Home > Newspaper Articles > 1956 > August 5, 1956. Tampa, FL.



Broom-Sweeping Elvis a Regular Guy
by Anne Rowe
St. Petersburg Times
August 6, 1956 Tampa, FL

Dressed as sharp as a cat in black pegged pants, striped belt, blue shirt, white tie, maroon jacket and white buck shoes, the king of rock n' roll picked up a broom and started sweeping out his dressing room.

This was my fabulous introduction to the four-caddie Elvis Presley, whose reputation had given this reporter reason "to proceed with caution" in his presence.

No need for alarm, though, for Presley posed willingly for press photographers, answered questions without hesitation and seemed to us like a real regular guy during the hour we spent with him in his dressing room before the first appearance at the Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa yesterday. Presley will appear at the Florida Theatre here Tuesday for three performances.

Appearing just a little bit nervous, Elvis swept the floor clear of cigarette butts, and then transformed the broom into a microphone crooning "Don't Be Cruel" into the handle.

Putting the broom aside, he waked outside, where it was only slightly cooler than the stifling heat in his dressing room, surveyed the curiosity seekers lined up at the gate, laughed and hollered, "I'll be right with you" - with NO obvious southern accent.

Elvis gave me the impression that he would have enjoyed going over to the gate and talking with his fans. He signed autographs of those who were permitted to talk with him and seemed to enjoy playing with a couple of tots nearby who wee observing the commotion with wide-eyed wonder.

Favorite Song

Returning to his dressing room Elvis picked up his leather-bound guitar, plucked a few strings and began singing "Don't Be Cruel" once again...his favorite of all the songs he's recorded because "it has the most meaning". Soon he was joined by the Jordenaires the boys who back Elvis on many of his records. Elvis nervousness apparently left him. He was doing what he loves best...singing. He sang the song through, put down his guitar and when asked for an interview, was more than willing to submit to questions. Asked what he thought of those who imitate him, he said "I think its good. It shows I'm doing well enough, otherwise, why would they want to imitate me?"

Naturally we asked him if he was interested in girls. To this he replied with a wink, a smile and a mere "yes", said he had a "steady at one time," but hasn't given much thought to marriage or the type of girl he would choose.

Like James Dean

Queried on his recent motion picture pact with Hal Wallis, Elvis replied, "I won't give up singing for acting. I think I'll make about one picture a year and whether I like it or not depends on how well I do." Elvis also said his screen favorites are the late James Dean and Marlon Brando.

What will he do when this rock 'n roll "fad" passes? I'll probably sit back and think about what I once had...with no regrets. Right now, I don't think about that." Presley retorted.

Apparently Presley wasn't pleased with his much publicized performance on the Steve Allen show, when he appeared in a dinner suit and was forced to stand still while going through his act. "All I thought about that suit," said Elvis, "was gettin' out of it."

No Quarrel with critics

He has no quarrel with the critics who've panned him since he first won not only the admiration, but the hearts of almost every teenager in the country. "Those people have a job to do just like me. I think when you're in this business you've got to expect that sort of treatment. Some people wouldn't pay a nickel to see me. But as long as my records keep selling and these folks keep turning out to hear me sing. I'm happy."

Elvis is amazed at his sudden success, but is enjoying every minute of it. He does feel bad that his busy schedule get him home only about once a month. He is very close to his parents who live in the $40,000 air conditioned ranch home he bought for them in Memphis. He says his mother and father encourage his career, feel he is not contributing anything to juvenile delinquency and accept his absence from home as a matter or course.

"I used to travel by plane all the time," replied Presley when we asked him how he commuted, "but once I got scared flying so now I travel down here on the ground in a car." Elvis did not arrive in one of his four Cadillac's, but instead propelled a slinky, white $10,000 Lincoln Continental which he purchased in Miami because "I couldn't very will appear on Ed Sullivan's show if I wasn't driving his sponsor's product, could I?"

Loves that Lincoln

Like a little boy with a new toy, he lifted the hood of his newest purchase, displayed the engine to several onlookers and when asked how fast the car could go, laughed "You mean how fast can it FLY?" Touching the hood ornament fondly he said "This thing cost $350."

Besides his cars, Elvis is an avid motorcycle fan, although he has little time to ride his own.

Our interview came to halt when a knock on the door informed Presley that it was time for him to go on.

He thanked me for taking time out to talk to him and hurried out to the crowd eagerly awaiting his appearance.

He was greeted with deafening screams from the audience of about 1,000 teen-agers, which oddly enough was sprinkled liberally with adults.

In His Glory

Now Presley was in his glory. He rocked 'n rolled his way through seven numbers, laughing, winking, pointing and wriggling in the well-known Presley manner. While his fans yelled, cried, pulled their hair, held their ears, jumped clapped and laughed, Elvis displayed his terrific showmanship. It was more than obvious that he loved every scream and yell and...every minute on that stage. He wrestled with the mike, breaking two apart in his frenzy, and finally, with perspiration pouring down his face, he practically tore his jacket off and let go on two more numbers.

He may be an ex-truck driver from Mississippi, a rockabilly whose "gimmick" has carried him to success, but the ovation he received yesterday proves that Presley is the biggest thing in show business today.

Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle