This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed
One glance at Joan Blackman in 1961 and you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at Priscilla. Both share sharp elfin features and raven hair. Elvis was apparently so smitten when he met her in Hollywood just before he started his military service in 1958 that he repeatedly pursued her and “begged” her to appear in his movies. In the end she did, playing his girlfriend in Blue Hawaii. Their chemistry was so strong, she was brought back for Kid Galahad the following year. Off screen, Joan said they shared a “magical connection” and The King was planning to make her his wife.
In Blue Hawaii, Elvis sings one of his most iconic ballads to Joan, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You – and the actress later revealed that is exactly what he did.
Joan said: “When we first set eyes on each other (in 1957), there was a spark, a magic in the air… There was just that special something between us, sometimes so warm and wonderful you could almost reach out and touch it.”
She maintained she refused his repeated offers to help with her career: “I wanted parts because of my ability, not because I was dating Elvis.”
Joan had worked constantly on television since 1954 and in 1960 starred on the big screen opposite Tony Curtis in military drama The Big Imposter.
She was then cast as local island girl Maile Duval in Blue Hawaii. Life imitated art as Elvis played a GI returning home from the army. Hollywood legend Angela Landsbury played his mother.
In a senational 1977 interview, Joan later described how the long-standing attraction with The King ignited on set.
She said: “We had rooms next to each other in the hotel, and for weeks we just lived together.
“He really wanted me as his wife.”
She played Rose Grogan, the sister of a slippery boxing promoter who spots potential in Elvis’ character, Walter Gulick, an amiable small-town wannabe mechanic.
In the film, as always, Elvis gets the girl but off screen he had failed to persuade Joan.
She said: “I was in love with another actor, Hampton Fancher III. Elvis knew about it. When he would ask me about Hampton, I would answer, ‘I love him, El. I love him like a woman loves a man she wants to share her life with.’
“I never lied to Elvis about Hampton, or about anything else.”
To make it all even more complicated, Blackman was actually married to another actor, Joby Baker from May 1959 to November 1961.
Despite her declared love for Fancher, she actually married yet another actor Rockne Tarkingington from 1968-1970 and they had two children.
Her acting career fizzled out after the mid 1970’s, with her last notable role in the 1975 James Mitchum vie Moonrunners.
In 1990 she made one last return to the small screen in the TV series The Castle of Adventure, based on the Enid Blyton book. The show also starred Brian Blessed and Susan George and Blackman played a school teacher.