Elvis Presley entertained audiences with his vocals and high-energy dance moves. But he also found a second career as an actor as well. And occasionally, he got a little help from his family as well. In one of Presley’s early films, his male cousin filled in for his female co-star Anne Helm as a stunt double.
That film was 1962’s “Follow the Dream,” which cast Presley as Toby Kwimpel. According to the film’s synopsis: “Pop Kwimpel (Arthur O’Connell), son Toby (Elvis Presley) and their ragtag clan of adopted orphans wind up marooned on the side of the road in Florida, so they set up a makeshift home on the beach.”
In the film, Helm played Presley’s love interest. But during the film, the production needed a stunt double to film a vehicle stunt. So they cast Presley’s cousin Billy Smith in the role. Smith had been among Presley’s entourage the Memphis Mafia and was more than down to make his Hollywood debut. As they say in the entertainment business, the show must go on.
“I hung out with [Elvis] ever since I was a little bitty boy,” Smith said according to The Express. “When I first started to work for him was 1961, August. It was on ‘Follow That Dream’…my first movie to actually be in. Boy, it was quite something to be able to live that experience at that time.”
Director Gordon Douglas didn’t want to stop production to find a stunt double. So he approached Presley about using his cousin for the scene. He said, “He’s about the right size and I think we can make him enough from behind to look like Anne that he can double for [her].”
Elvis Presley’s Cousin Takes The Part
Elvis Presley‘s cousin took on the role. The scene featured a car trying to run down both Presley’s and Anne’s characters. For the scene, they had Smith wear both a hat and wig. He also wore breasts made from balloons to complete the look for a scene.
“[It was] in the scene [where] they’re walking down this road and this car comes from out of nowhere and it’s actually trying to hit them,” Smith said. “When they dressed me up they had this straw hat that Anne had on and they put her hair up in a ponytail, so they put a ponytail on me and the ponytail was hanging down the straw hat.”
It sounds like Smith had a good time in the role and laughs at playing the stunt double now. But he remembered that people on the set would joke with him.
“I slapped every sucker that reached to feel!” Smith said.
The film ended up being a success for Presley with Smith’s help.