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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Guest Panel Remembers Elvis Presley
Aired August 19, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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ELVIS PRESLEY, ENTERTAINER: (SINGING "JAILHOUSE ROCK")
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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, intimate stories of an American legend with friends and family who saw it all up close. From the good times to the drug addictions, right up to the tragic end.
With us, Joe Esposito, Elvis Presley's closest friend and confident. Best man at his and Priscilla's wedding. David Stanley, Elvis' stepbrother at Graceland the day he died. Rick Stanley, another stepbrother, and one of the last people to speak with Elvis before his death. And Barbara Eden, Elvis' co-star in the movies "Flaming Star." We'll share private personal memories with the one, the only Elvis, next. On LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Twenty-seven-years-ago, August 16th, 1977, the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Aaron Presley, was found dead at Graceland in Memphis. He was 42-years-old.
Joining us to celebrate the life and legend that was Elvis here in Los Angeles, Joe Esposito, he was Elvis Presley's closest friend and confident. Best man at the wedding of Elvis and Priscilla.
In Dallas is David Stanley, Elvis' stepbrother who was at Graceland the day Elvis passed away.
Here with us Rick Stanley, Elvis' stepbrother one of the last people to speak with Elvis before he died.
Also here in Los Angeles is Barbara Eden, who co-stared with Elvis in the 1960s film "Flaming Star."
Pamela Clarke Keough, is with us, author of a new book, "Elivs: The Man, The Life the Legend."
Where were you, Joe, when he died?
JOE ESPOSITO, ELVIS PRESLEY'S BEST FRIEND: I was there at Graceland on August 16th. We were getting ready to go out on tour that evening, and that's when the call came from upstairs.
KING: He died in the bathroom, right?
KING: Any sign that he was feeling bad?
ESPOSITO: No. I talked to him -- I saw him the night before. I saw him probably about 10 hours before we found him. Yes he was doing good. He played a little racquetball that the night before. But apparently, his heart just stopped.
KING: Where were you, David?
DAVID STANLEY, STEP-BROTHER OF ELVIS PRESLEY: I was at Graceland that afternoon. Like Joe said, we were going on tour that night. We were leaving for Portland, Oregon. I was downstairs in the pool room when a friend of Lisa Marie's, Amber, came into the room and said that Elvis was sick. I had a friend of mine with me and I ran him down to the gate across the street to his house.
When I came back up there was an ambulance coming up the driveway. It went to the front of the house. I went around back. Up the steps I went and Joe and some others had already found Elvis and was rolling him over. And of course it was a sight that I'll never forget. It was a horrible day. But that's where I was on that day.
KING: Lisa Marie was what 9, 10-years-old?
D. STANLEY: She was 9-years-old. She was in for the summer, you know, visiting. She came in from time to time. And she had a little friend named, Amber. Ginger Alden was Elvis' girlfriend at the time and Amber was part of her family. And they were just hanging out. Just a normal day at Graceland. And you know, of course, that was terribly interruptive.
KING: And where were you, Rick?
RICK STANLEY, STEP-BROTHER OF ELVIS: I was actually there. I had earlier in the evening, I had gone out to pick up a prescription for him, he'd been to the dentist's office. I went and picked up the prescription. Went upstairs to talk with him for awhile. Then I had a lengthy conversation with a young lady, and went back upstairs a couple hours later, we sat and talked about the tour. He was a little concerned about what's called the bodyguard book that was coming out. And we talked about that.
KING: The former bodyguard was about -- about a book about him.
R. STANLEY: Yes. Reveal to the public some of his private life. He was a little concerned. But his health was great. He didn't seem to be too bummed out. I talked with him. Joe said to me, wake him up at such and such time. And when I left him, it was kind of code. When he'd say, Ricky I don't want to be bothered, that meant he was going to spend some time with Ginger. He did not want to be bothered or interrupted. So I was there, and I said good night. And then, eight hours later, unfortunately, the heart attack and the medication.
KING: Barbara, how did you hear about it?
BARBARA EDEN, ENTERTAINER: I was on a movie set, and it sort of spread around the crew, and to us. And I didn't believe it at first. I actually, I don't think I believed it until I got home and saw it on the news.
KING: Because he was so alive to you?
EDEN: Yes, yes. And so young.
KING: The movie you did with him was in 1960, had to have been one of his first films.
EDEN: Yes, it was. It was. We spent a lot of time talking on the set. A lot of it was about this girl he'd met in Germany. And he just didn't know what to do about her, because he really wanted to be married but he wasn't sure it was right in our field. And how did I -- because at the time I was married.
KING: He'd just gotten out of the army?
EDEN: Yes. Yes, he had.
KING: Did you have any relations with him?
EDEN: Of course not.
KING: Eden, what do you mean of course not. You were gorgeous, he was nice...
EDEN: I was married. I was married.
KING: That really mattered, Elvis, right.
EDEN: Yes, it did. Yes, it did. He was a gentleman. Yes, indeed and had great respect for Michael Ansara.
KING: I'm only kidding. I never heard a bad thing about Elvis Presley. Never heard -- Pamela, of course, how old were you when he died?
PAMELA CLARKE KEOUGH, AUTHOR: I have no memory. We were one of five kids and my father claims he came home that night and said, you know, the king has died. And we all looked and we didn't know what he was talking about.
KING: How did you come to write this book?
KEOUGH: My first book was a biography of Audrey Hepburn and then I did Jacqueline Onassis. And then I got tired of perfection, flawless discipline style of those great women. I said I'm going south. I'm going down town. And I wrote a book about rock 'n' roll, and men and ambition, desire, money, power. That's what I did.
KING: And how did that led to Elvis?
KEOUGH: Well, of course, if you're going to write about that, you've got to write about Elvis.
KING: Was it a difficult write?
KEOUGH: It was extremely challenging because the tone was completely different. It was -- I mean, Elvis to me, the story of Elvis Presley is the story of this country, with his contradictions, his generosity. the ups and downs. I mean, his life was really like an opera
KING: How did you get to know him, Joe?
ESPOSITO: Well, I was in the army with him. I got drafted into the service the same time he did, and met him over in Germany. Just became friends. I knew when I met him, that I liked this man. There was something -- there's a warmth about him that anybody that ever shook hands with him had that feeling about him. And we became friends before I left the army. He asked me to go to work for him. I was with him until he passed away.
KING: So, you worked for him how long?
KEOUGH: Eighteen years -- 17 1/2 years.
KING: David, explain, you're the step-brother. Who was your mother?
D. STANLEY: I'm the step-brother, along with Ricky, my older brother Billy. Elvis' mother passed away, as everyone knows. And you had Vernon who was widowed. My mother had gone through a divorce with my father and she had us three boys. So my mother married Elvis' widowed father on July 3rd, 1960. We moved into the Graceland Mansion, I was 4-years-old. I didn't know what a hound dog was. I had no idea what was going on. I met people like Joe Esposito, Elvis Presley, obviously, and many of the others that were a part of Elvis' life for so many years.
So it was just -- all I knew was I was in a bordering home in Virginia, that was kind of a tacky place, then I was in the Graceland Mansion and I said, well, this is obviously nice. And Elvis was very kind, very loving, and he accepted us into his family when he really didn't have to. He looked at my mother and I think he really cared about Dee (ph). But it wasn't his mother. And so here's this new woman walking in with three boys and I think Elvis, and I think Rick might agree with this, looked at us three boys and was somewhat sympathetic. We didn't have a choice in this. I don't like the word victim, but we were a victim of circumstance, so to say, and I think Elvis saw in us the innocence.
KING: So neither of you were biological to Elvis? R. STANLEY: No. We -- our father...
KING: Your mother married his father?
R. STANLEY: Yes. And we -- Elvis was more like a dad, because of the age difference. Where we -- we didn't know who Elvis was. We had no idea who we was. We were just little kids, and we moved to Graceland and we met him. And what Pamela said about starting with rock 'n' roll you got to start well Elvis is exactly right.
KING: Let me get a break and come right back, as we celebrate a life that passed away 27-years-ago. Don't go away.
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KING: When you here him, when you hear his music as you grow up, what to you was his greatness? What did he have that other people didn't have?
LISA MARIE PRESLEY, DAUGHTER: I'd say his greatness was him coming through. His spirit came through his music, you know, and his voice. I think it was just him, honestly. Knowing him as a human and knowing him as an artist, I can see.
KING: His personality came through.
L.M. PRESLEY: His soul, his personality came through his music.
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KING: Elvis Presley, by the way, is still an enormous industry, isn't he?
KEOUGH: He is.
KING: His records keep selling, the music, the publishing business, the whole.
KEOUGH: There's an estimate that he brings in $40 million a year.
KING: Graceland included? The tours and all that.
KEOUGH: Yes, yes. Elvis Presley Enterprises, everything.
KING: What was he like to work with, Barbara?
EDEN: He was lovely. He really was. He was very well-bred, very manners, intelligent. And by the way, he did sing a song in that picture, finally.
KING: He did?
EDEN: Well, it's funny.
KING: He died in that picture.
EDEN: They released -- exactly. They released the film, it didn't make any money. He was playing a half-breed, didn't get the girl, he died and he didn't sing.
KING: Good thinking.
EDEN: So we all went back and we did a picture in the kitchen with him playing his guitar and singing, and me hopping around the kitchen table there.
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KING: Was he on his way to being a good actor?
EDEN: He was an excellent actor. And he cared. He really wanted to be a good actor.
KING: Did he like movies, Pamela?
KEOUGH: He adored the movies. A friend of his in high school said that Elvis walked around as if he was in a movie. So I think almost he created his own vision, his own sense. I think almost, in his own head he kind of thought of himself as being almost a character in a movie, an actor. He was a great actor.
KING: What was the thing about him, Joe, that most people wouldn't know?
ESPOSITO: His intelligence. Because people that knew him, he was a very intelligent person. Everybody thought of him as a dumb country boy. And I'm saying, because with the way the press perceived him. He was very intelligent. He read a lot. And he was good. And he really liked to know about things that were unknown, you know. That was it, he always liked to know about mysterious things. He read all those books about that. You could have a great conversation with him.
KING: Very into black culture, too, right?
KEOUGH: Well, that was where he came from. I mean, he was from Memphis, and very influenced by Beale Street and those blues players. And that was the look he took on, the way he moved, the way he sang. In fact, his first song was "That's All Right," which they played on the radio. And the deejay said this is a boy from Humes High, which is a code word, because that's where the white kids went. They couldn't believe when they heard that song, they said Humes High, because of they thought a black kid was singing it.
KING: And "In The Ghetto," was a very personal song for him, wasn't it, Rick?
Because that was about...
R. STANLEY: Because he could relate to it. Elvis to me, as I look back on it, he was like Brando with a voice.
R. STANLEY: He had that ability. I saw those pictures of Marlon Brando recently, and the way he would walk with those jeans turned up. Elvis had, not quite to that caliber as Marlon Brando, but he was hip. He was the king of cool. He started it, before anybody else was doing it, he set the bar way up high. And to this day, he's still the man. He's still the man. And as Joe was saying, he was asking life's big questions, spiritual questions about God and stuff a long time ago.
KING: What kind of big brother was he to you, David?
D. STANLEY: He was a big brother that liked to spoil his little brothers. He was always giving things away. Always giving advice. You know, Ricky was talking about Elvis a moment ago. He was more like a father figure. He would sit down and discuss things. He would discuss things about life, and spirituality. But somebody was talking a minute ago about what Elvis, what people really didn't know about him. I think, what people don't understand about Elvis is, just how good a musician he was.
He could hear something and play it. The tone of music, the way he would not only sing a song, but when he -- Elvis was the kind of guy, if he heard something or saw something, he could do it. And within the structure of the entertainment business, as a singer, not known for a musician, he could play a guitar. He could play a piano. He could play the drums if he set his mind to do it, he could do just about anything.
And passed that on to me as a musician. I am not a musician, I play drums and play with it. But my appreciation of the music all came from Elvis. And that's the thing that probably sticks with me the most. And another thing a lot of people don't know about Elvis, is his martial arts. As a martial artists Elvis was an eight degree black belt in karate. Tremendous discipline. Something that he worked on very often, daily. He imparted that to me, as well. I'm a fourth degree black belt myself. Trained even now as a result of the things that Elvis taught me. But once he put his mind to something, he was great at it, and he always wanted to share it. And I was fortunate enough for him to share it with me as a little brother. It was a wonderful experience.
KING: How bad, Pamela, were the drugs?
KEOUGH: I think they were certainly in evidence, but it was a different time. I mean, he was -- when he was starting he was 21, 22, 25-years-old and they really didn't know a better. So, a lot of -- this is what the blues guys did, you're out all night, your up all night, and you're driving all night, you've got to sleep all day. It was just a different -- you know, Elvis did not lead a banker's life. It was not a honey, I'll be home at 6:00. Most rockstars -- most male rock stars do not lead -- we think of Jimi Hendrix.
KING: Were they prescription drugs?
KEOUGH: They all were. Yes, they all were.
KING: He was never into cocaine?
KEOUGH: No. No, not that I saw...
KEOUGH: I certainly didn't see that.
KING: What was it, Joe?
ESPOSITO: It was prescription drugs, pain pills, speed, sleep pills.
KING: Some doctor lost his license, because of this?
ESPOSITO: Yes, he got suspended for awhile. The thing about Elvis, you got to remember, too, he had that charm and could talk anybody out of anything. I don't care what it was. He had that feeling that he could just...
KING: Well, the doctor didn't turn him down, right?
ESPOSITO: No. No, doctor ever turned him down for anything.
KING: Did you ever -- did anyone try to get him off it?
ESPOSITO: We all talked to him at one time or another. We talked to him in groups, individually. But, you know, it's the same old saying, if the person doesn't want to do it, it ain't going to happen.
KING: Were you aware of any usage, Barbara, when you worked with him?
EDEN: Not when I worked with him. But later I followed him in Reno, I don't remember the venue now, but... KING: He had worked and you worked.
EDEN: Yes, and I followed him. And the man who booked the show was very sad about Elvis. Because I asked how he was. And he said, well, I don't know. He said, you know, he's just wonderful onstage, but he said -- he said he's just had too many needles poked in his butt, those were his words, to get him to work. He says he feels like he needs it to be able to work. And that's the first I ever heard about it.
R. STANLEY: And it was also genetic. Yes, Gladys, his mom, was an alcoholic. She struggled with that, and it was just kind of handed down. But it was nothing compared to what people really think. I went through years of heroin addiction, drug rehabs. He personally would come and see me and get me out of trouble. So it's not to the degree that people really, really think.
KING: You're a born-again, right?
R. STANLEY: Yes, sir. Became a Christian two months after his death.
KING: Back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
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PRISCILLA PRESLEY: Elvis lost sight of his purpose in life, believe it or not. Believe it or not. He never really understood why all the adulation. He never really understood where I think, he wanted to go. I know he wanted to be a great actor. But, he honestly couldn't understand where it was all going. And you know, he had to keep motivated. And it was keeping him motivated, keeping him focused. It was very difficult.
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KING: Why did everybody like him?
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: Oh, he was great. As a person he was wonderful. He really was a great person. He was full of life. He had a great sense of humor. Very talented, of course. But very caring to his parents. There was a very endearing quality about Elvis.
KING: I never heard a bad word about him.
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: No. .
KING: We're back. What Pamela, in research for "Elvis: The Man, The Life and the Legend" surprised you the most? KEOUGH: Well, Joe Esposito, Elvis's intelligence, because nothing he did was an accident. And also abilities -- his unabashed, unquestioned talent. The man could sing R&B, rock 'n' roll, opera, Christmas carols, happy birthday, anything. I never heard him -- I mean, I listened to him for years. I never heard him -- he never hit a false note.
KING: But the older generation, people over the 30, when he first started, tended to put him down. Laughed at "Hound Dog" and make fun of the gyrations, didn't they?
KEOUGH: I think he was...
KING: He was not appreciated.
KEOUGH: No, I think he was somewhat seen as almost, not a circus show, but kind of a freak, kind of a goof, not taken seriously. In fact, when RCA first signed him, and Al Wertheimer, a famous photographer went out on the road with him to shoot his pictures, RCA said use black and white film, don't use color, because we don't know how long this guy is going to last. So, in the beginning, and I think Elvis himself, maybe wasn't certain -- would he have a career when he went away to the army.
KING: His first television break was Jackie Gleason putting him on the "Tommy Dorsey Summer Show," that right.
KING: And Gleason, told me he knew Elvis would be a major hit.
KEOUGH: Yes. And Gleason gave him some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) advice. He said, make sure you have time for yourself. Don't give everything you have to the fans and to the people, because you need something to hold back that can, in fact, you know, you need for yourself.
KING: But he also told him, don't hide. Go out to restaurants.
KING: Don't get reclusive. He didn't listen to that, right.
EDEN: Well, the one thing he told me on the set, and I guess it was true, because he was a huge fan of my then-husband Michael Ansara. And because he said that he'd watch him on television. And I said, gosh, you watch television? He said, that's all I do. He said I can't leave the hotel room.
KING: Why couldn't he leave?
EDEN: People would mob him, I assume, you know.
KING: But had he taken a different approach, Joe, gone out sooner, gone to restaurants, that would have modified, wouldn't it?
ESPOSITO: Probably. Probably. KING: The reclusiveness was chosen by him.
ESPOSITO: Yes, yes. Elvis, was basically a shy guy, really.
ESPOSITO: Yes. He really was. Until he got to know you and stuff, easy to talk to. But he just -- being bothered him, OK? I mean, we go to restaurants -- but we went a lot more places than people realized we went. We went to a lot of restaurants, we had private rooms in the restaurants. And we went to Hawaii a lot on vacation. And so he got out a lot more than people realized.
KING: He loved Hawaii?
ESPOSITO: His favorite place to go.
KING: David is it true that he would rent out a ballpark at night to play games with his friends, that he would rent out a whole movie theater to see a film?
D. STANLEY: Yes. That goes back to what Joe's saying, talking about the love of movies. It was -- it was common that we would go to the Memphian or Malco Theater just about every night, when people say Elvis rented a movie theater. It's like he did that once. No, this was a daily thing. About 1:00 in the morning, we'd get films from the film exchange in Memphis and the films all night long, watch movies all night long. Or if Elvis wanted to go to the Fairgrounds, he would rent out the Fair grounds and just the friends would go along.
In the early days roller skating or whatever it might be. Elvis got out a lot. You know, people say how come he didn't do it a lot more. I think it was part of Elvis' mystique? Colonel Parker, his manager, if you want to see my boy, you'll see him in a movie or you'll see him on a stage. You never saw Elvis on a talk show. You never saw Elvis in any magazine campaigns or advertisements from that perspective. It was always on that stage or in that movie, you saw Elvis. And I think that was just part of the Elvis mystique.
And Joe brought up a very interesting point, a very shy person. I often wonder what would it be like for Larry King to interview Elvis Presley. Until he got to know you, he'd be pretty mellow and pretty not real aggressive. Not -- very shy in his approach.
KING: He did a great television show with Frank Sinatra when he came back from Germany, right.
R. STANLEY: Mm-hmm. And Mr. Sinatra, from what I understand, was one of the first older guys to kind of reach out and extend an olive branch to him, him and Mr. Gleason.
KING: They sang each other's songs.
R. STANLEY: Back and forth. That was one of the first times -- the first movie I saw, Larry, was with Barbara Eden. I didn't -- keep in mind, I did not know who Elvis was for awhile. And I saw "Flaming Star" there at Graceland. Of course, that's the movie he passed away in. And we had, you know, the reels there, we could watch them and daddy would show it, Verne Presley, my stepfather. When he was on that film and he passed away, I was 7-years-old, I sat there and cried and cried and cried. I thought oh, -- and plus he was gone.
EDEN: He was a great actor. He was a great actor.
R. STANLEY: Oh, yes, he was great. And David was talking about when we would go to the -- and ride roller coasters and do stuff like that there in Memphis, he would, when the roller coaster would go up, we would get off of the roller coaster and stand on the side, let the thing go all the way around, and it scared the man that was running it, because there would nobody be in the roller coaster when it came back. When it came back up the hill.
KING: You did things like that?
R. STANLEY: Yes, we sure did. When I was a little kid we were doing stuff like that.
KING: This was Elvis' idea?
R. STANLEY: Oh, yes.
KING: Get off the roller coaster when it's going up. So the man at the bottom sees no one come back.
R. STANLEY: Nobody's there. And it scared him pretty bad.
KING: No kidding.
R. STANLEY: And when it came back up -- see when it came back up, it was going slow, we could get back in it and ride it around. We did -- Elvis lived so many lifetimes in 42 years.
EDEN: Did your mama know you were do being that?
R. STANLEY: No, ma'am. Not all.
KING: We'll take a break. We want to thank Warner Home Video for the many Elvis movie clips we're able to show you tonight. They're all available on DVD and VHS. In fact, Warner Home Video has just re-released a new batch of movies. There you see their covers. We'll be back. I'll reintroduce the panel with more about Elvis' life and legacy right after this.
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KING: When Elvis died, Lisa Marie was what 9?
P. PRESLEY: Just 9 years old, mm-hmm.
KING: Where were you at day?
P. PRESLEY: I was at home -- actually I was on my way to an appointment.
KING: In L.A.?
P. PRESLEY: In L.A., mm-hmm. And Joe Esposito had gotten a hold of my parents and said that he needed to talk to me. They reached my sister and my sister met me at the appointment and told me that something was wrong, that Elvis was ill, and in the hospital. And I went back home, the phone was ringing and it was Joe on the phone. He said that he was sending a plane for me to come to Memphis, it was serious.
KING: He didn't tell you he was...
P. PRESLEY: He did. He said it was serious. And that Elvis died.
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KING: 27 years ago, August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died.
With us are, in Los Angeles, Joe Esposito, Elvis Presley's closest friend and confidant. In Dallas, Texas, David Stanley, Elvis' stepbrother at Graceland the day Elvis died. Here in Los Angeles, Rick Stanley, Elvis' other stepbrother, one of the last people to speak with Elvis before he died. Also in L.A., Barbara Eden who co- stared with Elvis in the 1960 film "Flaming Star." And finally in L.A., Pamela Clarke Keogh, author of the new book "Elvis: the Man, the Life and the Legend."
OK. We'll go around. This is a guess. What would he be doing?
EDEN: He'd be on that roller coaster.
KING: Would he be singing now, 69 like Tony Bennett?
EDEN: Oh, I think so.
KING: Would he be in concert?
EDEN: I don't know about that.
KING: Would he be gyrating?
EDEN: Probably. Probably.
KING: What do you think he'd be doing, Pamela? KEOGH: I think he should join the Kerry ticket and run for president. He'd be singing. He'd be elected very easily but, he would be singing. That was his first love. He was a singer.
KING: David, what do you think he would be doing?
D. STANELY: I think he'd still be singing. But I think he would be matured as an actor. I could see him as he got older, getting into that role, breaking out of the image of the, you know, the hip shaking, rock 'n' roller, and I think elvis would be an actor. I think that's where he was going. I think that was his frustration. He had conquered the world of entertainment as far as music. And I think film was his next -- his next leap.
KING: Would he have had more children?
R. STANELy: Oh, I think so. You know, when you ask about what he would be doing. One of the things that people don't know is that when I became a minister, I went back and visited with Vernon Presley, my stepfather, and my dad said Ricky you're going to be criticized because you're Elvis' stepbrother and all that and people are going to question your motivation.
He said, but Ricky you're doing what Elvis always wanted to do. I said, well, daddy what do you mean? And Vernon Presley, Elvis' dad said Elvis felt a call toward ministry. I don't think Elvis would have been a minister, but I think he would have probably been singing some more gospel music. Because he really enjoyed that style of music.
KING: He did.
What do you think, Joe?
ESPOSITO: I definitely think he would never stop singing. That was his biggest love. He always talked about being a director. He wanted to direct comedies and action movies. Because his movies were so bad. But he was very good when it come to comedy and knowing that stuff. So I could see him as a director.
KING: And what about the Colonel, Pamela? The Colonel in this whole story.
KOEGH: I think in the beginning of Elvis' career the Colonel was extremely necessary and very good. Because there was no MTV, there was no modern pop culture, the really created it. But I think what happened was rock and roll and society almost outgrew the Colonel. And he didn't quite understand modern popular culture.
For example, Elvis was offered the role in Barbra Streisand's "A Star Is Born" and he wanted to do it. And the Colonel, when you think of that now Elvis could have been like Frank Sinatra with his great role and taken a new direction in his acting. The Colonel made the deal itself so onerous, that Elvis would never agree to do it. So the Colonel personally derailed that possibility.
KOEGH: I think because he wanted to -- he wanted to, you know, the only thing that mattered was his money. The only thing that mattered was Elvis' billing. The Colonel I don't think was creatively, you know, wanting to make Elvis happy.
KING: Was the Colonel on the set, Barbara?
EDEN: Yes, he was, yes.
EDEN: I don't remember. Was he there, Joe?
ESPOSITO: No, he didn't come daily. But he would come on the set and visit once in a while.
KING: Was Elvis his only client?
ESPOSITO: Yes. Yes.
EDEN: But Elvis really appreciated the Colonel at that point in his life.
KING: He did?
He told me, he said, you know a lot of people criticize me for staying with the Colonel and the fact that he takes so much of my money. I guess he got 50 percent or something. But he said, you know what I wouldn't have any of it if it wasn't for the Colonel.
KING: What did he get?
ESPOSITO: Well, he didn't get 50 percent at that time. He was getting 25 percent, 20 percent. 50 percent of the merchandising and the record deals. Otherwise, you know, Colonel's got a tough time. You know, people don't realize, they were not there.
He made mistakes. He was a human being. Elvis made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But I can't -- I don't think anybody else could have handled Elvis Presley except Colonel Tom Parker.
KING: "A Star Is Born" was probably the mistake.
ESPOSITO: A mistake.
R. STANLEY: And he didn't have to worry about, with Colonel Parker he didn't have to worry about money. Elvis wanted a lot of money. And he went through it very quick. Joe's been there. He's buy 20 cars at one time for complete strangers. Helped build Saint Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennesee. So he gave it away so much. He didn't want to worry about the money. And with Colonel Parker, he he did not have to worry about the money.
KING: Did the Colonel handle the money for him?
R. STANELY: As far as I know. My stepfather, Vernon Presley, was his personal business manager. But I wouldn't know concerning that. He made the money, Joe, Colonel, Daddy talked business.
KING: How wealthy was he when he died, Pamela?
KEOGH: I think they were surprised how small the estate had shrunk, what was it, $500,000 or $2 million.
ESPOSITO: About $2 million was all he was worth.
KING: That's all? Why?
ESPOSITO: Because we were spending it. Elvis spent a lot of money. He didn't care about money. Money was there to enjoy, share with his friends and people, strangers. He said I can always make more money and that's the way he was. I mean, that was a big hassle for his dad, because Vernon had to pay the bills. And even the Colonel would get upset. Elvis you can't keep throwing the money away.
KING: David, what did you think of the Colonel?
D. STANELY: I thought colonel was a very smart businessman. He had the philosophy if it's not broke, don't fix it. I'll never forget we did "Aloha From Hawaii," about a billion people saw it, and at that concert it was a very elaborate stage, big things of Elvis in the back and hound dogs and Elvis flashing.
And I once said to the Colonel, I said why don't we take that on the road? Why don't we do that in all the other cities? Because with Elvis it was just a flat black stage and six spot lights. And Colonel Parker looked at me and said they're not here to say the flash in the pan, they're here to see the man, they're here to see Elvis.
And you know the thing about Elvis, it wasn't a concert when Elvis performed. It was a historical event. And the Colonel knew that. If it's not broke, don't fix it.
Now, maybe he could have led him in different directions. But the 2, Elvis and the Colonel, they were a perfect combination.
But I've got to say one thing about Colonel. A lot of people, and Ricky, please forgive me, but Ricky said this once and I'll never forget this, did Colonel Parker make Elvis? Well, if he did why didn't he make another one. But vice versa. They were a great combination. They worked off each other great. Colonel I think did the best.
And Pamela, that's a great analogy about MTV and the society we live in today. Colonel just got out, rock 'n' roll outgrew Colonel Parker. But when he had him, and in that time, I think he did a phenomenal job.
KING: Well said. We'll come back, I'll tell you a little story I found out about Elvis and relate that to a discussion in the panel about his generosity. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What was it like to be Elvis' girlfriend?
P. PRESLEY: It was like being with Prince Charming on many levels. Because he was like Santa Claus every day. He was inordinately generous of spirit.
KING: I've heard that.
P. PRESLEY: And also, of material wealth. You know, he...
KING: He was a big giver, right?
P. PRESLEY: Big giver. He derived much more pleasure from giving than receiving. You know, his life was lived very biblically. He really followed the Bible and he also was on a spiritual quest to find out how other people of other faiths lived their lives.
And he used to wear an Egyptian Aykh, a Star of David and a crucifix around his neck. And people would say are you confused? He would say, no, not at all. I just don't want to miss heaven on a technicality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Elvis Presley gone now 27 years.
Quick story. He did a concert at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Landed in Miami at Miami International Airport. A helicopter flew him from the airport over to a special pad on Miami Beach. Six block drive in a limo to the convention center. Sang at the convention center, six block limo drive back.
Said to the limo driver that he didn't have any cash on him. Asked the limo driver, who later told me, if he owned the limo or not? He said no he worked for a company and Elvis tipped him the limo. He called the company and he gave him the limo as a tip for the total of a twelve-block drive. How generous was he?
ESPOSITO: Nobody more generous.
KING: So that doesn't surprising you, that story, give a guy a car?
ESPOSITO: Not at all. He would do that to people. He did that to a lady in Memphis.
No cash in his pocket. He never carried cash. He'll give you a ring or something like that. You know, it's true.
R. STANLEY: He had no pockets. The clothes that I took care of, make sure the dry cleaning, there were no pockets they were all customed made. And he would give...
KING: No pockets?
R. STANELY: No pockets in his pants. I took care of the kit and the jewelry. And as far as the money as stuff, Joe took care of all of that. But Elvis also helped my aunt -- he bought her a church, paid for it. Did all of that.
This man, it was the gift of giving. He perceived it as a gift. He had a gift of giving to people.
KING: What was the Nixon story? The White House?
ESPOSITO: Well, I wasn't at that story. I -- it was one of those things, Elvis decided one day to take off and go to Washington on his own. He had a little disagreement at home with the House of Graceland so he left. He jumped in the car and took off.
KING: Drove himself?
ESPOSITO: Drove himself, all by himself, took off. Went to the airport, went to American Airlines counter, said where's the next plane going? The girl is shocked. Elvis. He said, -- she said Washington, D.C. He said oh, good. I want to get a ticket. He didn't have no money, nothing. He said please send the bill to the house.
So he decided to go to Washington to see the president. Because he wanted -- there was a badge. A federal narcotics badge that, I forgot who the man in Hollywood had one, but he said Elvis you can never get these badges, I forgot what president gave it to him.
And Elvis thought to himself, I can get that badge.
KING: And he just called the White House cold, right?
ESPOSITO: He wrote a note, left it at the gate of the White House. The guy said the president won't see you. The president called him himself.
R. STANLEY: And when he got the badge he looked at me when he came back off the trip, because I was into the heroin and cocaine, I did all that stuff.
He would look at me and say, now Ricky, you're going to have narc on your friends and we're going to go over and we're going to bust there guys.
And he was very serious, and being as young as I was, I thought man, I'm going to be in huge trouble if I -- but if Elvis Presley would have told me to jump through a plate glass window, I'd have done it, anything.
KING: What happened, David, with the weight?
D. STANELY: Well, I think that was part of the medication. I mean, Elvis -- everything was in excess. You know, Elvis would, instead of taking a couple of things, he'd take a couple more and a couple more. I think because of that it affected his appetite, it affected his weight.
The one thing about Elvis that I remember the most, I'm guilty of this myself, is he loved to eat. Elvis loved food. I mean, he loved cheeseburgers and he loved peanut butter sandwiches. And he just loved food. He just did it in excess. It wasn't a cheeseburger, it was two. It wasn't a banana split, it was three.
And I think the medications, you know -- towards the end there, it was a tragedy to watch Elvis let the medications take this life over. And I think the more medication, the more in excess he got to the point as Joe said, it stopped his heart. And therein lies the tragedy. He just -- he just everything in excess. And he just loved to eat.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with our remaining moments and more memories of Elvis Presley on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of his untimely death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with our remaining moments. And Pamela was saying something that I think needs saying, as a cultural figure why was he important?
KEOGH: I think what we have to remember is Leonard Bernstein was always asked who was the most important cultural figure of the 20th Century, and he said said Elvis Presley. And someone said what about Pablo Picasso. And Bernstein said, Elvis introduced the beat to American society, and he ripped -- the beat. Literally the beat in terms of Rock 'n' Roll.
And Elvis ripped the 1950s wide open. And out of that music, out of rock 'n' roll became possibility. Came the '60s, came women's rights and Vietnam and the Rolling Stones and just tremendous forces in our -- were broken open. And Elvis was really the first. If we look at, I don't know Puff Daddy or Sean Combs or George Clooney or any star, Elvis was the first American superstar.
KING: You were there when he met the Beatles, right?
KING: They came to the Hilton Hotel?
ESPOSITO: No, it was at Elvis' house in Bel Air in 1965. Because they were doing concerts. We were doing a movie at the time.
KING: They were enamored of him, right?
ESPOSITO: Oh, absolutely. Well, John Lennon said, if it wasn't for Elvis Presley there would be no Beatles. That was his own personal statement. It's true. They came to the house and they were in awe of him. You know, like when you meet a star you idolize all your life. I would do that when I met a star I didn't. And when they met Elvis, they didn't know what to say.
KING: What did he think of them?
ESPOSITO: He loved their music. But he went through certain periods of time he didn't like the music. Be didn't like the psychedelic era of their music.
R. STANLEY: No at all. Elvis was not only it. He still is it. And will remain it. And one of the reasons I know is because, being with so many teenagers every week, there are little bitty second graders, third graders, fourth graders, come up to me, you're Elvis' stepbrother. And they talk about that music and that voice. When you see little kids coming up 27 years later who have an appreciation for this man's voice, it is incredible.
KING: He must have liked your television show, Barbara.
ESPOSITO: He liked Barbara.
EDEN: We all like Barbara. We all like the show.
EDEN: Well, I liked him. He was a very genuine and gentlemanly man. He was a gentle man.
KING: Never heard a bad word about him. Anyone in show biz ever put him down?
KEOGH: No, up interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people. Former girlfriends, people he worked with, Joe Esposito.
KING: Girlfriends he cheated on?
KEOGH: They all just loved him. It didn't matter.
KING: Priscilla said, or Linda said they'd be in one room in a hotel and he'd have another girl come to another room and they all said he was Elvis.
R. STANLEY: He would rotate. Chicks and checks, those were the 2 things.
KEOGH: I think there's some men who just like women. He think he was one of those men.
KING: And the women didn't get mad at him, because he was....
KEOGH: No, they adored him.
KING: Was that so special, David, that he just had that quality? It didn't matter?
D. STANELY: Hey. Elvis had a tremendous presence. He was a very charming guy. And you know, it's funny all the women that dated him and he, like you said, had so many other women. They just loved him.
I mean, when you knew Elvis, I mean, and I gotta say this, when you know Elvis or knew Elvis I should say like we do, like Ricky and myself and Joe, I mean 17 years of our life around this guy, he had the midas touch and he had the gift.
When you walked in a room you knew Elvis was there. When Elvis walked in a room all eyes turned toward him. He had just incredible charm and incredible presence to where women just flocked to him and were just grateful to even be in his presence, nonetheless have any sort of relationship with him. That's what i've always seen with women.
But I must say before we say good-bye that the most beautiful woman that I remember Elvis being with was Barbara Eden, because when I was a little boy watching "I Dream Of Genie" I was in love with Barbara Eden. It's nice to know that Elvis had...
KING: This is your night, Barbara.
EDEN: Well, thank you.
D. STANELY: I'm down here in Dallas. You know, you guys are out on the West Coast.
R. STANELY: Elvis could -- elvis could -- when it came to women, Elvis Presley could charm the chrome off a boat hitch. Elvis Presley could talk to -- he got vulnerable with him. And he would be sensitive. He was just a father of so many different things.
KING: But it was real.
R. STANLEY: Oh, it was very real.
ESPOSITO: Elvis loved women. I mean, the first relationship I remember, he was very close to his mother. He relate more to women than to men, he really did. He felt more comfortable. He was more comfortable with them then around a bunch of guys.
KING: How long does the legend last, Pamela?
KEOGH: I don't see any people following in his foot steps, certainly. It's just an American story. His voice, I think, is the voice of America. He embodies all our dreams, our ambitions, the ups, the downs. I think somehow he conveys that through the sound of his music.
KING: So his records will continue to sell. His anthologies will be released? We'll be doing shows every year? Other people will take over and do other shows?
KEOGH: He's got it. Whatever it is. It's the voice. The voice I think is our country. R. STANELy: He's our rock 'n' roll royalty. He is the man. We don't have royalty here. We have rock 'n' roll royalty in the United States, and because of Elvis Presley it will continue to live on. It is just so incredible to have been a part of it. To be around it.
Joe and I talk about, Joe, we were there, man. We got to be around it. Joe was one of his best friends.
ESPOSITO: The other thing about Elvis' music like we always talk about, his music makes you feel good when you listen to it. There's no anger in it. It's feel-good music. I talk to him all the time. When they get depressed or something they put on an Elvis album. Which is true. If you ever listen to his music, it makes you feel good. That's another thing I think most people appreciate.
R. STANLEY: He was a saint.
KING: And he liked performing, right?
ESPOSITO: Oh, that was his love. That was it.
KING: I mean, getting on a stage...
ESPOSITO: He felt he was born to perform in front of people.
R. STANELY: Just before he would walk out on that stage, Joe would be there or Gary Shilling or me or David we'd kind of ride along the shoulders. He'd kind of bow his head and say a quick prayer and hit that stage and the air was there. He started moving. He just sucked the air out of a room and took control of it. We sat there amazed. To me, I thought forget the Beatles, here is the guy. And the Beatles is my generation.
KING: He said a quick prayer?
R. STANLEY: Oh, yes. Bow his head and say a little prayer before he'd walk out to do the stage to do his show, yes sir.
KING: Did he ever have bad nights on the stage?
R. STANLEY: Oh, I'm sure he did. He never said anything.
KING: Where the crowd didn't appreciate him?
ESPOSITO: No, the crowd always appreciated him. But we knew and he knew that it wasn't -- there was something missing.
KING: He used to throw something to the audience?
KEOGH: He would throw, yeah, he'd do the scarf thing. Occasionally he'd throw jewelry, which would make his father, and I'm sure Joe Esposito, insane. But he liked to liven things up. He liked to keep things rolling. He just want to keep himself entertained occasionally he would toss a ring or something into the audience. The crowd would go nuts.
KING: And Elvis was his real name, right?
ESPOSITO: It was Vernon's middle name.
ESPOSITO: It was his dad's middle name.
KING: There ain't any other Elvis.
Thank you all very much. Joe Esposito, David Stanley, Rick Stanley, Barbara Eden and Pamela Clarke Keogh on the life and times of the late Elvis Presley.
I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Stay tuned now for "NEWSNIGHT" next with Aaron Brown. Good night.
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