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ELVIS IN HAWAII


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Fan memories: Star showed warm, playful side

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 11:56 a.m. HST, Feb 14, 2014



Ahulani Von Hamm recalls the time in the 1960s when Elvis Presley and his wife, Priscilla, along with Colonel Tom Parker, rented the beachfront Kahala mansion next door. Although her family was protective of the singer's privacy, Von Hamm went over one day to introduce herself and to ask a favor. She was going to send a disabled teenage girl who spent a lot of time with Von Hamm's family over to Presley's house to ask for some eggs. Von Hamm wasn't going to tell the girl, who adored the singer, who their neighbor was, and she wondered if Presley would play along.

His response: "I love it."

"We watched from the kitchen of our home. It was beautiful. It was something from the movies," said Von Hamm, 83. "He opened the door and there she saw Elvis. She screamed and jumped up and down. She crushed the eggs in her excitement coming home.

"We thought it was one of the kindest things."

Nearly every morning during his stay, Presley would come over to Von Hamm's house to ask to borrow their small rubber raft, the request always preceded with a polite "Ma'am …"

"He would sit out there with his little wife. Of course he could have bought a much bigger boat. Or he sat on the beach but not in front of his home, to fool people.

"I really hated to see him go."

The music of Elvis Presley takes Michael Augusta back to his early days at the Jersey Shore in the 1950s, when it "was bigger and better than Las Vegas."

"He was a sensational singer and dancer," said Augusta, 78, who owns a number of Presley albums, still unopened. "And he was very charitable," raising money for the USS Arizona Memorial and other causes.

The Moiliili resident said that as a volunteer aloha ambassador in Waikiki, he used to direct visitors to the statue of Presley at the Blaisdell Arena. Augusta never saw the singer perform in person, but plans to attend Monday's 40th-anniversary screening of the "Aloha from Hawaii" concert.

"I'm still a-rockin'," he said.

Estelle Ortiz Green, known in recent years as the wife of high-profile attorney Michael Green, met Elvis Presley in 1961 when she was one of the "hula girls" at Kaiser's Hawaiian Village and he was in Hawaii to film "Blue Hawaii."

"My girlfriend, Terry Frei­tas, and I were in the lobby after we finished work, and his boys came up to us and asked if we were interested in going to a party. It was Joe Esposito (Presley's road manager and bodyguard) and Marty (Lacker). We said, ‘Who's having a party?' and they said, ‘Elvis,' so we went up there (to his suite) and that's when we first met him.

"He said, ‘Do you want to work in the movie?' and we said, ‘Yes!'"

And just like that, Presley had two of the hula dancers who would be seen in the film. Green was also one of the bridesmaids who accompanied Presley and his co-star, Joan Blackman, in the big wedding scene.

Later, when she was living on the mainland and struggling to make ends meet, Presley would let her use his phone to call her mother in Hawaii.

"At that time long distance was a lot, and he knew I couldn't afford it, so he'd have me come over and call my mom. And he never tried anything. Well, he kissed me on my lips once, but that was it. He was a good guy," Green said.

"We'd sing. He'd play the piano. People talked about him (and) how he didn't have morals, but I really believe he did. I never saw him do anything like that … he was just a really neat guy, and so good to his boys and to his cook."






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