A throng greets Elvis Presley to get his autograph on a brief stopover in Chicago. The unidentified lady with the happy smile got her autograph. With Presley are Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Day.
Elvis Presley Photographed, Mobbed
- But Acts the Gentleman.
By JOSEPH E. DAY
Tiimes Photo Chief
It all happened this way: I hadn´t planned it; it wasn´t assigned to me; it just happened. That´s all.
And girls, you should have been there. It was Saturday night, March 18, at about 21:00 hours. (That´s military talk for 9 p.m.) I was covering the big Leyden Township Democratic dinner and dance for my newspaper.
I had taken a number of photos of some of the candidates who are aspiring to political office. I was about to retire from the scene when one of my secret agents who keep me posted about celebrities in town came over and loudly whispered in my ear that "Elvis Presley is on the premises of the O´Hare Inn. Want to interview and photograph him?"
I missed Elvis about a month ago, so, not wanting to miss a beat the second time, I hurried after my informant to the appointed rendezvous. Some 3.000 persons had gathered at Inn and I had all I could do to follow my informant. It was my impression that my informant wanted some specific person in the picture. Since our paper covers specific areas, it was important to get some individual in the photo from our area.
It was like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Finally I hit upon getting my son, Bob, and his wife in the picture. I remembered they were dining at O´Hare Inn. To get to their table was next too impossible. It´s a miracle how the waiters get through. So . . . I shouted across a couple of tables to my son to bring Elizabeth, his wife, out into the lobby so that I could photograph them with Elvis Presley.
This, I soon learned, was a bad mistake. Several women seated at nearby tables overheard the remark. When I turned my head to see if Bob and Elizabeth were following me, I found about 300 women and their escorts right on my heels. Talk about word-of-mouth advertising! There is no better.
I started with just two people to whom I addressed the remark and in about three minutes I had recruited about 300 women plus their escorts. The crowd began to close in on me real fast. I rushed up to Elvis, and got his permission to snap a photo of him with Bob and Elizabeth. But the mob was not to be restrained. They closed in on me and Elvis. My coat was torn off my back and I had to beat a hasty retreat before they broke my camera.
The male species stood by to see what type of individual this man really was. Some made snide remarks which could be heard by Elvis. Those he ignored completely. And it is common knowledge that while he put in his stint in the service without a murmur, he did take up Judo and got to be quite an expert at it. He is a tall, good looking, strapping man who coould handle himself easily in a fight. Yet, he was gentleman enough to ignore all these snide remarks and go about the business of signing the hundreds of autograph seekers´ books and papers.
Fortunately for me, I had learned a few tricks in the Marines and I assaulted the line again and got some fine action shots of Elvis signing autographs. I also got about three minutes of what you might call a summit conference interview.
Since his release from the Army, Elvis has inished his second film, "The Flaming Star." He was going cross country and this was his stopping place enroute. He wanted to stop at the O´Hare Inn because it was convenient, he had privacy and here could catch a cat nap. He had had only about four hours sleep on the plane and although he looked "bushed" he was amiable and cooperative.
When I asked to photograph him, he apologized for his appearance. He did not wear a tie; his shirt was open at the neck; his face was haggard and drawn and the only thing he had to say was "I´m a little bit bushed. Tell me what you want me to do and I´ll do it." It was just that simple. No grandiose plays about this man. And, if he is subjected to this type of abuse by the public he certainly has wonderful self discipline and a good sense of humor.
The average individual would have said "deliver me from this!" Elvis made no effort to impress us with his stardom. In the total time of 15 minutes my son and Elizabeth had to talk to him, he made a lasting impression upon us. If this is an example of what a star should be like, then we´re all for him.
One woman came up to him and boldly asked for a kiss. At first he said, "this is no place for that!" She chided him for the remark and dared him to kiss her on the cheek. He apologized to us and obliged the lady with a kiss on the cheek. She walked out of the crowd and disappeared in the night. We never did see her again to get her reaction to the kiss. She seemed to be walking on air as she left.
As the father of four sons, Elvis has left me with this impression. I wish my kids could sing and act like that boy does. He just walks to the bank with his money...or should I say drives to the bank in one of four Cadillacs.
In all seriousness, this boy is O-K as far as I am concerned. He acted like a gentleman and he is one. He could do no wrong, and that´s a wonderful way to leave your public.