Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:25 am

How many are aware that the lovely Anita Wood, one of Elvis' most intelligent, dedicated, beautiful and serious girlfriends from 1957 to 1962, was a budding star in her own right?

From winning the 1954 Mid-South Fair Youth Talent Contest in Memphis at the age of 16, the Jackson, Mississippi teen went on to lead radio and TV shows, including co-hosting the "Top 10 Dance Party" program in Memphis, where Elvis first became infatuated with her.

Anita Wood was a talent to be reckoned with. She was gorgeous, she had charisma, and she had a great singing voice.


Image

Anita Wood - William Morris Agency portrait, 1958


Shortly after she and Elvis began dating, she bid him farewell as he left for a tour.


Image

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Wednesday, August 28, 1957


But Anita didn't sit at home and cry, counting the days until Presley's return. Just a few weeks later, she lit out to Hollywood to do a screen test for "Girl in the Woods," after winning the "Hollywood Star Hunt" contest and getting a contract with the William Morris Agency. Elvis made sure to let Anita know he would be thinking of her while she was in California.


Image

Williamson Daily News, Friday, September 20, 1957


Elvis had only just completed his tour when he quite visibly -- and literally -- picked up Anita from the Memphis airport.


Image

Elvis meets Anita Wood at Memphis Airport, Friday, September 13, 1957
Photo by Bob Williams, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Note the "friendship" ring on her right hand. Anita would remember the gift as one of the most meaningful highlights of her time with Elvis. Many years later she gave it to her daughter, who has it to this day.

Anita ended up turning down the B-movie role, after some pleading from Elvis. And, ultimately, she would never make a film in Hollywood. But she hadn't given it all up yet.

The William Morris Agency booked her on various southern and western tours, and in New York in 1958 she made appearances on NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show With Jack Paar" (October 20), "County Fair," a daytime NBC-TV game show hosted by Bert Parks (September 21), and four or five appearances (in August and September) on a replacement series for CBS-TV, "The Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams."

While in the Big Apple, Anita also studied acting at the Lane Theater Workshop. One wonders if it ever crossed Elvis' mind to hone his acting chops at a New York acting studio?


Image

Anita "Miss Management" Wood - "The Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams" (CBS-TV)
Tonawanda News, Thursday, August 28, 1958



Prior to this, Anita had shown her lovely voice in recordings made after Elvis got drafted and sent to Fort Hood.


Image

Anita and Elvis in Waco, Texas - May 17, 1958
This image went over the AP news wires days later, much to Elvis' chagrin.


Image

Anita, Elvis, Eddie and LaNelle Fadal in Waco, Texas - May 17, 1958
Original portrait, intended to be for private use only.


phpBB [video]

Anita Wood, "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)" (May 17, 1958)
Private recording taped at Eddie Fadal's home in Waco, Texas.
Elvis, off duty, provides backing vocals and piano accompaniment.



Williams liked her so much she was the second voice on a hit single in 1959.


phpBB [video]

Andy Williams, "Hawaiian Wedding Song" (Cadence 1358, December 1, 1958)
Billboard US #8 Pop, March 16, 1959
Elvis would record this in 1961, and use the Williams-Wood arrangement in his 1970s concerts.



And even though Elvis had an extended Memphis break at the beginning of June 1958, Anita fulfilled a recording commitment in New York.


Image

Middlesboro Daily News, Wednesday, June 4, 1958
Note comment regarding Anita near end of article.


Image Image

Anita Wood - LaGuardia Airport, New York, June 2, 1958
Singer-actress Anita Wood, 20, who describes herself as "one of Elvis Presley's girlfriends," appears to be leaving, but she's actually obliging photographers as she arrives at LaGuardia Airport from Memphis. Anita, in town for recording sessions, said she hopes to get back to Memphis before Presley's two-week furlough from the Army is over.


Image

Anita Wood - LaGuardia Airport, New York, June 2, 1958
ELVIS IS ON HER MIND: Songstress Anita Wood, in New York for a week of recording sessions, says 'I expect to see Elvis' when she returns to Memphis, her hometown, this weekend. The blonde Anita has known Presley for a year, says a mutual interest in rock'n roll brought them together.


Out of the New York sessions for ABC-Paramount, arranged and conducted by Don Costa, came a single that fall, although it wasn't a hit.


Image


phpBB [video]

Anita Wood, "Crying in the Chapel" (ABC-Paramount 9947, October 1958)
Elvis, of course, had a chart-topping hit with this 1953 Artie Glenn song six and a half years later.


phpBB [video]

Anita Wood, "I'm Liking This" (ABC-Paramount 9947, October 1958)
The catchy B-side of Anita's debut single.


Elvis kept his "#1 girlfriend" in his sights throughout his days overseas in Germany, with lots of fervent letters and phone calls. Anita claims she was all set to visit him in 1959, but his manager shut her down. Nice.


Image

Image

Excerpt from a 4-page letter to Anita, mailed Friday, November 14, 1958


Meanwhile, Anita kept in the news as an up-and-coming starlet through the end of the decade.


Image

Florence Times, Daily Section - Sunday, June 21, 1959


After Elvis returned to America in March 1960, they remained more or less together until the summer of 1962, when it was clear to Anita that a true commitment would never happen.


Image

Elvis and Anita at the Fairgrounds, Memphis - Monday, July 11, 1960
Notice Anita temporarily dyed her hair black, to please her boyfriend.


When Anita finally said good-bye, the Memphis Press-Scimitar reported it as "Elvis' Long-Time Girlfriend Anita Wood--Says It's All Over" on August 6, 1962. In it, Anita stated she wished to just pick up the pieces of her career and that her next single was to be titled, "Love's Not Worth It."

Anita would continue to perform -- from 1962 to 1964 she sang weekly on another Memphis TV show -- and release records, for Memphis-based labels like Sun and Santo, but as good as they were, they never caught fire.


Image

Billboard - June 5, 1961
The 1961 Sun single gets an excellent review!


phpBB [video]

Anita Wood, "I Can't Show How I Feel" (Sun 361, June 1961)
Great mid-tempo pop single from Anita, with a superb, assured vocal.


phpBB [video]

Anita Wood, "I'll Wait Forever" (Sun 361, June 1961)
Lovely, ironic B-side of Sun 361.


Image


Image


Image

"Still" / "Memories Of You" (Santo 9008, May 1963)
"Two Young Fools In Love" / "Memories Of You" (Santo 9008, May 1963)
Apparently, "Still" was dumped as the A-side choice before release by Santo.
Jack Clement's "Two Young Fools In Love" took its place. He'd cut a great Sun demo of it with Barbara Pittman.



Image

"Dream Baby" / "This Has Happened Before" (Santo 9054, May 1964)
This appears to be Anita's last known pop single.
The B-side, "This Has Happened Before," sounds terrific, listen to a sample --> Click Here



In 1964 Anita married the NFL champion Cleveland Browns football player #83, Johnny Brewer, and together they raised a daughter and two sons.


Image

Johnny Brewer, Cleveland Browns, circa 1964


They remained together for over 46 years, until Johnny's death just a month ago, on May 27, 2011.

Anita had contact with Elvis a few times after the 1962 parting, such as at the Hilton in Las Vegas, circa 1970.


I went to Las Vegas with a girlfriend once and I ran into Joe Esposito, George Klein and Lamar who said, "Elvis is performing tonight. If you'll come I'll save you a seat up front." So I talked to Johnny about it, who had been the night before, and he had no problem with me seeing the show.

So, I had a seat right there next to the stage, and when Elvis walked on he looked wonderful. He saw me there and a lot of the songs he sung straight to me. When the show was over, Charlie Hodge came over and told me that Elvis would like to see me backstage.

I went and saw him and we hugged for a long time before he said, "'Little,' I wonder if we made a mistake," and I said, "No Elvis, we didn't, you wouldn't have Lisa and I wouldn't have my children and my husband."

This was the last time I saw him, but I talked to him sometime later when my father died, like I told you before. I wanted to tell him that I knew what he felt when his mother died, but his voice sounded so slow and deep at that time.

Anita Wood Interviewed by Al Hearn
http://members.tripod.com/sharoncarrell_1/awood.html



Anita is 73 now, and still as lovely as ever.


Image


Many fans rightly believe Elvis would have had a much different life if she'd not been ... the one who got away.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:57 am, edited 3 times in total.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:32 am

Interesting post Doc. She should definitely top any list that rates his female companions.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:33 am

You're the best John.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:55 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Image




Soldier Boy - Ella Fitzgerald

Elvis gave her a dog, the dog got run over. Then for Christmas in 59 he gave her a guitar. She later gave the guitar to her neighbor. When she got married she started giving away everything Elvis gave her, a lot as gifts to her bridesmaids. She said Elvis was her first love, but Johnny was her real love.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:50 am

One of the best posts I have read in awhile.
thanks doc :smt023

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:03 am

Excellent post, John, thank you: great background info and research.

When she started appearing in documentaries a while back. she always came across sincerely and intelligently.

Put her alongside Dixie, Ann-Margret and Linda: classy ladies.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:11 am

Doc, Thank you! The time and effort you put into this post is much appreciated.

Update: It's not Anita in this photo, it's Dottie Harmony.

Gladys, Dottie Harmony, Vernon, Elvis - Memphis, December 1956

That's the lovely Dorothy "Dottie" Harmony with Elvis and his parents. He met her in Las Vegas during his November 1956 vacation -- where was Marilyn Evans? -- and he invited her to spend the Christmas holiday. She did, and stayed until Elvis headed off to New York almost exactly 53 years ago, to perform for the last time on the Ed Sullivan program.


Take a guess who posted this info?


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=50120



Image
Last edited by EPA4368 on Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:33 am

That's not Anita Wood in the picture with Gladys and Vernon.

Her name escapes me at the moment.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:51 am

Yes, another very interesting informative post. Thank you.

I wondered about the letter. It has a US stamp on it, though Elvis sent it from Friedberg, so I guess it should have a German stamp. But most probably the military mail from abroad was sent to the US in one big load, and once on US soil forwarded from there.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:00 pm

Thanks Doc, very intresting post.
I always liked Anita, she's beautiful and a gifted singer and actress, I understand completely why Elvis was very fond of her.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:14 pm

She's a woman who did not accept infidelities, not even from Elvis.
When she saw a love letter from Priscilla, she confronted Elvis and told him to choose.
Elvis didn't, so she left.
No wonder she gave away the things Elvis gave her.
The fact she did not write a book either is also to her credit.

As for mail from soldiers abroad at the time, it was sent with military transport to the USA for further distribution, hence the US stamp.
Mail to them was usually sent to a military address in the USA and forwarded.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:45 pm

brian wrote:That's not Anita Wood in the picture with Gladys and Vernon.

Her name escapes me at the moment.


Dotty Harmony ?

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:50 pm

Fantastic post Doc. I have to admire you for the time, effort and expertise you put into this and other informative posts. Many thanks.

Chris.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:50 pm

Doc, thanks for a fantastic thread!!

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:10 pm

Bravo, Doc!

Taxi for Elvisfan10.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:50 pm

Great info - thank you very much for taking the time to compile this topic.

Image


From Elvis Monthly No.9

Davide

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:46 pm

Truely a beautiful, classy lady! Thanks again Doc!

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:48 pm

Thanks Doc! ::rocks

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:59 pm

Movieland and TV Time
August 1959

Extract from an article by Anita Wood

"The Day Elvis made me cry"

On Christmas Eve 1958, I was sitting at home with my parents, and I'll admitt my thoughts were with Elvis in Germany, when suddenly the doorbell rang and I heard a man say, "Special Delivery for Anita Wood!" I ran to the door and there was the most adorable little toy French Poodle I'd ever seen! It was all white with a big red ribbon around its neck, and on the ribbon was a card which said, "Merry Christmas, Anita - Elvis."

Well, all I can say is that I can never remember being as surprised or as happy. I sat down and bawled like a baby. To think all those times when I'd mentioned the dog to Elvis and he shrugged it off like it wasn't important, he was actually planning to get me one. He was just waiting until the moment when we'd be three thousand miles apart. I named the puppy "Littlebit," but he means more than a 'little bit' to me.

Davide

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:23 pm

ColinB wrote:
brian wrote:That's not Anita Wood in the picture with Gladys and Vernon.

Her name escapes me at the moment.


Dotty Harmony ?


Great catch! You're correct, it's Dottie Harmony. She looks a lot like Anita.

Image

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:34 pm

Thanks for all the kind words.

Losing a life partner is a very difficult thing, and I do hope that Anita Wood Brewer is doing OK today.

Anita seems to have always been a special, classy lady, and when I read about the passing a month ago of her husband, Johnny, it made me think about her unique place in Elvis' life, and the fact that she did not completely live in his shadow when they dated.

1957 to 1962 marked a time of tremendous change for the singer, and a whole lot of great music. One wonders which songs Elvis taped -- during and after -- that were inspired by her?

Please note this topic did involve many hours trying to pin down dates and places, some perhaps correctly for the first time ever. Striving for accuracy can be painstaking, but it is also very rewarding.

Incidentally, last night I found a few more photos, and corrected a bit of the text, for your additional enjoyment. Most interesting are a few post-1962 experiences with Elvis. Check 'em out.

Rock on, Anita!

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:43 am

Luuk wrote:The fact she did not write a book either is also to her credit.

For those who care about who Elvis was, and why he did the things he did, a thoughtful remembrance from Anita Wood Brewer would be extremely insightful and welcome.

Anita was around Elvis when he basically made the greatest movies and music of his career, and she was close to him both before and after the death of his mother, Gladys.

It is every deep fan's loss that we may never know more about this period from someone who loved Elvis, and was loved by him, his mom and his dad.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:32 am

I don't she was the "one that got away" but more like, the one he let go.

Not sure what is what about Anita that he didn't want to pursue her more, perhaps she pressured him
to get married, or she was too career oriented, or maybe he felt different about her after the army, because he
felt different about himself.
Alot changed in those two years.

Either way, he made a choice. Priscilla was patient and she turned out to be his only bride.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:42 am

ekenee wrote:I don't she was the "one that got away" but more like, the one he let go.

Not sure what is what about Anita that he didn't want to pursue her more, perhaps she pressured him
to get married, or she was too career oriented, or maybe he felt different about her after the army, because he
felt different about himself.
Alot changed in those two years.


Elvis just didn't want to marry her or anybody at that time.

Re: Anita Wood --> The One Who Got Away !

Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:03 am

ekenee wrote:I don't she was the "one that got away" but more like, the one he let go.

This is incorrect. Anita left Elvis almost on the spot when she overheard him discussing his concern about choosing between Anita and his German paramour. She made the choice for him. She left, and did not return. Anita had pride, and she used it.

I hope you enjoyed the entire topic, as hundreds already have.