Kathy's Official Fanpage on
by June Moore
personally, however, she does read them all.
My Father's name was Bresee Gibbons Westmoreland, "Breezy" to his friends, grew up in a family of great singers.
Daddy not only appeared in all of the old MGM musicals in the forties, such as "Student Prince" with Mario Lanza, but ALL of them in those days. My earliest memories are of laughing, singing, and staring, as a makeup artist glued goatees and moustaches on
Daddy also took me to his operas, Faust, and Tosca, in which he was starring with Jerome Hines, Robert Merrill, both with the Metropolitan Opera, and Ann Jeffries (you may remember her in the TV series "Topper").
One of my favorite recollections is making an all day "train" trip up to San Francisco with an entire "TROUPE" of MINSTRELS... Daddy's friends with the LA Civic Light Opera, I think they were part of a Musical that was being produced up there. What fun that was!
Even the comic with the show entertained me privately with his coin tricks, and the singers laughing, singing all the way--- full of stories as the train's smoke blew back over the golden California hills is a vivid memory.
Mom was a professional dancer. A ballerina, yet
entertainer who was the "Official Sweetheart of Three Army Bases in
Texas". She sang songs to us from before we were born, in the womb! We all
came out knowing the words to hundreds of songs, and she still does that
to this day!
My Mother and Father actually met on a USO show in
Eastland, Texas. She gave up her "movie" career when she married Daddy,
but continued to teach
MOM gave us dance instruction, and my dad gave us voice
lessons(he also taught me to play golf, and I'm an avid golfer to
What Kathy had to say about her so-called "quote" in the Elvis "That's All Right" collector's edition TV Guides released this month.
I have no idea where this came from. TV GUIDE never talked to me,
and although they spelled my name correctly, I would certainly have come up with a better "quote" than that. ----- Remember, everyone. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER believe EVERYTHING you read in black and white.
Lots of readers have been asking about her mother Connie. Here's her reply.
Thank all of you for asking about my mother, Connie.
She's doing better in many ways,
A lot of people wanted to know about Kathy's life as a teenager. Here's her answer:
When Breezy's Melody Marts (daddy's record shops) opened, the singers that recorded on those old 78's were Sinatra, Vic Damone, etc. and then.....something happened that changed our lives forever!
A man named Elvis Presley hit the industry and revolutionized the record business.
Then 45's entered "stage-right", along with ROCK 'N ROLL and our shops were filled with my friends from school, where I worked for a quarter an hour, but loved visiting with my friends, and listened to records constantly!
This boy Elvis was good for our family business. Yes sir!
It was here in Abilene, that I played drums in the school orchestra and marching band (how funny!) and studied piano.
My senior year of high school, as all in our family really wanted careers in music, Daddy and Mommy decided we should move back to California, as it offered many more opportunities for us all, and besides...we all just missed and longed for the Pacific Ocean! It was just always "HOME" to me. I loved my friends in Texas, but the weather was horrifying (right in central-west Texas--the DUST BOWL--Tornado Alley) and violent weather and I just DON'T MIX.
I was sixteen in 1962 when we moved back here to California. I met Steve Martin, on my first day of school and we eventually teamed up for a comedy act.
After graduation Daddy arranged an audition with a Mr. Jay Rubinhoff, the conductor of the Hollywood Bowl at the time, and his advice was: "She has a lovely, wonderful voice (I had studied now seriously since age 12--one day in church I sounded like a little girl, then the next Sunday I opened my mouth to sing and out came a WOMAN'S voice--A MOST SHOCKING EXPERIENCE I SHALL NEVER FORGET!).... BUT....said Mr. Rubinoff, there is NO place for a soprano these days--this boy Elvis Presley and rock and roll have changed everything. My advice is to do something else. You'll never WORK as a soprano."
I actually spent a few days "resenting" this Elvis Presley for changing everything. "If he hadn't come along, I might have had a chance at a wonderful career! Hmmmmm.....
My Dad reassured me that we should just forge ahead, hold steadfast to our dreams, and if I wanted it badly enough, it would be up to me. He would help me any way he could, take me as far as he could, then some day in some way, some opening would come up. He just advised me to be prepared for another source in which to earn a living, but left it up to me. I decided I wanted to keep trying, so he then arranged for an audition with a Mr. Roger Wagner, and his Master Chorale (oratorios, cantatas at UCLA and performances with the LosAngeles symphony Orchestra).
Hi Kathy, Is it true you sang at the Metropolitan
Opera at 18?
I grew up singing oratorios, (from which comes the descant style singing--that of a soprano singing soaring refrains over and above a chorus--called "obbligato work") also I loved this music of Brahms' B Minor Mass, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, etc. It was here I met Mr. William Felber, who became my agent. He arranged for an audition for me with the Metropolitan Opera National Company. I was one of two women who won those auditions in Los Angeles!
At age 18! This meant I had to leave my musical comedy work in the "Theater in the Round," and leave Steve's and my comedy act at the Birdcage Theater (Knott's Berry Farm) for one year on the road. However,The Birdcage was wonderful to us, as we could come and go as we pursued our careers, and know we always had a job waiting to come home to.
I returned after a year to the Birdcage and its old fashioned melodramas, where Steve and I did our act during what's called an "olio"...like in vaudeville, in between our playing either the hero/heroine or the comic parts. All of us in that theater knew everyone's part, and rotated daily. One day a week the girls had to run the box-office, selling tickets then run the spotlight, after seating customers, and the boys (Steve) had to become "barkers"--selling or attempting to grab customers, lure them inside by screaming "It's showtime at the Birdcage Theater! Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen"....too funny. Steve and I also performed our act in local "coffee houses" --
moonlighting, if you will.
While Kathy's busy cleaning up some of the devastation left by the recent fires in Southern California heres a few of my personal favorite answers givin during one of her many interviews with Suite 101.
One August afternoon in 1970 as I had been staring out the back at my horses, wondering what to do with my life to make it simpler...Ha haaaaaa! Simpler? .....A Mr. Hugh Jarrett, one of the original Jordanaires called.
Elvis needed a high voice singer in Las Vegas for just two weeks. I had been recommended by Jackie Allen, with whom I had worked many times, as second chair to her---SHE WAS THE GREATEST HIGH VOICE SINGER EVER--had kind of taken me under her wing, taught me to "believe" in myself, and that I could do that HIGH VOICE work, even though my voice ended where hers just BEGAN!---had recommended me to him, and he had asked a few others, thus encouraging Elvis to say, "I guess I had better call THIS GIRL".
My reaction was ( to myself).."Elvis Presley?"!!!!! What COULD HE DO NOW?!!!!" I couldn't even imagine...then it hit me...."WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY WANT WITH A SOPRANO"?!!!!! How could he incorporate my voice into anything he might do? I was dumbstruck.
I needed desperately to continue building my studio work, and if one was out of town for a day, and missed a call, there were hundreds of singers just chomping at the bit to take your place...to prove they were better than you! I couldn't afford to take that chance,... I met with Hugh, spoke on the phone with that wonderful sweet Mr. Tom Diskin, and he assured me it would be only two weeks, that the money was "triple-scale" pay for what I was doing, and that I needed to be there immediately.
I called my friends, and asked everyone NOT to tell anyone what I was doing. I WAS EMBARRASSED! My musical snobbery got the best of me, but .....I WAS ONE TO WANT TO INVESTIGATE A NEW STYLE OF MUSIC, EXPERIENCE A NEW, or FOREIGN TERRITORY, TASTE NEW DISHES from DIFFERENT CULTURES, and just always thanked God he didn't make just roses, ...or the world would be so boring, AND......so..... I just told everyone I would be out of town for a couple of weeks, then schedule me back into the "grind".
I caught a plane immediately to Vegas, arrived to my amazement in a hotel lobby with so many people standing in line to get tickets to see Elvis' show that it took me over two hours to even get to a phone to call a FELTON JARVIS (what a name, thought I), to let him know I had arrived.
The Colonel came down to greet me, plopped a plastic "straw" hat on my head, welcomed me to the carnival, and took me to his offices upstairs to meet Felton.
The Colonel and I hit it off right away, as he absolutely "cracked me up one side, and down the other, as he said for absolutely NO REASON. "Has the hay for the horses come in yet?" I couldn't stop laughing, yet no one else in the room was amused in the slightest...hmmmm. They appeared afraid of him....hmmm.
Then Felton handed me a stack above my head to carry of Elvis' albums to listen to, and walked me to my room with a record player, where I was told to listen... and listen....and listen...for one day....I HAD ONE DAY TO LEARN 500 songs ---any one of which Elvis might do!
I finally quit after the third album, tried to get something to eat--what a joke--could not get in an elevator due to the crowds to even go downstairs to eat! Had to order Room Service, of course,...little did I know that this would be my routine for the next SEVEN YEARS!
After dinner which I had no time to finish by the time it arrived, Felton picked me up and took me down a service elevator to go and watch the evening shows, watch from the sound booth, and LISTEN---learn the show. AHA! I'd have a chance to LISTEN. ( I recalled Hugh and Jackie and Tom saying the only pre-requisite for the job was that I could "ad-lib"....that is Make up something as we went along, Jackie insisting that I could, and I, being the FOOL I AM, answered "YES, of course"....AHA!
Describe your first meeting and what our hunka, hunka, burnin love looked like that day.
Felton Jarvis and I were backstage in the hall, just before that first show, when to my left a man stepped out of the service elevator in carmel colored pants, shirt, a black leather jacket, jet-black dyed hair, and sun glasses on, which kept me from seeing that he actually had eyes at all. Our outfits "matched" ... I also had on carmel, and Felton jumped up, saying, "Kathy, this is Elvis ... meet Kathy Westmoreland. She's your new soprano starting tomorrow night".
He smiled--(HE HAD TEETH)...if no eyes---we shook hands, and he said warmly, "Very nice to meet you, Kathy. Hope you enjoy the show tonight."
I being just 5-feet-one and a half inches tall found myself straining my neck to meet this young man, who looked like a "BIKER" just off his Harley ride out in the desert somewhere, as he stood at least six-feet-tall.
We kind of laughed at our "height difference", then I went up to the sound booth with Felton, as Elvis turned to go to his dressing room. READY...BE IN PHYSICAL SHAPE TO SING...BE READY FOR ANYTHING!
Describe what it was like being on stage with him for the first time.
I took my place in the center of the balcony...waiting... waiting...the house lights went down,...and out he came in a white jump suit, a GREEK GOD....the most handsome, charismatic, performer I had ever seen--WHAT A TRANSFORMATION had taken place in just a few minutes' time! He absolutely captivated the audience--strutting like a peacock, yet so graceful--like a cat---just took command of the entire audience immediately. I have yet to witness any other entertainer with so great a gift. And THEN.....then.....this young man called Elvis ...........................sang....yes sang, as people rushed the stage, climbing over each other,....he sang, and sang, and sang, with a range and versatility like no other "Interpreter of Songs" has ever sung before.
I was so amazed that I forgot to "learn" my part for the first ten minutes or so. Very unprofessional, but I was shocked at this great talent that had never really "reached" me over the recordings. And, I was disturbed that no one was really "listening" to his voice or how he technically was singing. They just wanted to "see" him, to "touch" him...just wanted to "be" there. I quickly snapped out of it, however, and began to take notes on where the "high voice" was, and/or should be.
Itmay be difficult for Elvis fans to comprehend, but as a professional singer who had worked with hundreds of stars already, even though I knew at that moment he "outshone" all I had ever worked with, it was still just a JOB to me, a temporary job (backup singer's professional mentality) and I had work to do.
After the first show, I attempted unsuccessfully to grab a bite to eat AGAIN, and just stayed in my room listening to records, following the lyric sheets stack. NO MUSIC! Just WORDS. I did NOT like that! How would I have these 500 songs learned word for word by tomorrow? Impossible! Will have to just "wing it, make it up as I go along"...I longed for a chart filled with musical black notes on paper, and lyrics under the notes to learn "perfectly".
Then, the second show....and just as I thought I had some idea of an outline of what he was doing---he totally changed every number in the show except three: the opening number, the middle number, and his closing number.
WHEW! It was then I knew I just had one job to do, and one job only...BE ALERT...BE READY...BE IN PHYSICAL SHAPE TO SING...BE READY FOR ANYTHING! Nothing on earth could have prepared me for the days that followed. This man,...my new temporary employer,... Elvis,..... was to change my entire life........for-EVER!
The three questions above were previously published on Suite 101.com on June 1, 2001.
Didn't he start taking drugs in the army before he was even sick with anything? That makes it kind of hard to believe that he died of cancer. Some of the drugs they said he was taking will also cause you to bloat if you take a lot of it, but I hope you are telling us the truth, because we love him and always will. I am 32-years-old.
I have a 6-year-old that loves his music and his
movies. I think you have a wonderful voice and are a great talent, and
very lucky to have had the chance to do something that younger people will
never have a chance to do. Be present at the best concert in the world, an
He did abuse his prescriptions, as has been reported, but he had so many serious health problems that those medications were necessary for extending his life. Keep in mind that in those days there were no Betty Ford Clinics, and NONE OF US had any idea that prescription meds could be so dangerous, either.
Hard to believe, and we are tempted to put everything into the world of today's concepts. The thing that has confused so many is that he didn't reveal he was born with a genetic heart condition, as he didn't want the whole world to know he was on the same schedule for dying as his mom, her entire family, etc. His heart was twice the size on one side as it was on the other, he was just born a dying man.
I know it seems strange to the world that a man's ex-wife wouldn't know what diseases he suffered from, but that is just the way it was. All that those who report he died of a drug overdose know is what they heard second-hand from men who worked with Elvis, who had the impression that it was drugs and drugs alone, not knowing that he suffered from serious illnesses.
I have listed those before on previous pages. And... you
are correct in that the first time Elvis ever took and amphetamine it was
handed to him by the U.S. military, to stay awake in the cold snow while
on maneuvers in Germany.
I admit my envy, as I would underline and pace the floor memorizing anything I needed to. He would just read a page of a book, ONCE, then literally quote that page back "word for word". (It was kind of a very cute little "dig" he used to love to give me, while laughing at his extraordinary gift. I would PRETEND to be horribly jealous, laughingly, of course.)
This photographic memory certainly came in handy for him as he listened to a recording or music he wanted to perform! No pacing back and forth to memorize for him, nosireee! He listened ONCE, KNEW IT backwards and forwards instantly, then just played with different styles while deciding how he wanted to perform it! This is the "DREAM GIFT" for anyone in show business to be blessed with.
Kathy, With all the books written and interviews given by so-called "friends" of Elvis Presley, I am so proud of Charlie for NOT turning his back on his friend.
I understand that sometime Charlie and Elvis would put on disguises and travel to North Alabama to visit with Charlie's family for some well deserved R&R. Have you heard his?
Also, I think I remember hearing that Elvis was hospitalized in Birmingham at UAB (University Hospital) to receive some sort of treatment (stomach or colon?) about 1975 or so -- under an assumed name and in disguise. Can you verify this? I understand the "bloating" issue. My brother, sister and I saw Elvis in Huntsville in June, 1975 (looking wonderful); in Tuscaloosa August, 1976 (bloated); and the last time in Birmingham, December 1976 (looking great again).
I was thrilled to be at a concert where he played the piano and sang "Unchained Melody". Kathy, thank you for your time. We have seen you so many times on concert footage on TV, Videos and movies that we sometimes think we actually know you.
Best regards Janie
Thank you for your lovely letter. I don't recall anything re: Elvis having been hospitalized in Birmingham, nor did I hear anything about Charlie and Elvis disguising themselves to travel to Alabama. HOWEVER, this would certainly "fit" as a strong possibility.
Elvis DID at times disguise himself when he wanted to feel "freer" to move around, enjoy himself. He wasn't as restricted as many have led everyone to believe.
I appreciate so much your comment re: the bloating issue. Sandi Pichon has a book ready to go to print that will document photos proving what you just reported. THE BLOAT would come and go, from day to day! Funny how people just assumed he was fat...without, of course, knowing the facts.
Someone like you who saw a difference in just a day or so is critical to sharing the truth with others.
Thank you so much, Kat
Thank you VERY MUCH for this GREAT QUESTION! Although the "appearance of drug misuse" existed, hardly anyone but those who could be sworn to secrecy by Elvis, knew ANYTHING at all about the serious illnesses he suffered from. It's just standard practice in Show Business NOT to let it be known you have any illnesses that are serious, as it would affect not only your ability to book concerts, but would definitely disturb audiences and those who work with you. Elvis said "If any of this gets out...how would any audience be able to enjoy themselves? All they'd be thinking is...how long has he got. They wouldn't enjoy anything while being obsessed with how sick I am. How would you feel knowing you're singing onstage with someone who's got cancer?" He is understandably partly responsible for not wanting anyone who might leak it out to know any of the details. He knew PRECISELY how much time he had, and did not want to stop until the day he died. Hope that gives you a bit of understanding.
Apparently I had "mono" during the 70s and didn't KNOW IT, as I was so exhausted for a long time there, and my doctor at the time thought I had mono, yet it didn't show up in the blood tests in those years.
Lord only knows how many millions of people all over the world suffered aching joints, a fever that would not go away, only to be told they had nothing wrong with them? I really believe there's a strong possibility Elvis had it also... After all those women he kissed in the audience, he was SERIOUSLY AT RISK. (Nancy, you could have been one of those women....perhaps he caught it from you? He he heee)
Seems I am in "good company", as I understand that the list of those affected in the past are Cher, Marie Osmond, Lisa Marie Presley, and on and on the list goes.
So..if you are "beyond exhausted" and have possibly been mis-diagnosed with fibromyalgia,MS, or any other related disorders, INSIST on a blood test for EPSTEIN-BARR. IT HAS JUST RECENTLY BEEN "OFFICIALLY" RECOGNIZED and advice on keeping your immune system strongly built up will assist you in getting through your bouts.
Thank you, Nancy for this question, as I feel it extremely important to get the word out about this widespread illness that millions are suffering from without explanation.
And yes...you will just have to check my website to find
out who I've been kissing lately, LOL.
He truly is one of the most remarkable people of the twentieth century.
I would just like to know one thing, through all this pain and suffering was he at least happy sometimes, was there something that gave him as much joy as he gave to the fans?
I feel so bad for him, I never got to see him in concert because I was only four when he died, but I just need to know that something brought him great joy. He has been my hero all my life and will continue to be until the day I leave this world for the big Elvis concert in the sky!!! Thanks for letting us young fans see a different side of him. It helps us feel like we knew him once too.
Take good care and hope to see you in
Is there any place I can purchase your book about you and Elvis? I've tried used book stores and have had no luck at all. Any suggestions?
Good question, and how 'aware' your father must be. No, General William Westmoreland is NOT my father, but we are related! This could be reversed, I need to double-check with some of my relatives, I guess. General Westmoreland's grandfather and my father's father (or grandfather...this is what I am not sure of) WERE BROTHERS. So...according to my family's calculations, We are fourth cousins or something. He has a daughter named Kathy (Kathryn, I believe, and I am Kathleen), so this has added to much confusion. Thanks for the question. I've often been asked this, and now perhaps it's a tiny bit more clear. I'll try and find out the accurate details. And, almost forgot. I do know that his family and my dad's all were from the same area of the country originally. North and South Carolina, upon first migrating to the United States years ago.
Is it true that Elvis was dying
of bone cancer? And when did Charlie Hodge & Dr. Nick tell you about
it - 1976 or 1977? Is it true Elvis had maybe 3 heart attacks before the
When cancer spreads to the glands, it also causes bloating. Elvis got bloated for more than one reason. It was NOT FAT! IT was WATER RETENTION from the congestive heart disease, the spread of the cancer to the glands, and the twisted, spastic colon. I could just touch his hands, and my touch left an indentation. He would just look at them, stare and say..."look, swollen, bloated again....water." It hurt him greatly that people thought he was 'just fat' as he said. One day he would appear bloated(which is what all the news shows--the tabloids in particular) and the VERY NEXT DAY, he would appear his normal, svelte thin self(which the media NEVER DOCUMENTED).
This is going to be shown to be true in a new book that is coming out by a fan, a dear friend, Sandi Pichon, who followed our tours and who took photos from day to day.
Guess History is just stuck with this Falsehood about an important historical figure, too, sadly. And about the HEART ATTACKS...Yes, he had at least THREE just prior to his death. One occurred while I was taking care of him in Baltimore, Maryland. He just refused to go to a hospital, to lie there and 'wait to die'...said," I want to die on stage"......
Elvis also suffered from pernicious anemia (his body could not metabolize B complex vitamins), diabetes, GLAUCOMA--extremely painful vascular headaches from this, and seizures (inflammation of the brain from all of the illnesses...which, if you read about seizure disorders can make a person APPEAR TO BE DRUNK OR DRUGGED. CHECK OUT 'EPILEPTIC SEIZURES' OR SEIZURE DISORDERS. THEY MAKE ONE APPEAR TO BE DRUGGED OR DRUNK on many occasions.
Also, Elvis and his dad were sufferers of 'sleepwalking'...when Elvis was a child, he found himself outside in his underwear. He was so embarrassed. We always had someone guarding the door of our room so he would not just walk out in his pajamas! I caught him many times doing this. He would bump into things and injure himself on occasion. THIS WAS A CLINICAL SLEEP DISORDER.....thus the sleeping pills to help here, and remember, no one knew THEN what we know NOW...about how dangerous prescription drugs (he only took five -6 different ones) Are.... There were NO BETTY FORD CLINICS THEN. We all trusted doctors implicitly in those days.
Elvis HATED ILLEGAL DRUGS, and really wanted to be a doctor. He had TOTAL trust in them. In defense of the physicians who treated Elvis, THEY DID NOT KNOW OF THE DANGERS IN THOSE DAYS EITHER!
Thanks for the fantastic question. Sure wish the entire
world really wanted to know the TRUTH and not just scandalous trash about
anyone. It still grieves me.
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