E-mail interview with Barbara Leigh specially
for "Elvis Presley from Poland" website
July 24, 2002
Much has been written about your affair with Elvis Presley
from 1970-1972, but strangely enough, not much is known.
You've been able to keep the details under wraps for more than
25 years. Why have you finally decided to write "The
King, McQueen and the Love Machine," a book about your
relationship with Elvis now?
Barbara Leigh: Out of respect for
Elvis, I never spoke of our relationship while he was alive.
We kept our affair secret. Outside our immediate group of
friends, no one knew for sure. Elvis was very much married at
the time and I was what some would call a starlet. We were
careful not to be photographed or appear together in public
because had our relationship been discovered, I'm sure it
would have been a huge scandal. After Elvis died I have only
granted two interviews. The first one was a BIG
disappointment. The author, Albert Goldman, wrote the
despicable "Elvis!" in the early 1980s in which he
tried to sell a lot of books by trashing Elvis' reputation. I
met Mr. Goldman in New York City where we both lived in the
late 1970s. He had contacted me through a friend with the
intent to write about me, with or without an interview. I
decided to at least meet with him and feel him out. When he
arrived at my apartment, I was totally disarmed. His
appearance was that of a quirky professor (which, he was)
wearing sneakers, blue jeans, T-shirt & jacket. He smiled
a lot and he seemed nice enough. I believed he was a fan, but
he ultimately proved me wrong. Although he wrote my interview
as given, he demeaned Elvis in every way possible. I never got
past the first few pages, and I never read it again. I was
sickened this man who never knew Elvis, and could write such
horrible things about a wonderful human being. It was almost
20 years since I did another interview, the second one was
with Peter Guralnick who wrote the best-selling book,
"Last Train to Memphis." Based on his work, I
decided to grant him an interview for "Careless
Love," the sequel to "Last Train to Memphis." I
met Peter through Joe Esposito and liked him right away. You
could feel Peter's admiration for Elvis, and he made me proud.
In 1996, I received a letter from the well-known biographer,
Marshall Terrill, who wrote a best-selling biography called,
"Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel."
Marshall wrote me because he wanted to do a book Elvis. I was
already starting work on my book and actually telling my story
into a tape recorder when he wrote, so I figured it was fate.
I called him and we set up a meeting. Marshall lives in
Arizona, so he flew to Los Angeles where we met at my
apartment. Marshall's enthusiasm for me to tell my story won
me over in that visit, plus the fact that he knew about the
importance that Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen and James Aubrey
had played in the 1970s was a bonus. I didn't have to explain
to him who these powerful men were, and their place in pop
culture history during this time period. Often at the Famous
Chiller Theater Convention in NJ, and other convention's too
I've been asked why didn't I write my autobiography. Although,
this book is not a total autobiography of my life (it heavily
covers the years 1970-1973) it gives you the feeling of
reading my journals through these three years. After flying to
Arizona to spend time with Marshall and work on the book, we
decided after Marshall got to know me that there were too many
books on Elvis alone and maybe the fans might enjoy reading a
bigger romantic story. We changed direction of the book and
wrote about a three-year period in my life when I dated these
three famous men, and bring the readers up to date to where I
am now. I had fun writing this book, but it wasn't easy to
tell some very personal things. It's a little scary to share
so much of myself, but I hope that anyone who reads our book
will know that it was written with love-especially my love for
and how did you first meet Elvis Presley?
Barbara Leigh: Elvis was
introduced to me through my boyfriend, Jim Aubrey, who was the
president of MGM studios at the time. He was a powerful player
in Hollywood and was the inspiration for Jacqueline Susan's
famous book and movie "The Love
Machine." Jim took me to see Elvis' show at the Las Vegas
Hilton in August 1970 because he was making arrangements for
MGM to distribute, "Elvis: That's the Way It Is.".
After the show we were invited to meet the King back in his
private dressing room. I met Elvis face-to-face when he sat
down next to me, staring directly into my eyes. He spotted me
in the audience that night and was prepared to get my phone
number that night without anyone seeing. He got a great
delight out of stealing Jim Aubrey's girlfriend.
were you in terms of your career at this point?
Barbara Leigh: I was a successful
international model at the height of my career, and was an
inspiring actress just beginning to make some movie
appearances. I was an ingenue in the movie business, and was
very close to making a big breakthrough. I had a few films and
television appearances under my belt, but my career took a big
upturn with "Pretty Maids All in a Row" starring
did you first take notice of Elvis Presley?
Barbara Leigh: It must have been
the first time I saw Elvis on "The Ed Sullivan Show"
in 1956. I was just a kid, but I immediately loved him. My
family and I were watching TV when Elvis appeared, and we
didn't know what to think. His voice was beautiful, his moves
were sexy; like nothing anyone had ever seen before. He was so
free and alive. Elvis expressed who he was, and how he felt
through his famous shaking and swiveling. He certainly got my
attention as I got up and tried to move like he did, but was
quickly sent to my room. Little did I ever dream that I would
meet him one day.
did you know you'd be lovers?
Barbara Leigh: From that moment
in his dressing room when we locked eyes, I knew we would be
friends and lovers. I wished it! When Elvis wanted something
he usually got it. As we spent time together our relationship
grew. We tried spending as much time together as we could
manage, but it wasn't easy with his career, his marriage, his
other women and my work schedule. Life was always a challenge
with the King.
was Elvis like behind closed doors?
Barbara Leigh: I think that Elvis
was really a very simple man by nature, but complex through
his megastardom and fame. He was what he appeared to
be-honest, kind, generous, loving, and forever the
entertainer. Fame and all the trappings can change a simple
man into a complex man, and that's the way it was with E as
with most celebrities. Their lives are no longer normal, and
they belong to their fans.
was your main bond with Elvis?
Barbara Leigh: Elvis's
spiritualism is well known by anyone who ever spent anytime
with him. You couldn't help but see that in him. He was an old
soul. I loved spending private time with E because that is
when you saw the real Elvis. Often he shared his spiritual
thoughts and knowledge that he learned from certain beloved
books he cherished. I've been down on my knees praying with
Elvis. If he thought prayer would help, he prayed. He was a
humble man before God. He loved church, singing church hymns,
which he did for me at Graceland while playing his piano. We
sang "Amazing Grace" together. Elvis told me I had a
beautiful voice, and always made me feel special. He had that
rare gift, and he wasn't afraid to use it. He was a dear, dear
didn't bother you that Elvis often surrounded himself with
women, and of course, he was still married to Priscilla?
Barbara Leigh: Elvis was the
King, and a King has to have his harem, right? I didn't think
about him being married or about the many, many other women in
his life. When we were together I tried living in the now. The
'70's philosophy of "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass which,
was a book that Elvis liked and so did I. It was a popular
mantra of the day that professed to live only in the now. I
never believed that I was the only girlfriend, and I accepted
Elvis for the time we spent together. I was lucky enough to
share with him and I never asked him any questions, and he did
likewise. We didn't ask any questions about other
relationships because we knew what the answer would be. I took
the bad with the good. The only time it bothered me was when
I'd have to compete for his attention at the Vegas Hilton when
beautiful girls were showing up and trying to steal the King's
heart in front of me. That was tough.
you mentioned before, you were already involved with James
Aubrey and was about to embark on an affair with Steve
McQueen. How did Elvis accept that?
Barbara Leigh: Elvis knew about
Jim Aubrey because we met through "James," but he
admired Aubrey and looked up to him. The feeling was mutual
because Jim liked Elvis and admired him, too. They were total
opposites, it's partly what attracted them to each other. Jim
had the sophistication and charm of Ayan Rand's Howard
Rowark's character from the "Fountainhead," and
Elvis had the genteel charm of a southerner. Elvis later found
out about Steve McQueen when I was filming "Junior
Bonner"in Prescott, Arizona. Elvis decided he wanted to
visit me in Arizona, and it was an awkward moment. Elvis
basically forced me to tell him that I was dating Steve, and
living with him on location. Elvis and Steve were more alike
in that they both came from nothing, and there was fierce
competition between the two. Elvis referred to Steve as
"that motorcycle hick" while Steve referred to Elvis
as "that guitar hick."
was it like to be on tour with Elvis in the early 1970s?
Barbara Leigh: Touring with Elvis
was exciting at first, but quickly became tiresome. The best
part was always watching Elvis on stage, I could never get
enough of seeing him perform and hearing him sing. The bad
part, however, outweighed the good. The bad included horrible
food, lack of rest, too much female competition and little
private time with the King. I loved flying next to Elvis on
his planes, and it gave us time to talk without being
interrupted. I had his undivided attention because he couldn't
go anywhere. And those were the times that made it all
were some funny or endearing quirks Elvis had that brings a
smile to your face?
Barbara Leigh: One of Elvis's
endearing quirks was that he could never pass a mirror without
stopping to check himself out. He just had to make sure he was
still the King (laughs). It was done in a way that was so
sweet and funny that I didn't take it seriously, and neither
did he, but there wasn't a mirror he didn't like. Elvis also
had a great sense of humor and loved playing practical jokes
on the guys and whoever was there. Elvis also couldn't keep a
secret to save his life. If he swore not to repeat something,
you could count on him spilling his guts. He just couldn't
keep a secret well.
was special about Elvis as a human being?
Barabara Leigh: Elvis was the
most generous person I've ever met both with his money and
himself. He loved giving gifts and watching people's faces
when they got them. There wasn't a motive to his sharing other
than just his love. With Elvis, a lot
of getting a BIG gift was being there at the right time and
place. In one of his many generous moods, he decided to buy
Charlie Hodge a Mercedes car. Lucky for me, I was there at the
time, and I got a little brown Mercedes. It was an exciting
experience for all us all, but Elvis was the most excited
because he truly loved to give. I loved my little brown
Mercedes, and Elvis knew it. Elvis loved to adorn his women
with beautiful clothes, and he loved getting guns or us too,
so we'd be safe. He loved giving jewelry and surprising you
when you least expected it. It was Elvis's joy to give and
make people happy, he shared all these things with me as well
as many others. He was truly one-of-a-kind.
led to your eventual breakup, and did you keep in touch?
Barabara Leigh: Our schedules
became more and more difficult to align, and gradually after
he met Linda Thompson in 1972, it was pretty much over. We
remained friends but drifted apart romantically. Through the
years we kept in touch through Joe. And, from time to time
Elvis would see one of my commercials, or Playboy layouts, or
see my Vampirella magazines and he'd call to catch up on what
was going on. He always kept tabs on me through Joe.
Q: As we
get ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his death, why
do you think Elvis Presley is more popular than ever?
Barabara Leigh: Elvis's music is
the one true GIFT he's left behind, and it is continually
being shared with the world. The music will never die, but
apart from that, it's the other intangible things that keep
him alive-his love, his laughter, his films, all the photos
that we see and have access to will keep him alive for
generations to come. I don't think it's bad to worship
something that makes you feel good. And Elvis' memory makes
people and fans feel happy. He will live forever in the hearts
of all his fans. From my perspective, Elvis isn't dead, he's
just left the building.
"The King, McQueen and
the Love Machine" can be
ordered in both hardback and tradeback form from www.xlibris.com
or to get
an autogaphed copy, go to www.barbaraleigh.com.
Special thanks for
Barbara Leigh for her contribution to this E-mail Interview from
Andrzej Lipczynski, author "Elvis
Presley from Poland" website.
Special Thanks To
My Friend Marshall Terrill
Book : "The
King, McQueen and the Love Machine"
By Barbara Leigh with Marshall Terrill
here for more information and to order!
Book: photos >>