Jim Fitzgerald Interview
(Elvis: The Legend Lives On)
Jim Fitzgerald along with Al Kilgore and the people at St. Martin's Press
have put together a most unusual tribute book to Elvis Presley. It's
called "Elvis, The Paper Doll Book, included in the book are rare pictures
of Elvis never seen before.
We talked to Jim Fitzgerald about Elvis, his fans, and the book.
Q. Jim, you were down in Memphis on the fifth anniversary of Elvis' death.
What was the mood like down there?
A. First of all there were lots of people. The city of Memphis has embraced
this guy. It's really weird. They're very grateful to him for everything
he's done and I never realized how much he did do for the city of Memphis.
He was supporting softball teams, baseball teams, this, that, giving cars
to people. It rained like three inches, of rain, one day, in a two hour period,
and yet it didn't hold back the crowds at all. Unbelievable. Really reverant
Q. Why is it that so many of Elvis' fans refuse to believe that he was
hooked on prescription drugs, and that his death might have been drug related?
A. Well, I think it’s a sense of circumstances. They look at him
as a human being. You know, anybody thrown into that type of world, and everybody
depending on him, with all those millions of fans watching every move he
made. He was a victim of his own circumstances in the sense that he couldn't
make a move without a lot of people around. And yet, even with all the drugs,
he was still a humanitarian. It's really strange.
Q. Does Albert Goldman's book on Elvis and the "Elvis What Happened" book
do a disservice to a great entertainer like Elvis? Should people know
what stars are like off stage
A. Everybody's got a human side. They were in it for their own profit themselves.
They were in it for their own glory. Goldman's reputation in New York
is that he's a hack. At the party McGraw-Hill had for him, Goldman was running
around, trying to pick up women. Now 'c’mon, here's a guy who's sitting
around lambasting the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and yet he's carrying on like
a sixteen year old himself. I work in publishing myself, and I wanted
to do a little spoof on him called Albert. He's laughed at in those circles.
The problem is he's a pretty good writer. He is a good writer, and he can
put the words together properly. In my book I just tell the whole story visually.
I put the costumes that he had, and the pictures in the background, and let
the people make their own analysis. I think that Elvis was nothing short
of Marilyn Monroe in a strange way. He had a couple of circumstances
that helped him. Elvis was kind of the male counterpart of Marilyn Monroe.
He knew how to sit in front of a camera.
Q. But does the public really need to know the personal life of Elvis Presley?
A. I don't know. Does the public need to know about John F. Kennedy's life
outside of the political life? I don't know. Does it make any difference?
I think the public is just trying to make them, you know all these gods we've
created through the media, we can do all sorts of things and break 'em down,
but what we are trying to do is to make 'em just like you and I, so that
we can be gods too. Elvis had a life that none of us are going to experience.
He couldn't just step out into the public life and so he surrounded himself
with strange things. And yet, when it’s all over with, he wasn't a
lazy guy. Here's a guy who got his black belt in Karate. That's tough! That's
And he did it himself! He felt after the death of JFK in Dallas, that something
was going to happen to him and he actually had an incident in Las Vegas,
which they told him before he got on stage. There was somebody out in the
crowd that was gonna shoot him. After that, he went into this Karate thing
just to protect himself. The whole thing kind of falls into perspective as
the years go by. There's no doubt about one thing, he could sing. He could
Q. I know collectors of Elvis memorabilia will buy
this book of yours, but how about the children who usually play with paper
dolls, do they even know who Elvis Presley is?
A. The history of paper dolls, as we go back in history, now this goes
back to the 1800's when paper dolls actually came about. Paper dolls
always depicted the gods, as you were, the King and Queen of England. Paper
doll books mirrored the values, the institutions, and the dreams of those
people who bought them. They just were symbols of something else, I guess
you might say. The other thing about paper doll books that's kind of interesting
is that they were very popular in the thirties, when times were hard, people
were out of work, and they didn't have money, they had a lot of spare
time on their hands. Now I know in the eighties spare time is a completely
different thing. But it’s odd, that paper doll books per se, are doing
well today. There is a definite interest in the whole thing of creating an
illusion and seeing the people, the dolls themselves in these different kind
of guises. It's interesting.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved