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Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 3:32 pm

One of my earliest reads was 'My Life With Elvis' by Becky Yancey with Cliff Linedecker released in 1977.

Becky met Elvis in 1954 and became his secretary in March 1962 until July 1974.

I haven't read it in decades but remember it fondly.




With Vernon Presley



Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 4:20 pm

Wow !

She was already promoting her book three months after Elvis' death.

That's fast.

Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 4:45 pm

On a serious note. After the cat was let out of the bag with the bodyguard book. It became easy or easier to write a book about one's life with Elvis. And to tip the balance with positive or good memories.

Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 5:15 pm

I believe she was in the process of writing the book prior to Elvis' death. She is on Facebook, if you have an interest in asking her.

Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 5:47 pm

I remember her being on The Russell Harty Show, here in the UK, just months after Elvis passed.

I remember her telling him all Elvis' teeth were capped, and that he hadn't retired and was always working ! Strange guest.

Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 10:05 pm

elvisjock wrote:I believe she was in the process of writing the book prior to Elvis' death. She is on Facebook, if you have an interest in asking her.

Reports at the time indicate her book, co-written with Cliff Linedecker, was being done before August 16, 1977. It came out in December, and I read it. Even then I could tell it was a lightweight "corrective" to the sensational stories in the press that year, both before and after Elvis died.

Below is a scathing review that hit the newswires. It's clear that My Life With Elvis was written for diehards only:

Former secretary writes about life with Elvis
Odessa American
Monday, December 26, 1977

Becky Yancey is as nice as apple pie — or maybe pecan pie, since she’s from Memphis. She would be the first to tell you she’s not a writer But people were always asking her, she'd also tell you, about the nearly 13 years she spent as a secretary at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion. And so — even before the swivel-hipped musical legend died last August -- she began writing a book about those years “My Life With Elvis’’ (St. Martin's Press, $8 95). She had compiled a hefty pack of longhand pages when a friend introduced her to her eventual coauthor, Cliff Linedecker, who is described on the book jacket as a writer specializing in parapsychology and the unknown. Becky wouldn't tell you that one of his special unknowns apparently is English grammar (Or should we blame editors for sentences such as the opening of chapter one: "Almost everyone has their most embarrassing moment,” and the random mixture of present and past tense throughout?) Becky prefers to spend her book- promoting interview time clarifying incidents in "My Life With Elvis” that might spawn a certain confusion regarding her professed admiration for her former employer.

Early in the book, for example, she relates a 1961 incident in which Presley, while having breakfast with friends, amused himself by flipping pats of butter at the wall: “He was showing the other guys a trick. He placed a piece of butter on the tip of his knife as he held the handle parallel to the table with a thumb and one finger. Then he bent the blade back into a bow and suddenly let go. The butter flipped across the table, shooting past Joe and splattering against the wall. "The guys guffawed and screamed as the butter stuck on the wall a moment, then slowly oozed off, dropping onto the floor in a greasy puddle. There were five or six oily butter splotches on the wall and a slippery mess on the floor when Elvis tired of the trick." Did that incident reveal a certain juvenile streak in Elvis’ character? "Oh, no,” said Becky "He was young at heart, but he wasn't juvenile. You might want to do something like that, but you wouldn't because you'd have to clean it up."

Elvis' penchant for giving large gifts to people he knew or hardly knew is well documented in "My Life With Elvis." And so is the fact that the secretaries at Graceland were not overpaid. "When I left Elvis in 1974, I was earning $125. Some secretaries in other jobs in the Memphis area were making $200 a week." Becky wrote, "But Elvis’ daddy (Vernon Presley) set the salaries for the secretaries and he was of the old school. To me, it seemed clear that he didn’t think women should make much money, no matter what they did. If any of us asked Mr. Presley for a raise, he would tell us to wait ‘We just ain’t making that much money now,’ he would say."

But looking back, Becky can see a reason for the elder Presley’s caution where money was concerned.

"Somebody had to be that way. because Elvis was so generous Elvis wanted to share some of his fortune just because he enjoyed seeing the looks on people's faces when he'd give them things.” She notes in the book that Elvis enjoyed giving because he'd been poor as a child and knew what it was to want things. His father, on the other hand, never seemed able to relax and enjoy the abundance that accompanied his son's phenomenal success. "But there were advantages to working at Graceland, too,” Becky recalled. "Elvis always said, ‘If you need anything, just ask.’ And it was a relaxed place to work."

Elvis' flamboyant lifestyle simply matched the magnitude of his public image. his co-biographer believes "Elvis wasn’t a dull individual. He set a lot of trends — the jumpsuits that so many singers wear today, for example. He drove big cars, but I don’t think it's unusual for men to like cars. Elvis loved anything on wheels." Becky also had an explanation for the entourage that followed Presley wherever he went - including the hospital in which his former wife, Priscilla, gave birth to their daughter, Lisa. "He grew up an only child. His twin brother was born dead. Those guys (the entourage) were like brothers to him — like family.” She thinks Elvis' bodyguards, Red and Sonny West and Dave Hebler, took a cheap shot in the book, "Elvis, What Happened?,” in describing the singer as a brooding, violent man. In her book, however, she says that Presley and several friends once shot off an arsenal of guns too close to her office for comfort. She wrote that he loved and collected guns, and as a teen-ager wanted to be a police officer.

One of the photo captions in the book indicates that he earned a marksman's medal in the Army. But, she insists, "I was never afraid of Elvis' shooting — only those around him.” Pat Boone's description of Presley as a recluse in recent years was erroneous, too, said Becky "He was a prisoner of his success, as is anyone that famous,” she says. "He and Priscilla worried about kidnappers. He would have liked to have been able to go to church, but he couldn't because of the crowds he attracted. But he did get out. Sometimes he’d ride his motorcycle through 5 p.m. traffic."

Becky did see Elvis occasionally after she retired in 1974 to remain at home with her husband. Jerry, a customer service manager with a Memphis manufacturing company, and their son, Jerry Jr. She said Elvis was watching his weight — his mother had been heavy — because he enjoyed eating. "But he looked good," she said. "He wasn't ‘fat and 40,’ as I read in the press."

It should be said that Becky Yancey has been an Elvis fan since she was 14. Elvis always did have a way with women, or maybe Yancey just never got over the way he took her home for breakfast after she got sick all over him on an amusement park ride. To her he was the man who moved naturally as he sang, certain preachers' notions about his perversity to the contrary. To her he was the man who thought she had married a "Jerry" he didn't like, and was relieved to learn that It wasn't so. To her he was the man who portrayed to many people "the American dream" of achieving success and wealth on his own merits. To her he was an entertainer in control of the music he selected to perform, and knowledgeable about his contribution to contemporary music.

Even now she's benefiting from her Graceland days. If she hadn't spent all those hours answering all that mail from weird and wonderful Presley fans who sent their idol everything from dead pets to nude photos of themselves, would she be be wearing a gold TLC necklace today? (The letters stand for Tender Loving Care. The pendant is one of many give to women in Elvis' circle.)

Re: Becky Yancey - Secretary to Elvis

Wed May 10, 2017 11:31 pm

I read this too back in the day. However, nothing for me will ever top that book by May Mann!