Red, White and Blue Elvis
Montgomery, AL. March 6th 1974
By Wanda McCluski
George C. Wallace may have felt a tinge of jealousy when several thousand
shrieking women paid homage to their idol, Elvis Presley. Wallace took his wife
Cornelia to see Presley's sell-out concert in Garrett Coliseum and would have
gone unnoticed if he had not entered during intermission.
The Governor came back to Montgomery a day early from the National Governors Conference in Washington to escort Mrs. Wallace to the Presley show. The first family had met the President on several occasions and rubbed shoulders with the highest ranking political figures, but their path had not crossed Presley's. Mrs. Wallace admitted that she wanted to see what Presley looked like in person.
Photographer unknown ©
Elvis and his father with Gov. Wallace and his family
and his party, including mother-in-law Ruby Folsom Austin, created a mild stir
on the ground floor when Wallace was rolled in after the first half of Presley's
show in which his troupe entertained. A number of persons left their seats to
shake Wallace's hand when he arrived at his mediocre seating area but the
reception was polite and extremely orderly.
But then the house lights went down and the drum roll to signal the coming of the star vibrated off the rafters. And Presley strode out in his white outfit studded with red and blue eagle designs. The frenzied squealing began. Presley launched his show and Wallace sat in his wheelchair on the seventh row in front of the stage.
George O. Hill ©
Montgomery, AL. March 6th 1974
watched Presley gyrate to the pounding music for a while but soon his attention
drifted to the crowd. He propped his chin on his hand and gazed up into the sea
of faces that reached to the crow's nest seats at the very top of the coliseum.
The veteran politician must have been mentally calculating the size of the crowd. And he most likely was tabulating the votes and the amount of money that had been paid.
Presley and the reaction he was getting from the crowd pulled Wallace's
attention back to the stage. At times he smiled but most of the time he just
looked at Presley in awe. Mrs. Wallace, wearing a striking floor-length dress,
did not join in the demonstrative response to Presley's singing and hip
swiveling. She whispered occasionally to her husband.
Presley acknowledged Wallace's proclamation naming the week in his honor in Alabama, but he seemed to take it tonguein-cheek. He appeared to treat the gesture something like a millionaire would if he found a dime on the street.
Wallace's had offered to entertain him while he was in Alabama for the concert
here and in Auburn the previous night. But the invitation was declined and Mrs.
Wallace said she was not offended because as an entertainer in her younger days
she knew the pressure of one-night stands.
did allow them to come back stage before he began his show.
performance had been a sell-out from the day word leaked out that Presley was
going to be in town. There were 16,400 seats and the receipts ran around
$104,000 for the local show alone and the Auburn crowd was about the same.
the perspiring Presley concluded his show, he was rushed out of the building
through a heavily-guarded back door to keep the enthusiastic fans from mobbing
remained in the audience. There was no mad break to get his autograph.
Governor just was not the star of the evening.
published in the Montgomery Independent