November 08 - Hal Kanter Died

Hal Kanter, Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, director and producer, has died. He was 92. He directed Elvis Presley in the 1957 movie "Loving You," which Kanter co-wrote; and he wrote the screenplay for Presley's 1961 film "Blue Hawaii."

Interviewed for the Definitive Elvis Documentary, Kanter revealed some nice insights into working with Elvis... 

Kanter: First of all, while we were having dinner at Elvis's house, a rather boisterous gentleman came barging into the living room. That was Colonel Tom Parker. That's when I had met him for the first time. He was on his way to Shreveport where I was going to accompany Elvis for his farewell concert on the Louisiana Hayride. And Elvis was very proud of me, because I was his Hollywood director. He kept introducing me to people as my director from Hollywood, overlooking completely the fact that I was the writer which I was more proud of than being a director, and still am as a matter of fact. 
... We drove at night through Tennessee and into Louisiana and arrived very, very early in the morning at the Shreveport Hotel and tried go get some sleep. 
And I was awakened about maybe 7:30 by hoards of children shouting Elvis's name trying to waking him up. And he finally opened the window in his hotel room and leaned out and said, "Please, let me get some sleep, folks. I'll see you all later." And they quieted down. And I was amazed at that. I never saw anybody control a crowd so effortlessly as he did. 
Anyway, I was wearing a shirt, a black velour shirt that my wife had given me just before I left to go to Memphis. And Elvis admired the shirt. He said, "Where did you get that?" And I said, "Do you like it?" And he says, "Oh, I like it very much." I said, "I'll give you this one." So we changed shirts. I took my shirt off and gave it to him. He couldn't believe that I had given him that shirt. He was so proud of that black velour shirt. And so I got another shirt and went about our business. When he showed up in Hollywood several weeks later to start rehearsing the show, he was wearing that shirt. And I said to him, "That's a good looking shirt you're wearing there, Elvis. Where did you get that?" He said, "Well, some fan gave it to me!" 
Anyway, early in the next morning, I went to the Shreveport Fairgrounds where he was to perform that evening. And Bill Black had drove me there. And I picked up a couple of things that I had made notes of and later incorporated into the film itself. 

What do you think it is about Elvis that keeps fans loving him? 
Kanter: I think that, first of all, Elvis was a very unique talent. I had completely misjudged him at first. I think most people my age misjudged him. He was uniquely original talent, because he combined all of the best of Black music and all of the best of Country music. And as a result, he was unique. He was just unusual. You can't forget him. Once you are exposed to his music, it's very hard to forget the man himself. I found his music was unique, unique and original. He was an original man, even though a lot of his originality is eclectic because he took from here and took from this and took from this that. I don't think that he was aware of the fact that it was taken from other people. It was something inborn, something so genuinely lyrical about the man that once you hear him and once you pay attention to him, you're not going to forget him. And I think that also here's a good actor. And I think that given time and given better scripts and more retention and less reliance on money and on lyrics and on singing, he could have been a superb motion picture actor. He could have done a lot of other things that he was never able to do under the thumbs of Tom Parker. 

Results of Michaan's Elvis Auction
Is it the economic crisis that kept the bids at last Sunday's Michaan's Elvis Auction rather low? Here are a few results: prescription eye glasses (5850 $US), a hand written letter by Elvis (8190 $US) and the movie script for Spinout with a signed picture (1872). Kid Galahad Boxing Gloves sold for $ 10455, Frankie & Johnny movie pants $7380, IC Costume Paisley Shirt with Letter from Uncle Vester $6765, Elvis Presley 1967 Dental Chart from Palm Springs with 3 X-Rays & Case History in Elvis' Hand Writing & 2 Photos $11685. IC Custom Red Shirt Worn by Elvis with Photos & Letter $7995.

(Source: Elvis Information Network / ElvisMatters)

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