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JoAnna McKenzie's Story - Her Friendship with Elvis Presley

(photograph of JoAnna around the time she knew Elvis)

My name is JoAnna and I am blessed and thankful to be able to call Elvis my friend. I was introduced to him by Starla and Wanda June Hill. I am forever grateful to them. I lost touch with them for a long time, and found them recently through this wonderful website. I really missed them, they are wonderful, generous, loving people.

Elvis is very special to me. My memories are treasured, as are the cards, letters, poems and gifts he gave me. He was a generous, loving man. Always kind and so very funny. I miss him so much, every day, but I know he is always with me.

Wanda, I so vividly remember those great days in your old home. We had so much fun. Laughing, sharing stories, watching movies & eating vanilla ice cream with some kind a cherry topping (yum yum). The laughter stopped on August 16, 1977. Elvis tried to reach me that morning. He called my home phone and left a message and called my work and left a message. I was on the freeway, driving to work (no cell phones back then). I never got to talk to him again. I got a call at work and was told the news. I left worked. I remember driving, it was August in California, but it was raining. I was crying so hard, so between the rain and my tears, it was hard to drive. Some girls in another car rolled down their window and asked if I was ok, of course I wasn't. The news hadn't been released to the press yet. I drove to Wanda's house, but I don't remember how I got there. I was so sad for so long. After he went to heaven, I received a tape from him and also a card that his secretary found on his plane. He told me to be happy. That's how I've been trying to live my life, with happiness and silliness and laughter. Now, when I think of him, I remember his beautiful smile. His beautiful eyes. His tender, sweet soul. His laughter. I miss him.

We shared an incredibly close, tender, intimate friendship...I know it's hard to believe or understand, but I felt blessed just to have him in my life. I did not have dreams of marrying him or living with him. He was my friend. I know he loved me, he told me and showed me often, and I loved him dearly and still do. We had very intimate times and conversations. I believe that because he knew he could trust me, he could be intimate with me, and confide in me.

I first met him...

I was sitting around a kitchen table at my friend Pam's house. Across the table was her younger brother and his friend, Julie, they were 5 years younger than us. I was 18 years old. The day was April 1st, the next day was my 19th birthday. Julie kept staring at me until I finally said "What?" She asked me "If you could have anyone famous call you for your birthday, who would it be?" I said "Bob Hope". She sighed. Then she gave me hints about Memphis and Graceland. I said "Glen Campbell". She was in shock. She said something like "Never mind!" A little later she asked me if I would like Elvis Presley to call me for my birthday. I said something like "Of course I would!" She explained how she and her family knew him and he was her "Uncle Elvis" and she was his "Little Julie". The next morning, my phone rang. The caller said he was Elvis Presley. I started shaking. I knew in my heart it was him (that voice!) but my brain was saying, "NO WAY!" I asked him who he really was (after all, the day when Julie (Starla) told me all of this was April Fools Day). He said that he thought I was aware that he'd be calling me. Julie had told me things he liked to keep him interested, like football and karate. I was a cheerleader in high school and had 3 brothers, I knew about football. We talked for about an hour. Then when I got to work, he called me again. That was the beginning of our wonderful, beautiful friendship. Thank you Julie (Starla). After I had said Bob Hope and Glen Campbell, she could have easily said forget it. But I guess there was something she saw in me that she thought he would like. I am forever grateful to her and to Wanda and Jimmie for being wonderful friends and family to me.

* * *

JoAnna shares more on her friendship with Elvis in Wanda June Hill's book "We Remember Elvis."

read JoAnna's poem from Elvis / card Elvis sent her in August, 1977 / the gifts Elvis gave her



The book We Remember, Elvis by Wanda June Hill
(2nd Edition includes additional transcribed sections of the "Interview Tapes")
We Remember, Elvis - Book Reviews

This is a website created strictly as a tribute to Elvis Presley. Elvis, Elvis Presley, Graceland and TCB are all registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises. I make no claim to Elvis Presley Enterprises, Elvis Presley, his music, videos or voice.

All flash presentations, creative art and text is copyrighted by Maia Nartoomid (and in some instances with text and documents, Wanda June Hill) - all rights reserved.