Blue Hawaii : Paramount 1961

By: Elvis Australia
July 22, 2004

Blue Hawaii - Paramount 1961
Blue Hawaii - Paramount 1961
Elvis Presley's eighth film was 'Blue Hawaii', filmed in the tropical paradise of the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai. 'Blue Hawaii' was Elvis' biggest commercial success. With 14 songs, more than any other Elvis film, the soundtrack album spent a total of 79 weeks on Billboard's pop album chart, with 20 of those weeks at #1. Blue Hawaii, a musical comedy originally titled 'Hawaiian Beach Boy', became the most successful film of Elvis Presley's career. Elvis stars as Chad Gates, whose wealthy family owns a successful pineapple plantation in Hawaii, At the beginning of the film, Chad has just returned from the Army, and his family is eager for him to pursue the family business. Instead, Chad lands a job as a guide in the tourist agency where girlfriend Maile, played by Joan Blackman, also works.

Blue Hawaii - German Movie Poster
Blue Hawaii - German Movie Poster

His new vocation not only allows him to use his knowledge of the Islands' most beautiful sites but also affords him enough time to cavort on the beach with his native Hawaiian buddies. Tension mounts as Chad's blue-blooded mother, played by Angela Lansbury, objects to his job, his girlfriend, and his beach-loving friends. Chad eventually proves a success in the tourist business, and he finally wins the approval of his family by marrying Maile and making plans to open his own tourist agency.

Hal Wallis and Elvis Presley during filing of- Blue Hawaii
Hal Wallis and Elvis Presley during filing of- Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii - Paramount 1961
Blue Hawaii - Paramount 1961
Filming for 'Blue Hawaii' began on March 27, 1961 in the lush islands of Hawaii. Location shooting took place on the islands of Oahu and Kauai and was finished by April 17th. The cast and crew then returned to Hollywood where filming continued until May 23rd.

The original working title of the film was 'Hawaiian Beach Boy'.

The famous wedding scene was shot on Kauai at the Coco Palms Resort Hotel which had been in operation since 1953. Unfortunately, the resort closed after Kauai was hit with devastating Hurricane Iniki in September 1992. In the 1800s, the land where the Coco Palms is located was the ancestral home of Kauai's last reigning queen, Queen Deborah Kapule. The 'Call to Feast' featured in the film with its ceremonial torch lighting had taken place there every night at 7:30 PM for 40 years until Iniki hit.

Elvis loved Hawaii. It was one of his favorite places to vacation and this movie provides us with a glimpse into the beauty of these islands.

That combined with the romantic tropical music Elvis sings creates within us all the desire to visit 'Blue Hawaii'.

Elvis Presley and Joan Blackman in Blue Hawaii - 'Rock-A-Hula Baby
Elvis Presley and Joan Blackman in Blue Hawaii - 'Rock-A-Hula Baby'

Elvis' leading lady in 'Blue Hawaii' was Joan Blackman, who played Maile Duval. The following year she played Elvis' love interest in 'Kid Galahad'. Elvis had dated the actress when he first came to Hollywood in 1956.

Joan Blackman and Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii - 'Can't Help Falling In Love'
Joan Blackman and Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii - 'Can't Help Falling In Love'

Roland Winters played Elvis' father Fred Gates. Like Lansbury, he was a respected character actor with many films to his credit. One career highlight was his portrayal of detective Charlie Chan in several of the'Charlie Chan' movies from 1947 to 1950, the third actor to take on that role in these films. He can also be seen portraying a judge in Elvis' 1962 movie 'Follow That Dream'. You might also recognize him from the 1973 remake of the movie 'Miracle on 34th. Street' in which he played Mr. Gimbel.

Angela Lansbury played the role of Elvis' ditzy mother even though she was only 35 years old at the time and Elvis was 26. She began her career in 1944 in a movie called 'Gaslight', which quickly earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She would go on to achieve great fame and numerous accolades in film and television and on Broadway. She has starred in such films as 'National Velvet', 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', 'The Harvey Girls', 'The Manchurian Candidate', 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', 'Harlow', 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks', 'Mrs. Santa Claus' and 'Beauty and the Beast' (voice for animation). She is probably best known for her role as mystery writer and sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the 'Murder, She Wrote' television series. To name just a few of her accolades, she has received three Academy Award nominations, thirteen Emmy nominations, six Golden Globe wins out of fourteen nominations, four Tony Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jenny Maxwell played Ellie Corbett. She also appeared in the 1963 movie 'Take Her She's Mine' and a number of TV roles in such series as 'My Three Sons', 'Bonanza', 'Dr. Kildare', 'Wagon Train' and 'Death Valley Days'.

Darlene Thompkins played Patsy Simon. She worked on another Elvis film playing Ms. Stevers in 'Fun In Acapulco'. Other career credits include working as stunt double for Cheryl Ladd in 'Charlie's Angels'.

Christian Kay played Beverly Martin. Among her credits is the TV series 'My Three Sons'.

Nancy Walters played the role of schoolteacher Abigail Prentice.

Pamela Austin played Sandy Emerson. She later worked on another Elvis movie playing Selena Tatum in 'Kissin' Cousins'. She also appeared in numerous TV series including 'Columbo', 'It Takes A Thief', 'Laugh In', 'The Wild, Wild, West', 'Hawaiian Eye', 'My Three Sons' and 'Wagon Train'. She and Elvis dated for a short time.

Howard McNear played Mr. Chapman in 'Blue Hawaii', the first of three Elvis movies he appeared in. The two other Elvis movie roles were a bank vice president in 'Follow That Dream' and Dr. John Stevers in 'Fun In Acapulco'. The veteran character actor was the original voice of Doc Adams in the radio version of 'Gunsmoke' and he appeared in many roles for television. His most famous role was that of Floyd the barber on television's 'The Andy Griffith Show'. You might notice in watching him in this role that, after the second year, he was usually filmed sitting down. This was due to the effects of having suffered a stroke that impaired his left side.

Steve Brodie played troublemaker Tucker Garvey in 'Blue Hawaii'. His two other Elvis movie roles were Freddie in 'Roustabout' and an uncredited role in 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style'. He too has had a long career as a character actor. Among his credits are the films 'The Story of Will Rogers', 'The Treasure of Monte Cristo', 'Anchors Aweigh', and 'Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo'.

Veteran character actress Iris Adrian played Enid Garvey in 'Blue Hawaii'. Her notable credits are too many to list as she played hundreds of roles in films and on television.

Frank Atienza played Ito O'Hara in 'Blue Hawaii'. His other Elvis movie appearance was in 'Girls! Girls! Girls!'. He also had a recurring part as a policeman in the Hawaii-based television series 'Magnum P.I.'

Elvis Presley and cast in Blue Hawaii
Elvis Presley and cast in Blue Hawaii

Guy Lee played Ping Pong the houseboy in 'Blue Hawaii' and he played Chen Young in the Elvis movie 'Girls! Girls! Girls!'. His career credits include the films 'Flower Drum Song' and 'Gidget Goes Hawaiian' and the television series 'Bachelor Father', 'Wild, Wild West' and 'Bonanza'.

Richard Reeves had the role of the harmonica playing jailhouse inmate in 'Blue Hawaii'. His four other Elvis movie roles were Officer Wilkins in 'Girl Happy', a bartender in 'Tickle Me', a Bedouin in 'Harum Scarum' and a man on the street in 'Frankie and Johnny'. He also had roles in numerous television series including 'Man From Uncle', 'Superman', 'Loredo', 'Batman', 'Gunsmoke', 'Rawhide', and 'Perry Mason' to name just a few.

The screenplay was written by Allan Weiss, who later wrote five other Elvis movies: 'Easy Come, Easy Go', 'Fun In Acapulco', 'Girls! Girls! Girls!', 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style' and 'Roustabout'.

Behind the Scenes of Blue Hawaii

Much of Blue Hawaii was filmed on location in Hawaii, which had only joined the union in 1959. The new state of Hawaii was as eager for the exposure in a major Hollywood film as the producers and actors were to shoot there. Such beautiful Hawaiian locations as Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Park, Lydgate Park, and the Coco Palms Resort Hotel were used in the film; also used were such unglamorous locations as the Honolulu jail.

Elvis Presley and Gary Player

Elvis Presley Photos Above, Gary Player gives some golf pointers to Elvis Presley on the Paramount set of Blue Hawaii in 1961. Producer Hal Wallis slated a screen test for the golfer later that year.

Player was leaving May 9 for Fort Worth to get ready for the Colonial Tournament. (UPI)

Despite working primarily on location, the producers experienced only minor problems. The first occurred just prior to shooting. Juliet Prowse, who had been Elvis' costar in the successful G.I. Blues, was cast opposite Elvis in the role of Maile Duval. She was loaned to Paramount from Twentieth Century-Fox for the film. Eleven days before filming was to begin in Hawaii, Prowse declared that she was not going to report to work until three demands were met. Prowse wanted her Fox makeup man to do her makeup, she wanted the traveling expenses of her secretary to be paid by the producers, and she wanted a change made in her contract regarding her billing. Wallis replaced Prowse with the lesser known Joan Blackman.

Shooting on location was always a problem when Elvis was the star of a film because increased security was necessary to protect him from fans. When Elvis arrived in Honolulu, thousands of fans nearly broke down the barricades before the singer was whisked to his hotel.

Since mobs waited around his hotel daily, security guards were on duty around the clock.

Elvis was disappointed that he could not visit the sites, and he often looked out his window to watch others strolling along the beach. One morning he saw a heartfelt message written in the sand by the very fans he needed to be protected from. Elvis was touched by the simple message: 'We love you, Elvis!' One minor incident that caused an unnecessary delay was actually the fault of Colonel Parker. Rain moved in on the location one day, causing the crew to wait hours for a break in the weather. The rain finally stopped, and just as director Taurog was able to roll camera on Elvis running out of the surf, Parker rushed in front of the camera yelling, 'Cut, cut!' Proper etiquette on the set maintains that only the director can stop the action. Hal Wallis and Taurog were furious and demanded to know what could be important enough for Parker to halt the shot.

Elvis at the Coco Palms Resort, 1961
Elvis at the Coco Palms Resort, 1961

The Colonel slyly pointed out that Elvis was wearing his own watch during the scene. The contract spelled out that Elvis was to provide no part of his wardrobe, including jewelry. If Taurog wanted to keep any part of the shot that had just been done, Wallis and Paramount would have to pay Elvis an extra $25,000. Taurog asked Elvis to remove his watch, and the shot was redone. Why the Colonel pulled this power play is not known.

The success of Blue Hawaii sealed Elvis' fate in terms of his film career. Though Flaming Star and Wild in the Country had not lost money, neither had they set the box office afire. The Colonel used the box-office grosses of Blue Hawaii to convince Elvis that his fans preferred him in musical comedies.

Articles about Elvis Presley Jenny Maxwell and Elvis : The Seat Of The Trouble

Articles about Elvis Presley The Elvis Presley Hawaii Connection
Elvis Presley Photos Photos : Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii

Buy Blue Hawaii DVD
Buy Blue Hawaii FTD Special Edition CD


Elvis Presley Lyrics Blue Hawaii
Elvis Presley Lyrics Almost Always True
Elvis Presley Lyrics Aloha Oe
Elvis Presley Lyrics No More
Elvis Presley Lyrics Can't Help Falling In Love
Elvis Presley Lyrics Rock-A-Hula Baby
Elvis Presley Lyrics Moonlight Swim
Elvis Presley Lyrics Ku-U-I-Po
Elvis Presley Lyrics Ito Eats
Elvis Presley Lyrics Slicin' Sand
Elvis Presley Lyrics Hawaiian Sunset
Elvis Presley Lyrics Beach Boy Blues
Elvis Presley Lyrics Island Of Love
Elvis Presley Lyrics Hawaiian Wedding Song
Elvis Presley Lyrics Steppin' Out Of Line (Cut)

Recorded at: Radio Recorders Studios, 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. March 1961.


Elvis Presley (vocals), Hank Garland, Tiny Timbrell (guitars), Bernie Lewis (steel guitar), Bob Moore (bass), D.J. Fontana, Bernie Mattinson, Hal Blaine (drums), Floyd Cramer, Dudley Brookes (piano), Boots Randolph (sax), George Field (harmonica), Fred Tavares, Alvino Rey (ukeleles) the Jordanaires and the Surfers (vocals).

An intensive two nights of recording to cut the 14 tracks for this movie.The success of the film at the box office was also matched by record sales: the single of 'Rock - A - Hula Baby' sold over a million copies and the soundtrack LP racked up half that number in the first three months of it's release.

Billboards review of the soundtrack stated 'This should be a big one'.

Blue Hawaii - Paramount 1961

Directed Norman Taurog
Writing Credits Alan Weiss(story), Hal Kanter
Producer Hal Wallis
Technical Advisor Colonel Tom Parker
Technicolor and Panavision

Cast Overview: Elvis Presley .... Chad Gates, Joan Blackman .... Maile Duval, Angela Lansbury .... Sarah Lee Gates, Nancy Walters .... Abigail Prentice, Roland Winters .... Fred Gates, John Archer .... Jack Kelman, Howard McNear .... Mr. Chapman, Steve Brodie .... Tucker Garvey, Iris Adrian .... Enid Garvey, Jenny Maxwell .... Ellie Corbett, Pamela Austin .... Selena (Sandy) Emerson, Darlene Tompkins .... Patsy Simon, Christian Kay .... Beverly Martin, Lani Kai .... Carl Tanami, Jose De Vega .... Ernie Gordon.

Interview with actor, songwriter Dolores Fuller.

Dolores went into a collaborative partnership with Ben Weisman and got one song, 'Rock-A-Hula Baby', into Blue Hawaii, a beginning that eventually led to Elvis recording a dozen of her songs.

Articles about Elvis Presley Jenny Maxwell and Elvis : The Seat Of The Trouble
Articles about Elvis Presley The Elvis Presley Hawaii Connection
Elvis Presley Photos Photos : Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii

Buy Blue Hawaii DVD
Buy Blue Hawaii FTD Special Edition CD

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