'Memphis Mafia' member breaks silence on Elvis

August 20, 1992|By New York Daily News

A member of Elvis Presley's "Memphis Mafia" confirms in a new book that the King of Rock 'n' Roll liked to videotape nubile girls fighting in white panties.

He also had a fondness for peeping through two-way mirrors, though he couldn't interest Tuesday Weld.

Then there was the time his hairdresser gave him a pile of books on the occult and Elvis started referring to himself as a "divine messenger" and singing "What a Friend We Have in Elvis."

And the time he decided to ensure an unlimited flow of Dexamil, Dexedrine, Placidyl, Valium, Percodan, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal and Demerol for himself and his staff by buying a drugstore.

But this did not make him a bad person, says Alan Fortas in his new Popular Culture Ink book, "Elvis: From Memphis to Hollywood." It made him a man with the responsibilities of a legend and the insecurities of a child.

Elvis liked teen-age girls not because he was a dirty old man, Mr. Fortas writes, but because he never moved past that age himself.

Mr. Fortas is the nephew of former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas. He joined the Presley entourage around 1957 and stayed until 1969, keeping Elvis company.

Mr. Fortas suggests Presley was victimized by success. He achieved goals so easily that he ran out of challenges.

Fidelity was not Presley's long suit, Mr. Fortas writes -- and right until he married Priscilla in 1967, he led Ann-Margret to believe he would marry her.

Ann-Margret often called Graceland under the code name Bunny, Mr. Fortas reports.

Elvis also dated Natalie Wood, who remarked that he could sing, "but he can't do much else." Miss Weld dated him despite the mirror.

All those dreadful movies, Mr. Fortas writes, contributed to Elvis' decline. He wanted the challenge of real movies and was offered "West Side Story," "Midnight Cowboy," "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "A Star Is Born."

His manager, Col. Tom Parker, turned them down, insisting that Elvis stay with the silly songs formula.

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