I wish to thank comedian, emcee, musician, and writer, Victor J Hanson, for sending along his article “Hollywood’s Accessible Starlet” to be posted on SIDEBURNS Magazine.
In his amusing and very informative writing, Victor J Hanson tells about his first meeting with Cynthia Pepper, Elvis Presley’s co-star in “Kissin’ Cousins”, which led to a lasting friendship, and the co-authoring of Pigtails, Presley and Pepper. I had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia last year at the Flaming Star Festival in Toronto. Everything that Victor says about her in his article is true. Charming, personable, and very attentive when we spoke, Cynthia Pepper is truly Hollywood’s “accessible starlet”.
For the benefit new followers of SB, and for anyone wants a humorous read to brighten their day, I am re-posting an interview I did with Victor in December, 2017 as companion reading to “Hollywood’s Accessible Starlet”. The re-post contains information about Victor’s upcoming appearances that will be of interest to all.
Thank you, again, Victor J. Always a delight reading, preparing, and posting your writing for SIDEBURNS Magazine. Best regards, Carolyn.
(All photos and captions used in this post are courtesy of Victor J Hanson and Cynthia Pepper, and credit to photographer(s) were posted when provided.)
Hollywood’s Accessible Starlet
by Victor J Hanson
There’s an adage that goes along the lines of, “Never meet your heroes - least they have feet of clay”.
Meeting celebrities and icons can be fun, but also very disappointing at times. They don’t always turn out to be the people we think they should be or whom we want them to be. As a professional comedian/musician, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and meeting many highly successful celebrity types. Many have been a pleasure and delight to come to know. Others never even came close to being nice folks, let alone nice famous folks. (I won’t lower myself to mention any names here, but I will say that their initials are…Burton Cummings.)
Nothing could be further from the truth when I met Hollywood actress and Elvis Presley’s co-star from the MGM movie “Kissin’ Cousins”, Cynthia Pepper.
I first met Cynthia in 2007 at the Collingwood Elvis Festival. I was playing lead guitar at the Gayety Theatre in a band that was put together by my good friends Mike Burns and Paco Danesi. We were backing up three of Collingwood’s top ETAs. The following day I had nothing to do so I went to the arena to watch the finals. It was at this time that I met Ms. Pepper. After we introduced ourselves we chatted in between the final performances as they were taking place. She was a delight to talk with. I had no idea that she was a VIP at the festival or that she had appeared in numerous movies and television shows throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. I did, however, think she looked very familiar. Did I owe her money? I wasn’t sure. Was she the news lady from the local TV station? No idea. Was she once on a Most Wanted poster but now in a witness relocation program?
These were the questions that were floating around my mind as my friend Jay Zanier was busy winning the title of Grand Champion that year.
When the contest was finished I met up with Cynthia again at the after party. People were celebrating and dancing all around us, but this fascinating lady had me intrigued with what I considered to be, the most interesting and bizarre conversation I’d had all weekend. She would start a sentence with things like,“When my Daddy was married to Ginger Rogers…” or “Speaking of fathers, Fred McMurray was an interesting man to work with…” She would then go on to talk about Elvis as if she had known the man. Eventually, I found out through Elvis fans, Google and YouTube, who this fascinating lady was.
As time went on, and with lots of correspondence and conversations with Ms. Pepper, my wife and I got to know Cynthia and her husband Steve very well. I decided that since Cynthia had so many great stories that she should write a book. A memoir so that everyone could enjoy her life story. My wife then decided that I should help write it. (Thanks, honey.) Thus, the birth of Cynthia Pepper’s Hollywood memoir: Pigtails, Presley and Pepper. So, who is Cynthia Pepper and why should you care?
If you have ever watched a TV show made between 1960 and 1973 you may have caught a glimpse of this irresistible blonde Barbie Doll version of Sandra Dee. My Three Sons, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Divorce Court, The Flying Nun, American Band Stand, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Boris Karloff’s – Thriller, US Steel Hour, Julia, Lassie, 77 Sunset Strip, The Addams Family, Three Coins in the Fountain, & Margie. (This last show was her own TV sitcom that had a two-season run. That’s right, she was Margie.) She’s appeared in them all.
She made movies and traded lines with Sandra Dee, James Stewart, Audrey Meadows, Vincent Price, Carolyn Jones, Tommy Sands, Sandra Bullock and some handsome, high cheekbone sex symbol guy named Elvis Presley.
If you are a fan of old Hollywood, you should care.
She traded lines with superstars. She yelled, laughed, cried, and even got to pitch a little woo with some of them. (Elvis Presley is at the top of the list.)
She's not a wannabe. She is an Is. The real deal. The very thing. The real McCoy. I've had the pleasure to bear witness as she meets and greets fans. She makes eye contact and she has a genuine conversation with them. The same way that a good friend would. She doesn't put herself above anybody nor does she put anybody down.
If you meet her you can see why Elvis Presley liked her so much. She was handpicked by the King of Rock and Roll to be in the movie, “Kissin' Cousins”. She was the one person that Elvis trusted to get physical and throw him over her shoulder in a couple of scenes.
Elvis thought she was the cutest thing going. He even nicknamed her “Speckled Pup”. A nickname she's loved forever. Elvis even used it in the movie. It wasn't part of the script, but he threw it in anyways. (Take that Movie Trivia folk)
If you meet her... wait! Scratch that. WHEN you meet her, you won't be disappointed. She tries to get to as many Autograph Shows, Elvis Festivals, Hollywood Movie Festivals, Music Festivals as she can.
I know you're now saying: "Okay fine, where do I get to meet this lady that has traded lines with, acted with, laughed with, sang with, got physical with, and even rolled around in the hay with Elvis Presley?”
You'll find her in Memphis during Elvis Week, The Tweed Elvis Festival in Tweed, Ontario. Elvis Festival - Great Yarmouth, UK. The Flaming Star Festival in Toronto. Elvis Weekend - Germany... and that's all before 2018 is over and done with. 2019 is staking up to be a great year for the darling lady. So, is this enough to get you to get up off the couch and come up to a fantastic event and meet this wonderful former Hollywood star?
Even though she has her great new book for sale and some of the most amazing pictures you'll see of her with Elvis and so many others in the business, you're obligated to nothing more than a visit with this lovely lady. It will turn into one of those special things you did for yourself and you will not regret it.
Cynthia asked me to let you know that procrastination can be life's biggest regret. She asked me to share the following. Her words. "Years after making “Kissin' Cousins” with Elvis, he called me up and invited me to see him perform at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. At this time, I lived in Los Angeles. I thanked him but said I had several other obligations and Las Vegas was just a little too far away. I told him that I would try to get down and see one of the shows at a later date. He called with another invite, but once again I had to say it's just not good timing right now, but I'll come and see your show soon. I never did make it to one of his shows. As much as I did get a private concert from him on the movie set. I wished that I could have seen him in Vegas. Big regret."
I thank you for your time.
I will now leave you with the Top 10 List of why you should treat yourself to a visit with my friend Cynthia Pepper.
10. I said so.
9. She's a real live Hollywood Starlet... seriously, how many have you met?
8. It will probably happen at an Elvis Festival. So that right there is a win-win for you.
7. She was on the cover of TV Guide magazine that sold over 8 million copies.
6. Sue Harris & Pam Pettit from the Flaming Star Festival say that she is their good luck charm. That's why Cynthia has been an invited VIP guest to all 5 Flaming Star Festivals.
5. Cynthia speaks 7 different languages. No wait, those are just funny accents that she does... still worth it.
4. She's never colluded with Russia. (That I know of.)
3. She has excellent hygiene.
2. She’s an animal lover and animal rights advocate.
And the #1 reason you should treat yourself to a visit with my friend Cynthia Pepper… She did a movie with Elvis Presley for gosh sakes what more inspiration do you need?
For more information on Cynthia Pepper and her live appearances, go to https://cynthiapepper.weebly.com
Check out Cynthia's book Pigtails, Presley & Pepper at Pigtails, Presley & Pepper: A Hollywood Memoir www.amazone.ca
Come visit me at www.VictorJComedy.com