SUSANNA LEIGH INTERVIEW
THE FOLLOWING WAS A PHONE INTERVIEW WITH MRS. LEIGH JUNE 26 2007.
JOE KREIN: COULD YOU TELL BE A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF ? WHERE YOU GREW UP AND WAS RAISED?
SUZANNE LEIGH : I COME FROM ENGLAND , I'M A BRIT . I WAS BORN IN REDDING AND MY DREAM WAS TO MAKE MOVIES AND TO COME TO HOLLYWOOD. MY BIG DREAM WAS TO MAKE A MOVIE WITH ELVIS , I WAS A BIG ELVIS FAN.
YOU DREAMED THAT?
OH YES , I WOULD SEE IT IN MY HEAD , AND WHAT'S INCREDIBLE JOE , PARAMOUNT STUDIO'S WAS ALWAYS THE BIGGEST STUDIO. IT WAS THE ONE THAT WAS ALWAYS IN THE NEWS. SO I ALWAYS HAD THIS VISUAL THING OF ME AND THE PARAMOUNT STUDIO GATE. SO I WOULD HAVE MY DREAM OF GETTING MY CONTRACT AT PARAMOUNT AND WORKING WITH ELVIS . ELVIS WAS UNDER CONTRACT WITH PARAMOUNT AND HAL WALLIS . WHEN I WAS EIGHTEEN I SIGNED WITH HAL AT PARAMOUNT .
THEN LATER ON I DO A FILM WITH ELVIS . MY DREAM CAME TRUE BIG TIME.
HOW WAS HAL WALLIS?
WELL INTERESTEDLY ENOUGH , HE WAS ALWAYS KNOWN AS THE STAR MAKER. HE WAS A AWESOME PRODUCER TO WORK FOR . I MEAN WAS SO PROFESSIONAL . HE NEW EVERYTHING , AND HOW THINGS NEEDED TO BE DONE . STRANGELY ENOUGH DELORES HART WAS ALSO UNDER CONTRACT WITH HAL WALLIS . WE BOTH SURVIVED HAL WALLIS (LAUGHING)
WHY DO YOU SAY SURVIVED? DID HE HAVE A TEMPER ?
I SHOULD SEND YOU MY BOOK.
DID YOU WRITE A BOOK?
OH YES , IN FACT , MOTHER DELORES READ IT THE OTHER DAY AND SHE SAID HOW MUCH SHE LOVED IT .
ONE DAY I WAS LATE COMING ON THE SET , I WAS DOING A FILM WITH TONY CURTIS . THE REASON I WAS LATE COMING WAS BECAUSE SOME GUY WAS SHOT ON THE SIDEWALK AT A BUS STOP ON MY WAY TO PARAMOUNT . SO COMING FROM ENGLAND I YELLED STOP ! THE DRIVER SAID NO NO NO , YOU WILL BE LATE ON THE SET . I SAID NEVER MIND BEING LATE , THERE IS A GUY THAT BEEN SHOT! SO I GOT OUT OF THE CAR AND THE POLICE ARRIVED , IT WAS ALMOST SURREAL . BECAUSE THERE HAD BEEN A LOT OF PRESS ABOUT ME , AND ONE OF THE COPS SAID TO ME . AREN'T YOU SUPPOSE TO BE AT PARAMOUNT? SO AFTER THIS EVENT I WAS RUSHED TO THE STUDIO AND I WASN'T LATE ON THE SET TECHNICALLY . BUT I WAS LATE SIGNING IN . SO HAL WALLIS CALLED ME UP TO HIS OFFICE AND I WAS FINED TO MAKE SURE I WASN'T LATE AGAIN. THE FINE WAS A DOLLAR A SECANT , AND IN THOSE DAYS THAT WAS A LOT. I SAID WOE! HE SAID YOUR NEVER BE LATE AGAIN . HE SAID I CAN'T HAVE STARS COMING IN LATE AND SAYING IT WAS BECAUSE SO AND SO DIED ! I CAN'T HAVE THAT! YOUR ON THE SET AT THE TIME YOUR SUPPOSE TO BE HERE.
HE DIDN'T CARE THAT SOMEONE WAS HURT?
NO , HE WAS A VERY SERIOUS PRODUCER . IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY AND ALL ABOUT THE MOVIE. I HAD A LOT OF FANS THAT WERE FIGHTING IN VIETNAM , SO I WANTED TO GO WITH BOB HOPE TO VIETNAM WITH THE USO. I ASKED HAL WALLIS IF I COULD GET SOME TIME OFF. IT NEVER CROSSED MY MIND THAT HE WOULD SAY NO . HE SAID NO ! I'M NOT LETTING YOU GO THERE . YOU COULD GET SHOT AND KILLED THERE! BOB HOPE SAID THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN GET HURT . HAL SAID THERE IS A WAR GOING ON OVER THERE , of COURSE YOU CAN GET KILLED. I WAS SO UPSET . SO RACHEL WELCH WENT INSTEAD .
THE SOLDIERS REMEMBER THAT AND LOOK FOR THAT .
SO WHEN DID YOU FIRST FIND OUT THAT YOU WERE GOING TO DO A MOVIE WITH ELVIS PRESLEY?
I WAS AT LUNCH WITH HAL WALLIS ,AND THE HEAD OF THE STUDIO HOWARD COSH . THEY WERE WORKING ON A MOVIE FOR ME "BAREFOOT IN THE PARK" . THAT WAS GOING TO BE MY BIG MOVIE THAT WOULD MAKE ME A BIG STAR. UNFORTUNATELY YOU WILL HAVE TO READ THE BOOK. THERE WAS A BUNCH OF REASONS WHY I DIDN'T DO THE MOVIE . SOME OF IT INVOLVED COLONEL PARKER. (LAUGHING) SO HAL SAID I,M GOING TO SEND YOU AND ELVIS TO HAWAII FOR A FEW WEEKS. THERE WAS THIS MINUTE OF STRANGE SILENCE AND I SAID YES!
OH SO YOU DIDN'T WANT TO GO! (LAUGHING)
HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID . ARE YOU AN ELVIS FAN?
I SAID WELL AH COULD BE! (LAUGHING)
HAL SAID OH BOY WE HAVE TROUBLE.T IT STILL WORKED OUT.
OH YEAS IT DID AND ELVIS AND I GOT A LONG VERY WELL. WHAT WAS SUPPOSE TO BE A FEW WEEKS TURNED OUT TO BE DOUBLE THAT.
TELL ME ABOUT THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU MET ELVIS?
PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME , HOW DO YOU REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL? YOU KNOW YOU REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL WHEN YOUR WIFE SAID YES WHEN YOU ASKED HER TO MARRY YOU . I REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL WITH ELVIS BECAUSE I WAS SUCH A HUGE ELVIS FAN.
I WAS SITTING ON THE SET IN HAWAII , SO I WAS TRYING TO LOOK VERY COOL . I HAD MADE A FEW MOVIES SO I WAS TRYING TO LOOK VERY COOL AND STAR LIKE. (LAUGHING)
HERE I WAS 19 A VETERAN IN THE MOVIE BUSINESS. SO I HAD BEEN TOLD THAT ELVIS WOULD CHAT UP ALL THE LEADING LADIES. I WAS TOLD HE WOULD BE VERY CHARMING AND HE WOULD BE SURROUNDED BY ALL HIS GUYS AND THAT WOULD BE IT. SO I SAID TO MY SELF. I DON'T THINK SO CO CO . I'VE BEEN BLEEDING MAD ABOUT THIS GUY , . SO I'M SITTING ON THE SET ON A LITTLE STOOL . I HAVE MY SCRIPT IN FRONT OF ME AND I'M PRETENDING TO READ MY LINES. BUT REALLY IM THINKING TO MYSELF . WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY TO THIS GUY. SO I PRESUMED HE WAS GOING TO SAY "HOW DO YOU MAM?" THEN I WOULD SAY . WE HAVE A GOOD FRIEND IN COMMON . THEN HE WAS GOING TO SAY . THIS WAS GOING ON IN MY HEAD
SO YOU PLANNED OUT A SCRIPT OF HOW YOU WERE GOING TO TALK WITH ELVIS
THAT'S RIGHT , SO IM SITTING THERE WHEN SOMEONE RUSHED ON TO THE SET AND YELLED . ELVIS IS COMING . MY SCRIPT WENT FLYING! MY HEART WAS THUMPING . I WAS SAYING TO MY SELF , WE HAVE A GOOD FRIEND IN COMMON , WE HAVE A GOOD FRIEND IN COMMON . CALM DOWN CALM DOWN . SUDDENLY THIS HAD WAS IN FRONT OF MY FACE WITH A CUP OF TEA IN IT. I SHOULD HAVE RECOGNIZED HIS VOICE BUT I DIDN'T . SO THIS VOICE SAYS I BELIEVE EVERYONE FROM ENGLAND DRINKS TEA. SO I'M LOOKING AT THE TEA CUP AND I'M SLOWLY SAYING AS I'M LOOKING UP SLOWLY . NO I DON'T AND THEN I WENT . OH YES I DO! YES YES I LOVE TEA! IT WAS ABOUT SIX WEEKS LATER BEFORE I ADMITTED THAT I REALLY DIDN'T LIKE TEA. (LAUGHING)
SO WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU ?
HE STARTED MAKING JOKES AND WE TALKED A WHILE AND I FINALLY GOT IT OUT . OH WE HAVE A FRIEND IN COMMO0N. BUT IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO GET BACK TO MY MADE UP SCRIPT! THEN I CRACKED UP. HE ASKED ME WHY I WAS LAUGHING? I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING . SO IT WAS LOVELY .
SO DID YOU EVER DATE HIM?
NO NOT REALLY . WE WERE GOING TO MAKE ANOTHER MOVIE TOGETHER . THE PUBLISHERS WERE GOING TO OFFER ME A LOT OF MONEY FOR A PHOTO OF ELVIS KISSING ME THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MOVIE. I REFUSED. THE PUBLISHER SAID TO ME . WE LIKE ELVIS TO HAVE AFFAIRS WITH ALL OF HIS LEADING LADIES. I SAID I'M NOT GOING TO DO THAT .SO THEY SAID WELL THEN WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT YOUR NOT PUBLISHED!
SO THEY WANTED ELVIS TO BE WITH ALL THE WOMAN?
YES , THAT'S WHAT THEY LIKE. MADE UP PROMOTION. THE PUBLISHER ALSO WANTED ME TO CUT THE LAST CHAPTER OUT OF MY BOOK WHEN I NAME WHO STARTED THE ROUMER THAT ELVIS HAD DIED OF A DRUG OVERDOSE. WHICH HE DIDN'T . THEY SAID WELL PEOPLE DON'T NEED TO KNOW THAT . I SAID YES PEOPLE DO! SO LUCKILY I ENDED UP PUBLISHING IT MYSELF.
HOW WAS ELVIS ON THE SET?
OH HE WAS GREAT , HE KNEW EVERYBODY'S LINES , NOT ONLY HIS OWN . HE WAS A FABULOUS ACTOR . HAL WALLIS SAID THAT THIS GUY NEEDS TO HAVE SOME FABULOUS PARTS BECAUSE HE REALLY IS A VERY GOOD ACTOR. THAT WAS COMING FROM A CLEVER PRODUCER. HE SHOULD HAVE MADE MANY BETTER MOVIES. HE WAS OFFERED BETTER MOVIES BUT THE COLONEL WORKED OUT REASONS
DID YOU HAVE ANY RUN INS WITH THE COLONEL?
YES I DID . NOT A NICE MAN , HE IS ONE OF THE REASONS I DIDN'T DO BAREFOOT IN THE PARK OR EASY COME EASY GO .
WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YOU AND THE COLONEL
HE WAS JUST VERY RUDE . HE DIDN'T LIKE THAT I WOULD TALK TO ELVIS ABOUT MOVIES AND ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE HE SHOULD MEET . I TOLD HIM HE SHOULD COME TO ENGLAND BECAUSE THERE WAS A LOT OF GREAT MOVIES BEING DONE THERE. I REMEMBER ONE DAY I WAS ON THE SET AND I HAD ALL MY MAKE UP ON AND ONE OF THE ASSISTANTS CAME OVER AND WAS TALKING ABOUT WE BETTER START CLEARING THE SET . THE COLONEL SAID WHY SHOULD WE DO THAT ? SHE ! POINTING AT ME . SHE DOESN'T HAVE HER MAKE UP ON . SHE LOOKS A MESS. SO I WENT WHAT! I WENT MARCHING OFF. I SAID THAT'S IT ! I CANNOT STAND THAT MAN .SO ELVIS SAID I'M GOING TO GET HIM OFF THE SET . SO HE GOES OVER AND SAYS A FEW WORDS TO PARKER AND THE COLONEL NEVER CAME BACK ON THE SET.
SO ELVIS STOOD UP FOR YOU.
HE DID SOME DIRTY TRICKS ON ME . HE DELIVERED A MAGAZINE ARTICLE THAT HE HAD FABRICATED . IT MADE IT LOOKED LIKE I HAD SOLD ELVIS OUT . NORMALLY IF ANYTHING LIKE THAT HAPPENED. THERE WAS ONE THING THAT ELVIS would not let you do, and that was speak to the press about him . if you did he would drop you like a hot potato. so the colonel had someone deliver elvis this article , and he had one slipped underneath my dressing room door. i was in a terrible state over it. i figured elvis would never speak to me again . he would no way make another movie with me . elvis guys were always standing in front of his dressing room so i did not think i could get to elvis and explain. well i heard elvis coming on the set and i assumed he was going to walk right by me . he came up and he flicked my bra strap , he then said for me to go with him . so we marched off , and i told him i never said those things . elvis said not to worry that he knew where it came from .
so the guys were always with elvis?
most of the time , if we wanted to talk he would send them out . but there jobs were to do whatever he wanted .
YOU ARE VERY GOOD FRIENDS WITH DELORES HART . WHY DID SHE LEAVE HOLLYWOOD?
YOU KNOW SHE SAID TO ME THAT GOD HAD TO PULL HER REALLY HARD TO LEAVE WHAT SHE LOVED TO DO . SHE LOVED ACTING . BUT NOW SHE IS WHERE SHE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE.
did you have a lot of one on one time with elvis?
oh yes a lot of times , we talked a lot about religion , we talked about our childhood. i had a rough childhood , i found my father dead when i was six . i had a religious experience in a convent when i was small . so elvis was fascinated by that . he said that he had been searching for someone who could give him facts that Jesus did exist . so i told him what had happened to me.
did he ever talk to you about his mom?
yes , but only a little. he said that she would had loved me .
when was the last time you saw elvis?
well its difficult to say it depends on how spiritually minded people are. i would say last july the 26th . not everyone is going to go with that one.
so when was the last time you saw elvis after the movie?
i saw him quite a bit , we were going to do another movie , elvis went in one day and said he would do another movie for hal wallis as long as i was the costar . it was funny how he did it . he went in and said to hal wallis , hal today is your birthday . hal said to elvis . elvis its not my birthday .elvis said i'm going to make another movie for you with suzanna leigh as the co star , hal said oh it is my birthday (laughing) i mean that was like handing three million over to hal wallis.
well no elvis movie ever lost money .
he is the only actor in history , that never had a movie that was a failure.
did you got to the movie opening with elvis?
no i was working in Italy at the time. i did 27 movies , so i was working all the time . plus i had my own television series called 12 to 12 . most of my work i have not seen myself.
when did you hear that elvis had passed away?
i was in london and i was asleep and elvis came to me in this dream ,i had not dreamt a bout elvis for many years . elvis was all dressed in white ,and he said I'm fine now . it doesn't hurt anymore , but tell them , that it was my body . well i don't really remember what he was saying . but he said i have to go now . in my dream i remember hearing my phone ring . you know how your sleeping but your a wake a little at the same time. so i picked up the phone and it was cbs live from new york . asking if i could tell them how i feel about the death of elvis presley .
that's how how i found out elvis had passed.
thank you very much for doing this for me.
your very welcome joe.