U.S. army soldier, Elvis Presley, was stationed in Friedberg, Germany from October 1958 to March 1960. While many biographies sum up his love life in Germany as only involving Priscilla, Elvis did not meet Priscilla Beaulieu until September 1959. So for those 11 months before Priscilla entered his life, Elvis dated a lot of other women in Germany.
[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]
Even though Elvis had a girlfriend back home in Memphis named Anita Wood, Elvis seemed to be dating as many girls as possible when he got to Germany. As discussed in the book, ELVIS: The Army Years Uncovered, Elvis dated several girls in the Fall of 1958 including Margit Buergin (who had a resemblance to Presley’s fave, Brigitte Bardot), Janie Wilbanks (a Mississippi girl staying in Germany), and Elisabeth Stefaniak (Elvis’ live-in secretary and secret girlfriend).
However, there was another girl who Elvis was interested in who originally pursued him. That was Vera Tschechowa, an 18-year-old actress, who had made a name for herself in German movies and live theater.
She initially tried to meet Elvis when he was on field training exercises in Grafenwoehr in early December 1958. Although that didn’t work out, Vera soon got a lucky break. In late December 1958 and early January 1959, Vera was hired to pose for publicity photos with Elvis for the March of Dimes campaign and ended up spending some quality time with him.
After their photo shoot with young polio victim, Robert Marquette, Elvis and Vera posed for a formal portrait which appeared on the cover of the German magazine called Funk Illustrierte. With Elvis still in uniform, they were also photographed that day visiting the Frankfurt Zoo. Presley’s driver Oskar Mallmann described the trip to the zoo as one of his “most beautiful memories” with Elvis.
One night Vera was seen waiting for Elvis at Ray Barracks, and there is a photo of them there driving in his white BMW sports car with Presley wearing his block-style sweater.
While visiting Bad Nauheim, Vera invited Elvis and his friends to go see a screening of one of her movies at a local cinema. The group included Janie Wilbanks and Elisabeth Stefaniak, who translated the German-language movie for Elvis as they all watched it.
The German press would later play up Elvis and Vera’s relationship as a full-blown romance and that he had moved on from Margit Buergin. Newspaper articles ran headlines like “Elvis fell in love with Vera” and “Elvis Quits Sales Girl for Starlet.”
While Vera may have thought her visit in Bad Nauheim with Elvis was the last time she’d ever see him, he would surprise her a few months later.
The first week in March when Elvis got some leave from his army duties, he surprised Vera and drove with his friends, Lamar Fike and Red West, to see her in Munich. When Elvis arrived, Vera was not home, so her mother, Ada (pictured to the left), invited Presley and his friends in. She also invited a photographer from Bild Zeitung, a German gossip tabloid, inside to take photos. Having been an actress, Ada, who was now her daughter’s talent agent, realized that the free publicity showing The King of Rock and Roll visiting her daughter would be priceless.
It was an eventful four days that Elvis spent with Vera – going to see her play and also visiting the Bavaria Film Studios (below). They went to visit the set of the American television series, Tales of The Vikings, starring actor Jerome Courtland, which was filming on-location in Germany. Vera appeared in one of the episodes which would air later that year on October 20, 1959.
Elvis and Vera were followed around by photographers. They were even photographed when they took a boat ride at Lake Starnberg (below).
At night, Elvis would accompany Vera and her friends to nightclubs. Playful pictures were taken of Elvis arm-wrestling with choreographer Irene Mann at the Eve Bar (below).
The following night, Vera’s friends took Elvis, Red and Lamar to the Moulin Rouge. The sophisticated club, known for its striptease shows and nighttime cabaret, was notified in advance that Elvis Presley would be coming. Once Elvis arrived, the club did not let anyone else in. As he and his entourage were seated at a table in the middle of the club, the band started playing Elvis Presley songs trying to get him to perform. Elvis tried to go onstage and sing, but Red and Lamar put a stop to that, since he was not allowed to perform while he was in the army, at the orders of Colonel Parker.
Even though the press was kept in the dark about the visit, there were still a multitude of photographs taken that night. The Moulin Rouge had a house photographer who took countless photos of Elvis at the club with fans and with the dancers who worked there.
Elvis happily posed with anyone who wanted a picture, but the dancers seemed to add an aggressive flair to their photos with The King of Rock and Roll by posing with a dramatic look on their faces or enticing Elvis to hold them in erotic ways.
For example, Elvis is photographed (below) with twin showgirls, the Orkowskis, in seductive poses as he takes turns kissing one twin standing to his left as the other grabs and embraces him from his right side, and vice versa.
Meanwhile, the question of where things stood between Elvis and his date of the evening, Vera, was looming. The couple appeared on covers of multiple publications in Germany and the US publicizing a supposed romance. One magazine even falsely claimed that Elvis and Vera were secretly engaged and planning to marry.
According to Lamar Fike, Elvis was definitely interested in Vera: “Elvis was after her, all right,” confirmed Lamar. “That’s why he stayed at her house.”
But was there any truth at all to the romance rumors?
Find out what ultimately happened between Elvis and Vera 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.
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