Today it is sixty years since the world lost Marilyn Monroe. The girl also known as Norma Jeane was loved by millions and shared her bed with some of the biggest names of the 20th Century, from Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra to John F Kennedy and brother Robert. She married sporting superstar Joe DiMaggio and world-famous playwright Arthur Miller. Elvis, similarly, cut his own swathe through show business but a sensational tell-all memoire from Hollywood agent Byron Raphael describes how he set up the secret liaison and witnessed the two most famous people on the planet walk out of the bedroom naked afterwards.
Elvis had just returned from doing military service in Germany and was back in Hollywood working on his next movie, GI Blues. While overseas he had met and fallen for 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu but fidelity was never the superstar’s strong suit. He was also officially dating 22-year-old starlet Anita Wood at the same time.
The King was even visited by the actual princesses Margrethe of Denmark, Astrid of Norway, and Margaretha of Sweden on set that summer, but it was an alleged encounter with the reigning queen of the silver screen that remains speculated about to this day.
According to junior agent Byron Raphael, it all started when Elvis’ representatives at the William Morris Agency were keen to send him and Marilyn on some high-profile public dates for publicity – but she said no.
Byron added: “Then Marilyn, who was ten years older, said, ‘You’re pretty good for a guitar player.’ After two minutes they went into the bedroom and I didn’t know if I was supposed to leave, or stay and wait for them, so I sort of just dozed off.
“The next thing I knew I was startled awake by the door opening and I dove behind the bar. And they both walked out stark naked. I didn’t say a word, I just stayed quietly.”
The agent claimed that when it was all over, Elvis called a cab for Marilyn.
He added: “A few days later when I mentioned Marilyn to Elvis, he said, ‘She’s a nice gal, but a little tall for me.'”
It is all impressively detailed, but can it possibly be true?
It has been pointed out that it wasn’t just Marilyn’s height that would have put Elvis off. He infamously preferred younger women and, indeed, teenagers like Priscilla. He was also drawn to more demure, virginal types. Marilyn was 34 at the time and exuded sexual allure.
However, it is also true that those preferences were for those girls he might have been considering dating and then marrying. He was certainly very attracted to the sexually confident and challenging Ann-Margret, with whom Elvis had a long affair after starring together in Viva Las Vegas.
Marilyn, conversely, was drawn to older, powerful men, like Miller (11 years her senior), President John F Kennedy, and her second husband, baseball star Joe DiMaggio who was 40 to her 28 when they married.
Everyone in Elvis’ inner circle has also always denied that any such liaison happened. The only official description of a meeting between the two icons came from Memphis Mafia member Joe Esposito who confirmed they met very briefly in the June of 1960.
He said: “At Paramount Studios one time, him and I were walking to the dressing room and she was walking towards us at the same time and that’s when he met her. It was just a small, nice little conversation. He gave her a hug and all that stuff… Probably for about 3 minutes, and that was it.”
Byron’s account is salaciously appealing and he certainly worked closely with Elvis and also the star’s manager Colonel Parker for a number of years. He definitely had the access to know about such things and even set them up. However, even biographer Alanna Nash, who interview Byron and wrote three books about Elvis, concluded that she could only positively verify that short meeting on the Paramount lot.