Thursday, February 23, 2017

Seattle, Elvis, and Joan O'Brien

In anticipation of a trip to Seattle later this year, and always being a sucker for Elvis Presley movies, we settled in and watched this one last night.

This 1963 movie was set in Seattle at the time of the World's Fair in that city.  Lots of scenes of the Space Needle and the futuristic monorail system in place at that Fair.  Also - Surprise! - Elvis wooed several  different women (including future Batgirl Yvonne Craig), fell in love with one who resisted him (at first), got into two different fist fights, and sang ten songs.  In other words, standard fare for an Elvis flick.  I also have to say that even for the incredibly low bar of the typical Elvis movie, this one was Cheesy beyond belief, but what the hell, when you watch a movie from The King, you know in advance that you ain't getting "Citizen Kane".  

What interested me in this movie was the love interest played by actress Joan O'Brien.

O'Brien was an actress with whom I was not familiar, and she did not seem to be a "typical" Elvis love interest from his filmography.  So, I went to the Google Machine to do a bit of research.  O'Brien got her start in show biz as a singer, doing stints with several Big Bands, and even had a brief shot as a fill in for Lawrence Welk's "Champagne Lady".  She took a shot at acting in the late 1950's.  Her most well known roles were in "Operation Petticoat" (1959) with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, "The Alamo" (1960) with John Wayne, and "It Happened At the World's Fair".  She was 27 years old when this one was made (Presley was 28), and it was reported that she and Elvis had a romantic fling when the movie was filming.  This was standard operating procedure for Elvis.  It is interesting to note that while Miss O'Brien came into show biz as a singer, she only sang a few lines in the closing number of "It Happened...."  With exception of Ann Margaret, I can't recall many female leads who did a lot of singing in the Elvis Film Canon.

(Joan and Elvis dining at the 
Space Needle in the movie.)

After "It Happened At The World's Fair", O'Brien appeared in only one more movie, a teen movie called "Get Yourself a College Girl" with Nancy Sinatra in 1964.  She did some guest spots in a few TV series, the last being in a show called "Valentine's Day" in 1965 after which she walked away from the acting profession.  She sang again for a little while with the Harry James Orchestra, but in 1968 she left show business for good in order to raise her two children.  She went on to have a successful executive career with the Hilton Hotel chain.

Joan O'Brien is still alive and turned 81 years of age this past Valentine's Day.

Maybe it's just me, but I find this kind of stuff interesting.

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