Book on Elvis Also Sheds Light on Enigmatic Actor Nick Adams
• Malibu Resident Rediscovers Father's Lost Manuscript About Friendship with Presley and Shares Story
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
Actor and aspiring writer Nick Adams died in 1968, when his daughter Allyson Adams was still a small child. His death—initially investigated as a possible homicide or suicide and finally ruled undetermined—has haunted his daughter.
The chance discovery of an original manuscript written by Nick Adams in 1956 chronicling his friendship with the young Elvis Presley has offered Allyson Adams, a writer, independent filmmaker and Malibu resident an opportunity to learn more about her father and offered new insights into the life of Presley.
"The Rebel and the King," Nick Adams' original manuscript describing his friendship with Elvis, augmented with research and photos collected by Allyson Adams, was published this month.
"I had no idea the journey I was about to begin when I reached up and got my "Daddy Box" down from the closet to take with me back to California," Adams writes in the forward.
"The cardboard bankers box with 'Daddy' scrawled across it is stuffed with my father's memorabilia. I've carted this box across the country for 40 years and, believe it or not, never opened it because I couldn't deal with my father's story, even though it haunted me."
When Allyson Adams finally opened the box, she found her father's type-written manuscript entitled "Elvis Presley: Singer, Actor, Man."
"Daddy died of an overdose when I was seven years old," Allyson Adams wrote. "The Los Angeles Coroner labeled the cause of death undetermined. Nothing was found in the house. Every trace was gone—his drugs, journals, the typewriter given to him by James Dean, the bronze Rebel cap, his tape recordings, his life."
"I couldn't believe what I was holding in my hands had been here all along," Adams said.
Elvis was filming his first movie, "Love Me Tender," when he was introduced to Nick Adams, a young actor who had just appeared in "Rebel Without a Cause" and who was making a name for himself as a celebrity writer.
The two men rapidly became friends. Adams introduced Presley to his friends, including actress Natalie Wood, and showed the young singer around Los Angeles. Presley invited Adams to visit his family in Tennessee.
"The Rebel and the King" is a portrait of Elvis during eight days in Memphis during the performer's "Tupelo Homecoming" tour in the summer of 1956.
"I would rather live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb," wrote Nick Adams, in 1956. "A very great man once made that statement. And that was the first thing that came to my mind when I sat down to write this story about Elvis."
Allyson Adams was invited to participate in the Official Elvis Insiders Conference at Graceland Tennessee, last week. The Malibu Surfside News spoke to her about the new book as she was concluding her own whirlwind tour at a Tupelo Film Commission event focusing on women in film.
"The people are so nice, I love it down here," Adams said. "Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis. He bought his first guitar at the hardware store. He was fifth place in the grade school talent show. This is where it happened.
"I feel a sense of connection with my father," Adams said. "The Rebel and the King" about eight days in Memphis, The climax is in Tupelo."
"I'm learning about my dad," Adams said. "I've learned other stories, met people who were 14, 15, 16 years old in 1956 and remember the concert, remember my dad."
Adams also discovered eight never before seen pictures of her father. "The journey continues," she said.
"Elvis fans are the nicest, warmest, most down-to- earth people," Adams said, adding that she wanted to share her father's manuscript because it offered a rare look at Elvis at the beginning of his career.
"I love it because it's a positive, spiritual message without politics," Adams said. "That's why I published it. Elvis was ahead of Ophra. His message was 'be grateful for what you have.' My dad was tape recording what Elvis said word for word, so it's a historical document. A little time capsule.
"I still recall the words, 'All good things come from God,' Presley told Nick Adams. "And if more people when something good happens to them in life and makes them happy or if something is given to them if they would just stop and think and thank God for it and say, 'God, thank you for this wonderful blessing you have bestowed upon me.' Then they would have more good luck and more blessings. That's my honest, sincere, way of thinking. And if tomorrow, should all my success come to an end, I wouldn't stop thanking him. And I would go on for the rest of my life telling people what a wonderful blessing he once gave me. This is my way of thinking and the words are coming directly from my heart."
The manuscript also provides a portrait of Presley's parents. "My dad brings Elvis' parents alive," Adams said.
The book includes photos of the Presleys relaxing in the backyard of their Memphis home in 1957 with Nick Adams mother, Catherine Adamshock. The family laundry is on the line in the background. Sweetpea, a dog that Elvis gave his mother as a gift in one of the anecdote provided by Nick Adams in the book, is in Gladys Presley's lap.
"Finding the manuscript changed my life," Adams said. "I've learned about dad in Hollywood. He was a writer. I love that."
"It's brought light to a sometimes dark legacy," Adams said. "This is my father's best side. I love the innocence of it. Elvis was a gentleman. He had manners. He was down to earth and humble. As soon as I read the manuscript I new I had to share it."
Adams will be signing and discussing "The Rebel and the King" at Diesel Bookstore, Malibu, 23410 Civic Center Way, on Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. Adams, who worked at the original Malibu Books and Company in the 1990s, and later at Tops Gallery, says the Diesel event is like a homecoming for her.
"How cool for me to come full circle to the same little shopping center where I worked," Adams said, adding that no matter how far she travels, Malibu always draws her home.
More information on the book is available at therebelandtheking.com