Review: Baby, Let’s Play House

Not the excellent Sun single – as re-released by RCA:

But the recent and controversial Alanna Nash book:

Nash has written two previous Elvis books – Revelations from the Memphis Mafia and what I am pretty sure is the only biography of Col. Tom Parker – Elvis’ synonymously famous manager.

She has also written many articles about and around Elvis for various magazines. So, she is what’s known as a Subject Matter Expert.

I have read her earlier books and hope to get around to reviewing them, because I do want to compare them to this new book.

My sense of her has been that she is a fair and balanced researcher/writer. But somehow that seems thrown out the window for this one.

Before I get to what I didn’t care for, here’s why I think that Elvis fans should read this book:

1. Extremely rare photos, more likely never seen outside the photo albums of the various women Elvis met and, well, dated as much as he was able to.

2. Far more girlfriends than have ever been previously talked about in books – and by the women themselves, not Elvis’ Memphis Mafia guys who I think after reading this, never saw the side of Elvis that women did.

3. While it quotes Horace Logan from the Louisiana Hayride as claiming to  know an unidentified  woman that he discouraged from telling Elvis that she was pregnant, overall,  I think that the book should put an end to all the secret love children stories. Elvis had it drilled into him early that a illegitimate child or early marriage would end his career by Parker. And his mother drilled into him a love of family, so that he wouldn’t have ignored any child he knew to be his.

4. The stories shared by the women give a sense of Elvis’ more vulnerable and emotional side. More telling that the stories, is how many women remain fiercely loyal and decline to share very detailed information. And how many still consider him the love of their lives. June Juanico’s retelling of Elvis’ death and her still beleving into the 70’s that she and Elvis would reunite was a little bit heartbreaking.

June had detailed her relationship with Elvis in her own really good DVD and book:

June was a serious contender for marriage with Elvis – but, on the cusp of his unprecedented fame, it became more an issue of timing than caring. But, that’s for another review.

What I didn’t like – but, not enough to regret having read and own the newest Nash book:

1.  The psychological approach. This feels a bit contrived and an appeal to an authority who really has no basis for it. Without ever having met or treated a person, I think it’s more than pretentious to assume you can really know what motivates them to the level the doctor quoted here does.

2.  Byron Raphael. In 2005, Nash co-wrote an article for Playboy in which this previously unknown in Elvis world man made many claims about his relationship with Elvis. The short version was that Byron was  low level employee for William Morris who transferred to Parker’s office. Raphael claims to have procured girls for Elvis (well boring, what guys around him didn’t?)  but more than that he makes a very unbelievable claim about Natalie Wood.

Nash unfortunately seemed to have believed him enough for that article but also to include his various claims in the new book.

The story he claims is such an outlier to all the other stories, that it boggles me that Nash would beleive that Wood stormed out of Elvis’ bedroom, frustrated by his unwillingness for full intercourse that she demanded Raphael service her right in the livingroom in front of Elvis’ posse.

Let’s pretend it’s true for a moment. Elvis had an ego and a real temper about the guys around him flirting with girls he’s dating.

Is he really going to continue allowing Raphael to hang out with him? Is he really going to continue hanging out with Natalie for another month? Why would she hang out with Elvis? She was a big star all on her own and didn’t need publicity dates.

3. Albert Goldman. Nash quotes him and engages in some of his theatrics of story telling. This parts are a bit jarring when she goes into lurid detail of 70’s Elvis bodily problems as a result of drug use. It throws you out of the story, adds nothing but puerile content in an otherwise unique and largely unexplored angle on the Elvis mythos.

4. No Priscilla. She was the only one he married, the only one who had his child. Her absence in the book is a major setback. The use of quotes from interviews and inclusions from Priscilla’s earlier book, Elvis and Me doesn’t allow for the same rumination and perspective.

Further, the “help” by Alanna’s researcher, the writer of the anti-Priscilla book, Child Bride adds more to the Goldman tone and in my view, diminishes the book with this pointless venom.

Fans will love or hate the book – the Sheila Ryan story is a particular sore spot, as it’s the only one to get into detail about sex with Elvis. I found the story to be rather mild and don’t understand why the backlash and fuss over the detail. I thought it worked in the larger context of the book.

Non-Fans would do better with a more general work – and I strongly and seriously recommend:

2 thoughts on “Review: Baby, Let’s Play House

  1. I was looking for a review of this book that refers to the Natalie Wood incidence. I was also shocked when I read this part of the story.

    For someone to do that today would be shocking let alone in the fifties, I thought it was totally unbelievable. More wishful thinking on the part of Mr Raphael.

    Plus, why has no media picked up on this story, it is more shocking than anything written about Elvis, because they know its fantastical (plus Natalie is not around to defend herself).

    I also thought, why would Elvis continue to socialise with a girl who behaves this way (guys can be vulgar but not girls) also proves that this story is fictional.

    • I think that the story is patently false on the face of it, which is why most media ignore it. Too bad Alanna Nash didn’t.

      I also happened to find a biography of Natalie Wood by her sister – the portion of the book that mentioned Elvis is about 3 lines long.

      Comprised of: Natalie went to Memphis, found Elvis to be boring and old fashioned and called home so they’d invent an emergency for her to return to LA early.

      The story of Elvis and his German secretary Elisabeth and his soldier pal Rex Mansfield I think sheds a lot of light on the credibility of the Byron story.

      Elvis was dating Elisabeth while dating many other girls, including Priscilla in Germany. He brought her back to Memphis to continue as his secretary, but not as a girlfriend. He told her that it would be okay for her to date other men – he was very possessive, but didn’t allow the women to be over him.

      Rex asked Elvis to date her – Elvis not knowing that they’d been secretly dating for months and even though Elvis has given her okay to date – it mad him angry for her to immediately date a friend of his.

      Rex turned down being one of the post-army Memphis Mafia guys and Elisabeth left Elvis’ employ and they ran off to get married.

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