Elvis' fourteenth film was
1964's 'Kissin' Cousins'. In this film Elvis played the dual role of
look-alike cousins: Josh Morgan, a dark-haired air force officer,
and Jodie Tatum, a blond mountain man.
On Monday, September
16, 1963 Elvis received the songs that the director Gene Nelson and
the musical director Fred Karger had chosen for the movie. Fred
Karger not only worked as a composer, arranger and musical director
but was also at one time a vocal coach for Columbia Pictures, where
one of his young students was Marilyn Monroe. He was married to
actress Jane Wyman twice, from 1952 - 1954 and again from 1963 -
1965. His film credits include 'From Here To Eternity', 'The Eddy
Duchin Story', 'Pal Joey', 'Bye Bye Birdie', 'Your Cheatin' Heart',
'Gidget' and 'When The Boys Meet The Girls'. He also worked on two
other Elvis films - 'Harum Scarum'
and 'Frankie and Johnny'.
Wanting to get a
feel for his new co-workers, on September 23rd, Elvis
screened the movie 'Hootenanny Hoot', a musical comedy
that Sam Katzman had produced, Gene Nelson had directed
and for which Fred Karger had been the musical director.
In an effort to save more production costs, on September
29th soundtrack recording began at RCA's Studio B in
Nashville. However, Elvis had a cold and could not sing,
so only the instrumental tracks were laid down. Elvis
did stop by the studio to meet director Gene Nelson.
There were two different
version of the song 'Kissin' Cousins', The opening title
song was written by Fred Wise and Randy Starr and it was
this version that was released as a single, peaking at
#12 on the pop singles chart. The movie-ending version
(No. 2) was written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and
Florence Kaye and was featured on the movie's soundtrack
album. When, finally, on October 10, 1963, Elvis did
record his vocals at the MGM sound stage in California,
he was required to sing the ending song twice in two
different voices, one with a little more country twang
than the other, to achieve the effect of a duet between
both of his characters, the more worldly Josh and the
country boy Jodie.
Elvis was fitted at the studio
for the blond wig that he would wear as Jodie Tatum.
There are pictures that were taken on the set, of Elvis
in his blond wig and his manager
Colonel Tom Parker wearing the black wig that
was used by
Elvis' stand-in Lance LeGault in
various scenes. Mr. LeGault was Elvis' stand-in and
helped with fight and dance choreography in a number of
Elvis's movies. For the movie 'Kissin' Cousins' Lance
plays whichever of the two cousins Elvis is not playing
in a particular scene and always has his back to the
camera. Well....almost always. There are a few bloopers
in the film when the camera caught him and Elvis turning
too fast and so there were moments in the movie when you
can see the faces of both Elvis and Lance at the same
time. These mistakes were left in and it is fun to watch
for them. Lance can also be seen in
Elvis' 1968 TV special playing the tambourine
and offering general assistance to Elvis during the
concert portions of the show and as a cast member in the
big 'Guitar Man' production number . Lance maintains a
busy career as a character actor in film and television
and as a voice artist. One of his voice gigs is being
the narrator for the
Mansion audio tour.
On Sunday, October 13,
1963, Elvis and the film crew traveled to the Big Bear
resort in the San Bernadino Mountains of California for
location shooting. Elvis' accommodations were at the
Cedar Lake Lodge. Location shooting began on the Monday
the 14th and continued until Wednesday November 6, 1963
when the crew returned to the MGM studio in Hollywood.
It was then that his future wife
Priscilla Beaulieu, who lived at his home,
Graceland, in Memphis first got to be at the studio
during the production of one of
Elvis' movies. Her visit was cut short when a
few days later Ann-Margret, whom Elvis had dated and who
was his co-star in the then yet to be released 'Viva
Las Vegas' shot earlier that year, was quoted
from London saying that she was in love with Elvis.
worried that the press would inquire about Priscilla and
Elvis's relationship, so Priscilla returned to Memphis.
Filming finished and
Elvis was released after stills were shot on November
14, 1963. Only a week later Elvis and
Ann-Margret would be watching the TV reports of
the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at his
Bel Air home. 'Kissin' Cousins' opened nationwide on
Friday March 6, 1964. It reached #11 on the 'Variety'
National Box Office Survey and was ranked #26 for the
year. Some theater owners passed out candy kisses to
patrons while other had charity sponsored 'kissing
booths' in the lobby.
Yvonne Craig played
Azalea Tatum, the girl who catches Elvis's other
character Josh. She also appeared in the Elvis film
Happened at the World's Fair' and dated Elvis
for a time. She began her career as a ballet dancer and
then went on to star as 'Gidget' in the 1959 movie of
the same name. She might be best remembered for her role
of Batgirl in the 60s TV series 'Batman'.
Austin played Selena Tatum in 'Kissin'
Cousins'. She also had a role in the Elvis movie 'Blue
Hawaii' and dated Elvis for a time during that
production. She would go on to marry Charles Britt, a
Los Angles Ram's football player. She was also known as
the 'Dodge Girl' as she often appeared in Dodge
automobile commercials. Her career also included
appearances on many TV series including 'The Wild, Wild,
West', 'It Takes A Thief', 'Hawaiian Eye' and 'Laugh In'
to name a few. She also starred as Pauline in the 1967
movie 'Perils of Pauline'.
In 'Kissin' Cousins'
there is a group of lusty mountain maidens called The
Kittyhawks, who are in search of men and descend upon
Josh Morgan (Elvis) and the platoon of soldiers who
accompany him to the Tatum's home on Big Smokey
Mountain. The actress cast as the leader of this group
was Maureen Reagan, daughter of the late President
Ronald Reagan and actress Jane Wyman. She had made her
movie debut in 1949 in 'It's A Great Feeling', which
spoofed Hollywood and featured a cameo by her and her
parents. She also appeared in the film 'Hootenanny
Hoot', which 'Kissin' Cousins' producer Sam Katzman and
director Gene Nelson had just finished filming. Before
her death from cancer in 2001, she went on to a second
career in politics.
Another of the Kittyhawaks
was was played by Beverly Powers, who would go on to
have roles in the Elvis films 'Viva Las Vegas' and
'Speedway'. Jonesy was played by Joan
Staley, who also played Marge in the Elvis film 'Roustabout'.
The former November 1958 Playboy Playmate of the Month
had numerous roles in TV and film throughout the 1960s.
Cynthia Pepper played
Corporal Midge Riley, who in the film ends up with
Elvis' character Jodie. Her career included regular
roles on the TV series 'My Three Sons' and 'Margie'. She
also starred as Sally in the 1965 film 'Sally and Sam'.
Arthur O'Connell played the patriarch of the
Tatum clan in 'Kissin' Cousins'. This was the second of
his two movies with Elvis, having played the father of
Elvis's character in 'Follow
That Dream'. Mr. O'Connell was nominated twice
for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. One was
in 1955 for the movie 'Picnic' , the other in 1960 for
the movie 'Anatomy of a Murder'.
Farrell, who played Ma Tatum, began her career
as a Warner Brothers contract player in the 1930s. She
soon became known for a series of 'blonde' movies that
she did based on the serial magazine character Torchy
Blane. She also became known for her unique ability to
speak fast, averaging 390 words a minute. In 1963 she
won an Emmy in the 'Outstanding Performance in a
Supporting Role' category for her work on the 'Ben
Casey' television show. She died of cancer in 1971 and
is buried in the West Point Military Academy Cemetery.
Glenda Farrell's son Tommy Farrell also had a
role in 'Kissin' Cousins' as MSgt. William George
Bailey. Tommy Farrell's career included roles on several
TV series such as Corporal Thad Carson on 'The
Adventures of Rin Tin Tin', Mr. Holliday on 'This Is
Alice' and Riff Ryan on 'The Many Loves of Dobie
Gillis'. He can also be seen in Elvis' movie 'Girl
Happy' as Louie. Mr. Farrell passed away in May
Award winning actor Jack Albertson
played Captain Robert Salbo in 'Kissin Cousins'. He also
played Lou in Elvis' film 'Roustabout'. Jack Albertson
is one of the few actors to have won a Tony Award, an
Emmy Award and an Academy Award. He began his career in
vaudeville and burlesque and then went on to Broadway
where he won a Tony for 'The Subject Was Roses'. He
reprised his role in the movie version and won a 1969
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His movies
include 'Miracle on 34th Street', 'Don't Go Near The
Water', 'Teacher's Pet', 'Days of Wine and Roses', 'The
Patsy' and playing Grandpa Joe in 'Willy Wonka & The
Chocolate Factory'. On television he played Lieutenant
Commander Virgil Stoner in the 'Ensign O'Toole' series.
He might be best remembered as Ed Brown on the series
'Chico and the Man' for which he received two Emmy Award
nominations, winning one in 1977. He died in 1981 and
his ashes were scattered at sea.
and screen writer Robert Carson played General Sam
Kruger. His film writing credits include 'A Star Is
Born', 'Beau Geste', 'The Desperadoes' and 'Ain't
Misbehavin' among others. In 1938 he was nominated for
two Academy Awards, winning one of them for his writing
of 'A Star Is Born'. His acting credits include many
films such as 'The Ten Commandments', 'The Patsy', 'The
Great Race' and 'The Greatest Show On Earth'. He has
also had numerous guest roles on various TV series.
Donald Woods played General Alvin Donford/ Woods
was a veteran actor with over 85 movie roles dating back
to his first in the 1928 'Motorboat Mamas'. He also
racked up many TV guest appearances.
had his film debut in an uncredited roll in 'Kissin'
Cousins'. He would also have small roles in Elvis' films
'Viva Las Vegas' and 'Roustabout'. Although he would
play a number of roles in his career, is best known as
Officer Jim Reed on the TV series 'Adam-12'. He had a
personal friendship with Elvis and often played football
on weekends with Elvis and other young Hollywood
The script was written
by Gerald Drayson Adams and Gene Nelson. Nelson also
directed the film. Together, Adams and Nelson received a
1965 nomination from the Writer's Guild of America for
'Kissin' Cousins' as the 'Best Written American Musical'
of the year.
Gerald Adams was born in Winnipeg,
Canada in 1900. He was educated at Oxford University in
England and became a business executive and literary
agent. He didn't begin writing until the mid-1940s. He
specialized in writing action/adventure and western
films such as 'The Magnificent Rogue', 'Old Los Angeles'
and 'The Lady From Texas'. He also wrote for such TV
series as 'Broken Arrow' and 'Maverick'. He also wrote
the script for the 1965 Elvis film 'Harum Scarum'.
The multi-talented Gene Nelson was born Eugene Leander
Berg in 1920. He was captivated by seeing Fred Astaire
in the 1933 film 'Flying Down To Rio'. It was then that
he decided to become a dancer. He toured with the Sonja
Henie Ice Show before World War II prompted him to join
Army. After the war he returned to his dancing
and acting career in both TV and film. You might
remember him in such films as 'Tea For Two' and 'The
Daughter of Rosie O'Grady' or his role of Will Parker in
the movie 'Oklahoma!' He won a Golden Globe Award in
1951 as Most Promising Newcomer for his work with Doris
Day in 'Tea For Two'. In between his own acting roles he
became a film and TV director. Among his director
credits are many well known TV shows such as 'F Troop',
'I Dream of Jeannie', 'Gunsmoke', 'Hawaii
Five-O', 'Dan August', 'The Rookies', 'Barnaby
Jones', 'Get Christie Love', 'Starsky and Hutch' and
'Quincy'. He died of cancer in 1996.
of the movie was Sam Katzman, known as the 'King of the
Quickies' for having made many films quickly and
cheaply. Elvis' manager
Colonel Tom Parker was concerned as Elvis' lates
movie 'Viva Las Vegas'
had gone way over budget and cut into his and Elvis'
portion of the profits. He was determined that wouldn't
happen again. With Sam Katzman at the helm they wouldn't
have any problems with budget.
In his teens, Mr.
Katzman started his show business career as a prop man
and then worked his way up through all the phases of
movie making to become a producer in 1935 at the age of
34. He then became known for movie serials featuring
such characters as The East Side Kids, Brenda Star and
Captain Video. He also produced teenage musicals such as
'Hootenanny Hoot', 'Rock Around The Clock' and 'Twist
Around The Clock'. He made some 230 films in his career,
including the Elvis movies 'Kissin' Cousins' and 'Harum
Kissin' Cousins (No. 2)
Smokey Mountain Boy
There's Gold in the Mountains
One Boy, Two Little Girls
Catchin' on Fast
Anyone (Could Fall in Love With You)
Once Is Enough
RCA Studios, 17th Avenue, South
Nashville. October 1963
Scotty Moore, Grady Martin, Jerry Kennedy,
Harold Bradley (guitars), Bob Moore (bass),
Fontana, Buddy Harman (drums), Floyd Cramer
(piano), Boots Randolph, Bill Justis (sax), the
Writing Credits: Gerald
Drayson Adams,Gene Nelson
Music Supervised and conducted by:
Choreographer: Hal Belfer
Assistant Director: Eli Dunn
Supervisor: Franklin Milton
Advisor: Colonel Tom Parker
Panavision and Metrocolor
Cast overview: Elvis
Presley .... Josh Morgan & Jodie Tatum, Arthur O'Connell
.... Pappy Tatum, Glenda Farrell .... Ma Tatum, Jack
Albertson .... Captain Robert Jason Salbo,
Austin .... Selena Tatum,
.... Corporal Midge Riley,
Craig .... Azalea Tatum, Donald Woods ....
General Alvin Donford, Tommy Farrell .... Master
Sergeant William George Bailey, Beverly Powers ....
Trudy, Hortense Petra .... Dixie Cate, Robert Stone ....
General's Aide, Rest of cast listed alphabetically
Beverly Hills, Maureen Reagan.