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Friday, September 30, 2011

Elvis and the G.I. Blues...
Sandy Ferra reveals that she once dated the King, but eventually Presley married Priscilla and she wedded veteran TV game show host Wink Martindale

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- After Elvis Presley returned to the United States from Germany in 1960 following his time as a G.I., he eventually moved to Los Angeles and with his girlfriend Priscilla pining for him in Germany, Elvis Presley began dating Sandy Ferra, the then 14-year-old daughter of a nightclub owner.

Sandy pictured with Elvis during their dating days

This was revealed at the Media Fellowship International (MFI) Thirteenth Annual Praise Brunch held at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel on Saturday, September 17, 2011, when the perennial American radio and television favorite, Wink Martindale, said, during his keynote address, that his wife, Sandy Ferra, who was in the audience, had once dated Elvis Presley.

That news was too much for an old hack like myself to pass by, so I managed to get an interview Sandy after the event, and I discovered that, because of her young age, she was initially chaperoned everywhere by her mother Mary Lou, and that 25-year-old Presley got no further than kissing Sandy, but apparently he had other intentions.

Mary Lou Ferra, who chaperoned
the early dates

Media reports said that one night Presley asked Mary Lou if she and her daughter would consider moving to his new mansion, the soon-to-be-legendary Graceland, where he would “raise” Sandy as his future wife.

In this exclusive interview, Sandy told me that she first met the King of Rock and Roll when he visited the Cross Bow, her father’s night club in Panorama City, which is located in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. He was in town to make “G.I. Blues,” his first film after his discharge from the army.

“Elvis had just got out of the army and one day he came into my dad’s club and saw my picture in the office, and said, ‘I’d like to meet your daughter,’” Sandy recalled. “So Elvis called me, and because it was a school night and my mother wouldn’t drive me up to the nightclub, he said he could come back the next week and he asked me if I could come up and meet him there. In the meantime, my dad came home and told me that he [Elvis] was a ‘gorgeous guy’ because I didn’t know who Elvis Presley was.”

Sandy explained that Elvis didn’t visit the club to sing, but just for recreation.

G.I. Blues poster with Juliet Prowse and Elvis Presley

“So, the next week my mother said she would drive me to the club,” said Sandy. “Elvis had a date with a beautiful actress and I just sat there with my little ponytail and frilly dress. He kissed me on the cheek and then he called and told my mother he wanted to date me and my mother said, ‘I don’t care if you’re King Farouk; my daughter’s only fourteen and she can’t go out with you.’ So he said to my mother, ‘Well, you can come on the date,' so she came on our first three dates.”

Where did you go?

“Elvis was living at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, so we’d go there and have pizza, hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, as well as watch television and also talk and dance. That was our dates.

“And then, after the first three dates, he then promised my mother that he’d be a 'gentleman' and 'take good care' of me and then my mom then said that it was OK for me to go out with him without her being there. He stuck to his word and was and he was a perfect gentleman. He loved and respected my parents and was a wonderful part of my life.”

Did he ever talk about the Lord during those days?

Elvis Presley’s Bible, inscribed with on the inside back cover in blue pen with “I love ya, mama,” is being held by David Smith, a Baptist minister and the curator of a recent Bible exhibition in Liverpool, UK. Smith said, “Elvis grew up in church and started his music in church. That’s where he first performed.”
(Photo: Liverpool Daily Post)

“He knew the Bible from cover to cover and was a very religious person,” Sandy replied. “Elvis once told me about the time, when he was younger, he was driving across the desert in Texas –- because [at that time] he wouldn’t fly -- and that's when he saw a vision of Christ. He said that he had stopped the Winnebago [an RV vehicle that he was traveling in], and got out and it was then that he saw this vision of Christ. He told me that he then got back into the vehicle and said that he didn’t know what it meant. ‘You know, I believe that God has something big for me to do, but I don’t know what it is,’ he added.

“Elvis didn’t realize that this was going to take place after his death, for that is when he became  [big for God], with the release of much of his Gospel music. He had no idea at the time, as he was kind of like my husband -- a Tennessee boy, who was very shy who didn’t know how talented and valuable he was.”

How many dates did you have with him?

“I dated him for six years,” she said. “And then I did dance in Viva Las Vegas and a bunch of his other movies and a lot of days I’d go to the set because I went on the auditions by myself as a dancer and he didn’t get me the parts. I worked in the movies and a lot of days I’d get paid just for going there and having lunch with my boyfriend. It was a great life growing up.

“I am sure that there were lots of girls who were very jealous of the fact that I was dating Elvis, but I didn’t talk about it very much so many didn’t even know.”

Did he ever propose to you?

“We talked about marriage and I knew I was the kind of a girl he wanted to marry, but he had actually met Priscilla two months before me while he was in Germany and then, after she moved over to the States with her parents still living in Germany, she moved to Memphis and he felt responsible for her.

Elvis and Priscilla with baby Lisa-Marie

“By the way, my mother would never let me go over and spend the night with Elvis so they [Priscilla and Elvis] forged a much stronger bond than was possible between the two of us. So he felt responsible for her and fell deeply in love with her of course and married her.”

Were you saddened with what happened to him in his later years when his life just fell apart and died on August 16, 1977 in the bathroom at Graceland?

“Yes, after I married Wink, we were with him in Las Vegas just a few months before he passed away,” recalled Sandy. “Wink knew him some ten years before I met him; actually before I knew either one of them. They were friends in Tennessee and were both true Tennessee gentlemen.

“Elvis told Wink how proud he was of him and how great his career was, which I found quite amazing when you think of what Elvis had achieved in his career. And then he told Wink that my mother came on the first three dates and Wink said, ‘I didn’t believe her when she first told me this, but if you tell me that, I believe you.’

“And then Elvis also told Wink that I was the nicest girl from the nicest family that he ever knew.

“After his mother Gladys died [in 1958], Elvis kind of lost his way. But then when Pricilla left him, he just wanted to forget reality because he had chosen her for his queen, and he believed in marriage as an institution; that it was meant to be ‘till death do us part' and that kind of broke his heart.”

Wink and Sandy Martindale

I wondered why she thought the people around Elvis during his final days were not able to confront him about his problems.

“They were afraid that they would lose their jobs and sadly that was the most important thing for them,” said Sandy.

So are you glad you married Wink instead of Elvis?

Sandy stopped and smiled and then replied, “God had a plan and this was the plan God had for me. If I had stayed with Elvis I may have been able to save him, and you know, I’m not God, so maybe, also I may not have been able to save him. Also, I wanted somebody that I could grow old with, which I got. We were married on August 2, 1975 at the Arcadia Presbyterian Church in Southern California,” she said.

In a previous interview at the same event, Wink Martindale told me that he was a close friend of Elvis Presley and when Wink became the host of the TV show, Teenage Dance Party, Elvis made an appearance. Then, following Presley's death in 1977, Martindale aired a nationwide tribute radio special in his honor.

So, after this rather extraordinary interview, Sandy went back to join her husband, who had been the keynote speaker at the MFI event, and I pondered on what may have happened to Elvis if he had stayed with Sandy. Well, no one will ever know the answer to that one.

Message to the broadcast media: I have an MP3 audio recording of this interview with Sandy Martindale – it is nearly 8 minutes long -- and part of which is about her time with Elvis. If you would like to run it, please send me a request at and let me know which station you represent (with the call letters), or which network you are with and where you are based.

Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries and also provides a regular commentary for Worship Life Radio on KWVE. You can follow Dan Wooding on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.

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