Elvis Presley and Jack Lord first met on January 14th, 1973 following Elvis' triumphant Aloha From Hawaii television special. Elvis made special mention that Jack was in the audience which completely 'floored' the Lords., 'One of my favorite actors is in the audience, Jack Lord, I gotta say that you know, Hawaii 5-0'. Afterwards, they went backstage and met Elvis for the first time, and met later at The Lords home facing the ocean on the Oahu side of the island. They met again on February 10th 1973 in Las Vegas at Elvis' invitation.
Aloha From Hawaii: January 14, 1973
Elvis Presley and Jack Lord first met on January 14, 1973, following Elvis' triumphant Aloha From Hawaii television special. Early in January 1973, Elvis Presley was due in Hawaii. There, on the 14th, a little past midnight, he was to appear live at the Honolulu International Center in a concert that would simultaneously be beamed live by satellite all around the world except for the United States. Shortly before the day of the concert arrived. Colonel Parker had personally come to the condominium where the Lords live, he delivered a message inviting them to be Elvis' guests at the concert. The following day Elvis' road manager Joe Esposito called the Lords to re-emphasize how much it would mean to Elvis if they could come. Ordinarily, Jack and Marie lived like monks during the time Jack was shooting Hawaii Five-O, up by five in the morning, so they never go out late during the week. But the invitation was so gracious that they just couldn't turn it down.
The Lords went to the concert and were seated in the special section along with the rest of the Presley party. Midway in the show, after Elvis had introduced everyone of the members of the band and vocal group, he said, 'One of my favorite actors is in the audience, Jack Lord, I gotta say that, you know, Hawaii 5-0'.
The Lords, celebrities that they are, were floored by the introduction and that it had been an almost unbelievable tribute from one artist to another. So Jack stood up and took his bows, live for all the world to see. This was all edited out for the LP record release and was only first released on CD in a 1988 re-issue. No video of Jack taking a bow to the audience has been seen on video.
Elvis' comments can also now be heard on the new remastered Aloha From Hawaii DVD.
Afterwards, they went backstage and met Elvis for the first time. Elvis was resting in his dressing room. One of the guys came in. 'Elvis, there's a guy out here that wants to see you. It's Jack Lord'. Jack would later say, 'The moment we met and shook hands it was as if we had known each other all our lives'. 'The show okay?' Elvis asked. Jack smiled. 'You didn't see me standing up on my chair and whistling?' Elvis laughed. 'The spotlights pretty well blind me, after I'm out there so long', he said.
'You know, a whistle can be the highest compliment', Jack said. 'It's a tradition of the theater world, a high compliment between one actor and another. At that moment, I wanted every person in this auditorium to stand up and cheer. 'I don't mean that as flattery. It means I suddenly got a gut feeling of the kind of thing you were going through on stage. 'I have never heard such dramatic music in my life. Not anywhere. From anyone'.
Elvis then told Jack and Marie that he'd love to see them before he left Hawaii and asked if they could have dinner together. Marie, at the time, said, 'Well, I'm sure you don't go out to restaurants'.
Elvis had smiled back and said, 'Well, no, but I could come to your house'.
Charlie Hodge: 'Marie, my wife, and I want you and Priscilla to bring your entire party over to our place one night this week. Please, come'. He looked around the room. 'Everyone. Please, come. We want you to'.
The next days were busy ones for Jack on the set. Quite frankly, he and Marie had almost forgotten about seeing Elvis again - perhaps subconsciously thinking that with Elvis' schedule and Jack's, a second meeting would never come off anyway. Still, one evening a few days later, according to Marie: 'I was in the kitchen fixing us an early dinner. The phone rang. Jack answered and then came in and told me it had been Elvis. It was his last night in Hawaii, and he'd said that most of his group had already gone back to the States but he asked if he could come over and say goodbye to us. They had arranged it for eight o'clock'.
Promptly at eight o'clock, the doorbell rang. Marie called out over the intercom and asked who it was, and a voice answered, 'Elvis'. Marie opened the door and he was standing there - 'a slim Adonis, looking gorgeous in a white suit with a white silk shirt that had a ruffled collar and cuffs'. He kissed her as he came in - bringing seven members of his party! The Lord's condominium faced the ocean on the Oahu side of the island. It was gorgeous. The walls were covered with beautiful paintings.
Jack and Marie took Elvis and everyone on a tour of their place as soon as we all arrived.
As soon as Elvis sat down, Marie offered them drinks. Then, much to her horror, she discovered that none of the Presley group touched hard liquor! It was ironic because neither she nor Jack drinks except on rare occasions. So, fortunately, their icebox was also full of diet sodas. A few of the guys did have a beer, Marie said, but the six-pack was gone in a minute, so all of them sat there sipping soda drinks - and Marie could have died. But Elvis didn't seem to mind; he just seemed happy being there.
After about 15 minutes, he said to Jack, with a kid-type smile on his face: 'I brought you a present, Jack. I tried to think of something to bring you that you don't have. The only thing I could think of was this'. Inside the box, he presented to Jack was a solid gold Walther revolver. Elvis explained that he had ordered a matched set from Germany a year before but that they had just arrived. 'But I don't need two guns, so I want you to have this one', he said to Jack, 'plus six bullets - just in case you ever need them!'
Jack and Marie were speechless.
Gold Walther gun Elvis gifted to Jack Lord
The golden gun was a pure work of art. While Jack was still recovering from Presley's generosity, Elvis had turned and said, 'And I haven't forgotten you either, Marie'. He then handed her a tiny jewel box and watched eagerly as she opened it. There, sitting on a mount of velvet, was a gorgeous ring. Elvis took it out of the box and slipped it on her finger. As a former fashion designer, Marie knew only too well what the status of the gem was, but Elvis, like an eager kid, told her, 'Those are emeralds and diamonds'. She was absolutely floored.
Half an hour later Elvis asked if he could see the rest of their home, and Jack took him on the grand tour.
Charlie Hodge: Elvis kept noticing Jack's signature in the lower corner of the paintings.
'You're also an artist, Jack?' he said. 'That was my first career ambition', Jack said. 'I studied art back in New York. The acting thing just sort of happened'.
'It's amazing how a thing like that can run away with you', Elvis said. The other thing Elvis kept noticing as he wandered through the place was all the guitars and other kinds of musical instruments.
In one music case by a window was a banjo. It was no ordinary banjo. I had heard stories about this one but I had never seen one. There were only about 20 of them made.
Jack took it out of the case and handed it to Elvis. It was an early 1900s Gibson. The remarkable thing was that it had six strings instead of the normal five strings. This banjo could be tuned and played like an ordinary guitar. Elvis strummed it. It was out of tune. 'Do you play all these instruments around here?' Elvis said.
'Not well', Jack said. 'I try, of course. I've loved music all my life. All kinds of music. Marie is a great lover of music, as well. We're two of your greatest fans, Elvis'. Elvis patted his shoulder affectionately and said, 'Thanks, Jack. That's something special to me, coming from you guys'. Jack seemed really touched.
Elvis and Priscilla wandered off toward the punch bowl.
I bumped into Jack a few minutes later, in one of the halls. 'Charlie, I want you to do something for me', he said. He found the case with the Gibson banjo and he got it out. 'I've decided to give this to Elvis', he said. He turned it in his hands, looking at it. 'When you get back to Los Angeles, would you see that new strings are put on it for me?' 'Don't do it, Jack', I said. He had started down the hall. Now he turned back. 'Why not?' he asked.
'Don't do it', I said. 'I'm very serious. Oh, Elvis would appreciate it. But he just wouldn't play it very much. Maybe a little. Then he'd put it aside and forget it. I know him'.
Jack shook his head. 'Did you see what he handed me when he walked in tonight?' he said.
'What was that?' I said.
'He walked in with a matched pair of Berrettas', Jack said.
(Some faulty memory from Charlie as per the evidence above).
'For personal security', I said. 'I admired them', Jack said. 'He gave them to me. So I want to give him something. I really want him to have this banjo. It's very rare, you know'.
'Very rare', I said. 'I know all about them. Well, I'll make you a promise. It won't get stacked away somewhere in the attic with all the other stuff he gets. Even if I have to keep it out in my room where he'll be sure to see it'. I kept my promise as long as I lived at Graceland-which was many months after Elvis died.
In Elvis' upstairs suite was his private office. In it, Elvis kept a piano, an organ and his own personal guitar.
Leaning in one corner of the office was Jack Lord's six-string banjo.
Marie Lord: 'Over the years, Jack and I had a collection of rare musical instruments from all over the world'. 'When we first moved to Hawaii, we had given most of them to the UCLA Music Department. Jack had only kept a few, which he considered real treasures. One was a rare six-string banjo which had been tuned to play like a guitar. The moment Elvis saw it he sat on Jack's bed strumming it. Marie was in the living room when Elvis suddenly ran in shouting, Marie Lord: 'Marie, Marie, Jack gave me a six-string banjo!' 'His eyes were wide again like a kid, and he just couldn't get over it - as though he, himself, wasn't the world's most generous person and as though he hadn't just given Jack the golden gun and Marie the emerald and diamond ring'.
February 10, 1973
One month later and a short break from the Hawaii 5-0 series, Jack and Mare were headed for San Francisco and Los Angeles and, by coincidence, they learned that Elvis was just about to open in Las Vegas. So, they called Colonel Parker and told him they would like to come.
The day they arrived in Las Vegas was one that neither the Lords will ever forget. As they walked off the plane, there, standing at the foot of the ramp, was a tall Hawaiian man holding garlands of fresh flower leis. Colonel Parker had called him, and he was flown in especially from Hawaii with the flower, just to be at the airport to greet the Lords. Then, when they arrived at their hotel and walked into their suite, Marie remembers that they could hardly move around for all the flower baskets that surround them. It was an unforgettable moment.
That night the Lords sat at Elvis' table and the lights went down and Presley came on stage. The curtains opened and there, on stage center, was the six-string banjo that Jack had given Elvis, on display, a spotlight beaming down on it. Then, as he had done at the concert, halfway through the show, Elvis introduced his group. 'I was in Hawaii recently and this great star and his wife took me into their home', he said the. Marie commented later: 'He said it like he was some poor little orphan we had adopted. Then he called out Jack's name, and Jack stood up. The applause was tremendous. Elvis grinned and said, 'Sit down, Jack, you're getting more applause than I am'. Everyone laughed'.
After the show, The Lords went backstage with Elvis and then up to his suite where he had his own chef prepare a low-calorie dinner which he always ate between show. During the meal, he looked at them sort of wistfully and asked if they would come and see his midnight show.
Elvis, Marie, and Jack
The Lords corresponded often with Elvis
The Lords, still on their TV series schedule, were early-to-bed people, but for Elvis, they couldn't resist. After the late show, they again met with Presley, and he coaxed them to stay on the following day and come to see his show again that night. The Lords would end up staying three extra days and seeing the Presley show six times! They never left Elvis or their hotel. It was as though neither could get enough of the other and for hours on end, Jack and Elvis had talked like old boyhood chums.
On the last evening, Jack and Marie were in Elvis' dressing room when they had previously seen Presley's fantastic array of handmade costumes on one wall and, lining the other, hangers full of custom-made jeweled belts like the hi-huggers that Elvis wore over each of his jumpsuits.
One of those they had seen had been a special belt that did not match any outfit. Elvis had explained that this costume designer had spent years making this particular one, though it didn't go with any of his outfits, he always carried it with him because he loved it so. 'It was an unbelievable thing', Marie said, 'all embroidered with coral and jade and turquoise and amethyst'.
Anyway, on their last night when the Lords walked into Presley's dressing room, Elvis stood up and in his hand, he had the special belt which he now held out to Marie. She began to protest, but Elvis cut her short. He explained that he couldn't wear it because it scratched him, and he even showed where there was a gash on his hand. But the Lords knew that Presley was just saying that as Marie had personally seen a girl at the last show grab for Elvis' hand and then bite it in her enthusiastic joy at being so close to her idol. But Elvis wouldn't take no for an answer. Marie now has that very special Elvis Presley jeweled hi-hugger framed on black velvet and it hangs in a special place of honor in the Lord's home.
There were subsequent meetings and exchange of correspondence between the Lords and Elvis. There were phone conversations and yet when you totaled it all up, they really only knew Elvis for such a brief few years. In fact, once he said rather longingly, 'Gee, Jack, I wish I'd met you many years ago'.
No, he's gone. Elvis Presley that rare, talented, beautiful generous and yet lonely man. Lonely as only a few people are who ever reach such dizzying heights. A prisoner of fame and fortune and of a self-made legend surrounding him, but for those brief few years - especially during those times when Elvis, Jack, and Marie Lord were together - when they were able to share the special area reserved for the famous. Inside it, together, none of them were lonely. There will never be another Elvis Presley, and Jack and Marie Lord feel his loss so deeply. They will never forget their special friend -and neither will any of us.
Written by David Troedson