Conversations on Elvis: Pat Boone, Barbara Eden, more share memories of the King

·3 min read

TV legends and former teen idols were among those sharing memories and stories of Elvis Presley at Graceland on Monday afternoon.

The 2022 edition of the Elvis Week perennial panel, Conversations on Elvis, drew a large crowd to the Graceland Soundstage to watch a mix of the rock 'n' roll icon's friends and associates — including “I Dream of Jeanie” star Barbara Eden, singer Pat Boone, Presley pal Jerry Schilling and his former wife, Priscilla Presley — recount their time with the King.

The second of two Conversations on Elvis sessions on the day, the event was presented in a talk-show format, hosted by Tom Brown.

Eden, Presley’s co-star in one of his rare dramatic turns, the 1960 feature “Flaming Star,” recalled Presley as a “fabulous natural actor.”

Barbara Eden about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Barbara Eden about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

“He enjoyed doing a serious part,” said Eden, still looking resplendent at age 90. “I think he could have done so much more. So much more. His talent was huge. It wasn’t just music. He was a good, good actor — when he had a good script.”

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Eden also recalled Presley as a well-mannered Southern boy (“His mommy raised him right”), concerned about his future in show business and how to navigate the challenges of career and family.

“He was so human,” Eden said. “Quite often in our field you meet people that don’t let you see what they really are. But he did. He was very open and sincere about everything.”

Pat Boone, right, speaks to host Tom Brown about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Pat Boone, right, speaks to host Tom Brown about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

She was followed by singer/actor Boone — who actually co-starred with Eden in the 1961 film “All Hands on Deck.” Boone discussed his rivalry and friendship with Presley, as they traded chart hits in the ‘50s.

“We were two boys from Tennessee, me from Nashville and him from Memphis… who knew we were extremely lucky,” Boone said. “Things were happening beyond anything we could have expected.”

Boone noted that he and Presley were “friendly competitors” and recalled an occasion where Elvis opened a show for him in Cleveland. “The one and only time that ever occurred. I learned not to ever follow him,” Boone said. “But I so appreciated him and his talent. We all underestimated him in the beginning. We thought he would be a flash in the pan.”

Pat Boone speaks about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Pat Boone speaks about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

He also made light of his and Elvis’ respective reputations — Presley as a sexually charged, hip-swiveling phenomenon, and Boone as a clean living, parent-approved alternative.

“I was singing rock 'n' roll, having my own rock records and being a teen idol,” Boone said. “But I was married with four kids and a church-going guy and never had any scandal about me.”

The 88-year-old Boone proved a game interview subject. In between stories, he sang snatches of “dirty blues” songs including Jimmy Reed’s “Going to New York” and Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and told tales of hanging out on the 20th Century Fox lot with Presley, where they lunched with golden age of Hollywood stars like Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor and Cary Grant.

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The panel concluded with appearances by Presley's longtime friend and Elvis Presley Enterprises consultant Schilling and Priscilla Presley discussing the global box office success of this year's Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic, "Elvis."

Priscilla Presley and Jerry Schilling speak about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Priscilla Presley and Jerry Schilling speak about Elvis Presley during Elvis Week's Conversations on Elvis panel at Graceland Soundstage on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.

"I don't know of one [other] director or producer who could have done it," Priscilla  Presley said of the film. "I love Baz, he's just so great."

Priscilla Presley and Schilling recalled their nerves before their first screening of the film, and their relief once they knew Luhrmann had created something worthy of Elvis. "It was so touching, both of us were so touched," Presley said.

"We were a little speechless at the end of it," Schilling added.

The Conversations on Elvis sessions came amid a busy day for fans, with the annual Candlelight Vigil — marking Elvis' death on Aug. 16, 1977 — later in the evening.

Elvis Week will continue through Wednesday with a number of other major events — including a live/video concert presentation featuring Elvis at the Graceland Soundstage, set for Tuesday night.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Elvis Week: Priscilla Presley, Pat Boone, Barbara Eden on the King