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3rd Armored Division Co-Stars with Elvis
By Stars and Stripes ( 3ad March 25, 2005)
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Elvis relaxing during an interview with Stars & Stripes (photo by Stripes
photographer Gunter Schuettler).
Actual article from Stars and Stripes newspaper 1959:
The 3d Armored Division is co-staring with SP4 Elvis Presley in a Hollywood
movie, but Presley himself won't work in the film until he's just plain old
Shooting of the Hal B. Wallis production called "G.I. Blues" began August 17
(1959) at the division's training area near Frieburg, Germany, kicking off a
scheduled three weeks of filming around the 3d Armored Division area.
About 100 of the division's soldiers are working as extras in the film being
made by Paramount and a company of tanks from Presley's outfit is in the
show, but Presley won't start work in the movie until he gets out of the
Army in March (1960).
Then Paramount and Wallis will resume where they leave off on this side of
the Atlantic, and what's been filmed over there will be worked into the
finished, Wallis explained.
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The shooting schedule calls for work at the training area, scenes of the 3d
Armored Division Kaserns, some in downtown Frankfurt, others in Wiesbaden,
and some along the Rhine on a river boat.
None of the filming over here has a sound track, and all the extras-all on
leave status for the duration of their part in the shooting- are used to
make background footage for what will be completed in Hollywood, starting
probably in April. The finished product should be released in the fall of
1960, Wallis added.
The first day of shooting found two tank platoons from the 32d Armor's
Company B charging up and down hillsides near Frieburg as Paramount camera
crews captured the rumbling monsters in Vista Vision.
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Receiving the royal escort on his first day in Friedberg. Further below and
sometime later, a more seasoned Elvis strikes a pose in front of 1st Bn,
32nd Armor headquarters.
Subsequent footage will include a pair of M52 howitzers from Battery C of
the 27th Arty, a demolition crew from the 23d Engineer Battalion's Company
A, and some armored personnel carriers from Company C of the 52d Infantry.
Presley, meanwhile, continues his regular duties as a jeep driver with a
scout platoon of the 32d Armor and won't even be around to watch any of the
shooting over here.
Weather held up part of the first day's shooting as 1st LT Andrew Bendaar,
CO of the tank company, put his men through their paces for the cameras.
Two platoons of the clanking, roaring, monsters charged up a hill and almost
into a camera into the cameras for one scene and later rumbled down a steep
road, whammed into a rain-filled ditch at the bottom and roared by the
cameras for another.
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Elvis conducted more than a dozen press conferences in Germany during
1958-60, all under the watchful eye of the 3AD Public Information Office.
The majority of the soldier extras who'll appear in the film will be just
parts of the background worked into the finished picture, but for more
specific footage, Wallis is using soldier stand-ins-one for Presley and
other actors who'll get into the film when it gets into production in
PFC T.W. Creel of Laurel, Mississippi is Presley's double. A member of
Company D of the 13th Cav, he was selected because Wallis says he'll look
like Elvis from a distance.
He has the same characteristic walk and mannerisms as Presley, Wallis
pointed out. In other respects he's a dead ringer for Elvis.
Captain John J. Mawn, 3d Armored Division information officer who's been
assigned as technical advisor for the film, said locating Creel was a stroke
"Somebody remembered going through basic training with Creel at Fort Hood,
Texas", Mawn recalled, "And he remembered how much Creel looked like
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So the 24-year old Creel was picked.
"I met Elvis only once," Creel says, "and I figure him for a pretty nice
Creel, who worked on an oil-drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico before being
drafted in the Army, is a tank driver and can't play the guitar, but as for
rock and roll, he says: "Cat I really dig that stuff."
Other stand-ins who, like Creel, have no speaking parts and won't be seen
close-up in the finished product, include only one soldier with acting
He's PFC Roland D'Auguste of the 3d Armored Division's honor guard, and a
veteran of TV production back in his hometown of Los Angeles.
"I've had lead parts in a number of TV programs" he replied, "including
'Navy Log,' 'Annapolis', 'West Point' and 'Walter Winchel File'."
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Elvis as Tulsa McLean in G.I. Blues.
That was before he entered the Army. He's also done summer-stock acting and
plans to return to the stage when he gets out of the Army.
SP4 Sheridan Jouett of White Hall, Ill., and a member of the 143d Signal
Battalion is a stand-in for a loader in a tank crew. Aside from high
school dramatics, he's never done any acting.
His chief claim to fame, he noted, is that the other five stand-ins get
promoted in the picture, while he appears as his own rank.
PFC Frank P. Steele, of 3d Armored Division Headquarters plays a stand-in
for a platoon sergeant, and PFC Norman Fair, of Company A, 143d Signal
battalion stands in for a tank driver.
Steele is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Fair comes from Bastrop, La.
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Elvis Presley in G.I. Blues.
The movie started out as "Cafe Europa", Wallis said, but later was changed
to "GI Blues". It's a comedy on the light side dealing with 3d Armored
Division soldiers. There will be three or four girls, one French, one
Italian and two Germans.
The finished film will about three GI's or possibly four, Wallis explained.
The show will include eight or nine songs, mostly ballads, and some rock 'n'
The whole thing is being done at no cost to the Army, Mawn pointed out,
explaining that the gas for the tanks and other assorted expenses come out
of the film's budget.