Elvis Presley: June Juanico recalls his 'proposal' to her
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They met in the summer of 1955, just before Elvis started to be famous. He was performing in small venues across The South. 17-year-old June went to see him at the airmen’s club at the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, on the Gulf of Mexico. In 2015, she remembered their first meeting: “I thought he was the most gorgeous thing: big, dreamy eyes. Girls were screaming over him, and I’m just not that kind. I was passing by him, not even looking at him, and he reached through the crowd and grabbed my arm. He said, ‘Where are you going?'” SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH JUNE DESCRIBE THEIR FIRST DATE
Elvis persuaded June to go for a drive with him after the show. She described the night in her book, Elvis: In the Twilight of Memory.
“‘What are you in the mood for?’ I asked, innocently. He raised his brows, looked at me, and laughed. ‘I can’t answer that, June. You’d slap my face.’ We both laughed. Not only did he have that great face, he had a sense of humor to match.”
They took a drive down to the water and June showed Elvis where people would catch flounder and she remembered him innocently asking: “‘What about crabs? How do you catch them?’
“He realized what he’d said right after he said it, and we both started laughing. After I’d finally pulled myself together, I told him. ‘You just reach down and pick them up. If they’re soft they can’t run very fast. If they’re hard, they’ll bite you.’
“(Elvis said) ‘In other words, June, you’re telling me you can’t catch them from a toilet seat, right?’ We were laughing so hard Elvis had to pull the car over.”
They spent hours on the pier and then parked outside her house until the sun came up the next morning.
In her book, Elvis: In the Twilight of Memory, June described the night: “He said my name and kissed my neck, again and again. I was trembling, I felt like I was going to melt. He pulled me close and took my face in his hands. He kissed my forehead, each eye, my nose, and finally my mouth. It was the most gentle and yet the most passionate kiss I had ever experienced in all my seventeen years. We spent the next few hours kissing and talking, talking and kissing, watching the moon move slowly across the sky.”
In a 1956 newspaper interview, June said: “I knew then that this was the real thing. Well, you know how love is. Eight months went by and I never heard from him. No letters or anything. Then I went to Memphis and it started all over — again.”
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June took matters into her own hands and drove to Memphis with a group of girlfriends in the summer of 1956. Elvis was already becoming famous by then and well-known around town.
They asked in clothes shops where he lived and were given directions to his new house on Audubon Drive, but were told Elvis wasn’t in town at the time.
June said: “We drove to Audubon Drive and parked out front… I got out and the rest of the girls followed and we were trespassing on Elvis’ property and a pink Cadillac drives into the driveway with Elvis and his mother and father.
“I was the only one on the fence, and I was embarrassed to be caught… He walks straight up to the fence and picks me up by the waist and puts me on the ground and he said, ‘What are you doing here, June?”
They talked for 15 minutes and she told him they were going to see a film that night. June’s friend’s car was “hot pink, you couldn’t miss it.” Elvis drove around looking for the car to find them.
June added: “He came open in and sat next to me and hold my hand through the whole movie… The following morning he picked me up and we went motorcycle riding… After seven days we drove back to Biloxi and he said he had a vacation coming up and would be down in Biloxi.”
Elvis’ sudden fame had meant that finding privacy was becoming difficult. he had to move out of his Biloxi hotel and rented a house by the water.
Local boatman Eddie Bellman took him fishing and was the man who shot the extraordinary footage of Elvis, June and his parents out on the boat. It was one of the last times Elvis was able to truly be himself. The video shows him happily fooling around on board, waterskiing and skeet shooting.
June said in 2015: “We spent so much time together, and we started talking about marriage. Mrs Presley liked me. She saw me as domestic and wise for my young years. She was always telling me that Elvis needed someone to take care of him.”
In a documentary (below) about that Biloxi summer, June revealed: “We were laying out under the stars at the hack house he rented for the summer…. We had taken a sheet from the bed and were laying under the stars… Passionately kissin
“He said, ”I can’t get married right away. I promised (Elvis’ manager) The Colonel I’d wait at least three years. Will you wait three years, June?’ I said, ’Sure.’”
Rumours soon started to spread and The Colonel was not happy. June said he “paid people to spy on us.” And when a local radio station announced they were engaged, Elvis and June drove straight over there to go on air and deny the story.
When Elvis took June on a local seven-city tour, she also naively spoke to a Miami Daily news journalist who ran a sensationalised story on August 4.
June was quoted as saying: “He’s a wonderful guy when you know him. I mean if really know him, real deep down under. He’s a warm individual and treats everyone so nice. It would be nice if Elvis loved me as much as I love him, but right now he’s married to his career and he isn’t thinking of marriage. If Elvis doesn’t marry it’d be a sin to let something like that go to waste.”
Elvis immediately went on record saying: “I got about 25 girls I date regular. She’s just one of the girls.” Colonel Parker added: “They (girls) show up —sometimes eight at a time — in the hotel or theater lobby, all claiming they’re his ‘steadies.’”
When a journalist rang June’s mother, Mrs Mae Juanico, she verified her daughter’s comments: “When he’s in Biloxi, he doesn’t go out with any other girl but her. He said he can’t get married for at least three years and he asked her to wait for him.”
Although they remained together throughout the summer, Elvis’ touring, TV appearances and budding film career took him away and, yet again, June heard nothing from him but she saw reports that he had brought a “showgirl” home for Christmas.
Hurt but proud, she started seeing a new man, Fabian Taranto, and quickly got engaged. She arranged to meet Elvis when his train stopped in New Orleans on his way back to Memphis, so she could throw it in his face “out of spite.”
June said: “I told Elvis I was engaged to be married. I just blurted it out… I had it in my mind I was going over there to tell Elvis I was engaged to be married – and I hope it hurts him. After seeing him it was very hard. He kept saying, ‘You’ve got to come home with me, I’ve got a surprise for you. Mama can’t wait to see you, you’ve got to stay on the train with me.”
MINI DOCUMENTARY ABOUT ELVIS AND JUNE BELOW:
June added: “I hadn’t spoken to him other than a telegram in four months. If you love someone you don’t put them on hold for that long.
“I really and truly had fallen in love with a terrific guy. The marriage lasted 34 years! I couldn’t break his heart. So I had to tell Elvis.
“I mean, the thought crossed my mind (to stay with Elvis)… Elvis didn’t need me. He had the whole world full of the girls of his choice and this man needed me and I couldn’t break his heart.”
In 2015, though, June admitted to some regrets: “If I could change the way things turned out… I wouldn’t have been so quick to leave without finding out but I was a little stubborn and hard-headed and I wasn’t going to let anyone break my heart.
“So it was probably a combination of me, Elvis and Colonel Parker that ended our relationship.”
June got off the train and married Fabian. She only saw Elvis one more time at a cinema in the early 1960s. He was there with Priscilla, but they shared an affectionate hug.
Years later, June revealed her devastation when she was on the news that Elvis had died: “I went over to the television and fell to my knees in front of it. I couldn’t breathe. I honestly think if my mother had not been with me, I might have died.
“In my heart, I always thought Elvis and I would be together somewhere down the road. I was married for 36 years, and I’ve got two beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren. I’ve been blessed in many ways. But I have just never been able to stop loving Elvis.”
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