In today’s society many, if not most, celebrities are extremely vocal about their political views. Sometimes, annoyingly so. Elvis, however, managed to keep his political views private. He only wanted to entertain and refused to be drawn into controversial topics, such as politics. Here is a brief excerpt from a 1972 Madison Square Garden interview:
Q: Mr Presley, as you’ve mentioned your time in the service, what is your opinion of war protesters and would you today refuse to be drafted?
Elvis: Honey, I’d just sooner keep my own personal views about that to myself cause I’m just an entertainer and I’d rather not say.
Q: Do you think other entertainers should refuse to be drafted?
Elvis: No, I can’t even say that.
Side note: A few days ago on Elvis radio, I heard a brief clip from a concert where Elvis was about to sing ‘Just Pretend.’ He said it was a new song coming out, and something to the effect of, ‘It will be released in…January, 1979.’ 🙁 He had no idea he wouldn’t live to see January, 1979. That really struck a cord with me, made me a bit emotional. Just thought I’d share.
Back to Elvis and politics… Elvis got his start in the 50’s, just after the McCarthy hearings which landed a lot of celebrities in trouble. I’m sure he felt it best to remain cautious and private about his views. Some of his close friends claim he was conservative. That may be true. Regardless, I respect him for keeping that part of his life separate. He did it quite successfully, too. Sure, he accepted an award from President Nixon, and he was friends with then Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, but neither of those speak to his political affiliation. Some of my close friends don’t share my views. (We can’t all be right, now can we? :))
In the below article from 1956, Barton Hickman slams Elvis and calls him stupid for not knowing what was going on. Elvis was only 21 years old at the time. His career was exploding and his life was a whirlwind. He simply didn’t have time or interest in news of current events. Elvis, however, was quite intelligent and in the years following, would become a voracious reader thirsty for knowledge.
In a World Of His Own
By Barton Hickman
Don´t think Elvis Presley is just putting on an act.
He really is that “stupid” about what´s going on in the world.
Last week the Andrea Doria sank in the worst sea disaster since the Titanic went down 40 years ago. Presley never heard of the Andrea Doria.
Last week Egypt´s Premier Nasser grabbed the Suez Canal in a move that could touch off World War III. Presley´s comment: Suez? Man, you´re talking French to me now.
Elvis Presley is 21, his draft status is 1-A, and world events are racing to a possible climax. Yet he is not aware of them.
In a round-robin interview with my colleagues, Elvis engaged in animated conversation as long as the subject was rock-and-roll music or sex in its many xxxxxties. But whenever I asked a question his face fell, he turned with a blank stare and an artless reply.
Elvis Presley shows somewhat less than mastery of the double-entendre – or any other conversational gambit. The Democratic National Convention opens in little more than a week. Does Presley think Stevenson is sure to be nominated because of Kefauver´s withdrawel?
“Well. . . maybe. I keep pretty busy. I don´t hardly ever get a chance to read the newspapers any more.”
About the Stockholm Andrea Doria sea disaster.
“Well, all I heard was there was a boat wreck. . .” Do you know which boat went down?
MAYBE WE can get the conversation on other ground. You´re interested in clothes. (He was wearing narrow-ankle trousers, black flecked with silver, and a solid color sports jacket in a very bright shade of rose wine.) What do you think about the new Empire waistline?
“Empire waistline? Let´s see, ahh. . . What does that mean? Is it a tight waistline?”
WELL, maybe we ought to get over into your field. How about music?
“Oh, I like Music. I like all kinds of music.”
How about instrumentalists?
You play the guitar yourself.
What do you think of Pablo Casals, the world´s greatest cellist?
“Xxxxxx xxx xxxxx never heard of him. . . Ah, well, you see, I really don´t play the guitar. I just sort of beat it.”
I see. But you like all kinds of music. How about the classics? What are your favorites?
“Well, I like Kathryn Grayson, and there´s Mario Lanza.”
Ah, what I meant was, among the classics, what for instance is your favorite operatic work?
“Oh. “Only Make-Believe” is my favorite.”
A few of his fans think his disregard for life´s other details beyond sex and rhythm is just a hilarious act dreamed up by his press agent.
Believe me, it isn´t. Nobody could act that well.
You know, articles like this don’t even make me angry. I find it interesting the way Elvis was constantly slammed in the media in his early years, yet he kept going, kept performing, and attained success that no other artist had before, or since, or ever will. Yes, he focused on what he did best–entertaining. And he certainly, indisputably, mastered that.
Elvis was known for his giving heart and charitable work during his lifetime. Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley Enterprises have continued that tradition with their involvement in various charities. In 1984, The Elvis Charitable Foundation was formed. The EPCF created a scholarship fund for students majoring in the arts. The charity also contributes to one of Elvis’ favorite charities, Goodwill Homes, a Memphis facility that provides counseling and services for abused children and their families. The EPCF also assists numerous other charities, especially focusing on arts, education and children’s programs.
Learn more here, including how to donate:
END OF LONELY STREET – Now Only 99 Cents!
On Elvis’ birthday this year, I released a Vintage Romance short story set in 1957, and of course, my heroine is an Elvis fan. 🙂 As a tribute to Elvis’ generosity, and in order to assist with this worthy cause, 10% of my proceeds for End of Lonely Street will go to the EPCF.
All Toby Lawson wants is to go to college to become a teacher and to be free of her alcoholic mother and some painful memories. But when her mother nearly burns the house down, Toby must put her dreams on hold and return home to care for her. The only time she isn’t lonely and miserable is when she’s listening to her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. His music takes her away and helps her escape from everything wrong in her life.
Noah Rivers has always loved Toby, but no matter what he says, she can‘t get past the fact that her drunken mother once kissed him. He soon realizes the true problem lies in Toby’s belief she’s not good enough for him and in her fear she will be just like her mother.
What will it take to prove to her that she deserves to be happy, and that he would give anything to be the man to make her dreams come true?