By Julie Pendray
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — More than 50 years after Elvis Presley sang “This is Living” from the porch of a lodge beneath towering Tahquitz Rock, many Idyllwild residents fondly recall when he came here to film “Kid Galahad.”
Presley portrayed a young man, just out of the Army, training to be a prize fighter in the 1962 remake of a Humphrey Bogart movie. His co-stars were Gig Young and Charles Bronson. He was helped on set by boxing trainer Al Silvani and a world champ “Mushy” Callahan. Ever since, the location has drawn Presley fans from around the globe. Now, they can buy a piece of history. Hidden Lodge is up for sale, at $749,000.
Read my article, including the 1962 movie poster and photos from the archives of Idyllwild Area Historical Society, in Palm Springs Life magazine, online.
Here are a few more details of interest — especially to Idyllwild residents — which are not included in my Palm Springs Life story, due to space considerations.
Local broker Marge Muir’s son, Chuck, was also an extra in the movie. Muir still has Chuck’s pay stub at home. She says it was about $16. Muir recalls that Idyllwild was already a location for Los Angeles film makers when Presley came, so it wasn’t so out of the ordinary to see him.
Joan Blackman and Lola Albright also appeared in “Kid Galahad” by Mirisch Pictures Inc. of Hollywood. Promising heavyweight Jack Reilly and then welterweight champ Orlando De La Fuente also came to Idyllwild to help actors.
“Mushy” Callahan was quoted by Idyllwild Town Crier at the time, saying, “Presley would make a good fighter. He’s got a good build, takes direction easily and learns fast.”
Town Crier columnist Stefi noted that the film crew had to be creative when snow fell during what had to appear as summer scenes. A planned July 4th picnic scene at Fulmor Lake, for example, had to be canceled. “The snow storm was attributed to the storm god Tahquitz,” Stefi wrote. She reported that Fern Valley Market “will never be the same again after kleig lights and Elvis.” She continued, “The Circle Drive jeep route has become the main artery for busloads of movie personnel, sound trucks, boom trucks, patrol cars … with … Officer Chuck Slaback as the main traffic guard at the center of things. For some of us weaned from the Hollywood Hills, this has been a familiar scene — and it still fascinates us even though we’ve thrown in our lot with the squirrels. It’s a real challenge these days to get to our apple strudel at Schwarzwaldhaus through the hustle of directors, technical advisors, prop men, stand-ins and extras jammed in with the local ‘knockwurst’ trade.’” Stefi noted that some actors were beginning to look more and more like “local characters” every day.
One of the cast told a Town Crier reporter, “It’s a pleasure to see bright stars at night and not sniff smog during the day.”
Ironically, the song Presley sang on the Hidden Lodge porch –“This is Living” — included the lyrics, “I don’t wanna be a king…” yet Presley became widely known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The “Kid Galahad” crew worked in Idyllwild for several weeks, using 125 people. Phillip Karlson directed and David Weishart produced the United Artist release. In a 1937 version, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Bette Davis starred in the film of the same name.