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 Charlie Hodge Interview (Hollywood), Part 2 of 3
 
Steve
post Jun 3 2010, 05:44 PM
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Charlie Hodge Interview (Hollywood)

Q : What films do you think Elvis really enjoyed making after he came back from the army?
A : Well, I remember once in 'Charro', which is one of the movies he didn't sing in, and we were back off location, and we were in the studio. And they had the house sitting there. And they were setting up the scene. And Elvis was standing over at the end of the porch. And I walked over there. And he looked down. And he says, "Charlie, I'm beginning to feel like this character". So, the depth was there for Elvis to do some serious acting. But what they were giving him were actually B musicals.

Q : Did Elvis tell you what type of film he really wanted to do?

A : Well, you can't say that, what kind of picture he wanted to do, he would have to, like anyone else, see the script and then see if it's good. You know, and somebody would bring him maybe something. But everything had to go through the Colonel to bring him anything. And the Colonel... In fact, I'll tell you what. I did the Dick Clark movie with Kurt Russell. And Shelley Winters played his mother in that film. And she said she saw Elvis's test, and heard Hal Wallis talking to Colonel Parker. And he said, "Colonel, we think Elvis can do some really serious acting". And this is Hal Wallis, the producer, unless you want to keep doing these B musicals. And the Colonel supposedly said, "Well, these musicals is what's making us money. So, we'll just do them". And Elvis was never consulted about it. Now, that's what Shelley told me on the set when we were doing that.

Q : I'd like to talk about a couple of locations. 'Blue Hawaii'. How was it when you guys went over there?

A : I didn't go. I was in Vegas that time working in Nevada. Now, I helped them do the soundtrack. And then I had to go in Nevada and work. And the guys all went to Hawaii. And then when they came back, Red and I were renting a house together at the time. And I know he invited everybody over from there, and we had kind of a luau there at the house Red and us had rented down in Hollywood.



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Steve
post Jun 3 2010, 05:45 PM
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Q : Did you have a favorite film to work on with Elvis?

A : Well, we had a lot of fun on a lot of films. I mean, in between Elvis being in a scene or something, again, we'd have water battles. And we'd do things in order to shoot firecrackers, something like that. I remember once when Elvis was doing some movie, and we started this water battle and everything. And I was standing around the end of the trailer. Elvis had a dressing room trailer that they pull from different locations. And I was standing there waiting for somebody to come out. Well, Red West had taken two buckets of water and crawled to the top of that studio. And I'm sitting there waiting. And all of the sudden, a bucket of water hit me right all over my head. And when I looked up, the second one got me right in the face. And then I went to wardrobe and got a dry shirt. And I hung my shirt up. And I went over there about 30 minutes later, it was still ringing wet. And we broke for lunch. And when we come back after lunch, it was still soaking wet. Well, I went around. About an hour later I come, it's still soaking wet. Well, this time I shot around the trailer, and I stopped and looked back where my shirt was hanging. And Elvis had one of these pumps, you know, that they use to keep the greenery looking good on the set. They keep it wet so it looks real and everything. Every time I'd walk away, he's go pump it up and drown my shirt again. So, it was him keeping it wet all the time. But that's the type of thing we'd do just for fun.

Q : When was the pie fight?

A : Yeah. We were doing something and on a picture one time. And we had this director that Elvis didn't really care for. Because he could sit and do his jokes with his cronies, so to speak. But Elvis would be cutting up and come over, You know, we're trying to do a picture here. And I think that's when Elvis said, "Look, the only reason I do these pictures, as silly as they are, is to have some fun. The day I can't have any fun, You won't be working". Because Elvis, in the 60's, honest to God, kept Hollywood alive. Everyone else was shooting their pictures outside this country in different locations and everything. And Hollywood was hurting. They had movies. And Elvis was the only one that wasn't leaving town. He was doing movies right in Hollywood.

Q : What were Elvis's favorite co-stars like Ann-Margret and Shelley Fabares?

A : Shelley Fabares I think was probably his favorite star. I mean, I seen them just start a scene sometime, and Elvis would be singing. And there would be a P in the song (Puppet On A String). And when he'd say the P in the song, her hair would go... And they got to laughing. And Norman Taurog, Elvis's favorite director, by the way, just sent them home. He said, "We'll shoot around you. Go home". And they came back the next day and finally got it shot. But loved doing things with Shelley. He loved, like when we did the movie with Frank Sinatra's daughter, Nancy, Elvis was a lot of fun. Yeah. That was a lot of fun. He did with Bill Bixby, you know, we did the country movies with him. And that was so much fun, you know, because Bixby said that what he did on 'My Favorite Martian', used to, like as soon as the scenes over, they grabbed their bicycles and just leave the set and get away from it, you know. and the things we were doing were the things that were break to relax you while you're waiting for them to set up. Because sometimes it would be 45 minutes or an hour before they'd get the scene set to shoot again. It's only three minutes long.

Q : What about 'Stay Away, Joe'?

A : We used to get like $29 a day being an extra. But if one of the stars touch you, you got $100 that day. And not only that, they pushed me of to the thing, and then one of them poured a beer over me. So, I got a wet check on top of that. I want to tell you this though. Because all the guys had become extras except me. And Elvis said you got to get you an extra card. And this is when I'd come back full time after I'd stopped working with Wakely. So, I go down, join the union, get my extra card and everything.

And I'm in this scene. And I'm playing piano. And Elvis sings (We'll Be Together) in Spanish. Which, by the way, he had me go learn it phonetically. And then when he was in make-up in the mornings, I would do everything phonetically for him to learn it for the picture. So then, I started cutting up because my backs to the camera. And I'm playing... And Elvis is singing, Un dos des remos siempre por siempre. And I'm singing like Louis Armstrong, Un dos des remos... And if you watch that scene, they cut it all to pieces. Because Elvis would be doing something, and they had bust out laughing. Well then, they'd have to cut and set it up for another angle. And the same thing, he never did tell them... And he'd bust out laughing again. He never did tell the director what was causing him to break up. But it was me just sitting there having fun, you know. At the end of that scene, he stood up and he went ha-ha, but you can't hear it. Because I stood up, and I said, "My, my, Mr. Elvis, that certainly was nice".



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Steve
post Jun 3 2010, 05:46 PM
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Q : That was at Paramount then.

A : Yeah, well we liked to have fun on the sets. And like I said, I'd been in front of television before and then if trying to make movies is this easy shoot I was going to have some fun.

Q : Do you remember celebrities like Pat Boone and Johnny Mathis coming to visit Elvis?

A : Yeah. Well, in fact, I've really known Pat Boone longer than I have Elvis. Because he married Red Foley's daughter. And I used to date Red Foley's youngest daughter. So, me and Pat Boone could have been brother-in-laws. But I've known Pat that long. Yes, he liked Pat and like the singing. It's a different style and everything. But Pat had a nice living, and he was a nice man.

Q : I wanted a little line on Pat and Elvis.

A : Well, I like went down to Warner a couple of times to Pat's house. And they invited me to have with them. And so, I knew the girls when they were just babies. But I had met them before. I know we did... We were in Berea, Kentucky, Red Foley's home town. And Pat was there for the solo too. So, I had been around Pat and worked some with him.

Q : What did Elvis think of Hollywood?

A : Well, I think that he thought there's a lot of phonies there, because that's the reason he wanted his friends around him. When he started back shooting again in movies and everything, he wanted all the fellows to become extras.

Q : Did Elvis and you guys get out some in those days?

A : I remember one time Red West told us about a club out in... which became famous later. They shot a lot of movies, the Palomino Club. And the first night we went out there, and we pulled up there, two or three guys come rolling out the front like that, you know. We said, "Oh-oh, it's a fight". We just cranked up and left there. Now, later on, there was a place that we used to go down called the Red Velvet. And we knew the people who owned it. And Elvis didn't go down there, but all the guys used to go down there. It was a place for them to go relax where they could feel safe too. You know, like I said, it was in those days the Palomino and out in that area was a very rough area. Later on, it became a little more modern and everything. And a lot of big stars started playing there. In fact, that's where I met James Burton. Because I used to go out there and sit in sometime and sing or do a comedy. And Glen D. Hardin there, the house piano player. And James would come out there and sit in, because he was working with Ricky Nelson then. And so, it worked out good, because when Elvis came time for us to go to Vegas and everything, I remember Lamar Fike, he was so serious, man. He said, "Who in the heck is Elvis going to get on guitar, because Scotty doesn't even play anymore?" I said, "James Burton". And he turned, and he said, "You're right". And that's what happened. That's how that thing started.

Because I was going to Reno and Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe working for Harrah's Club. And I was learning pacing a show. I didn't realize that at the time. When it came time for Elvis to start in Vegas again, I had the experience of laying out our shows. And we talked through what we should do on each number and everything. And just my experience on the road with Jimmy Wakely gave me what I needed to do for Elvis later. I've said this before to people. I said, God put me... He let me do what I wanted to do when I first started, which was in gospel quartet. Then he put me where he wanted me. Because there I was in the military, and then I'm with Elvis in Hollywood. And then I'm with Wakely in the Nevada circuit learning pacing, timing and all that which became Elvis's show.
"How are going to finish a show like this?" Elvis said one day during rehearsal.
"It would be beautiful - and different - if you ended with a ballad like 'Can't Help Falling In Love,'" I said. "Then into a hard rock walk-off with a vamp. That way, they'll never know you ended a concert on a ballad."
"That's different, all right," Elvis said.
"Can't Help Falling In Love" became his signature song, the one he ended on, and he never changed it.
I remembered Jimmy Wakely ending his show on a ballad like that, sometimes. It was beautiful and now it was a part of Elvis.


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Steve
post Jun 3 2010, 05:48 PM
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(IMG:http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~presley/jpg2/CharlieHodge-5.jpg)


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Memphis-Man
post Jun 10 2010, 02:19 AM
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Great stuff to read, Steve. THANK YOU so much for posting this.
I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Hodge in the late 1970's. What a kind, gracious man he was.

M-M


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