When was the first time you met Elvis? Sheila Ryan:
The first time I met Elvis I was in Las Vegas. Joe Esposito brought me backstage after the second show.
Elvis came out of the dressing room
he had this towel wrapped around his neck and there were thirty people in the room.
He walks out and the first thing that he does, it was just but that once in a lifetime magical
He just walks out of the room and boom, it was magic. And I knew right at that moment,
I think most women have that feeling... I knew that I was gonna spend a lot of time with him.
clicked instantly? Sheila Ryan:
Instantly. I did, doesn't happen any more instant than that
happened. It was fate.
throw a grape at you?
Yeah, He did throw a grape at me. I'm still not sure actually why he threw that grape. Joe Esposito has
said that he threw it at me on purpose so that he could have a
reason to come over and talk with me. I thought that he threw
it at Joe for bringing an attractive woman and it
was a jealousy kind of a thing.
Elvis's first words to you?
Elvis's first words to me were, "I'm sorry." I mean,
it was an amazing shot, actually. He was
probably fifteen feet away and I was playing cool because,
after that first look, I didn't really need to know
anything else that night. His girlfriend was there. I wasn't
gonna make a scene, but how he flung that grape and
hit me right between the eyes, it is amazing
to me. I didn't get to talk with Elvis that night. Other than
when he came over and he kneeled down and apologized. I was feeling uncomfortable
because I knew that his girlfriend was watching and there was
no mistake in what was going on between us. It was,
one of those things. So he then got up and had to
leave to be with the rest of the people in the
room, I took my cue and left. Asked Joe Esposito to walk me out.
Elvis' Christmas gift to
the next time that you saw Elvis? Sheila Ryan:
I was changing apartments and,
as I said before, at that time in my life, I just had a
knowing. My phone was disconnected
for two days because I was transferring from one apartment to
another and I knew that Joe was desperately trying to reach
me. I just knew it and as soon as the phone was connected,
and the phone rang and it was Joe. I just
said, "Hi, Joe." And he said, "God how did you
know it was me? Where in the heck have you been? The boss is
frustrated that he hadn't been able to reach you for two days."
I just laughed. And Joe said, "My boss likes you
and he wants to see you."
Did you go
on a big date with Elvis? Sheila Ryan:
Yes, I went on a big date with Elvis. It lasted
about two years. That's a big date.
the type of things that you would do? Sheila Ryan:
Elvis and I used to hide. We would sneak out in the
middle of the night and go get ice cream and it was like
helicopters and the armed guard would come out and
seek us out and hold us at gunpoint and take us back to
the hotel. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but, yeah, we did. We just tried to be little kids, bad little kids. And he
entertained me. The second night that I was there, he took me out on the balcony of the
International Suite, that suite in Vegas was sort of his home. And he sang to
me. And he would sing a lot and we would read and have fun. We
did have fun.
a special song?
Yes, there was a song that I loved and it
wasn't a song that he sang. The song that he sang to me the
first night, oddly enough, was a single that I
bought when I was maybe thirteen and I bought it and I was so
proud of it. It was all the money I had, ninety-nine cents. And I put it up on the counter and I was just
looking at it and the name of it, oh, don't you just hate
that. Anyway, it slipped behind the counter and I was
the qualities you saw in Elvis that touched you?
Elvis had qualities that no other human being had. Some of them are so hard to describe because the
charisma, the qualities that he had were almost not of this
world. There were, a lot of times, angelic. He knew
things before I knew things. He knew things that I was feeling
before I was feeling them. He was very much a little boy. He
had that little boy quality. I've often said, before
I met him, he had that smile and everyone interpreted that
smile to be his sexy look. And it wasn't that at all. It
wasn't a sexy look. It was his innocence, his vulnerability.
It wasn't at all something that he turned on and off. It was
just, you know, just vulnerable.
a tender heart?
I don't think that there's another person, although, again, I
mean, you know, let's face it. The man was just not normal. The biggest joy that he had was in giving and I
didn't really understand it that much at the time. But it was
what brought most joy to him was to give.
most to you in your relationship with Elvis?
The thing that meant the most to me in my relationship with
Elvis was that it was different than relationships that he had
had with other women in that I wasn't the nagging, jealous.
And I'm not saying that all the women that he was with were
nagging and jealous but I didn't try to change him. I mean, I
didn't expect him to be monogamous. When he would go away, I
knew that he was gonna be with another woman and when he would
come back he would tell me about what happened. And we would
laugh because, I was secure. I'm still not a jealous person. So
what was most different about my relationship with him is that
he didn't have to explain. He didn't have to be afraid. He
didn't have to hide, although he did hide some things. I mean,
it wasn't completely an open book.
Was it a
really passionate relationship?
Our relationship was passionate and I'm surprised to hear that
women that I know, because at the time there were basically
two. There was myself and Linda
Thompson and we were sort of running the race. At first, he was seeing her and then I came
along. It was sort of like a horserace. We
were neck and neck and then I fell behind. But I'd heard that he didn't have a lot of intimacy with
women. That mostly he did, a lot of talking and
staying up and reading. But we did have a very active passionate
romantic life. Sometimes more than I was ready for, prepared
for. Sometimes I was tired and it was no, no, no.
So, you know, I'm really surprised to hear that
other women had, a problem with the lack of
intimacy and sex.
sometimes you kept him up by reading to him?
Yeah, he would have me read to him until he would fall asleep.
I would slowly close the book and
lean over and put it on the bedside table and then I was so
excited because then I got to go to sleep. Just as I put my head on the pillow,
Elvis would wake up and say..."Keep reading"
Elvis's playfulness. Sheila Ryan:
Yeah, he had this laugh. He and Joe Esposito would sometimes
get together before all the people came over. They'd be in
the den and Elvis would start telling jokes. Then Joe would start telling jokes.
interesting because they would finish each others sentences. Joe would tell a joke and then Elvis would finish the
joke. Then they would start laughing. Elvis would get
carried away and he'd start hitting me on the leg like how someone will hit themselves on the leg when they're
hysterical laughing. My leg would welting up a little bit. And then he used to have a good
time with Ricky, his stepbrother. Elvis had this sword thing
that he would do with Ricky. I don't know if you've heard
about that.... Okay, there was a
trick. I don't even, you know,
he could do things that were really not normal. I mean, you could always feel safe no matter what
doing. You would always feel like there were angels around or
something. But he had these two, kind of
knives or samurai knives. And Elvis would say, "Ricky,
go get me my knives." Well, Ricky would just break into a
sweat and he'd turn red, "No, please, not the knives! I'll
do anything. Please don't make me do that." So Elvis took these two knives and he'd go into his
kind of karate mode, and do the ninja sounds up and down
Ricky's body, missing him by just a little but never touched him.
Of course, Elvis thought it was funny but Ricky didn't like it
probably sweating. Sheila Ryan:
Yeah. That was funny. There was this
one thing. He had that all the guys had all these jokes
between them and every one of them meant
something. And I probably shouldn't say what it meant. But it
was funny... It would mean "fuck you." ......
The whole group, Elvis and
Joe and Jerry and Ricky and just whoever was around, it was
just always laughter. Just did it all the time and there were
jokes. I remember one time we were going to the Memphian
theatre. We were going there and on the way, you know, they
would say, so we're going to the Memphian, no, the Memphuan,
no the Memphieuian, the Memphalpheu. It would spin off into something
ridiculous. And then I would always need to wear somebody's
coat because I forgot to pack mine. Jerry Schilling always
ended up having to give up his coat. So, it was
like, "Damn, Elvis, why can't you just buy your girl a
coat," And just lighthearted stuff. It's hard to think of some of the things.
Elvis run several pictures a night? Sheila Ryan:
When we would go to the Memphian, it would the Memphalpheu. We
wouldn't go until late. I think his
personal best was eight movies. One time, I sat
through three but that was the most that I ever had to
endure. It was Bruce Lee's "Kung Fu Fighting" or
"Enter the Dragon" or one of those.
type of movies did Elvis like? Sheila Ryan:
Dr. Strangelove. Elvis really loved Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther
ever just go out the two of you? Sheila Ryan:
One time we were gonna go for a ride in the yellow Pantera and
I was petrified. I was worried because he didn't drive that often.
We were always in a limousine. It was late and dark
and we were on the Mississippi interstate. Elvis was driving.
It's just the two of us. And he was like lit up,
like a Christmas tree. And we were going
seventy-five and I'm thinking, okay, I can deal with
seventy-five. And then eighty-five and ninety-five and a
hundred and thirty. We were going a hundred and thirty. Then
Elvis says, "Here, you take the
wheel." And takes his hands off and I was like,
"Please, that's not funny. Please." And I was like
begging him. I was really scared. It was a side of him that I didn't see often.
Carefree. He wasn't on the job. He wasn't working.
He wasn't in Vegas. He wasn't doing shows. He was
just having a good time. When I saw those gates with the
musical notes on them, I was really happy to be