Legendary karate master Ed Parker
became closely associated with Elvis in the 1970s. Elvis supported Parker's schools, was apparently certified for high-level black belts from him, and in fact even hired Ed as one of his on tour bodyguards in the last year of his life. Parker claims to have met Presley as early as spring 1960, although some question how much contact they had at the time.
One way Elvis would have certainly noticed Parker in the early sixties might have been through an April 1962, three-page article in Black Belt
magazine on actor Nick Adams
. Presley and Adams became fast friends when Elvis filmed "Love Me Tender" in August 1956 at 20th Century-Fox, and spent a reasonable amount of time hanging out that year. Adams' role in "Rebel Without A Cause" was something that Presley never tired of talking about, as he worshipped the 1955 drama's star, the late James Dean
At the time the magazine hit the newsstands, Adams had recently completed a two-season run starring as "Johnny Yuma" in ABC-TV's "The Rebel," and it seems karate was filling his time until his next big break. And who do we see teaching "rugged Nick"? None other than Ed Parker! According to the article, Parker notes that "Nick's got the drive" to excel at the art. Black Belt
concludes by praising the young actor as "an ambassador of an ancient art -- Karate." Sound kind of familiar? It seems Ed Parker knew how to make stars feel at home in his dojo.
Think Elvis read this while on a break at home in Memphis? You bet he did!
Here is the entire piece:Black Belt - April 1962
Sadly, Nick would score just one more starring TV role, in 1962's short-lived "Saints and Sinners" on NBC, and end up taking acting roles in film or TV wherever possible, regardless of quality. He would pass away in 1968, at the age of 36.
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