(November 1961 by Nancy Ombrello)

THERE has been a marked increase in tourists at Idyllwild, the resort community in the San Jacinto Mountains, during the past few weeks – ever since Elvis Presley and the cast and crew of “Kid Galahad” arrived.

Since Idyllwild is just twenty-five miles from my home, in Banning, California, I was hoping to perhaps having the opportunity to see Elvis in person. However, on November 7, I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the day on the set of “Kid Galahad” and being able to meet and talk to Elvis and Mr. Diskin.

When I got to the village, about 9 o’clock, the movie company was set up in front of a gas station. There were policemen everywhere and even though it was cool and quite a windy morning, a crowd of sight-seers were gathered across the street from the set.

Mr. Diskin explained to me that there is really a lot of hard work that goes into making a movie. The stage crew got up at an early hour to have everything ready at 7 o’clock and the cast had to be in front of the camera at 8 sharp. The working day was anywhere from 8 to 6 and I understand that many night shots were made too.

This movie is surely going to be one of Elvis’s best. It is about a young man who returns to a small community from the Army and embarks on a boxing career. There have been six songs recorded for it, but all of them may not be used. “Kid Galahad” is a modern re-make of the movie starring Wayne Morris some years ago. The supporting cast includes the talents of Joan Blackman, Gig Young, Lola Albright, and Charles Bronson. Several of Idyllwide’s citizens and children are included in the extras.

During the morning, only about two scenes were completed at the gas station setting. Its rehearsals and shooting time amounted to five or six takes. And, of course, with so many sight-seers and tourists milling around and talking, I can well understand why movie making is such an expensive and time consuming business.

After lunch, shooting began in front of a coffee shop. Kleig lights and wires are everywhere and I did not imagine that it took so many people to work behind the scenes. There are 125 in the company of this movie. A scene in which Elvis and Joan stroll down the street took 25 minutes to set up (the camera was on a huge truck and it had to drive at a certain speed to a marked spot to catch all the action). After the scene was rehearsed and shot about seven times, the director shouted “Printit” and they moved onto another scene.

Seeing Elvis was not in this scene, he came over to where Mr. Diskin and I were and we were introduced. I have never met a nice man in all my life. For all that Mr. Presley has and is, he is the most unspoiled and unconceited person in show business. It was indeed an honor to have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with him. Even though he was busy and preoccupied, he took several minutes to talk to me and whenever anyone asked for an autograph, he graciously obliged.

Elvis told me what a wonderful President the Tankers have in Gary, and that it is truly one of the best fan clubs in his honor. I, for one, am very proud to be a member and I want to thank Gary, Mrs. Pepper, Mr. Diskin, and of course, Elvis, for helping to make one of my fondest wishes come true.

Whenever Elvis was not needed in a scene, he and his friends were playing touch football. There really was so much to see and the day was too wonderful and much too short.

Elvis and Joan did another scene and soon it was four o’clock and the director said Elvis was through for the day. I said good-bye to Mr. Diskin, watched by Elvis throw some more football passes and said good-bye to him, then happily headed by car back down the till towards Banning.

November 7 is a day I’ll never forget and my sincerest thanks to all who made it possible.

Elvis Monthly, January 1963