Elvis' twenty-seventh movie
was the 1968 MGM car racing film 'Speedway'. On June 19, 1967 Elvis
reported to MGM to begin work. The day began with a music meeting at
10:00 AM and at 2:00 PM he had wardrobe fittings. Elvis and his
manager Colonel Tom Parker then gave the leading lady, Elvis'
a car that had 'Speedway' painted on one door and 'Starring Nancy &
Elvis' on the other.
Sometimes Elvis' movies
were released out of sequence with the order in which
they were filmed. Such was the case with his
twenty-seventh movie, the 1968 MGM film 'Speedway'. It
was actually filmed in June of 1967 prior to filming
movie number 26, 'Stay
Away Joe'. However, 'Stay Away Joe' beat
'Speedway' to release by three months.
On July 12, 1967 on the
set of 'Speedway' Elvis announced that his wife
Priscilla was pregnant. He told a reporter, "This is the
greatest thing that has ever happened to me". Soon
after, his co-star Nancy Sinatra gave a baby shower for
sings his way around the race circuit as successful
speedway driver Steve Grayson. All is fine and dandy
until the tax return submitted by Steve's manager
(played by Bill Bixby) is audited by the IRS. Too bad
the manager has already blown all their money on horse
races. Enter curvaceous IRS agent Nancy Sinatra, whose
boots are walking toward a hefty tax assessment. Will
Elvis be able to raise the $145,000 to pay his tax bill?
Will he succeed in charming Nancy right out of her
boots? It's your guess!
Bill Bixby co-starred with Elvis as his
character Steve Grayson's friend and business manager
Kenny Donford. Kenny's lack of bookkeeping skills lands
them both in trouble with the IRS. Mr. Bixby had
previously worked with Elvis in the film 'Clambake'. The
only child of a department store owner, Mr. Bixby grew
up in the San Francisco area. He made his TV debut
on the show 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis'.
After acting in several successful TV series of his own
including "My Favorite Martian, 'The Courtship of
Eddie's Father', 'The Magician', 'The Incredible Hulk'
and 'Goodnight Beantown', he concentrated on
directing. He directed both TV movies and TV
series including the series 'Blossom', which he worked
on up until just six days before his death of cancer in
1993.He is buried at his widow's estate in Hawaii.
Sinatra's role of Susan Jacks first had
been offered to the popular 1960s English singer Petula
Clark. Ms. Clark turned the part down and it then was
given to Sinatra, who also enjoyed popularity as a
singer with her #1 songs 'These Boots Were Made For
Walking', 'Sugar Town' and 'Something Stupid'.
Nancy, the daughter of Frank Sinatra, had met Elvis in
1960, when he returned from serving in the U.S.
Army. She was on hand to welcome Elvis at McGuire Air
Force Base upon his arrival back to America from
Germany. She also appeared with Elvis on her father's
'Frank Sinatra--Timex Show', which was themed
'Welcome Home, Elvis'. Today Ms. Sinatra is
still busy recording and performing, especially for one
of her favorite causes - support of U.S. troops,
American veterans and the USO. It was also her
voice heard singing the song 'Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me
Down)' in the 2003 movie 'Kill Bill, Volume I'.
The producer was Douglas
Laurence, who also produced the Elvis movies
Stay Away Joe and 'Live
A Little, Love A Little'.Mr. Laurence was at
one time the director of entertainment for the Flamingo
Hotel in Las Vegas.
This was the last film
for multi-award-winning cinematographer Joseph
Ruttenberg who had also worked on Elvis' film
Happened At The World's Fair'. From from 1939 to
1961, Mr. Ruttenberg was nominated ten times for Academy
Awards. His foru wins were for his work in the
films 'The Great Waltz', 'Mrs. Miniver', 'Somebody Up
There Likes Me' and 'Gigi'.
Gale Gordon played the
IRS agent R. W. Hepworth. Known for his stuffy
characters such as Osgood Conklin of the 'Our Miss
Brooks' and Mr. Wilson of the 'Dennis The Menace' TV
series, he might be best remembered as Lucille Ball's
nemesis on 'The Lucy Show', 'The Lucille Ball Comedy
Hour' and 'Here's Lucy' among other projects he did with
her. Mr. Gordon got his first big break in radio on the
'Fibber McGee & Molly' show. He was inducted into the
Radio Hall of Fame in 1999. He also received four Emmy
Award nominations for his work in television.
William Schallert's role of Abel Esterlake was only one
of the hundreds of roles this actor has had in film and
TV. The son of 'Los Angeles Times' drama editor and
critic Edwin Schallert, William Schallert began acting
in the early 1940s.Among his credits is playing the
father on the 'Patty Duke Show', which garnered him
the #39 spot in TV Guide's list of the '50 Greatest TV
Dads of All Time'. He played another father, Carson
Drew, on the 'Nancy Drew Mysteries' and he was Genreral
Robert E. Lee in the 'North and South' television
mini-series. Also, his voice-over work can be
heard on many projects. He believes people most
recognize him for his role in the 'Star Trek' episode
'The Trouble With Tribbles'. He is a former
president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Paige Meyerink played precocious Ellie Esterlake. The
tiny tot who played Ellie's little sister Annie
Esterlake was Patti Jean Keith, the granddaughter of
director Norman Taurog. This was one of many films
for Mr. Taurog (his eighth one with Elvis), however,
this was Patti's only movie role.
Stewart played the oft weepy Lori. She then went on to
her roles as the much loved teacher Ms. Beadle in the TV
series 'Little House on the Prairie' and Betty Briggs in
the series 'Twin Peaks'.
Ross Hagen played rival
race car driver Paul Dado. He might be best remembered
for his role of Bart Jason on the TV series 'Daktari'.
His credits also include writing, directing and
Carl Ballantine was Birdie
Kebner, the host of the Hangout club. Actually an
accomplished magician, he specialized in his magic act
as an inept magician whose tricks usually flopped.
Actor Poncie Ponce played pit crew member Juan.He had
previously been a regular on the 'Hawaiian Eye' TV
Kathy Nelson's one and only movie role
was as an unaccredited waitress in 'Speedway'. She changed
course and went on to become the music supervisor for
many films including 'Thelma & Louise', 'Pulp Fiction',
'Apollo 13', 'Runaway Bride', 'The Sixth Sense',
'Hannibal', 'Pearl Harbor', 'A Beautiful Mind', 'Big Fat
Liar' and 'The Bourne Identity' among others.
This Elvis movie was
about stock car racing at the famed Charolotte Speedway
in Charlotte, North Carolina, where location race scenes
were filmed. Participating in the movie were several
champion professional NASCAR racers including: Richard
Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund, Dick
Hutcherson, G. C. Spencer, and Roy Mayne who played
themselves. Sandy Reed, a professional race announcer,
played the announcer for 'Speedway'. Christopher
West, who played Billie Jo, was the reigning Queen
of Laguna-Seca Sport Car Races at the time.
the many stunt drivers used for this film were: Bob
Harris, whose credits include 'Bonnie and Clyde',
'Bullitt', 'Magnum Force' and' The Gumball
Rally'. Courtney Brown, who worked on such films as
'Thunderball', 'Porky's' and 'Ace Ventura- Pet
Detective'. Bud Ekins, who specialized in motorcycle
stunts including some for 'The Great Escape',
'Then Came Bronson' and 'CHiPs'. Max Balchowsky who also
provided stunt work for 'Viva
Las Vegas', 'Grand Prix', 'Bullit' and' The Deer
Bob Herron, a Navy boxing champion who
has done stunts in hundreds of TV shows and
movies. Carey Loftin whose stunt credits range in movies
from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Ross Hagen played
rival race car driver Paul Dado. He might be best
remembered for his role of Bart Jason on the TV series
'Daktari'. His credits also include writing, directing
Burt Mustin who played the janitor
at the Coffee Shop, had been a salesman until he got
involved in radio and barbershop harmony in mid-life. He
was 68 when he had his first movie role in the 1951,
'The Last Outpost'. Acting roles in movies and TV
began to roll in and he became much in demand. A notable
role is that of Gus the Fireman o the 'Leave It to
Beaver' television series. He was 86 by the time
he acted in 'Speedway'. Having just retired from his
role of Arthur on the 'Phyllis' TV series, Mustin died
at age 95.
sessions were held on June 20 - 21, 1967 at the MGM
studio. During the sessions Elvis was visited by his
father Vernon, Vernon's wife Dee and Dee's three sons,
Ricky, Billy and David Stanley. They, along
with Elvis and
Nancy Sinatra, met Nelson Rockefeller, then
governor of New York, who had come to the recording
studio to record an album of patriotic recitations.
for 'Speedway' ended on August 18, 1967.Elvis was
finished with looping by August 21 and immediately went
into makeup tests for 'Stay Away, Joe'. 'Speedway'
premiered in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 12, 1968.
It was #40 on Variety's movie list for the year of 1968.
Let Yourself Go
Your Time Hasn't Come Yet
Baby He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad
Who Are You? (Who Am I?)
Nothing Like A Song
Five Sleepy Heads - Suppose
Written by Marty Dee & Billy Goehring, Performed by
was cut from the final print of the film.
MGM Studios, Culver City, Los Angeles. June 1967.
Elvis Presley (vocals), Tiny Timbrell, Donald Owens,
Alwin Casey, Tommy Tedesco (guitars), Pete Drake (steel
guitar), Bob Moore (bass), Hal Blaine, Buddy Harman
(drums), Larry Knechtal, Don Randi, George Cast
(pianos), Boots Randolph (sax), Roy Caton, Virgil Evans,
Oliver Mitchell (trumpets),
The Jordanaires (vocals)
Speedway - MGM
Writing Credits Phillip
Producer Douglas Laurence
Panavision and Metrocolor
Elvis Presley ....
.... Susan Jacks,
Bill Bixby .... Kenny Donford, Gale Gordon
.... R.W. Hepworth, William Schallert.... Abel
Esterlake, Victoria Meyerink.... Ellie Esterlake,
Ross Hagen .... Paul Dado, Carl Ballantine ....
Birdie Kebner, Poncie Ponce .... Juan Medala, Harry
Hickox .... The Cook, Christopher West.... Billie
Jo, Beverly Hills .... Mary Ann, Harper Carter ....
Ted Simmons, Bob Harris .... Lloyd Meadows, Michele
Newman .... Debbie.