Elvis Presley Meets Mario Lanza
Source: Elvis Australia
July 20, 2000 - 2:13:00 PM
I asked her what she heard him talking about'. They talked a lot about how much they didn't like 'Hollywood' and the people who had caused them difficulty and pain...especially, Dad, of course'. Since they were both RCA recording superstars, they also traded 'war stories' about people they knew in common and about the business of making records in general. We have only Colleen's word that these calls occurred. Colleen's imagination and sometime propensity to exaggerate things is no secret but that does not necessarily discount what she told me about Elvis talking to her father.
Elvis, during his time in the Army in Germany, would have been well aware of Mario's European concerts and controversies ... these were major entertainment news issues. And since soldiers are not prohibited from making phone calls during leave and off-time, Elvis certainly could have easily gotten Mario's phone number from RCA. I can state that Colleen's anecdotes were sincere and sounded credible, and did not seem merely fanciful embroidery designed to create interesting conversation. If you knew Colleen well, you could usually sense the reality of what she was saying.
To further explore this issue, I spoke to Terry Robinson (Mario's closest and most trusted friend all during his Hollywood days). I've known Terry for over 15 years. Since Terry's importance and near constant presence in Mario's life is legend, let me just add that I have never met a more honorable and gracious man; a man whose recall of his many years with Mario ... and the minute details about his career ... is stunningly detailed to say the least. If you have been able to listen to Terry's appearances on my radio program, you will hear his dignity, sincerity, and great character with no difficulty whatsoever.
Terry was the closest thing to a brother Mario had...in fact, many brothers would do well to be so devoted. Terry was with Mario nearly constantly from 1949 until 1957. Since Mario didn't like to drive, Terry drove him nearly everywhere...including to every single recording session up until the time he and the family went to Italy. Terry was in the studio for every take of every song and aria for RCA, MGM, and Warner Bros. Further, Terry went with Mario on his concert tours and was on the set of every Hollywood film, every take. Terry even acted as his stand-in during the production of several films including The Great Caruso. Louis Mayer insisted that Terry live with Mario at the studios during the filming of Caruso...Terry took Mario home only on weekends. Terry knew Mario as well as anyone probably could.
Mario relied on Terry for a multitude of things...most importantly his steadfast friendship and support through the brutal crises that nearly continually plagued his life, personally and professionally. Mario asked Terry repeatedly to come with him and the family to Italy but Terry chose to remain here to look after Mario's parents. That's the kind of man Terry is. One can only speculate how Mario's European sojourn would have turned out had Terry been there to act as a rudder...and trusted friend.
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