First I want to thank you for granting me this interview. It was very kind of you to accept to do this. You were both very honest in your intriguing book Sergeant Presley: Our Untold Story of Elvis' Missing Years by Rex and Elisabeth Mansfield. and there are a few personal things I'd like to ask, if you don't mind.
Q: Your accounting of your army life together was so interesting. The hardships of army life were so demanded but yet Elvis went thru it the same as everyone. He said they treated him the same as anyone else. Is this true?
Rex: At first, in basic training there was a natural skepticism that Elvis would get special treatment. In time, Elvis gained everyone's respect as he set an example of not asking for and refusing to accept special treatment. I think he and the Colonel had this planned out that Elvis was to be very careful not to receive any special treatment and this was the routine throughout his tour of duty in the army. There was always a little jealously, especially in the beginning but, jealously turned to respect and later to envy of anyone who was on the inside with Elvis including those who soldiered side by side with him.
Q: I would like to know your feelings about how Elvis was manipulated in his private life by the Colonel.
Rex: I cannot honestly say that, during the time I was with Elvis in the army, the Colonel appeared to be manipulating his private life. I think it was more like Elvis would check with the colonel for wise counseling on anything in his private life that might be a problem especially if it may affect his career.
Q: You seem pleased with the good job he did of organizing the talent show. What reasons did he give for not singing? Could it really be because the Colonel told him not to?
Rex: Honestly, I don't remember who said this (it could have been Lamar, or Red, or Cliff, or Charlie, or Elvis) but, I was told that the Colonel and Elvis had agreed that he should not perform on any stage or do any shows while he was in the army. Elvis could have easily gone in to the army in special services and entertained U.S. military troops around the world. Elvis and the Colonel chose not to do this to create the idea that Elvis was going to serve his country like any other soldier. The Colonel and Elvis hoped this would gain him respect by the older generation. It worked! Man! Did it ever work! The decision for Elvis to be seen as an average soldier serving his country was a fantastic, unprecedented turning point in Elvis' upward spiral to world fame.
Q: Elvis loved singing ,it would have meant plenty to him and to the guys. I don't mean as an entertainer but more or less in private moments. Did this happen at all?
Rex: Yes, Elvis did occasionally play a guitar and sing to the men in his scout platoon. But, he would never sing any songs that he had previously recorded. For example, in Grafenwohr while we were on field training, one of his platoon mates would come up with a guitar and Elvis would play and sing some of Marty Robbins gunfighter songs. Elvis loved to sing these gunfighter songs.
Q: Did you also lived there at the Hillberts Park Hotel and the Hotel Grunwald in Bad Nauheim ? Did you participate with the fun going-ons there?
Rex: No my home was Ray Barracks except on weekends or when I went on leave with Elvis. I was not allowed to live off post because I had no family members in Germany. I did visit with Elvis, his family and friends at the park hotel and the hotel Grunewald in Bad Nauheim several times, when I was able to get passes to leave Ray Barracks and, certainly, I did participate in the fun and games.
Q: Sometimes Elizabeth mentioned you 'coming to the house' at Goethestrasse 14. Does this mean you didn't stay there either?
Rex: With a weekend pass I was able to stay the whole weekend at the house on Goethestrasse 14. Honestly, I don't remember sleeping there a lot because mostly we were "on the go" all weekend and had no time for sleep. Sometimes, I would get an evening pass to go off post, during the week, with a midnight curfew.
Q: Though Elvis obviously was falling for Priscilla while there, did he ever mention her as someone he would bring to Graceland as his girl, or was the presumption that Elizabeth would have this honor?
Rex: I suspect Elvis was thinking about bringing Priscilla to the Graceland mansion, especially at the end of our stay in Germany, but I never heard him say that. I think he was a little like me, just wanting to get home, to see how his feelings would be with Anita following his feelings for Priscilla. I think there was no resumption on Elvis' part that Elisabeth would be his one and only girl once he returned to Graceland. Elvis let Elisabeth down very easy and then gave her the freedom to date other guys once he got back to Graceland. He may have thought that Elisabeth loved him so much that she would stay on as his secretary no matter what but, of course, Elisabeth and I had other plans and once Elisabeth realized that she would not be that special girl anymore, she made her choice to come to me.
Q: Did you ever feel that Grandma wanted you and Rex to be together so as to clear the way for Anita whom she also loved?
Elisabeth: Grandma and I spent time together every day over a period of 15 months. we developed a special bond during this time and loved each other very much. It was grandma's love and concern for me that wanted Rex and me to be together and, again, had nothing to do with Anita.
Q: What did you think when Grandma cut you off so abruptly as it neared time to return to Graceland.
Elisabeth: I think that grandma felt threatened that her part in our secret dating would be exposed to Elvis. Her reaction to my leaving Graceland for a future with Rex had nothing to do with Anita.
Q: After being hurt by no mail from Elisabeth while on maneuvers, if your ultimatum to her did not work, did you ever feel you would not return to Graceland with Elvis? Or would you have returned with him anyway and tried to avoid Elizabeth?
Rex: I did not think about making that decision while we were still in Germany as my total concentration was on how I could rescue my beautiful Elisabeth and win her over for myself. after coming back to Graceland with Elvis following our discharge from the army, if Elisabeth decided to stay with Elvis instead of coming with me, I knew that I could never come back it would have been too painful for me to bare.
Q: Did you expect that you would be going to Hollywood with him, (maybe only as a secretary ) when he would be making movies again?
Elisabeth: I think that most of my time would have been spent in the office at Graceland that mr. Presley & Elvis were planning to fix up for me. I did think that, when he would invite the wives or girlfriends from his inner circle to go with him to Hollywood, that I would be invited for short visits as well.
Q: You each admit that you wanted both lives - and was torn between the glamour and your love for each other. Did you ever feel that if you didn't go with Elvis to Hollywood that there would be plenty of time to be with Elizabeth in Memphis until the moment of truth came eventually?
Rex: I knew that it would be impossible to have that kind of relationship with Elvis. you were either with him 100% all the time or nothing.
Q: When Elvis gave you permission to date others , did you think maybe you could have said what your feeling were as to dating Rex?
Elizabeth: Absolutely not! I would not have had the nerve to express my feelings about Rex (since I was a chicken, I knew I had to leave this up to my rooster, Rex! just kidding you with a little humor). Actually, I was confident that Rex would have the courage and wisdom to approach Elvis on this matter.
Q: When you were making 'the getaway' and he asked if you were meeting Rex , if you answered yes, do you think your lives would have turned out differently?