Thursday, August 11, 2011

Clarity Regained As Lost Elvis Girl Found -- Some GOOD News From


Photographer Alfred Wertheimer said he never asked for the woman's name when he took the photograph and she never told it to him.


        A U.S. magazine has identified the mystery woman seen kissing singer Elvis Presley in a backstage theater stairwell in an iconic 1956 photograph.

        Barbara Gray, now 75 and living in Charleston, S.C., told Vanity Fair magazine that she didn't reveal her identity for the money or fame.

    "I just wanted to get my name on the damn picture," she said.

        Gray admitted that she become fed up with being known only as the "unknown woman in the wings" with a young Elvis in a stairwell at the Mosque Theater in Richmond, Virginia.

        Photographer Alfred Wertheimer said he never asked for the woman's name when he took the photograph and she never told it to him.

        After newspaper coverage of Wertheimer's photography exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. in early 2010 showed him standing in front of the photograph called "The Kiss," Gray tracked Wertheimer on Facebook and sent him a message.

        "I'm the girl. 'The Kiss.' Have a good story for you," she said.

        But Wertheimer, who had heard from many women who claimed to be the woman in the photo, didn't respond at first. Gray's claim was aired on the radio and eventually found its way to Vanity Fair, which authenticated Gray's claim.

        While Gray's own photos from the mid-1950s are nearly mirror images of the young woman in the photo and her recollections of the time and place were accurate, the clincher was her height. She is only four feet, 11 inches, the same height as the woman in the picture.

        "God he's beautiful," Gray recalled thinking when she met Presley, then 21, at his hotel in Richmond. But she also found him "kind of insecure" with an accent that made him sound like "a goofy guy from the sticks."

        After accompanying him to his show, Gray and Presley kissed in the stairwell. Later she found herself in Elvis' compartment on a New York-bound train. When a voice told Elvis the train was leaving, Gray said, "So, am I."

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney) 

NOTE:   I was up in last night worrying about various things when the above Reuters article and famous photo slid into view.  It was nice to find one mystery solved, but another posed in the last paragraph of the piece.  Watching the lowest common denominator punditry on television this morning, I am pleased to live in Elvis Elysian Fields, at least temporarily.  Queries:  1.  Will MSNBC reinvent itself as a children's network?  Has it already? 2.  When Thomas L. Friedman's (in the New York Times) amped-up panic level hits VU-meter red range territory and his prose becomes almost coherent (if still unpleasant to read), does this indicate: a) a "market bottom;" or b) imminent Armageddon?   Silver Lining?  Although stress has caused me to put my back out, my dieting success is on the upswing because I'm too scared to eat.



  1. Curtis,

    Why do I keep being astonished that anyone in America will sacrifice whatever shred of dignity they may possess in order to publicly connect themselves with celebrity by way of supermarket magazine racks and TV talkshows?

    And to think that (at least) two of her husbands insisted (says she) that she share her Wet Little Secret.

    "So, dear, did you have an interesting day?"

    "Oh, nothing special, just touching tongues with Elvis."

    And the revelation that Pat Boone experienced jealousy adds... texture, would that be the term?... to the narrative.

    (But probably no saliva -- even a drop could be ruinous to a virginal pair of white bucks.)

    Maybe you've seen this interview with the
    Mystery Kiss Girl?

    The Vanity Fair writer calls her "a Pot of Gold".


  2. I'll read the interview during today's driving interval. Caroline's whole career was spent dealing with celebrities, so we've had a long time to think about this question. We think that establishing a connection with someone whose name you've seen in print or whose image you've seen on tv tends to make people feel like they really exist and aren't merely (if even) "shades" (at best). Obviously, when you add agents and lawyers to the mix, things get more complicated and worse. Then, when you add in your John Hinkleys and Mark David Chapmans, you're in horror territory. You might find it amusing to learn that a few years ago an old acquaintance of ours, a fairly hard-boiled, veteran publicist, acquired Pat Boone as a client. She said that he was an absolute delight to work with, intelligent and about as full of self-knowledge and humor as anyone who worked in the music industry over a long period of time could possibly expect. Around that time, Pat (who believe it or not had done a heavy-metal record) gave some very funny radio interviews showing this to be the case. Adding to this, Little Richard spoke some of his sanest, most down-to-earth words in tribute and gratitude to Pat Boone for making it possible to get out of restaurant dishwashing duty and compose and play music full time. Our friend Susan also went to work for Johnny Hallyday, the "French Elvis," at around the same time, which sounded like a real trip. Unfortunately, by that time Sylvie Vartan was way out of the picture. Curtis