ELVIS PRESLEY famously pursued many of his leading ladies off-screen and was a little shocked when King Creole co-star and Addams family icon Carolyn Jones begged him not to even kiss her on screen. Unfortunately, it was rooted in personal struggles that would later come to define and destroy her career and her life.
The new Baz Luhrman Elvis biopic recounts his life and career, but spends very little time on his decade in Hollywood, which was a major part of his professional life and often overlapped into his personal one. The star filmed King Creole when his 1958 military service was looming. Not that those subsequent two years would in any way impede his pursuit and enjoyment of numerous ladies – including future wife Priscilla Beaulieu, who he would meet during his final months in Germany. Before and after his military service, The King famously flirted with almost all his female co-stars (and almost every woman he met), and most notoriously had an affair with Viva Las Vegas’ Ann Margret which lasted over a year. He rarely met with resistance and even Jones’ protestations were soon overcome.
At the time, Elvis was dating Hollywood starlet Anita Wood , although that hadn’t stopped him pursuing and wooing Love Me Tender star Debra Paget in 1956. He was so obsessed with her even Priscilla reputedly modelled her own image on the actress.
In King Creole, The King plays a man torn between two beautiful women, Jones’ sexy Ronnie and Nellie, played by Dolores Hart. True to her sweeter role, the latter would famously quit Hollywood at the height of her fame to become a nun.
Jones, meanwhile, had already made a name for herself as a powerful screen presence with a strong personality match and already has an Oscar nomination under her belt.
It says: “Now he crowns his meteoric rise to fame with a fiery burst of dramatic power as hard-loving, hard-living Danny Fisher, who sang his way up from the gutters of lusty, brawling New Orleans.
“There were to be many women in Danny’s life, but only two who really count: Nelly, who knew too little about love, Ronnie, who knew too much.”
Jones had come into the film riding high on the success of 1957’s The Bachelor Party, which had earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
However, her unwillingness to kiss Elvis on set had nothing to do with her career or any personal feelings about her handsome leading man.
Carolyn Jones starred in The Addams Family
The final scenes of the movie scenes were filmed at Lake Pontchartrain, near New Orleans.
Unfortunately, at the time, Jones had come down with a temperature of 103 and later said: “It was good that I was supposed to be dying in the film because I felt like I was and I think I looked like it, too.”
She tried to persuade Elvis not to kiss her, for his own sake, but his reply was fantastic and also a perfect example of his quick wit and charm.
Elvis Carolyn Jones on set
Jones described their conversation: “(I told him) ‘Isn’t there some way you can get around kissing me because I’m so germy that I’m gonna kill you.’
“He said, ‘That’s all right; maybe it’ll get me out of the army,’ and he necked away like crazy. He went off to the army and I took to my bed for two weeks.”
Jones’s poor health didn’t just affect her on the set of Kid Creole. It had already cost her another Oscar-winning role and would cut her life short in 1983.
Elvis did kiss King Creole costar Carolyn Jones
Elvis Presley life in pictures
She suffered from asthma and was prone to illness. Five years earlier, the role of Alma in 1953’s From Here To Eternity was actually written for her but she had to pull out when she was hospitalised with pneumonia. Her replacement, Donna Reed, went on to win an Oscar for it.
Always highly respected within Hollywood, Jones found worldwide fame in 1964 as the wonderfully odd Morticia in the ground-breaking television series, Addams family. It only ran for two years but had a huge cultural impact
Jones said of the role: “I loved that show. I was sorry to see it go. Morticia was the perfect role for me because my sense of humour is just slightly off-centre.”
Dogged by health issues, she died young at the age of 53, in 1983, from colon, liver and stomach cancer.