'Live a Little, Love a Little' actress to relive some tender moments with the King

A little more conversation on the spring of 1968

In the 1968 movie "Live a Little, Love a Little," actress Celeste Yarnall's poolside go-go dancing inspires Elvis to introduce the song "A Little Less Conversation."

Celeste Yarnall's go-go dancing in 'Live a Little, Love a Little' served as an excuse for Elvis to sing 'A Little Less Conversation.'

Celeste Yarnall's go-go dancing in "Live a Little, Love a Little" served as an excuse for Elvis to sing "A Little Less Conversation."

"Who knows what would have been if we hadn't both been married...," mused Yarnall, remembering the two weeks she spent on the set with Elvis.

Apparently, Yarnall's feet as well as her memories never quite recovered from the workout. While speaking on the telephone from her home in West Lake Village in Southern California, the actress and former model -- a self-described "multi-tasker" -- said she was soaking her lower extremities in "a detox footbath."

"Detoxification" is a word Yarnall uses frequently, along with such terms as "holistic," "naturepathic," "astro-medicine," "bio-identical human hormone protocol" and, yes, "Elvis."

Yarnall is one of several Elvis-connected celebrities who will be in town Wednesday and Thursday for the popular fan-oriented Elvis Expo and Elvis Insiders Conference in the convention center downtown.

Fans will want to ask Yarnall about her kissing scene with Elvis. Some may be interested in her appearance as Yeoman Martha Landon in the 1967 "Star Trek" episode, "The Apple." A few may even be keen on her work opposite onetime sub-Elvis teen idol John Ashley in "Beast of Blood" (1971), the final film in the cult "Blood Island" trilogy of Filipino horror movies. (The "Blood Island" films provided a minor footnote in local pre-cable television history when WREG-TV Channel 3 inadvertently aired them uncut in the mid-1970s, with nudity and gore intact, providing memories for some viewers -- like yours truly -- that have lasted to this day.)

Yarnall said she'll be happy to discuss whatever interests the fans, but what most interests her is her longtime devotion to "clinical nutrition for dogs and cats."

"I do life coaching for dogs and cats and their owners," said Yarnall, 64, whose books on "Natural Cat Care" and "Natural Dog Care" are available at her Web site, celestialpets.com. "I've got a lot to share with my vast knowledge of complementary and alternative health care for people and pets."

Yarnall said Elvis also was interested in "alternative" ideas.

"I've always been a big reader, so we had lots of esoteric and spiritual books to talk about," she said. "He was interested in everything, from UFOs to Erich von Däniken to religion... He was an interested person -- someone who was interested in you, rather than just trying to be interesting for you."

He also was "a very sexy man, very charismatic, lots of fun, a bit of a prankster, and with that wonderful Southern manner and that boyish charm."

Set among the swinging beaches and bachelor pads of Southern California, "Live a Little, Love a Little" casts Elvis as dune buggy-driving Greg Nolan, a photographer for Classic Cat girlie magazine. A relatively risque attempt to elevate the Elvis musical to a more mature level, the movie was based on the novel "Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips" by Daniel Greenburg. Yarnall said the book's title came to mind during the many retakes of her kissing scene with the King. "I was never quite sure how many times Elvis flubbed his lines just to keep the scene going."

Yarnall -- who has been to Elvis Week events several times before, and also is a frequent guest at "Star Trek" conventions and similar gatherings -- said she and Elvis' other female co-stars have a "little sorority reunion" whenever they see each other. (Others scheduled to be at the Elvis Expo and Insiders Conference include Francine York of "Tickle Me," Chris Noel of "Girl Happy" and Darlene Tompkins of "Blue Hawaii.")

But although Yarnall wasn't the lead actress in her Elvis movie (Michele Carey was the King's chief love interest), her role took on new significance in 2002, when a version of "A Little Less Conversation" remixed by the Dutch musician Junkie XL became a No. 1 hit in more than 20 countries, and helped propel the anthology ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits to the top of the U.S. album chart.

Suddenly, Yarnall's poolside encounter with Presley was a key moment in the Elvis filmography. (The original 1968 release of Elvis' recording of the Mac Davis-Billy Strange composition had stalled at No. 69 on the Billboard top 100 pop singles chart.)

"I thought, 'They'll use the clip of Elvis and me in the video, and it'll put me on the map again,'" Yarnall said. To her despair, however, the video instead utilized new footage of of hip-hop dancers.

Yarnall can console herself with the knowledge that a vintage publicity pose showcasing the actress's long blonde hair, sexy pout and statuesque physique was chosen to adorn the McFarland & Company book, "Fantasy Femmes of '60s Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies." And, of course, she still has her recollections of the person she calls the "amazing" Elvis.

"Live a Little, Love a Little" was shot in the early spring of 1968. "At this time, Martin Luther King's funeral was being televised, and Elvis was very broken up," Yarnall said. "We watched the funeral in his dressing room and he sang 'Amazing Grace,' a capella, and he was crying and I was comforting him.

"He felt very strongly that he would have liked to have attended. He was very broken up that (the assassination) had occurred in Memphis, of all places -- the city that he loved more than any other place on the planet."

The Elvis Expo -- billed as "the ultimate Elvis trade show, with more than 75 booths and 35,000 square feet of Elvis" -- runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Admission is $15 per day.

The Insiders Conference runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Cannon Center. A two-day ticket is $85. For more information, a complete lineup of guests or to order tickets, visit elvisweek.com or call Ticketmaster at (901) 525-1515.

© 2008 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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