Friday, June 09, 2006

ELVIS & WYATT EARP:
THE JEWISH CONNECTION

Elvis And Wyatt Earp: The Jewish Connection
Can you imagine Elvis with a yarmulke in his back pocket and a Jewish grandmother in the family tree? Or the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp going from the infamous gun battle at the OK Corral to his Orthodox Jewish in-laws for Passover sedar?

Oy vey and pass the grits, IT’S TRUE!

Elvis and Wyatt Earp had much in common. The main women in their lives, Elvis’ mother and Wyatt’s wife of 50 years, shared a Jewish heritage.

The Crime Czar of the Old West and the King of Rock ‘n Roll both had rebellious streaks: sometimes self-destructive, often glorious. Their affectionate connection to Jews, not popular in the Ku Klux Klan infested south of the ‘50s or in the fundamentalist Christian Old West, brought out the greatness in both men.

Elvis loved no one more in this world than his mother, Gladys, whose great grandmother, Nancy Tacket, was Jewish. While his mother was fascinated by her Jewish heritage, she warned the young Elvis to keep it quiet because, “People don’t like Jews.”

As a teenager, Elvis lived in a Jewish area of Memphis, downstairs from a rabbi and his wife. She recalled: “He was about 15 years old and we got along beautifully. He was such a nice boy, such manners. He called my husband Sir Rabbi.”

The young Elvis always carried a yarmulke in his back pocket and had Sabbath dinner once a month with the rabbi and his wife. He loved the matzo ball soup and the challah egg bread. Years later, his beloved longtime black cook, Alvena Roy, would make his favorite meal: kosher peanut butter & banana sandwiches on challah bread.

When our friends, the late Hollywood screenwriters Lois & Arnold Peyser, were on set with Elvis during the filming of their movie, “The Trouble with Girls”, they recalled that a super polite Elvis insisted on calling them “sir” and “ma’am”. The young star was deeply spiritual and had a profound interest in all things Jewish. The Peysers always waxed rhapsodic about Elvis. They loved and respected him, and kept Elvis keepsakes in their living room until they died.

Elvis personally designed his mother’s gravesite, adding a Star of David to her tombstone. She wore her Jewish heritage with pride and her son honored that. Later in life, Elvis learned more about Judaism through his hairdresser, Larry Geller, who also taught Elvis the Hebrew alphabet. Elvis also dabbled in the metaphysical, he loved Edgar Cayce. During the last year of his life (1977), the rock god wore a Chai necklace in honor of the Jewish belief that life is to be treasured. A typical Jewish toast is “L’chayim, to life.”

The Memphis Jewish Welfare League would send a delegation to Graceland each year for contributions. He religiously gave $1,000 to each group. When he was told that the Memphis Hebrew Academy took care of poor Jews and orphans, Elvis made out a check,the equivalent in today’s dollars: a million bucks! The Academy thought he made a mistake. “I didn’t make a mistake. I know what I’m doing,” Elvis said softly.

Wyatt Earp’s Jewish connection led to his burial not on Boot Hill in Tombstone, as befits an Old West legend, but in an exclusive Jewish cemetery outside San Francisco. Seems the hard living lawman fell just as hard for a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn named Josie Marcus. She also happened to be a rebellious, gorgeous actress.

Her Orthodox Jewish parents, like Elvis’ rabbi neighbor in Memphis, also observed the Friday night Sabbath by lighting shabbus candles and saying Hebrew prayers. The famous frontier legend lived with his Jewish-in-laws for awhile and found it “warm and relaxing.”

Though Elvis & Wyatt Earp enjoyed a kingly status in their chosen professions, unfortunately they were also Kings of Denial in their private lives.

Elvis, a prescription drug addict, went on a whim to the Nixon White House in 1970 LOADED in a couple of ways. The King told the President he wanted to be a part of the war on drugs and insisted on Federal Agent credentials. “There isn’t much I wouldn’t give up for one of those,” Elvis once said. The Secret Service insisted that he and his posse first check their guns at the door. Then the President of the United States gave the most famous druggie in the world a badge designating him an officer of the Federal Drug Enforcement Bureau. Elvis rocked Nixon’s world with a Colt .45, now on display at the Presidential Library.

Elvis had hundreds of honorary law enforcement badges and guns in a private collection at Graceland. His shooting up TV sets when he disagreed with a program is so legendary that one of the shattered TVs is on exhibit in a Tennessee museum. His medicine chest was an at-home superstore pharmacy containing thousands of prescribed pills from Demerol to Percodan to Oxycodine.

Wyatt, not to be outdone by Elvis, also liked badges and guns and mind-altering substances. Deputy Earp pistol-whipped armed cowboys BEFORE they could contest the law against carrying firearms in town. The Buntline Special, a long barreled gun, was made expressly for him. Like Elvis, he knew first hand about drug addiction. His second “wife”, an ex-prostitute named Mattie Blaylock, overdosed after a night of booze and an opium based drug, laudanum, dead at 38.

Though never a full sheriff or marshal in Tombstone or Dodge City or anywhere else, Earp managed to get himself badges through deputization and other means to make his mark as an extraordinary lawman.

During this time, Wyatt’s boozing often got him in trouble. During his stints as a lawman (1870-90), Wyatt Earp was arrested as a horse thief and jumped bail. He once lived in a whorehouse and again found himself under arrest. As a private citizen, he was fined $l for slapping a muscular hooker named Frankie.

In a parallel to Elvis’ vigilante anti-drug crusade, the equally hypocritical Earp became an expert on drunks and their unlawful, loutish behavior in the prairie towns of the Old West. All the while he owned many of the saloons where the cowboys got plastered. Marshal Earp’s coterie of hired barroom cuties plied them with drinks and promises of x-rated things to come.

Still, only Wyatt could bring peace and earn the respect of the drunken, armed cowboys letting off steam after a long, hard cattle drive. The unchecked havoc stopped when the new sheriff in town, the ersatz Earp, showed up.

Just as Elvis had his Memphis Mafia, who shared karate kicks and shot TVs stone cold dead, Earp had his own Mob posse: Doc Holliday, a dentist who spent more time boozing and gambling than tickling the ivories, Bat Masterson, a lawman colleague from Dodge City, who ended up a sports columnist and boxing promoter in New York, and Wyatt’s three brothers. They loved gambling, drinking, and occasional gunplay. Wyatt Earp and his buddies shot it out with the Clantons at the famous OK Corral gunfight and because of this historic piece of rough housing, became part of Old West folklore.

His wife Josie heard the shots at the OK Corral and wondered if Wyatt Earp had met a violent end.

“I almost swooned when I saw Wyatt’s tall figure very much alive. Can you imagine my real relief at seeing my love alive,” she sighed.

Josie stayed with Wyatt Earp for fifty years as his wife, though no marriage certificate is on record anywhere. Throughout their years together, they moved around the country: On the run from the law. Relocating to new silver and gold mining boomtowns to invest in mines and real estate. Operating saloons and gambling parlors from Alaska to Idaho.

Finally, Marshal Earp & his Jewish bride moved to southern California in the ‘20s, where they lived on their spoils from gambling and real estate speculation. Josie insured Wyatt’s legendary status in the annals of Old West folklore by writing a Hollywood screenplay. Tinseltown didn’t bite, but a journalist used it to write a bestselling biography, and the rest is history. Wyatt never had the Hollywood career he hoped for, but served as a technical advisor on silent Westerns. Elvis, on the other hand, had an enduring, if undistinguished, movie career.

Josie buried her beloved Wyatt in her family’s plot in the Jewish cemetery in Colma. The Old West lawman lies in eternal peace amid Goldbergs, Schwartzes and Weinsteins, and tombstones with Stars of David and menorahs etched on them.

Three headstones adorn Wyatt’s burial plot: his, Josie’s and a guy named Max Weiss. Given Wyatt’s proclivity for gambling, we can only guess that Max must’ve been his bookie. It’s heartwarming to see all the cowboys and rednecks that now make the pilgrimage to visit Marshal Earp at his Jewish necropolis.

The dueling tales of Elvis and Wyatt Earp show us that everything and everybody and everyplace in every era are connected by the gossamer strands of light on the cosmic golden web. Elvis and the Old West lawman embraced ALL people and knew the most important law of all. We’re all related and we’re all in this together.

If you still need proof, consider this: The energy of white light contains all the colors of the spectrum within it. When we shine light through a prism, all the colors of the rainbow are revealed. When we pass the colors of the rainbow back through the prism, we get white light.

Yes, we are all related and we are all one in this Technicolor world.

(c)2006, Sistarrs International
Excerpt from “The 12 Spiritual Secrets of Beverly Hills”

(c)1999. 2006, the Starr Sisters

8 comments:

Glenn said...

This is so kool i love your blogs keep them coming

~Wyzowl~ said...

Another great blog! ..and thanks for checking out my blog this morning.

There's never been much said about Elvis's jewish connection, but I found one book: Schmelvis: In Search Of Elvis Presley's Jewish Roots...written by Max Wallace and Jonathan Goldstein...and I believe there's a movie too, but I've never seen it...have you? If I find out more, I will let you know.

I totally agree with your world view ...that we are indeed all related...sisters and brothers 'under the skin'....man made religion, and as Mahatma Ghandi said "God has no religion".

Keep those blogs coming sweet ladies!

Peace & Love, Wyzowl~La Fee Verte

Lumonics Light Museum said...

your blogs are great. this one really shook me up.

Blissful Being said...

No way! OMG, this is so funny. See? This is why I love you girls! You're so informative. I love it!!!

Bliss

Chloe....THE Bad Diva said...

I am soooooo digging your blogs! They are entertaining and informative! Keep up the great writing!

Chai Collective said...

right on...

Sista Warrior said...

nice one sis !!

Alex said...

How do you ladies do it?!!! Not only are my friends readin' you, but our mothers & grandmothers, too!!! You are the coolest! We love your blogs, we love the new facts & the new way of looking at celebs. We can't say it enough..

THE STARR SISTERS ROCK!!!!