Minneapolis Auditorium
Minneapolis, MN

Groundbreaking for the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1926
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Minneapolis Auditorium, formerly at 1301 2nd Ave. S. in Minneapolis, was the second Minneapolis Auditorium in the city and built to replace one at 11th Street and Nicollet Avenue which was converted to the Lyceum Theater.1

Construction of the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1926
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Construction of the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1926
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Auditorium was completed on June 1, 1927 and held its grand opening that month.1 The Kimball Organ inside was the largest instrument built by that firm.2 It featured at large level main floor with stadium permanent seating surrounding three walls.

The Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1927
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

2nd Avenue end of the Grant St. side to the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1928
Photo by Lee Studios courtesy Hennepin County Library

The Minneapolis Auditorium during its grand opening - 1927
Photo courtesy Hennepin County Library

The Minneapolis Auditorium and stage from the rear of the balcony - ca. 1927/1928
Photo by Lee Studios courtesy Hennepin County Library

Main arena and back of the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1928
Photos by Norton and Peel Studio courtesy Hennepin County Library

from the stage of the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1928
Photo by Norton and Peel Studio courtesy Hennepin County Library

Crowds during the opening of the Minneapolis Auditorium  - June 4, 1928
Photo by Norton and Peel Studio courtesy Hennepin County Library

The 10,000 seat auditorium was used to host circuses, conventions, auto shows, concerts, political rallies boxing, wrestling, basketball and other events.1 Dignitaries like Eleanor Roosevelt and movie stars like Bob Hope and Cary Grant made appearances during its varied events there.

A concert in the Minneapolis Auditorium (view from the back of the stage) - 1928
Photo Minneapolis Journal courtesy Hennepin County Library

the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1935
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1936
Photo courtesy Minneapolis Meditation Group

An auto show at the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1938
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1940
Photo by Norton and Peel Studio courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

the stage of the Minneapolis Auditorium for religious services - 1941
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

In 1947 the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team was formed and they played most of their home games at the Minneapolis Auditorium.2 Their name was a nod to Minnesota being known as "the land 10,000 lakes." The team took the championship title in their first three seasons, winning the first ever NBA championship in 1950.

Basketball at the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1936
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Basketball at the Minneapolis Auditorium - ca. 1941
Photo by Norton and Peel courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

New addition to the Minneapolis Auditorium - Sep. 13, 1947
Photo by Minneapolis Times courtesy Hennepin County Library

Rev. Billy Graham at the Minneapolis Auditorium  - Sep. 18, 1950
Photo by Minneapolis Times courtesy Hennepin County Library

The view of an empty auditorium from the stage - 1952
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

On May 13, 1956, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ made their first and only appearance at the Minneapolis Auditorium.  It was however, their second appearance in the Twin Cities that day, the first played that afternoon in St. Paul. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that 4,000 persons, only slightly less exuberant [than St. Paul], screamed and squealed through Presley's evening show in the Minneapolis auditorium.

Eager for Elvis This eager group of teen-age girls huddled in front of Minneapolis auditorium Sunday afternoon. They were getting the jump on the horde expected to hear singer Elvis Presley, the new teen-agers' king of swoon, at 8 p.m.  Several teens arrived at 6 a.m. and were questioned by a cautious squad car crew. Most came around noon; because their mothers insisted they get at least one hot meal. Kid stuff, huh? Well, two older women fans showed up early with the teen-agers. They thought Liberace was playing!

Minneapolis Tribune Photo by Bill Seaman

Will Jones of the Tribune, at the time a morning paper, reviewed the appearances in his column on the TV Page as follows:

After Last Night  By Will Jones

Squeals Drown Presley's Songs

Elvis Presley, young bump-and-grind artist, turned a rainy Sunday afternoon into an orgy of squealing in St. Paul auditorium.
He vibrated his hips so much, and the 3,000 customers squealed so insistently at the vibrations, it was impossible to hear him sing. None of the smitten seemed to care.
The crowd was much smaller than expected. Presley faced a sea of empty seats. When the noise started, however, even the empty seats seemed to be screaming.
Presley wore a Kelly green jacket, tight blue trousers, and, disappointingly, black leather shoes.
He only sang "Blue Suede Shoes." (I couldn't actually hear him sing it, because of the squeals. A girl in tight pink slacks assured me that's what it was.)

Uniform for the Day: Pink Slacks

Tight pink slacks were almost a uniform among the fans. Tight white slacks and tight black slacks were popular.
Presley was wearing tight black jeans and a black silk shirt when he arrived at the auditorium. A dozen policemen marched him into his dressing room. Then he stood around with his hands in his jeans posing for pictures and talking with reporters.
He smiled a faint, half-sneering kind of smile at times. He didn't look nearly so tortured or pouty as he does in most published photographs.
His brown hair doesn't appear so dark, either. He has pimples all over the back of his neck, a few on his chin, and a number of nervous facial mannerisms. The most intriguing is the repeated rapid puffing of a single cheek. His long eyelashes have a Valentino-like mascaraed look.
"Any advice for all your girl friends?" asked a TV reporter.
"Well, that's a pretty stiff question," said Presley. "I have one word for 'em - 'Hi.' "
People kept handing him pictures and slips of paper to autograph. His right cheek twitched each time he signed an autograph.

His Record Firm Is 'the Biggest'.

A radio interviewer asked him about his record successes.
"I switched to Victor because that's the biggest company there is," drawled Presley.
"You 19 or 21?" asked another. "I've heard both."
Elvis took a moment to compose himself after the Minneapolis show.
"Twenty-one," answered Presley. "Wish ah was 19."
Presley came here from Memphis, Tenn., his home. He's been so busy he hasn't had a chance to get home for awhile. He got a few free days by surprise after he flopped at a Las Vegas night club. They replaced him with a girl singer. The older customers in Las Vegas just didn't dig him.
I asked Presley about his movie plans. He's been signed for one picture a year for seven years by producer Hal Wallis.
"I was asked to do one of the leading parts in 'The Rainmaker' with Burt Lancaster," he said. "A young kid, lovesick, real shy. I mean, he wasn't real shy. Real jolly. Real happy, real jolly, real lovesick. It wasn't like me.
"I took this screen test where I came in and was real happy and jolly and I didn't like it. I did this other one where I was mad at this girl, and I liked that better -- it was me."

Elvis, backstage with a fan in Minneapolis - May 13, 1956

Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

He's Against Any 'Excess Actin'

As he talked, he gently stroked the hand of a pretty girl who was standing beside him waiting for an autograph.
"Mr. Wallis asked me what kind of a part I'd like, and I told him one more like myself, so I wouldn't have to do any excess actin'. So he's havin' somebody write one for me like that."
I asked him who was to play the girl in "The Rainmaker."
"Katharine Hepburn," he said, "if you wanna call her a girl."

Elvis, backstage with a fan in Minneapolis - May 13, 1956
Photo courtesy Brain Petersen

The policemen let a few lucky girls at a time into the dressing room for autographs. One who came in had a haircut just like Presley's. Another one brought him a flattened greasy popcorn box to sign.
He had a way of whipping up the crowd at the start of a song by playing a few introductory notes, stepping to the microphone, and then singing nothing.
Squeals! Another pause, another false start, more squeals, and then finally the song.

The Mob Screams, Closes In

When he wanted silence to announce a number he held up a hand in the traditional platform gesture -- but a double-jointed thumb twitched as he held the hand aloft.
In moments of public passion, he clutched the microphone to his forehead. He ended up limp and sweating and loped off the stage half-staggering.
The mob screamed and ran for him. The police marched him to a waiting car. A young, beautiful, well-dressed, highly-made-up blonde tried to get in the car with him. The police barred her.
"I'm a member of his company!" she cried. "I belong with him! Stupid police!" Presley got away. The blonde walked around in the rain complaining while the rain made a soggy mess of her hair.

The Minneapolis Tribune TV Page - May 14, 1956 courtesy Ger Rijff's Long Lonely Highway and Yesterday's News

Elvis signs Souvenir Programs for Timi Anderson, Suzie Olson, Dede Smith and Anna Skarning - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Suzie Olson, was one of the girls who was photographed getting autographs backstage. The photo with her has been published at times over the years and most recently responded to an article by Ben Welter of the Star Tribune. She wrote, "I thought you might be interested to know that I'm one of the girls in the Elvis photo. In fact, I may be the only living person left in that photo. The girl standing closest to Elvis is Timi Anderson, then myself, next to me is Dede Smith, who is responsible for getting us all backstage for the concert, and the girl on the far right is Anna Skarning, the promoter's daughter.3

"Timi, Dede and I all knew each other and went to St. Louis Park Junior High School. Dede and I were 14 years old and were best friends, Dede and Timi were neighbors and I believe Timi was 13 at the time. I have no idea how much the ticket cost. I think Dede must have purchased them. I remember waiting out in the pouring rain for hours before we were allowed in. Then it was a mad stampede to get seats. Dede's mother was a free lance writer and Dede was following in her footsteps and had a part time job writing for the local Sun Newspaper. She was the one who bugged the promoter to get us back stage which happened very shortly after the mad stampede." 3

The boys had just completed their appearances the previous week in Las Vegas and were now touring with a six-act variety show that, in addition to the Jordanaires, also included Irish tenor Frank Connors, the Flaim Brothers and Rick Flaim and his Orchestra.

Emil Flaim and Elvis backstage in Minneapolis - May 13, 1956
Photo courtesy Emil Flaim

Though the reviews in the papers seemed to focus mainly on the St. Paul appearance, the most critical one of the shows came a week later from another deejay in attendance, Bill Diehl. Diehl had been a movie columnist in the area since 1948, and also a radio and movie host on local TV.4 In his column a week after the shows he wrote what he titled as an "Open Letter To Elvis Presley:"

Bill and Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Photo © EPE Inc.

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


Elvis Presley

Open Letter To Elvis Presley

By Bill Diehl
Motion Picture Editor

OPEN LETTER to Elvis Presley:
Dear Elvis:

Last Sunday we met you for the first time. Remember Sunday? It was a day of disappointments. The weather was disappointing. Your crowds both at the St. Paul and Minneapolis auditoriums were disappointing (a Twin Cities total of something like 25,000 was expected and the combined total was only about 6,000). And Elvis, we're sorry to say it, but your act was disappointing.

Scotty, Elvis DJ and Bill onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

This column has been quite a booster of yours. And we're not giving up on you. Yet. We liked you because you dared to be different. and we liked you because we heard you didn't drink or smoke. Knowing you were idolized by millions of kids, we thought you were setting a fine example.

Elvis, Scotty and Bill onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Oh, we heard grown-ups make cracks about your sideburns but so what? And we heard that you looked like "one of those hoodlums." Again, so what? Maybe the kids would let their sideburns grow, but also in setting an example -- didn't smoke and drink, maybe eventually the kids would ape you that way, too. And you'd accomplish something.

Elvis and DJ onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

So we said, okay, come on, Elvis! We saw you, talked to you and were impressed by your courtesy and consideration and poise in the dressing room. You were generous with autographs and interviews. Your fingers showed no yellow stains, so we assume the stories about your not smoking are true. Your hair was long, sure, but neatly groomed. Even your fingernails were reasonably clean. Yes, you had pimples as some people cracked, but many at your age do. (I might be getting one on the end of my nose right now!)

Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

But then, Elvis, we saw your act. And we were, in a word, disappointed. Somebody, probably an adult, has told you to wriggle around when you sing. Your actions, Elvis, were "low." And you don't have to be like that, boy. Your records are selling like crazy to kids who have never seen you but who like your singing style . . . free and uninhibited.

Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Photo source Cristi Dragomir

Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Photos by Bill Ray, source ebay via Claude Francisci, and Conway's Vintage Treasures via David English - added Nov. 18, 2013

On stage, Elvis, you were nothing but a male burlesque dancer. Your gyrations were straight from strip-tease alley. Happily, you did leave your clothes on. Now, you flopped in Las Vegas because you were playing to adults who don't dig you. some calculating adult booked you in there -- and he was pushing you. You got the bounce.

Fans watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Scotty, Elvis, DJ and Bill onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Photo © FECC/Marvelosa

Do you wonder why flops No. 2 in St. Paul and No. 3 in Minneapolis happened? Oh, they'll blame the weather and Mother's Day and anything else. We've been asking around, though, and I'll tell you one big reason: Moms and Dads had seen you on TV and didn't like your unnecessary bump-and-grind routine. 

Fans, and police, watching Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Scotty, Elvis and DJ onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

If more Moms and Dads had seen you, I bet not even the scattered 6,000 would have turned up. You disillusioned many of your fans needlessly. You set a fine example with your courtesy and by not smoking and not drinking. Why, Elvis, do you resort to your "Pelvis Presley" routine? You'd better drop it before more and more people drop you.

Police attempt to hold back Elvis fans at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo by Powell Krueger courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Scotty and Elvis onstage at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Photo © FECC/Marvelosa

Of course, there'll always be a few crackpots to screech: "Oohhh, Elvis" when you do your hip-wriggle bit. But by now you should know that in show-biz nothing grows in dirt. Clean it up and you'll really clean up.

Hopefully, Bill Diehl

St. Paul Pioneer Press May 20, 1956 courtesy Southdale-Hennepin Area Library

Needless to say, most of the fans were not in agreement with the reviews. Suzie also wrote, "Watching the concert from back stage was such a surreal experience. I remember thinking that he was unlike any 21 year olds I had ever come in contact with. He didn't seem at all adult, and at the same time very adult. I'm sure it had something to do with how sexy he was. I didn't really take it all in until the next day. Of course when we went back to school on Monday nobody would believe us that we had been back stage. That is, until the Parade Magazine came out 2 Sundays later. Then we were celebrities. And continue to be every time the picture is printed (about once every 10 years). The picture even turned up in another class yearbook that was remade for a 1968 reunion yearbook a few years ago.3

Elvis backstage with Tupelo friend, Airman Edward Thornton, at the Minneapolis Auditorium - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo by Powell Krueger courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

"I never imagined that Elvis would continue to become such an icon. And yes, I'm still a fan. At one time I even had an autograph on a program from the event and I threw it out because it was such a bad scrawl that it was illegible. I've been kicking myself ever since." 3

Diehl also reported that "the promoter who brought Elvis to the Twin Cities had to pay out a reported $15,000 to get the singer - and he lost a bundle." Though T. B. Skarning may not have profited as hoped from the bookings he would continue to book and promote tours of such, including Wanda Jackson later that summer and Buddy Holly in the years after. 

Texas Bill Strength and Elvis in Minneapolis - May 13, 1956
Photo © Dale Strength

While in Minneapolis Elvis and the boys got to visit again with Texas Bill Strength.  They had shared several dates with Bill around Memphis and elsewhere, the last of which was the previous November, weeks before Elvis signed with RCA. In addition to performing and recording on Capitol Records, Bill had previously been a DJ at KWEM in West Memphis. On November 13, 1955 Bob Neal dedicated his Western Jamboree at Ellis Auditorium to Bill who was leaving for KEYD in Minneapolis.

The tour took the boys to La Crosse Wisconsin the next day where they played two shows to capacity crowds of about the same size. They were back in Memphis the day after for a show, the boys then played in Little Rock, Springfield Missouri, Wichita Kansas, Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, Topeka Kansas, Des Moines and Sioux City Iowa, Kansas City Missouri, Detroit, Columbus before completing briefly in Dayton, Ohio.  The following month the show was off to Oakland California after which Elvis would make his second and most controversially reviewed appearance on the Milton Berle show.

Elvis driven away from the Minneapolis Auditorium through the crowd - May 13, 1956
Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Elvis, at least, would be through the Twin Cities and stop briefly the following year while traveling by train from Chicago to appearances in the Northwest.  He would speak of "the riotous greetings he received in Minneapolis" but no reports of it was found in the local papers.

A Parade in front of the Minneapolis Auditorium - 1957
Photo courtesy ELCA Archives

Bill Diehl, as disappointed as he was with Elvis' show, would also ride the rock 'n roll band wagon that year doing a top 40 radio show on WDGY. He would later emcee many bands and book in the Midwest. He would also be instrumental in bringing the Beatles to Minneapolis in 1965, promoting the event with phone-ins with George Harrison's sister Louise.  In contrast to Elvis' appearance, he actually defended the Beatles against bad publicity they received there.4

Celtics vs. Lakers in the NBA Finals at Minneapolis - 1959
AP Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated

One of the greatest rivalries in the history of the NBA would start in the '50s, here and in Boston between the Lakers and the Celtics.5 The Lakers though moved to Los Angeles in 1960.2 To date, these two franchises combined have won 33 of the 65 NBA championships.4 Boston, however, leads with 17 with a record 8 in a row from 1959 to 1966.6

the Minneapolis Auditorium and Convention Hall - 1966
Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

In August of 1964 a convention hall was added and the complex was renamed the Minneapolis Auditorium and Convention Hall. Through the 1960s, the venue would host most of the major rock acts of the day including Jimi Hendrix and the Doors.1

the Minneapolis Auditorium and Convention Hall - ca.1975
Photo courtesy Hennepin County Library

By 1972 the auditorium manager began refusing to hold concerts by some hard-rock groups, such as Alice Cooper and Jefferson Airplane, after an incident at the St. Paul Civic Center where windows were smashed after a Black Sabbath concert.1

A religious conference in the Municipal Auditorium - 1984
Photo courtesy Minneapolis Stake

In 1989 the building was demolished to make way for the Minneapolis Convention Center.2

the Minneapolis Convention Center
Courtesy PDI World Group and Star Tribune

Suzie wrote, "Last year Dede Smith and I found each other after a 45 year lapse and she wrote to me the whole story about how this miraculous event was accomplished. Unfortunately she died a few months later which was very sad for me having just found her. Timi Anderson died quite a while ago and Anna Skarning was someone I saw backstage for the first time and never again ...3

Suzanne and Dede were best friends through Junior High and High School in St. Louis Park, MN.  The Echo was their school newspaper and their ticket backstage.  As as she put it, "hardly qualifying as a real press entity but we were nothing if not determined." She sent us a copy of a letter that Dede gave her that she had written to her older sister Julie about a week after the show. It provides an excellent example of the perspective of a 14 year old girl fan, which at the time was representative of the majority of Elvis' audience. As a review, it ranks up there with some of the best. We felt it only fitting to include it here, as written, typos, misspellings and all:

Dede meets the King

Dear Julie,
So I can have Elvis can I? Well,I'll tell you what happened since last Sunday as best I can. We waited till Tues. (May 8) before we called Mr. Skarning again. I told him I was for the Echo and he seemed very impressed but couldnt help us much, as he didn't know. Timi called the Mpls. audit. who said that if we wanted to get in early wed have to get specail premission from sk. So on Thurs. Timi and I went out to see Sk. and he was very nice and told us he didnt know when the plane would get in. Its a very deep dark secret,but he would tell us if he knew. He gave us free tickets of the $ 2.50 varity and shocked us. He also said wed have to have identification from our paper to get in to the press conference they mite-have
Oh gee . .... .. We got Echo passes from Mrs. Moffat and on Fri. I had my hair done and on Sat. I got a new dress and shoes and etc. Sk. said the plane mite come in about noon. So we called him Sun.morn to confirm it Besides he told us to call but when we called he was very nasty and I reminded him I was from the Echo and he said whats that. We went out to the airport at 11:50 and waited till about noon and then decided to ask someone if Elvis had come in. We asked Western Airlines and the man said “Oh he came in last night." We were so mad at sk.
So we went home and called all sorts of hotels and radio stations and various people. When we called the Calhoun Beach Club (we thought he be there as thats where sks. office is) but the man who answered said to call the Lowry in St. Paul and WDGY and the people at the Lowry got mad (it was the fourth time wed called them) and WDGY said someone must be pulling our leg.
I tried to get Will Jones but couldnt. (he didnt help much as he was going to the St Paul performance,) Well, it was raining out and cold and quite dismal and at 4:30 we took a taxi to the audit. There were a few other people there who were dressed in jeans and and old jackets. Boy were they ever frumps.
The doors were to open at six . Our main intent was to get in there and get good seats. Timi got seperated from Suzie and I in a mad scramble and finally when they opened the doors Suzie and I ran like mad to get in. Somehow we did, and got seats in the second row center and Timi came along and I grabbed her and as we were setting our wet hair she told us that Mr. Skarning. was there. So Timi and I went out and he was very glad to see us and remembered who we were and said to come back at 8:15 for a press conference. Elvis wasnt to go on till 9.
At quarter to 8 we got nervous and went out and wandered around till 8 then approached Mr. Sk. who said that if he wasnt there at 8:15 to go to Mr. Davis or Mr. Cannon who he pointed out to us. They were Elvis' personal manager and his press agent and they seemed very nice. Sk. seemed very proud of us and we werent mad at him anymore. Well we went back and sat down and the show started with some girl singer and at 8:10 we left again just when the girl was singing ol' man river.
Every one thot we were crazy leaving when Elvis mite be on any minute,but of course we knew he wouldn‘t be. We pranced out, as nervous as could be, to find sk.
But he wasnt there! We were miserable and scared, we didnt know where to go, and we didnt see Davis or Cannon either. we ran franticly around, asking everybody if they had seen sk. but no one had. We were almost in tears when we saw him walking along, and we dashed up to him and he told us to go around to the other side and show the police men our Echo passes and theyd let us in. (he never for a minute doubted that we were from the Echo and he liked us very much espically me) So anyway we went to the side that would let us backstage and found policemen holding back the crowds. Desprately we pushed to the front and showed a cop our passes but he said that any kids mite have those passes and wouldn't let us in.
We told them that sk. had told us to come back there and they didnt believe us!!*
Suddenly we saw sk. and ran up to him and said "Oh Mr. Skarning they wont let us in"
And he said it was all right and we went in and all those kids who had been standing around and lafflng at us stopped laffing when we got in! Then all of a sudden there he was. Elvis. Our Elvis. He got out of a car and smiled and waved and ran backstage. There were only about 4 other reporters there and we all went in.
He wore black. His shirt was open at the throat and he is really much much much cuter than he photographes. He seemed very glad to see us as we were the only girls backstage. We went up to him and got his autograph and a man from the paper took our picture while we were with him! Twice! He was jumping around and acting like he does onstage only in a lesser degree. And oh Julie! We talked to him and he was so sweet and so really charming and so kind and so nice and so twichy and so real and so human and so cute and so honest and so playful and so wonderful and so interested in us and so soft and warm and he was — is - so terribly SEXY!!!!!!!
He would be talking to us and someone would run up to him and say "youve got to meet so and so" and theyd drag him off and hed say "be back in a minute honey“ and he came back,too! While he was talking to so and so he looked at us and winked .
I asked him what he thot of it when girls screamed and yelled and he said Its when they stop screamin‘ that Ah' ll start worrying honey. And hed put his arm around me and pull me real close and hold me and then massage my neck . His hand was cold but not clammy. Then he went to his dressing room and got ready for the show. We talked to lots of people , they were all so interested in us. We talked to Al Doerr (Stans brother) who was from the st. paul paper and a nice fat policeman and Elvis' best friend Eddy who was on leave from the army and had driven up from Tennessee. There were also some other people who were inconsiquental.(?) Anyway, they were. Oh... We asked him if he liked it when girls wore jeans and he said *Honey doll, Ah just like girls, with any kind of clothes or without." eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooo!!!!!!!
Youd think he isnt the nervous type wouldnt you? well I've never seen anyone as nervous as Elvis Presley before he went on that stage. He had changed into his costume of a bright yellow sports jacket and lite brown slax. He had on a beautiful watch with diamonds on it and a huge diamond ring on his right hand.
He wasnt wearing blue suede shoes....just dirty black loafers (Eddy said he didnt have time to polish them.) And brown sox with fleur de lies or some such thing on them.
Anyway he was just absolutly frantic. He paced the floor. He leaned on Eddy(who was just as nervous as he was) . Now his cold hand was clemmy,too. (he was holding my hand- I guess to try to stop from shaking like a leaf. We had decided not to go back to our seats...we knew wed never get back there again. The fat policeman said we could watch from the wings if we liked. There were a few other people ...sk‘s. 2 secretarys were there and they knew us too.Eddy had to almost push Elvis on stage... and once he was on Elvis recovered himself , took a typacally dramatic stance,whanged on that old gee-tar,stomped his foot and wailed "Now since my baby left me...'
Elvis' legs went into a stuttering —squirming movement, those dark rimmed eyes fixed on infinity, his long hair flopping over his forehead,his body almost rigid with emotional intensity yet throbbing like a high powered car with the gas wide open and the brake set tight. I was hanging out of the wings trying to hear him over the screams and squeals of the audience. The audience was pushing forward towards the stage an the police were holding them back. He was partly hidden to us because of the bass player was in the way, and every once in a while hed kick the microphone forward and pull it back again. Also he kept looking to the wings and hed wink and smile and once he waved at us. Once he looked at us and I motioned for him to come forward a little and he did! You couldnt hear much of anything for the screaming and when he wanted attention hed hold his hand up in the traditional show-business gesture and wave him double jointed thumb around. He wiggled and sang Heartbreak hotel, I Got a Woman, Money Honey, Blue Suede Shoes, Only You, I Was The One, and 2 others that I couldnt hear at all. Once he ran downstage to the foot-lites and the girls howled like madwomen. He was on for about a half hour and then he ran off-stage and kept right on running till he came to a piano at one corner of the stage and collapsed on it. You see, I found out that when he was in St.Paul hed thrown his gituar up in the air and it had gashed his head ,and hed started bleedeng. Sks. secretary had fixed up and she told me about it. It started to bleed again when he got offstage here and everybody was mopping up his awful cut. I guess it was pretty bad- It was covered up by his hair.(poor darling).
He is afraid he is going to be drafted as Eddy was and he made us promise that if he was wed write to the President. We said we would. He was just glassy-eyed afterward and could hardly catch his breath. He has the nicest voice. Its real soft and low and he has a darling southern drawl. mmmmmmmmmmm sweetie. He went to his dressing room after a little while and later went out to the car. The cops again were holding back the crowds and he got in the car and motioned to us to come to him and said to me "C'mere baby' and we started to come and a cop got in our way and before I could get a word out he was gone. He wanted to kiss us goodby too. OOOOOOh that cop. he (Elvis) had been very dissappiomted that no one had been out at the airport to meet him. He said he had been home in Memphis for 4 days and had got here by plane at 10:20 Sat. nite. He also wished there had been more peoplr there at the performance. There were 4000. I still cant believe it happened to me . My Gosh how I Love that guy. He is so wonderful. When I see you I'll tell you the rest as its really to long to write out. He liked us tho. He likes to be around girls, and we were the only girls backstage.
Please save this letter and the other one so I'll have a written record of it all.
(Mrs. Elvis Presley!)

Page added February 13, 2013

Special thanks to Ben Welter of the Star Tribune, Dale Strength, Scott Hanson of the Southdale-Hennepin Area Library, Suzie Olson and of course to the late Dede Smith for their assistance with this page.

1 according to or excerpt from Minneapolis Auditorium: History courtesy Placeography
2 according to A visual history of pro basketball in Minneapolis by Molly Bloom courtesy The Cities: Minnesota Public Radio - March 17, 2011
3 excerpt from updates to "Elvis Presley plays the Twin Cities" by Ben Welter in Yesterday's News - The Star Tribune - April 3, 2012
4 according to Twin Cites Music Highlights: Bill Deihl courtesy Jeanne Andersen
5 according to History of Celtics-Lakers rivalry By Bradford Doolittle - March 11, 2012
6 according to Boston Celtics History: Championship wins, as of this writing


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