By 1960 Elvis Presley was becoming a household name across the world. His popularity continued to spike as he began to claim more parts in Hollywood movies. He started his film journey in 1956 in Love Me Tender, before going on to star in 30 movies throughout his career. But this almost didn’t happen for the star.
Elvis wrote to his followers in the fan club magazine, Elvis Answers Back, on August 28, 1956.
Within this lengthy article, the 21-year-old singer revealed how he struggled to make it to the silver screen.
Elvis recalled being asked to do a screen test for the head of Paramount Pictures Mr Hal Wallis.
“Before I knew it,” he said. “I was in front of the camera”. (Via Elvis.com.au)
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There was one problem, though: the star’s oft-not talked about stutter. He explained to his fans: “Whenever I get excited, I stutter a little bit. “I have a hard time saying ‘when’ or ‘where’ or any words that start with ‘w’ or ‘I’.” He added: “Well, I can tell you I really had a hard time with the ‘W’s and ‘I’s that day.”
Elvis went on: “[He said] it makes the performance more natural. I kind of smiled and thanked him, but you can bet I didn’t say a thing about not missing those letters on purpose! If that was natural, what I’d done, and they were satisfied with it, then it was great by me.
“And it was a real relief, too. My screen test was over. I’d gone through the first step of realising my life’s ambition.”
He also said: “All of my life, I’ve wanted to be an actor, though I never was in any school plays or recited a line other than the Gettysburg Address for my sixth-grade homeroom class. But always sticking in the back of my head was the idea that somehow, someday, I’d like to get the chance to act.
Considering Elvis was writing about this screen test in August 1956, it is safe to assume he was discussing the screen test for Love Me Tender, his first-ever on-screen appearance.
Love Me Tender was later released on November 15, 1956. In it, Elvis played Clint Reno, an unfortunate character who wanted to sing but was involved in a life of crime.
After Love Me Tender, Elvis went on to play his first-ever lead role in the 1957 movie Loving You.
Beyond that, the star acted in more than 30 pictures, including Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas and Double Trouble.