Kissin' Cousins - MGM
By: For Elvis Fans Only
Elvis' fourteenth film was 1964's "Kissin'
Cousins". In this film Elvis played the
dual role of look-alike cousins Josh
Morgan, a dark-haired air force officer,
and Jodie Tatum, a blond mountain man.
On Monday, September 16, 1963 Elvis
received the songs that the director
Gene Nelson and the musical director
Fred Karger had chosen for the movie.
Fred Karger not only worked as a
composer, arranger and musical director
but was also at one time a vocal coach
for Columbia Pictures, where one of his
young students was Marilyn Monroe. He
was married to actress Jane Wyman twice,
from 1952 - 1954 and again from 1963 -
1965. His film credits include "From
Here To Eternity," "The Eddy Duchin
Story," "Pal Joey," "Bye Bye Birdie,"
"Your Cheatin' Heart," "Gidget" and
"When The Boys Meet The Girls." He also
worked on two other Elvis films - "Harum
Scarum" and "Frankie and Johnny."
Wanting to get a feel for his new
co-workers, on September 23rd, Elvis
screened the movie "Hootenanny Hoot," a
musical comedy that Sam Katzman had
produced, Gene Nelson had directed and
for which Fred Karger had been the
In an effort to save more production
costs, on September 29th soundtrack
recording began at RCA's Studio B in
Nashville. However, Elvis had a cold and
could not sing, so only the instrumental
tracks were laid down. Elvis did stop by
the studio to meet director Gene Nelson.
There were two different version of the
song "Kissin' Cousins," The opening
title song was written by Fred Wise and
Randy Starr and it was this version that
was released as a single, peaking at #12
on the pop singles chart. The
movie-ending version (No. 2) was written
by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence
Kaye and was featured on the movie's
soundtrack album. When, finally, on
October 10, 1963, Elvis did record his
vocals at the MGM sound stage in
California, he was required to sing the
ending song twice in two different
voices, one with a little more country
twang than the other, to achieve the
effect of a duet between both of his
characters, the more worldly Josh and
the country boy Jodie.
Elvis was fitted at the studio for the
blond wig that he would wear as Jodie
Tatum. There are pictures that were
taken on the set, of Elvis in his blond
wig and his manager Colonel Tom Parker
wearing the black wig that was used by
Elvis' stand-in Lance LeGault
in various scenes. Mr. LeGault was
Elvis's stand-in and helped with fight
and dance choreography in a number of
Elvis's movies. For the movie "Kissin'
Cousins" Lance plays whichever of the
two cousins Elvis is not playing in a
particular scene and always has his back
to the camera. Well....almost always.
There are a few bloopers in the film
when the camera caught him and Elvis
turning too fast and so there were
moments in the movie when you can see
the faces of both Elvis and Lance at the
same time. These mistakes were left in
and it is fun to watch for them. Lance
can also be seen in Elvis's 1968 TV
special playing the tambourine and
offering general assistance to Elvis
during the concert portions of the show
and as a cast member in the big "Guitar
Man" production number . Lance maintains
a busy career as a character actor in
film and television and as a voice
artist. One of his voice gigs is being
the narrator for the Graceland Mansion
On Sunday, October 13, 1963, Elvis
and the film crew travelled to the Big
Bear resort in the San Bernadino
Mountains of California for location
shooting. Elvis's accommodations were at
the Cedar Lake Lodge. Location shooting
began on the Monday the 14th and
continued until Wednesday November 6,
1963 when the crew returned to the MGM
studio in Hollywood.
It was then that his future wife
who lived at his home, Graceland, in
Memphis first got to be at the studio
during the production of one of Elvis's
movies. Her visit was cut short when a
few days later Ann-Margret, whom Elvis
had dated and who was his co-star in the
then yet to be released "Viva Las Vegas"
shot earlier that year, was quoted from
London saying that she was in love with
Elvis. Colonel Parker worried that the
press would inquire about Priscilla and
Elvis's relationship, so Priscilla
returned to Memphis.
Filming finished and Elvis was
released after stills were shot on
November 14, 1963. Only a week later
Elvis and Ann-Margret would be watching
the TV reports of the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy at his Bel Air
home. "Kissin' Cousins" opened
nationwide on Friday March 6, 1964. It
reached #11 on the "Variety" National
Box Office Survey and was ranked #26 for
the year. Some theatre owners passed out
candy kisses to patrons while other had
charity sponsored "kissing booths" in
Elvis Presley & Yvonne Craig (As
Azalea Tatum) in Kissin' Cousins
Yvonne Craig played
Azalea Tatum, the girl who catches
Elvis's other character Josh. She also
appeared in the Elvis film "It Happened
at the World's Fair" and dated Elvis for
a time. She began her career as a ballet
dancer and then went on to star as
"Gidget" in the 1959 movie of the same
name. She might be best remembered for
her role of Batgirl in the 60s TV series
Actress Pamela Austin
played Selena Tatum in "Kissin'
Cousins." She also had a role in the
Elvis movie "Blue Hawaii" and dated
Elvis for a time during that production.
She would go on to marry Charles Britt,
a Los Angles Ram's football player. She
was also known as the "Dodge Girl" as
she often appeared in Dodge automobile
commercials. Her career also included
appearances on many TV series including
"The Wild, Wild, West," "It Takes A
Thief," "Hawaiian Eye" and "Laugh In" to
name a few. She also starred as Pauline
in the 1967 movie "Perils of Pauline."
In "Kissin' Cousins" there is a group of
lusty mountain maidens called The
Kittyhawks, who are in search of men and
descend upon Josh Morgan (Elvis) and the
platoon of soldiers who accompany him to
the Tatum's home on Big Smokey Mountain.
The actress cast as the leader of this
group was Maureen Reagan, daughter of
the late President Ronald Reagan and
actress Jane Wyman. She had made her
movie debut in 1949 in "It's A Great
Feeling," which spoofed Hollywood and
featured a cameo by her and her parents.
She also appeared in the film
"Hootenanny Hoot," which "Kissin'
Cousins" producer Sam Katzman and
director Gene Nelson had just finished
filming. Before her death from cancer in
2001, she went on to a second career in
Another of the Kittyhawaks was was
played by Beverly Powers, who would go
on to have roles in the Elvis films
"Viva Las Vegas" and "Speedway." Jonesy
was played by Joan Staley, who also
played Marge in the Elvis film
"Roustabout." The former November 1958
"Playboy" Playmate of the Month had
numerous roles in TV and film throughout
Cynthia Pepper in Kissin'
Cynthia Pepper played
Corporal Midge Riley, who in the film
ends up with Elvis's character Jodie.
Her career included regular roles on the
TV series "My Three Sons" and "Margie."
She also starred as Sally in the 1965
film "Sally and Sam."
Arthur O'Connell played
the patriarch of the Tatum clan i
"Kissin' Cousins." This was the second
of his two movies with Elvis, having
played the father of Elvis's character
That Dream". Mr. O'Connell was
nominated twice for an Academy Award as
Best Supporting Actor. One was in 1955
for the movie "Picnic" , the other in
1960 for the movie "Anatomy of a
Glenda Farrell, who
played Ma Tatum, began her career as a
Warner Brothers contract player in the
1930s. She soon became known for a
series of "blonde" movies that she did
based on the serial magazine character
Torchy Blane. She also became known for
her unique ability to speak fast,
averaging 390 words a minute. In 1963
she won an Emmy in the "Outstanding
Performance in a Supporting Role"
category for her work on the "Ben Casey"
television show. She died of cancer in
1971 and is buried in the West Point
Military Academy Cemetery.
Glenda Farrell's son Tommy Farrell also
had a role in "Kissin' Cousins" as MSgt.
William George Bailey. Tommy Farrell's
career included roles on several TV
series such as Corporal Thad Carson on
"The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin", Mr.
Holliday on "This Is Alice" and Riff
Ryan on "The Many Loves of Dobie
Gillis." He can also be seen in Elvis's
movie "Girl Happy" as Louie. Mr. Farrell
passed away in May 2004.
Award winning actor Jack
Albertson played Captain Robert
Salbo in "Kissin Cousins." He also
played Lou in Elvis's film "Roustabout."
Jack Albertson is one of the few actors
to have won a Tony Award, an Emmy Award
and an Academy Award. He began his
career in vaudeville and burlesque and
then went on to Broadway where he won a
Tony for "The Subject Was Roses." He
reprised his role in the movie version
and won a 1969 Academy Award for Best
Supporting Actor. His movies include
"Miracle on 34th Street," "Don't Go Near
The Water," "Teacher's Pet," "Days of
Wine and Roses," "The Patsy" and playing
Grandpa Joe in "Willy Wonka & The
Chocolate Factory." On television he
played Lieutenant Commander Virgil
Stoner in the "Ensign O'Toole" series.
He might be best remembered as Ed Brown
on the series "Chico and the Man" for
which he received two Emmy Award
nominations, winning one in 1977. He
died in 1981 and his ashes were
scattered at sea.
Veteran actor and screen writer Robert
Carson played General Sam Kruger. His
film writing credits include "A Star Is
Born," "Beau Geste," "The Desperadoes"
and "Ain't Misbehavin'" among others. In
1938 he was nominated for two Academy
Awards, winning one of them for his
writing of "A Star Is Born." His acting
credits include many films such as "The
Ten Commandments," "The Patsy", "The
Great Race" and "The Greatest Show On
Earth." He has also had numerous guest
roles on various TV series.
Donald Woods played General Alvin
Donford/ Woods was a veteran actor with
over 85 movie roles dating back to his
first in the 1928 "Motorboat Mamas." He
also racked up many TV guest
Kent McCord had his film debut in an
uncredited roll in "Kissin' Cousins." He
would also have small roles in Elvis's
films "Viva Las Vegas" and "Roustabout."
Although he would play a number of roles
in his career, is best known as Officer
Jim Reed on the TV series "Adam-12." He
had a personal friendship with Elvis and
often played football on weekends with
Elvis and other young Hollywood
The script was written by Gerald
Drayson Adams and Gene Nelson. Nelson
also directed the film. Together, Adams
and Nelson received a 1965 nomination
from the Writer's Guild of America for
"Kissin' Cousins" as the "Best Written
American Musical" of the year.
Gerald Adams was born in Winnipeg,
Canada in 1900. He was educated at
Oxford University in England and became
a business executive and literary agent.
He didn't begin writing until the
mid-1940s. He specialized in writing
action/adventure and western films such
as "The Magnificent Rogue," "Old Los
Angeles" and "The Lady From Texas". He
also wrote for such TV series as "Broken
Arrow" and "Maverick." He also wrote the
script for the 1965 Elvis film "Harum
The multi-talented Gene Nelson was born
Eugene Leander Berg in 1920. He was
captivated by seeing Fred Astaire in the
1933 film "Flying Down To Rio". It was
then that he decided to become a dancer.
He toured with the Sonja Henie Ice Show
before World War II prompted him to join
the U.S. Army. After the war he returned
to his dancing and acting career in both
TV and film. You might remember him in
such films as "Tea For Two" and "The
Daughter of Rosie O'Grady" or his role
of Will Parker in the movie "Oklahoma!"
He won a Golden Globe Award in 1951 as
Most Promising Newcomer for his work
with Doris Day in "Tea For Two." In
between his own acting roles he became a
film and TV director. Among his director
credits are many well known TV shows
such as "F Troop," "I Dream of Jeannie,"
"Gunsmoke," "Hawaii Five-O," "Dan
August," "The Rookies," "Barnaby Jones,"
"Get Christie Love," "Starsky and Hutch"
and "Quincy." He died of cancer in 1996.
The producer of the movie was Sam
Katzman, known as the "King of the
Quickies" for having made many films
quickly and cheaply. Elvis' manager
Colonel Tom Parker was concerned as
Elvis's lates movie "Viva Las Vegas" had
gone way over budget and cut into his
and Elvis's portion of the profits. He
was determined that wouldn't happen
again. With Sam Katzman at the helm they
wouldn't have any problems with budget.
In his teens, Mr. Katzman started his
show business career as a prop man and
then worked his way up through all the
phases of movie making to become a
producer in 1935 at the age of 34. He
then became known for movie serials
featuring such characters as The East
Side Kids, Brenda Star and Captain
Video. He also produced teenage musicals
such as "Hootenanny Hoot," "Rock Around
The Clock" and "Twist Around The Clock."
He made some 230 films in his career,
including the Elvis movies "Kissin'
Cousins" and "Harum Scarum."
- Kissin' Cousins (No. 2)
- Smokey Mountain Boy
- There's Gold in the Mountains
- One Boy, Two Little Girls
- Catchin' on Fast
- Tender Feeling
- Anyone (Could Fall in Love With
- Barefoot Ballad
- Once Is Enough
- Kissin' Cousins
Studios, 17th Avenue, South Nashville.
Elvis Presley (vocals), Scotty Moore,
Grady Martin, Jerry Kennedy, Harold
Bradley (guitars), Bob Moore (bass),
D.J. Fontana, Buddy Harman (drums),
Floyd Cramer (piano), Boots Randolph,
Bill Justis (sax), the Jordanaires
Writing Credits: Gerald Drayson
Producer: Sam Katzman
Music Supervised and conducted by:
Choreographer: Hal Belfer
Assistant Director: Eli Dunn
Recording Supervisor: Franklin
Technical Advisor: Colonel Tom
Hair Styles: Sydney Guilaroff
Panavision and Metrocolor
Elvis Presley .... Josh Morgan & Jodie
Tatum, Arthur O'Connell .... Pappy
Tatum, Glenda Farrell .... Ma Tatum,
Jack Albertson .... Captain Robert Jason
Salbo, Pamela Austin .... Selena Tatum,
Cynthia Pepper .... Corporal Midge
Riley, Yvonne Craig .... Azalea Tatum,
Donald Woods .... General Alvin Donford,
Tommy Farrell .... Master Sergeant
William George Bailey, Beverly Powers
.... Trudy, Hortense Petra .... Dixie
Cate, Robert Stone .... General's Aide,
Rest of cast listed alphabetically Teri
Garr, Beverly Hills, Maureen Reagan.