|MEMORIES OF ELVIS
Decorated veteran, one-time “Doorman to the Stars’ Earl Watson shares his bodyguard stories during King’s Diner visit
By Jon Earnest [Sanger Herald]
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One of Elvis Presley’s early bodyguards regaled customers with stories of his
experiences with the rock-n-roll legend during an appearance at The King’s Diner
on Friday evening.
Earl “The Pearl” Watson, 88, signed and sold copies of his book “Earl: The
Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel’s Doorman to the Stars” while chatting and
posing for photos with diners during a near-two hour stop at the central Sanger
restaurant. Watson is renowned in his own right, rubbing elbows with numerous
movie stars, entertainers and athletes during his 16-year stint as doorman at the
landmark hotel which closed in the early 1970’s. He’s also a decorated World War II
veteran who participated in the D-Day Invasion at Normandy and the Battle of the
Earl, sharing a table with his wife of 67 years, Melba, shook hands and autographed
copies of his 1999 book, which details his life and his experiences with a vast array
of stars from 1946 to 1962 at the hotel (now a senior housing complex). And the
popular topic with the crowd, of course, was his experience with the late “King of
Rock and Roll” in Elvis' early years of stardom.
“I saved his life once,” Watson recounted with a laugh in sharing a story of a public
outing in Los Angeles. His longtime friendship and acquaintance with Col. Tom
Parker, dating back to Parker’s days representing country singer Eddy Arnold, set
the stage for the job guarding Presley during concert appearances in the area in
1956 and ‘57.
Earl Watson pictured here at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, with Elvis who
was filming his hit 1960movie “GI Blues”. Photos property of Earl Watson
Earl also shared about meeting Elvis' parents, Vernon and Gladys, and also shared about Elvis' dynamic personality and stage presence with his fans. He
said one of his most cherished possessions is an autographed colour photograph of elvis decked in a distinctive green jacket. Parker told Watson that this
was the first colour photograph that Elvis had ever had done.
Elvis also specifically called Watson to have him visit on set at Paramount Studios in
Hollywood while he was filming the movie “GI Blues” in 1960. Watson said he also
had the privilege of attending Elvis' last show in Las Vegas before the Kings death in
Watson’s story as the longtime doorman at the Knickerbocker is a fascinating one,
featuring acquaintances with stars in the industry including Bob Hope, John
Wayne, Gene Autry and Ronald Reagan, who Watson said all had a hand in his
being promoted to the doorman at the hotel.
His book also details many friendships he made of athletes, the most notable being
baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio.
King’s Diner co-owner Vance Enriquez also entertained Watson and the customers
by singing along to a pair of Elvis' popular hits, “Return to Sender” and “It’s Now
or Never.” Co-owner Virginia Enriquez shared of the restaurant’s excitement having
Watson on hand to share his Presley stories.
Virginia and Vance Enriquez said they hope to have Watson return to the diner for a
Earl Watson as he is now, wearing his Elvis Trucker cap as he signs copies of
his book for Elvis fans at the Kings Diner in Sanger, Fresno County, California,
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Earl 'The pearl' Watson in his role as Doorman at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel