Everyone knows about Priscilla, Elvis Presley's first wife, but the name of Elvis' girlfriend before Priscilla, Anita Wood, is not as well known. Anita was Elvis Presley's girlfriend from 1957 to 1962 before Priscilla Presley moved to Graceland. Wood is finally telling her side of her love story with the King in a new book called Once Upon A Time: Elvis and Anita. Wood appeared at the annual Elvis Presley birthday weekend celebration at Graceland on January 6.
Back in the 1950s, Anita Wood, who had a strong resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, was a beauty queen, singer and TV performer. She appeared on the Top 10 Dance Party show in Memphis and caught Elvis' attention. They were introduced in 1957 shortly after Elvis had purchased Graceland and dated for the next five years.
When Elvis met Anita he was 22 years old and she was only 19. Although there aren't many photos of Elvis with Anita that appeared in the press, Anita was present at many important moments in Elvis' life during those years: she stood next to Elvis' mother Gladys when Elvis left for the army in 1958; she comforted Elvis when his mother died later that year; and she went on set with Elvis in Hollywood during the filming of several movies including King Creole, Wild in the Country and Flaming Star. Elvis called her his "No. 1" girl.
But that didn't stop Elvis from being romantically linked with several other women during those years including 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. Regarding Priscilla, Anita told Larry King in 2005: "Elvis could make you believe anything in the world, so he had me believing that she [Priscilla] was just a friend and her Daddy was in the Army with him, and there was nothing to it whatsoever. "
But finally, Anita realized that Priscilla was more than just a friend. One day at Graceland, Anita overheard Elvis telling his father that he was having a hard time choosing between Anita and Priscilla. As a result, Anita broke it off with him in 1962. The following year, Elvis arranged for Priscilla to come live with him at Graceland. Soon after, Wood married football player Johnny Brewer.
For years, people have asked Wood to write about her relationship with Elvis. Finally, Anita's daughter, Jonnita Brewer Barrett, convinced her to share the story and spent the last few years recording the memories from her mother. The book was published in July 2012 and more information is available at their official website, http://www.elvisandanita.com.
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