When The King of Rock and Roll got drafted into the army, Anita Wood was not the only girlfriend Elvis said good-bye to.
[The following article includes excerpts from the new book, ELVIS: The Army Years Uncovered: Behind The Scenes of the Two Years that Changed the King of Rock and Roll’s Life by Trina Young]
At the time The King of Rock and Roll got inducted into the army in March 1958, Anita Wood was known as Elvis Presley’s “official” girlfriend among his family and friends (although he constantly downplayed their relationship in public at Colonel Parker’s request). Even though Elvis had been dating Anita since July 1957, eight months before he was inducted into the army, he was still having short-lived romances with other girls during that time. One girl who Elvis had been seeing almost as long as Anita remained a well-kept secret.
Singer, actress and model Kitty Dolan, described as “the least-publicized girl in Elvis’ life”, first met Elvis in Las Vegas in the Fall of 1957 when she was singing at the Tropicana hotel. She recalled how Elvis took her to see the Sammy Davis Jr. show at the Sands hotel in Las Vegas.
“It was too much!” said Kitty. “Sammy Davis does a take-off of Elvis at the end of his show, and Elvis loves it. He has a wonderful sense of humor.”
Kitty later visited Elvis on the set of King Creole in early 1958 as evident in photographs taken of her with Elvis on the studio lot. She helped him rehearse his lines.
Kitty attested to how hard-working Presley was: “On the set of King Creole, he got a big gash in his arm in a fight scene. He went right on working. He wouldn’t say anything. Finally they bandaged it up. He looked sick, but he knew he only had five days to finish the picture before induction, so he did his best.”
On his last Valentine’s Day before entering the army, Elvis spent the romantic evening not with Anita (who could not be in Hollywood that day), but with Kitty. Elvis invited 20-year-old Kitty for dinner with him at the Beverly Wilshire hotel where he stayed during filming.
After dinner in the penthouse dining room, 23-year-old Elvis presented Kitty with a box of Louis Sherry chocolates. “We sat on the floor eating candy and watching television,” Kitty described. “And I’d say, ‘Elvis, try this piece.’ He’d bite into it and throw it back with, ‘I don’t like this, try this one.’ We were throwing pieces of candy back and forth, and I guess we looked loco but we were having such fun.”
Kitty was linked with Elvis in the gossip columns several times and on March 11, 1958, Kitty was photographed as Presley’s date at the Moulin Rouge club in Hollywood.
While the relationship with Kitty was not serious, she was still involved with Elvis through September 1958 when he spent his last days at Fort Hood in Texas. Dolan was quoted regarding her visit with Presley by gossip columnist Louella Parsons on September 23, 1958.
“It was a sort of farewell to Elvis before he left for duty in Germany,” Kitty said. “No, we are not engaged – but I admit I expect to see Elvis soon again when I make a tour of Europe.”
During her three-day visit, Kitty and Elvis went to the movies at night or stayed at home. She said Elvis had a player piano, two electric guitars and an organ in the house. One night, Elvis had a jam session at the house and invited a group of fans to come over and join them to hear him sing.
In the Presley’s Killeen, Texas home, Kitty stayed in the master bedroom that had been used by Elvis’ mother, Gladys, and father, Vernon. After Glady Presley’s death, Vernon had been staying with Elvis in his room.
One night during her stay, Kitty recalled: “At 2 a.m. we said goodnight. When he kissed me, I said with a little laugh, “What is this with you and Anita Wood? I’ve been reading all the stories.” Elvis smiled and said, ‘She has a good press agent.’ And then he kissed me again, and I forgot about any other girl.”
Find out more about Kitty Dolan and Elvis Presley’s other secret girlfriends during the two years he served in the army in the new book, ELVIS: The Army Years Uncovered: Behind The Scenes of the Two Years that Changed the King of Rock and Roll’s Life.