Elvis and Ursula Andress: 'She only had eyes for him on set, she wanted him bad'

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Fun In Acapulco wrapped up principal photography on March 13, 1963, in Los Angeles. Elvis’ manager threw a lavish celebration where the star partied with cast and crew, including the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. After struggling to make a mark since her arrival in 1955, Andress was suddenly the hottest female star in Hollywood after her jaw-dropping bikini-clad entrance as the first (and still most iconic) Bond Girl in 1962’s Dr No. The Swedish star was very confident in her sexuality and had made it clear on set that she wanted her handsome co-star. And Elvis himself already had a very well-established pattern. No wonder Priscilla was so worried.

Since beginning his own film career, Elvis had frequently been besotted with various co-stars, particularly Kid Galahad’s Joan Blackman, who he wanted to marry.  

Ursula later admitted she had arrived on set expecting to find a simple playboy but was even more impressed by what she found: “The only way I knew him was from TV, this new idol, this hip-swinging lover with a guitar. The first day I went to work, he came over, this humble man, full of charm, love in his eyes, and kindness, and being so considerate and warm. I was so surprised.”

The King’s Memphis Mafia friend Sonny West watched it all happen during the film shoot: “They were very close. She went after him. She wanted him bad.”

Back home at Graceland, a nervous Priscilla was very aware that her boyfriend was spending time with a “sex goddess” (in Priscilla’s own words), desired by every man in the world. The teenager had moved to the US from Germany the previous October and wasn’t even supposed to be living at Graceland. The agreement with her family stipulated she would live nearby with Elvis’s father and his new wife until Priscilla finished school – or they married.

How could she compete with Ursula? The actress was married to actor and director John Derek at the time, but they would split when he discovered her infidelities. 

Priscilla later wrote about Elvis’ conversation with friend Alan Fortas about Ursula: “‘Yeah, but E,’ Alan Fortas kidded him, ‘she only had eyes for you.'”

Priscilla herself also questioned Elvis: “‘Wasn’t she pretty?’ I asked. ‘Pretty?’, he snickered. ‘Hell, she had a bone structure so sharp, it could cut you in half if you turned too fast.'”

Elvis had apparently replied to Fortas’ teasing over a flirtation with Ursula: “No way, son, not with John Derek lurking all over the place. I’d be goddamned if I’d start a conversation with her and see his possessive eyes glaring at me. You know he gave her a car, and on the steering wheel it said, ‘Baby, you’re indispensable.’ Head over heels in love with her. Never saw anything like it.”

West also pointed out that The King famously had a rule he established for himself and the Memphis Mafia from the beginning: “Elvis told us never to leave him alone with her. It’s because he had a thing: he never went for married women.”

But that wasn’t all, in this case.

It turned out Ursula also made The King feel very self-conscious. Not only did he prefer rather more sweet and deferential girls, but he was also intimidated by the Swiss glamazon’s body.

He said: “‘Goddamn, she was a big woman. Body like a man – no hips, and shoulders broader than mine. I was embarrassed to take my goddamn shirt off next to her.'”

West said: “Nothing ever happened, but they worked together well and had a great time.”

Elvis may have resisted, but Ursula’s own marriage was soon in trouble.

The year after Fun In Acapulco, her husband threw her out of their LA home over reports of an alleged affair with actor Ron Ely. Ursula went on to have public affairs with actors John Richardson and Marcello Mastroianni. She officially left Derek for Jean-Paul Belmondo in 1965, and their divorce was finalised in 1966.

Ursula was with Belmondo until 1972, moving on to Italian actor Fabio Testi in 1973, and then US star Harry Hamlin, who was 15 years her junior, in 1979.

In the mid-80s a series of relationships included Julio Iglesias before Ursula started a five-year affair with Fausto Fagone who was 30 years her junior. Since that ended in 1991, she has not been publicly linked with anyone.



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