine voice, fire, and the instincts of a performer. Recalling her in action they agree, “Elvis got it honest, Gladys had rhythm.” Another inspiration to him was in the singing and sermons at the Holiness Assembly of God Church which the Presleys attended. Further, he joined the Lee County Library, a step almost unheard of for a boy his age. Most significant was the little 5-street section where the Presleys lived whose inhabitants were referred to disparagingly as “Them folks Above-the-Highway”. Yet his tiny impoverished community on the wrong side of the tracks survived by mutually sharing good fortune. The one existing Kodak owned by Elvis’s neighbor, Corene Smith, became the communal camera that everyone used, as did the few privately owned radios on those streets. The community also survived by practicing the art of good manners with an almost ritualized politeness and having an attitude of optimism-in-spite-of-everything. Plainly this formed Elvis’ character in future years when he was known for his generosity and consideration of others. Had Elvis spent his first 13 years in an urban setting, the Presley’s poverty would have been experienced as far more hopeless and humiliating.

There were some down times of course, particularly when Elvis’s father, Vernon, forged a check during the Depression. He was caught and offered to make restitution to Orville Bean, an unforgiving hard-hearted businessman who refused to accept it, which sent Vernon to prison for 9 months. This landlord continued to torment Elvis’ father in all their future transactions. Yet, Elvis emerges from this debacle as head of his family. He becomes the sole breadwinner at the age of 19, calling his parents his “babies.”

Which brings us to the Mississippi – Alabama Fair: How did Elvis get to be entered in the first place? The children were selected from the schools in the area. But at this point Elvis was not known for his voice as were the other aspirants, notably Shirley Jones who, even younger than Elvis, won first place. What happened that day at the fair was that for the first time Elvis sang in public. It was not to a small audience in an obscure nightclub, nor to an invisible one on radio, but for him a live audience, an exhilarating one in a grandstand that seated 2000. It was a turning point for him, a green light that in retrospect made him come back to re-experience the excitement 11 years later.

Interestingly it was Mrs. J. C. Grimes, his strict 5th grade homeroom teacher, who played a major part in launching Elvis. At morning devotions, one day she asked for a volunteer to say a prayer. Elvis rose, said a prayer and without dropping a stitch segued into the ballad, Old Shep, about a boy and his dog. Mrs. Grimes was impressed, “He sang it so sweetly it like to make me cry.” She is quoted as saying. Uncharacteristically softened, she took him to Mr. Cole, the principal, who upon hearing Elvis sing was similarly taken. Thus, Elvis was promptly entered into the contest. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of Mrs. Rime’s encouragement at that moment in Elvis’ life. Not only did she have the honor of being Elvis’ first academic booster but if she had not singled him out, Elvis would not have been entered. Elvis was aware of his debt to Mrs. Grimes and at times would visit her when he returned to Tupelo.

But what lifts the story from being merely an ordinary good deed anecdote, is who Mrs. Grimes was besides his teacher. She was none other than the daughter of Orville Bean, the hard hearted landlord, who virtually put Vernon in prison when Elvis was three and began looking after his mother, comforting her with the words “There, there, my little baby.”

On a deeper level, in helping Elvis Mrs. Grimes put an end to the grim, deadly pattern of what Euripides and Shakespeare decreed as the sins of the father being laid upon the children. In other words, the first generation, Vernon and Orville Bean fell into the roles exploited and exploiter. But in contrast, in the second generation, Vernon’s son and Orville’s daughter, played out the reverse roles of supporter and supported turning it into a true-life morality play; or a part of the universal human comedy; or of the stuff that miracles are made.

Written by Elaine Dundy who is the best selling author of Elvis and Gladys available on Amazon Buy Book

We love you Gladys!

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Gladys Presley, Vernon Presley and Catherine Adamshock. Gladys is holding her dog that Elvis gave her.

One of the things we all love about E.P. is his love for Mamma. Gladys Presley was born on April 25, 1912 and died on August 14, 1958. A very unlucky day for Elvis. RIP Gladys. Her middle name was Love, and we love you Gladys!

EXCERPT from The Rebel & The King by Nick Adams. In this passage Nick tells us what he and Elvis did after they arrived in Memphis.

As we drove Elvis pointed out various points of interest to me. Then he told me about his dog, which died just a short time before and how his folks and he sure missed him. He said, “Nick, keep your eyes peeled for a pet shop. I’m going to buy Mamma and Daddy another dog.”

     Elvis spotted the pet shop before I did. He pulled up in front of the place and we both went in. We went from stall to stall and in each one were the cutest little puppies I’ve ever seen. Elvis finally turned to me and said, “Gee Nick, I don’t know which one to get. They’re all so cute and friendly and I wish I could buy everyone in here and give them all a home.”

     By this time the man who owned the place came over to us and he recognized Elvis (as does everyone no matter where we go) and he said, “Welcome home, Elvis. We sure are proud of you son.”

     Elvis smiled and said, “Thank you sir. I’m interested in buying a puppy for my Mamma and Daddy but they’re all so blamed cute I don’t know which one to pick.”

     The man took us over to one of the stalls near the rear of the store and showed us the cutest litter of puppies you ever laid your eyes on. They were real tiny and sort of blondish, reddish type of hair. The man said that these puppies wouldn’t get much bigger than what they were now and that they were wonderful house dogs.

     Elvis picked up one of them and held him in his arms and the poor little thing was shaking and trembling. Elvis patted the pup gently and said, “The poor little thing is scared stiff. And he looks so lonely and homeless. Golly he’s cute. I’ll take this one, sir. How much do I owe you?”

     Elvis paid for the puppy and held him gently in his arms and put him down on the seat between both of us in the Continental, and away we went.”

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E.P. with Catherine Adamshock (Nick’s mamma) and a puppy, that is not Sweet Pea.

AND HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED

And as we drove home Elvis had a wonderful expression on his face and every now and then he would say, “I can hardly wait to tell Mamma and Daddy about the new furniture, and wait until they see the puppy.”

     It was dark by the time we pulled into the driveway and entered the house. Mrs. Presley was in the kitchen getting supper ready and as Elvis approached her he hid the puppy behind him. He kissed his mother on the cheek and said, “Look what I have for you Mamma,” as he handed her the puppy.

   Mrs. Presley’s pretty face lit up like a neon sign and she said, “Well if that isn’t the cutest little thing I ever laid eyes on.”

     And Elvis stood there and had the greatest smile you ever saw on anyone. Mr. Presley walked into the kitchen and said, “Well whatta you know. That’s the cutest little rascal I ever saw. Where did you get him son?”

     “I bought him for you and Mamma. He was the cutest puppy in the whole shop.” And with that Elvis reached over and petted the pup that was being held very lovingly by Mrs. Presley. It was a beautiful scene watching the three of them standing lovingly around the frightened, trembling little puppy. I couldn’t help but think how I wished that some of these conscience-less reporters and writers could only be there to see what Elvis and his family were really like so that they could see how wrong they were when they printed lies about Elvis and his family.

     “What do you think we should call him, Nick?” asked Mrs. Presley. And I suggested a few names and so did Mr. Presley and Elvis. Finally, Mrs. Presley said, “Golly, he’s so sweet looking and everything, I think we’ll just call him Sweet Pea, because he’s so tiny and sweet.” And that was the way Sweet Pea got his name.” (End of excerpt)

If you haven’t already read ELVIS AND GLADYS by Elaine Dundy, you may want to check it out. Elvis and Gladys by Elaine Dundy available on Amazon

As a tribute to Elvis and Gladys, I will be posting “Elvis and the Mississippi/Alabama Fair”an essay by Elaine Dundy from the new, expanded edition of The Rebel & The King on August 16, 2014. 

Elaine gives us beautiful insight into Elvis’ destiny and the stuff that miracles are made of!

Hope you are having a great Elvis Week!

Love,

Allyson