Although this lady doesn’t look like the typical Elvis fan from the late 50s, she sure seems smitten by him, doesn’t she? If you wanted to add a caption to this shot, it could easily be, “Hey, look in my eyes, you hot young stud.”
I found this photo on a wonderful website I follow called The Elvis Forum. It is subtitled Too Much Monkey Business, and the 714 people who have joined are called Monkey Members.
The photo appeared in a forum thread called “Who Is This Woman?” I had no doubt that the question would be answered. Some of the most proactive members of this forum have incredible knowledge of Elvis minutia, and if they are stumped, they have the extensive collections of Elvis books for looking stuff up.
According to Jove, the Elvis Forum member who supplied it, the first photo was taken on the set of King Creole. This next one was shot during filming of Flaming Star. She sure is getting up close and personal, leaning her body in tight against Elvis. Another caption idea – “I’m all over you. What’s it gonna take to get you to look at me?”
Jove inserted some humorous asides about her being a stalker. However, a middle-aged groupie was the first thought that entered my mind.
Here’s another shot of the mystery woman with Elvis during the filming of G.I. Blues. How does somebody get on so many movie sets?
Whatever it took, she had plenty of it. Here she is with Elvis again on location during Follow That Dream. You can actually figure out the movies’ titles from the outfits Elvis wore in these shots.
Okay, can you deduce the movie title on this one?
One more, this time from Girls, Girls, Girls. She finally got Elvis to look at her, without even pressing her body against his.
The Elvis Forum thread did reveal the woman’s name – May Mann. And it was suggested she gained access to Elvis because of family connections. She was married to Buddy Baer, former heavyweight boxer who also appeared as Ursus in the movie Quo Vadis and as the giant in Abbott and Costello’s Jack and the Beanstalk.
This newspaper clip adds two interesting things to the May Mann story. She won Miss Utah 1938, when Elvis was just three years old. And by age 30, she was into her third marriage.
Elvis and Max Baer Jr. (right)
May Mann’s brother in law was Max Baer Sr. father of Max Baer Jr. who playedJethro in the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies. Baer often played football with Elvis (note the cleats on the shoes)
All of this history still didn’t sound like enough juice for her to get access to six Elvis movie sets. So, I rooted around a bit on Google and Wikipedia and found out that May Mann was a Hollywood gossip columnist and reporter. She wrote over 400 articles in publications like this:
May Mann was able to parlay a job as society columnist for her hometown paper The Ogden Standard-Examiner to the glamorous position of syndicated entertainment columnist in Hollywood. Between 1936 and 1981 she wrote her “Going Hollywood” columns for fourteen different magazines and newspapers.
When Elvis started making movies, May Mann seems to have latched on to him, ultimately becoming a close friend and a big fan, as evidenced by the very pro-Elvis books she wrote about him.
This book came out in 1975, making it notable as one of the few books written while Elvis was still alive (compared to the millions of Elvis books that have come out after his death). The subtitle’s fine print teases that it comes from the Intimate Diaries of May Mann. Hmmm, maybe there is something to those stalker/groupie ideas.
You can still buy it on Amazon, both hardcover and paperback, new and used. Amazon had just one review of Elvis and the Colonel: “An absurd, fawning account with obvious errors.”
Shortly after Elvis’ death, May Mann’s book was rushed back into the market under a new title: The Private Elvis. Also, note the inclusion of “The Entire New York Times Obituary.” Amazon has eight used paperback copies available for 1¢ ($3.99 postage). Lots of new copies, too.
In 1982, May Mann came back with another pro-Elvis book: Elvis, Why Won’t They Leave You Alone. Amazon has three used copies available for 1¢, and new copies available for $49.95. One fool has a copy available for $2,432.64. Good luck with that.
Here’s the back cover. Jove assures me that this is an untouched photo of May Mann and Elvis from 1969, but somehow she made herself look a lot younger. Maybe it’s the bangs.
There were no reviews of this book on Amazon, but someone calling herself TCB-girl had a balanced assessment on Topics.com. It gives great detail on what we can find in the book.
“Mann is totally pro-Elvis in the book, and in the end, proved to be a loyal friend to him. The picture she paints — His business dealings are scrupulous. He is generous to a fault. Although admittedly hot-tempered, he is forgiving. He uses only prescription medication, and abstains from alcohol.
“He revers his parents, especially his mother. He is devoted to his wife and especially to his daughter. Extra-marital sexual activity (euphemistically, “natural biological urges”) are admitted to but presented as infrequent and rather proper. Emphasis on nothing “kinky”, and never taking advantage of “groupies”, which apparently those around him do greatly, and Elvis abhors.
“He is considerate of others to an unusual degree. He is extremely intelligent and moral. He is increasingly ill and even predicts his death at a young age due to hereditary factors.
“I believe that all of the above is generally, if not precisely true. Mann would have known, and I’m assuming she was not telling whole cloth lies. Whitewashing … I suspect so.
The aspect of the book that made the biggest impression on me: I believe that Mann realistically portrayed the sad isolation in which Elvis lived. It was the price for his fame. He apparently dreamed of travel, as a common tourist, and seeing the world.
“I accept Mann’s portrayal of a sensitive, talented, good man that lived in many ways as a de facto prisoner within the walls and gates of his own home. An exceptionally intelligent person, by her account he was also a studious and observant Christian, even replying to his dubbing as “King of Rock and Roll”, that there was only one king, Jesus Christ. Quite remarkable.”
Elvis and May Mann on set of Blue Hawaii
So, we can add one more option to the choices presented in the title of this article. May Mann was indeed a friend, and her book research came from direct contact with Elvis, not from interviews with all his ex-buddies.
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