This article relates to Elvis enough to not be considered off-topic, so I've moved it here.
I enjoyed the interview when I first read it in the magazine. Thanks for posting it.
An interview with Jeanne LeMay from 'Essential Elvis Magazine'
Firstly, Can you tell me about your friendship with Linda?
Linda and I first met when we were roommates in the Miss USA Pageant in 1972, she as Miss Tennessee and me as Miss Rhode Island. We were introduced by our chaperone at the Governor's house in Puerto Rico. Linda said, "Hey Rhode Island, pleased to meet ya" with a Northern accent to poke fun at the way I talked, and I thought how funny she was and liked her immediately. She was a good Christian girl who I admired as she would read her bible every day. She had the most fantastic personality (she and I both were voted Miss Congeniality in our State pageants) and everyone loved her and wanted to be in her company. We had a great time in Puerto Rico and stayed two extra weeks after the pageant. We got to be close friends as there was never any competition between us at all. Linda and I talked about what we would like to do in the future. She invited me to move to Memphis and share an apartment. I felt very comfortable around her and I knew she would make a wonderful roommate. I moved there July 1st 1972 and we met Elvis on July 6th, so our plans changed dramatically. She moved in with Elvis instead, and I said to Elvis, "If she moved in with anyone else, I would have never forgiven her, but considering it's you, I guess it is okay!"
I understand Linda wasn't to keen on meeting Elvis, but you insisted.
Yes, Linda and I were supposed to model for fur coats that night and I said, "How many opportunities do you get to meet Elvis Presley and we are going!" I honestly couldn't believe we were actually going to meet him because I thought that Bill Browder, who invited us to go to the Memphian Theatre, was interested in Linda and it was just a way of getting to score with her. Also, coincidently, my twin sister and I had met Tom Jones in Rhode Island almost a year ago to the day and I thought how lucky can I get. It was a dream comes true.
In your own words, can you tell me about that first night you met Elvis at the Memphian Theatre?
Well, when we arrived, Bill Browder was there with a girl so I knew he probably wasn't after Linda at all. We were standing in the lobby and Elvis came crashing through the doors with a black cape with red satin lining and a white shirt and I whispered Linda that I thought he looked like Dracula, so Linda told him so. When we were introduced to him, Linda talked to him like she knew him her whole life and he was smitten. As far as we knew, he was still married but I thought Elvis was the most handsome man I had ever seen and I was trilled to be meeting him. He had the most dreamy eyes and sensuous mouth. He was quite charming, but he was still Elvis Presley and I was fully aware of the magnitude of his presence and personality, it was a little frightening. There was a strange aura around this man that I cannot describe.
You & Linda were both beauty queens, so why do you think Elvis took an instant interest in Linda and did you feel a little disappointed that it wasn't you?
No, to be honest with you, I was initially intimidated by him. After we were introduced in the lobby, Linda and I were sitting at the end of the row seats and George Klein came and sat in the last seat next to Linda, as he knew her well. Elvis was about ten rows in front of us surrounded by girls but he kept turning around. I think Linda said something to him like, "My aunt told me to say hello, she used to live in the same projects that your did." All of a sudden, Elvis got up and went to the back of the theatre and George flew out of the seat to follow. Within a minute, Elvis came and plopped down in the seat next to Linda and Linda said with no hesitation, " to what do we owe this honor?' He was taken aback and almost stuttering said, "Well, I just thought that I would sit down." I was flabbergasted an kept poking her in the' ribs, as I couldn't believe she would say something like that to a superstar. But you have to understand, Linda not only is beautiful, she is extremely witty, charming, confident and so delightful to be with. Elvis admired those qualities. They shared the same cultural background, religious beliefs and sense of humor. There was no contest with Linda and I, and I felt never any jealousy because Elvis fell in love with her. I was absolutely ecstatic for her good fortune.
Did you accompany Linda on any dates?
Yes, Elvis invited us to Graceland the next night, which was Friday, July 7th. When we pulled up to the house, we were so excited to be going inside. I thought it looked very homey at the time considering who lived there. This was before he had it redecorated in 1975 which most people think is rather gaudy but Elvis had flamboyant taste and the decor reflected that. Elvis was still upstairs but when he came down, he looked great. He showed us around Graceland including the trophy room which I found fascinating. The he took us around the grounds on a golf cart. Red West and I sat on the back and when we went over the old corn rows, I almost fell out because he was going so fast. I had my first camera so I asked if I could take pictures. Elvis obliged and started to kiss Linda in front of the door to Graceland. Then when I stood with Elvis to get a picture (which Red took) Elvis turned and kissed me! I thought I would pass out. I know he didn't do it out of disrespect to Linda; he just love to shock and give everybody a thrill, and let me tell you, it was! Mysteriously, the film from those pictures came out blank. I assume Red West exposed the film somehow as to protect Elvis. We then left for the Gulf Shores with Linda's family for two weeks. While we were away, Linda kept asking me if I thought he would call and I never had any doubts that he would. I am very perceptive and was positive he would contact her and when we returned, we found out that he had been trying to get a hold of her the whole time.
Would you say that you a friendship with Elvis because you were Linda's best friend, or were you genuinely found of each other regardless?
Yes, I would say it was through Linda that I had a friendship with Elvis. One of the reasons that I remained friends with Linda is that I never made any overtures at him. It was morally wrong and I valued my friendship with her more than having a brief fling with a superstar. Don't get me wrong, I found him absolutely gorgeous and felt love and devotion to him as a friend and admired him for his wonderful qualities; but there was no way I could have handled Elvis Presley. I just didn't have the confidence to be with someone of his stature. This is funny. Linda told me once that Elvis said, "You know, I think I know Jeanne well enough that if I made a pass at her, she would tell me to bleep myself!" I think he respected me for my loyalty to my friends.
How would you honestly describe their overall relationship?
I think they truly loved each other and fulfilled each other's needs. They were cute and playful together with a childlike spirit. And when they joked around and laughed, it was a contagious happening. Linda was so motherly by caring for him and they had the most adorable bay talk you ever heard. It was a language of their own.
Did Linda confide in you about her love for Elvis at that time?
Linda was a sweet, innocent southern girl and I knew she had never been completely intimate with a man before. She did confide in me about her apprehensions of getting involved with him. She wanted to make sure he really loved her. I knew she was in love for the first time, but can you imagine the pressure of having Elvis Presley as your first serious love? I told her that it was okay and I believed he really loved her. She told me I was the only person she could trust as many women would throw themselves at him behind her back. She had enough confidence to hold onto him, but I know she was concerned about his little flirtations. She truly understood Elvis and knew it was a need that he had to be around with women and to get that kind of adoration. But I knew she loved Elvis for himself and was unquestionably the best thing that ever happened to him. Many fans have written me to expressed their love for Linda and their gratitude to her for taking care of him. Some of them believe that if she were with him, he would still be alive. She even saved his life a couple if times because she was so attuned to his needs. It was just not for God's will and although we all miss him and wish he were still with us; I know he is in a wonderful place hopping around on the clouds. I can picture him laughing and being absolutely delighted and honored by the overwhelming devotion. They are truly doing a wonderful job keeping his memory alive and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them.
Did you witness both ups and downs or did they keep this kind of thing private?
I never witnessed them fighting but when Elvis hurt Linda's feelings, she would call me at four in the morning and tell me about it. She would read me poems, which she would write when she was sad and hurt, and I would say, "My God, are you talented, did you really wrote that?" She said she had been writing poems since she was a child. I envy this innate gift and I knew she had the ability to become a great songwriter. This has become a reality as she has had great success writing songs for Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston and many other famous artists.
Tell me about the various things you did with Elvis as a group.
We mostly would go to movies at the Memphian or the karate studio or simply hang around the house. Once we went racing around the grounds on the golf carts all night long. It had snowed in Memphis the Christmas of 1973 which is infrequent, and I had taken Lisa Marie sliding for the first time in her life down the hill in the front yard of Graceland. She was such a precious little girl and I played with her on her new trampoline and told her stories. Elvis had a three-wheeler motorcycle and we would race through the gates on those. He loved his toys. I also remember how delighted I was whenever he would sing for us.
Any funny moments that stick in your mind?
There is one in particular when he gave me a car. It was a Pontiac Ventura with a leopard top and because it was a stick shift (manual), which I couldn't drive. Elvis said he would show me and drive it back to Graceland. Picture this... Elvis in the drivers seat, next to him was Linda, then me. Everybody was staring at us on the road so Elvis said, "Honey, look at everybody looking at your new car." So I said, "Elvis, did you ever stop and think they could be looking at you?" And he said, "Oh yeah, I forgot about that!" He was a real person.
What about Elvis on stage? Did you see many shows?
Yes, when I went on tour in 1973, we went to ten cities including New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta and Nashville. I remember having a little motion sickness on the plane. I was sitting across the aisle from where Linda and where sitting, and Elvis hold my hand and did some kind of karate exercise, which was supposed to relieve the symptoms. I thought how kind he was to be concerned for me and yes, it did work, but I think I was still in a state of shock at being invited on tour. When Elvis asked me to join him on the tour, he said it was the least he could do for taking Linda away from me. Wasn't that sweet? Linda also called me when I was still living in Rhode Island and asked me to join them In Las Vegas. I had my own beautiful suite and I saw the shows every night for about a week. I also saw the show he did in Memphis in 1975 when I was working there. It was such a privilege to be in a position to attend all those shows when I knew how difficult it was to obtain tickets.
What did you personally think of him as a performer?
I was always a big fan of Elvis since the sixties and loved going to his movies and wishing I was one of the girls in it. Every time I saw him perform on stage, it literally took my breath away. The electricity in that room was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. This man was extraordinarily charismatic and attracted women like a magnet. The attitude and energy of him as a performer is incomparable.
Did you ever feel that Linda and Elvis would marry and possibly have children?
Yes, I think that maybe they would marry and I knew they talked about kids. I knew Linda would make a great mother and they would produce a beautiful, talented child.
Did you witness the decline in his health and how aware was Linda of such trouble?
I knew Elvis' health was declining because I was working there in the office in 1975 when he was admitted to the hospital about four or five times. I also had dated one of Elvis' doctors who told me that he had a lot of physical problems and he probably wouldn't live to be very old, about fifty-five. I was stunned, to say to the least. Linda confided in me that Elvis was abusing prescription drugs. She was worried and tried to get him stop. He was getting heavy and he would eat such enormous portions of food and then he starve himself with these fad diets which never worked for long. The last time I saw him alive, he was so heavy that I didn't even recognize him. It was a sad situation to witness the self destruction of such a beautiful man.
Here's a tough one - At the time, did you have any knowledge of the high usage of prescription medication by Elvis and other members of his inner circle?
Like I said, I was aware of the problem but I never witnessed Elvis or anyone around him taking any drugs, pills or anything. I know that may be hard to believe, but Linda and I didn't drink or smoke. We were both very naive concerning drugs and I had no desire to learn. Consequently, when I Linda told me of Elvis' drug abuse, I realized the repercussions of the problem. I remember seeing pill bottles in the bathroom and by the bed, but I never read what the bottles contained.
Do you know about the shooting incident in Las Vegas where Linda was almost hit?
Yes, as a matter of fact, when I was in Las Vegas after the show Linda and I went to her dressing room suite and she showed me the bullet hole. Elvis was very angry at some of the guys that night because of something they had failed to do, and came into the main suite and started yelling wildly and firing them all. I was so scared and said to Linda, "get me the hell out of here before he starts shooting!" I had witnessed him shooting one of the cars, the Pantera, when it failed to start, so I knew he wouldn't hesitate to use a gun.
Were you aware that Linda was considering a break-up?
Linda did confide in me about ending the relationship. She was becoming increasingly unhappy and frustrated with Elvis' behavior and I knew she couldn't take much more. She got close to David Briggs, Elvis' piano player, and I had accompanied them on a couple of dates. I remember there was a song out at that time called 'Torn between two lovers'. I told her she had to go with her heart but she had to think of her emotional health too. She felt helpless to stop Elvis from the abuse and the other women. She did everything for him that anyone could possibly do and more. I am sure it was the most difficult decision of her life.
You ended up working at Graceland right?
Yes, when I moved back to Memphis in 1974, I had been working as a hostess-supervisor in a restaurant and one day Linda calls and said, "Elvis wants to know if you want a job doing his fan mail." I worked with Patsy (Gamble), Elvis' cousin Paulette, and Vernon, Elvis' dad. I really didn't see Elvis that much during the day because they were asleep. It is not like he dictated letters to us or anything. So, I handled the fan mail and also would stay at Graceland with Linda or travel with her went Elvis went out of town. That is how I had the opportunity to take pictures of the upstairs of Graceland, the bedroom, office and bathroom etc. I left in 1976 to move to Los Angeles to share the apartment, which she and Elvis had rented when they went to California.
Have you been back to Graceland since?
No, I regret to say that I have not been back but hope to visit one day.
Who do you remember form Elvis' guys and can you tell me how they treated you?
I remember all of them and they treated me very well, although, someone made a pass at me when I went on tour. So when Linda told Elvis, he told all the guys that I was his guest and was off limits.
Are you in touch with any of them today?
No, except that Joe (Esposito) was in Rhode Island last January promoting his book and I got to see him.
I know you and Linda are still best friends. Has she changed much over the years?
Linda still has the same wonderful personality and in my opinion, she has gotten even more beautiful throughout the years, if that is possible. She is involved in many charitable causes, which reflect her goodness and generosity. She always had the most perfect body and still does. Shopping with her is like having a human Barbie doll because everything looks good on her. I have never known anyone who can equal her warmth, sweetness, generosity, sense of humor, kindness and intelligence. She has always been my role model and I love her and think of her as my sister. I consider it a privilege to be her friend. Linda gave me a card once that read: 'What made us friends in the long ago when first we met: well, I think I know. The best in me and the best in you hailed each other because they knew, that long ago since time began, our being friends was part of God's plan.' I never forgot that.
How often do you get to see here these days?
Well, not as often as I would like. However, I was visiting with her recently, last June, at her mansion in Malibu after not seeing her for a while and it was the most joyous experience. When the driver drove through the gates of the estate, I thought it was a park with a huge hotel. It was magnificent and totally breathtaking. Her hospitality is wonderful and she always shows me such a marvelous time. Her husband, David Foster, who is musical genius, always entertains me with a mini concert on the piano which is always a thrill. They are a very entertaining couple and I thoroughly enjoyed being in their company. Linda is extremely talented and can think up lyrics to a song while she is on the treadmill. I am very proud and happy of her accomplishments and I always believed in her ability. I feel honored and fortunated that Linda and I are still friends after thirty years and that inspite of her success, she has not forgotten me. We try to stay in touch by calling each other as often as possible and when I hear her voice, all the memories of the past come flooding back and I feel we're twenty-one again.
Do you and Linda ever chat about those years that you both spent with Elvis?
Oh yeah, I still have it and I still wear it occasionally not to take away from anyone else that I've loved in my life. Everyone has a personal magic. We're all like snowflakes, unique in our creation. We're so much alike and we're all just drifting through life but we all have our own character, our own shape. Elvis was just unique, incredibly sensual and tender. He was funny and he was good. He was an extreme in every aspect of his life.
Was it a thrill to be portrayed in the movie 'Elvis and the Beauty Queen'?
When Linda called me to tell that she was going to make me immortal, I just cracked up. It was thrilling, to say to the least, especially when I witnessed some of the filming of the movie and met Don Johnson, Stephanie Zimbalist and Ann Duessenberry who played me. When I met Ann, I said, "It is so nice to meet you and I am so glad they choose someone pretty, and I always wanted blonde hair and blue eyes." Well, Linda and the director actually doubled over laughing because they thought it was so funny watching me with this actress.
I know Don Johnson was a million miles from Elvis, but do you think the rest of the movie was fairly accurate?
Not really. Linda said she wasn't satisfied with the end result and I certainly didn't like the scene where I jump on the gate and say, "Rover, Rover, can't Elvis come over?" That was so unlike anything I would have done. I told Linda recently that we should have played ourselves. It would have been hysterically funny. And I didn't like the way they portrayed Elvis and his drug abuse. I wish they had showed the real Elvis as I read the script, and they left out all the positive aspects of his personality.
When you look back on your days with Elvis, how would you describe those few years hanging around with the King?
The most thrilling and unforgettable experience of my life. I remember the Christmas I spent at Graceland. There was an ice storm, which prevented me from returning to Rhode Island for a couple of days. Elvis, Linda and I were walking around the grounds of Graceland in this beautiful winter wonderland and I remember thanking God for allowing me this unbelievable opportunity to actually be spending the holidays with Elvis Presley.
What are you up to these days Jeanne?
I am married to a wonderful man and we bought a beautiful house (which we joking call the mini Graceland because the front of the house resembles it) with a heated, indoor pool which is my heaven as I am an avid swimmer. I work in sales and lately I have been contemplating writing a book due to the enormous encouragement and support I have received from the fans.
Tell me about the sale of your photos and your great website?
Due to the twenty-fifth anniversary of Elvis' death, I knew that my pictures of the upstairs of Graceland would want to be seen by the fans so I started to auction them. The response was overwhelming and my husband established a website called www.elvissecretary.com. I can honestly say that it has been the most rewarding experience of my life to hear how grateful the fans are for making the pictures available to view or purchase for their collections. This has been an exciting venture and I love to read of the devotion people still have for Elvis and their stories simply tough my heart. I have learned though this how Elvis continues to reach out and tough new generations of fans around the world and it is very gratifying indeed.
And finally, how do you thin Elvis should be remembered?
There is no doubt that Elvis was the greatest entertainer of the twentieth century but for those of us who were fortunate enough to know him, he was also tender, funny, generous and kind. He had frailties and idiosyncrasies that most human beings have. He should not be worshipped, but admired and respected for the magnificent talent he had and for the extraordinary man he was. He was God's gift to the world and we were truly blessed to be given the gift of hearing his voice, seeing that handsome face, and experience his phenomenal performance.
This article relates to Elvis enough to not be considered off-topic, so I've moved it here.
I enjoyed the interview when I first read it in the magazine. Thanks for posting it.
...you won't forget me when I go.