WHEN WE MET, PART 4c
This odd and unusual request of Elvis' took a back seat to much ado in between shows that night. John introducing me to more fans, friends he had coming to the next show that he was escorting to the showroom in hopes of getting them good seats, (which I would soon be doing almost every night for the years to come when booked here) then trying to grab a bite to eat... if we had time. I returned backstage to find people from management of the Hotel/Casino extending a "welcome" greeting to me. (Remember, it was still the "INTERNATIONAL" hotel and didn't become the "HILTON" for another year.) Also, members of the hotel's orchestra, at that time the BOBBY MORRIS ORCHESTRA, asked me if I could possibly get an autographed photo from Elvis for them. I found out that night from Charlie that this was impossible.
"If we do it for one, we'd have to do it for everybody, Kathy. You'll understand this in a day or two!" and boy... DID I! The requests were endless, and it was very frustrating to say that it was impossible."
I was just getting off the elevator stage left and behind the stage attempting to allow my eyes to adjust to the darkness there, when from the other side I could hear what sounded like beads slapping metal, someone almost running, and perhaps wheels rolling on the floor. From a distance I could barely make out movement headed my way. I heard a woman's voice urging, "Faster, faster!" and I soon caught the image of a wheelchair, with none other than Elvis himself pushing her as fast as he could go.
"Kathy! Hold up! Hold up! Wait! I've got somebody I want you to meet! " he sputtered, slightly winded.
"This is my grandmother, Dodger."
"Dodger, this is Kathy," he beamed a huge smile.
Dodger won me over immediately with her smile and extended her hand to shake mine as she said, "Happy to meet you! I've heard a lot about you."
"You'll get to hear her sing tonight!" Elvis chimed.
"Yes, I'm looking forward to it," she politely replied with a smile.
"We'd better go now, Dodger, so we can get you seated," Elvis said, as he winked at me and rolled her out to make sure she was placed in her seat for the show.
"How sweet", I thought to myself. He obviously adored his grandmother, Dodger, and was wheeling her out front himself. I also was astounded that she was attending the Midnight Show... at her age!
After that show the entire huge hallway backstage was filled with more people than I had witnessed so far. As I was exiting my dressing room after changing and working my way through bodies of people, intending to head upstairs, someone grabbed my left arm out of a huge crowd.
It was Elvis and he began introducing me to the wives of the men who worked with him, and to Priscilla as she came out of his dressing room area with a few other people.
"This is my wife, Priscilla". She was beautiful, and fashionably dressed, and I smiled and extended my hand to shake hers, saying, "Very nice to meet you."
Now... As I look back on this, I fully understand why she didn't respond in a friendly manner to me. I did NOT understand why... at that moment.
"Hmmm..." I was thinking as I turned to go upstairs.
"That's odd. Something must be wrong or she was disturbed, I felt. Elvis was standing directly behind me, so when I spun around to leave, his eyes were ogled wide and he uttered a slightly nervous laugh as he smiled in a less-than-normal way.
I rushed upstairs to meet John again,hoping we could get dinner in any of the hotel restaurants without a very long wait. We accomplished our mission, and planned to have dinner earlier the next night to avoid the crowds altogether if we could. We were to meet at 5:00 p.m. before the first show.
I waited and waited for John to call, and... NO JOHN. I tried calling him and NO ANSWER. "I hope he's alright!" This was just not like him!
I went ahead and ate dinner and just thought perhaps he had forgotten we had planned to meet early this time.
Before the 8:00 show, John didn't come out onstage early enough for me to ask him what had happened to him, and he was obviously not making eye contact with me. Wow! "I do believe I've been stood up! Sure wish I knew why!" I pondered.
He also disappeared quickly between shows. After the midnight show he disappeared again! As I searched for him in the hallways to find out what may have possibly happened to him, Sonny West came up to me and offered an invitation to a get-together up in the suite. Remember Millie's words of advice to me as she left? (See previous articles) "If you get a chance to go up to the suite, make sure you do, it's like a movie set up there! So be sure and attend."
Her words were loudly ringing in my ears, as Sonny said, Elvis is having a party upstairs tonight, and he'd like for you to come up", Followed veryquickly by, "He just wants to get to know you as a friend." As I couldn't locate John and I recalled Millie's words of advice, I agreed I'd be there.
"Well, this is a good opportunity to get to know everybody in the group in a social gathering."And, of course, it was my employer inviting me, so it was a "Better make a brief showing at this anyway" moment. Every entertainer has one or two of these during their engagements (usually opening nights and closing nights) and it is a good thing to show up and say "hello" to everyone in the cast... especially to your boss. I was aware that Elvis invited people up every night, which was highly unusual, but he did have so many friends and stars who were his peers attending every show that it made sense to me.
I arrived for the first time on the 30th floor, was greeted by a security guard who forever held this post alone, with a book opened with names of invited guests.
He opened the doors to the suite, and as I entered and glanced around the room, it was just as Millie had told me. Just beautiful. A magnificent view of Vegas in all of its "lit-up" glory struck me first, as I faced far across the room, a very large glass window overlooking a huge terrace and a twinkling panorama of the desert that went on for miles. The lights of this city were overwhelming (powered by Hoover Dam) and one could see for at least a hundred miles in the crisp, clear air.
I passed a fully equipped bar on the left that a few were gathered around, and began taking in the luxurious chandeliers, the gold, yellow and black decor, and taking note of a dining room, adjoining a quite large kitchen in the suite.
Elvis had not arrived yet, and as I looked around, I noticed a small gold/brass plaque sitting over on the far end of this large room. It was engraved, "I Never Knew A Guitar Player That Was Worth a Damn", signed Vernon Elvis Presley (his father's middle name was Elvis), Elvis' father. I came to find out later, Elvis carried this everywhere he went, placing it in almost evey hotel room he occupied for the next seven years.
I finally located a spot on the black sofa opposite the front doors and began talking with a few of the 12 to 15 women seated on the plush carpet in front of me. They were some of the most gorgeous girls/women, one would ever see... very glamorous. They began asking me, "What's he like?" A good beginning, but here I am... over 43 years later... still attempting to paint a picture of him. (This is ALL YOUR FAULT, FACEBOOK... I say this laughingly to all my Facebook Friends here. You know... I spent years trying not to even think about this, much less discuss it,yet... LOL! How can I just type "Oh, he was Great!" and expect anyone to "get the picture".
Back to the gorgeous girls waiting to meet Elvis and my response... "I don't know him, really. I just started working with him a few days ago! He seems nice, though." I was also wondering, "Where is everybody, where is the entire cast?" when Elvis made his grand entrance.
Elvis opened the suite's front doors and took that room over in a "whoosh". He looked dashing in a dark blue/black velvet suit, laced up the front over his chest. He made his way through the crowd greeting every person and smiling brightly. Then he waded through the beautiful girls sitting on the floor in front of me, saying "Hello", and sat down on the sofa next to me on the far right end of it just a little too close. He put his arm around me and my shoulder instantly as I went into some sort of shock. The girls had just asked me what he was like, and I said I didn't know, and here he was acting as if we were going together or something? I found myself asking myself again, "Who IS this guy! I never, never had any hint... No clue! I just thought he was a friendly people person!"
Their eyes got huge, they began to giggle, some placing their hands over their mouths in their attempts to keep from laughing. Laughing At Me!
I wanted to Run... to exit... stage left... stage right... up, down, anywhere. I didn't want to embarrass him, but I Was Embarrassed and extremely uncomfortable.
I scooted over to my left to move away from him... he moved closer to me. This occurred over and over within a second until I ran out of "runway".
He whispered in my ear, "I'm glad you could come". This is a most hilarious comment to me now, as I was soon to find out that he had talked to John that afternoon, and gotten the green light to see me. Yes, I was soon to find out why John hadn't shown up. Elvis had met with him and asked him how serious we were, and John assured him we were just hanging out, going to dinner, and that it was fine with him if Elvis wanted to... ahem... "get to know me".
To Be Continued: Our first conversation alone.