In the glitzy world of Hollywood, where legends are made, a young Kurt Russell found himself in the spotlight, sharing the screen with none other than the iconic Elvis Presley. It was a pivotal moment in the budding actor’s life, as he made his film debut at just 11 years old in the 1963 movie, It Happened At The World’s Fair, starring alongside The King himself.
In this heartwarming tale, the storyline took a playful turn as Elvis’ character sought the attention of a nurse he admired. To achieve his goal, he enlisted the help of young Kurt’s character, asking him to deliver a gentle kick to his shins. The young actor obliged, little realizing the unique bond that would form between him and the music legend during the filming process.
Over the course of shooting, Kurt had to kick Elvis’ shins around 15 times for the scenes. Concerned for the music icon’s comfort, the production team provided him with a protective pad. Yet, it was evident that Elvis had placed his trust in the talented young actor. On one occasion, Kurt got a bit too close to the edge of the pad, and Elvis, with utmost trust, reminded him to “stay on the pad.” This gesture left a lasting impression on Kurt, who later fondly recalled the encounter with GQ, praising Elvis as “an incredibly nice guy” and expressing his gratitude for the trust bestowed upon him.
Beyond the on-screen interactions, the two forged a genuine friendship behind the scenes. During breaks, they played catch and engaged in lively conversations about their shared passion for baseball. Elvis was not only captivated by Kurt’s talent but also took an interest in his father, Bing Russell, an accomplished film actor who had previously appeared in The Magnificent Seven.
In an unexpected twist, Elvis expressed admiration for Bing’s unique style of wearing his hat. The King approached Kurt’s father with a sincere request, asking if he could adopt the same hat-wearing manner. This simple yet endearing exchange showcased the down-to-earth nature of the legendary entertainer.
Kurt’s connection with Elvis did not end there. Years later, in 1979, Kurt portrayed Elvis Presley himself in a TV biopic. But what made this project even more special was the fact that Bing Russell, Kurt’s father, was cast as Elvis’ on-screen father, Vernon Presley. The circle of respect and camaraderie that began on the set of It Happened At The World’s Fair came full circle as the Russells contributed to immortalizing Elvis’ life story on screen.
As Kurt Russell looks back on these cherished memories, he recalls attending two of Elvis’ concerts in Las Vegas. The first show witnessed The King in peak form, while the second show revealed the toll of fame and the pressures of stardom, with Elvis carrying excess weight. Despite the stark difference, Kurt steadfastly defended the music legend, a testament to the enduring admiration and respect he held for his friend.
The story of Kurt Russell’s encounter with Elvis Presley remains an enchanting chapter in Hollywood’s history—a heartwarming tale of trust, friendship, and genuine admiration between two stars, both on and off the silver screen.