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Elvis, My Brownie, And Me

 

By Ger Rijff
 
 

f1Betty Spiegelman was 13 back in 1955, when she formed The El’s Angels Fanclub. At first, the members (all girls between the ages of 12 and 16) lived in and around Dallas, Texas. And they all adored Elvis with a passion. Whenever they could, the Angels would go out and see Elvis perform in the Dallas area. But it wasn’t uncommon for them to visit out of state when Elvis happened to be in town. Most Angels owned Kodak Brownie cameras, like so many other teen-agers at the time. Betty got a Brownie for her 13th birthday and for many years used it to photograph her hero.
She would trade copies of her Elvis candids with other fans spread all over the US. By 1960 The El’s Angels had over 300 registered members. Many of them had found Betty’s club address in the various Teen publications such as Dig and Teen Parade. When Elvis returned from the Army in 1960 and stopped giving concerts, interest in Elvis for many an Angel started to wain. In 1963 Betty disbanded her club, got married in ’65 and all her hundreds of candids, collected thru the years, moved to a corner in the basement of her house. In ’69, Betty and her husband and daughter moved away from Dallas to ….? No one knows! Some of her old friends suspect the Spiegelmans emigrated to New Zealand … for reasons unknown …?

About 5 years ago, at a garage sale, a shoebox was found filled with Elvis candids and some magazine clippings, dating back to the 1950′s and early 60′s. The box was marked with the initials “B.S.”.
What has happened to those hundreds of candids Betty once had? Lost for good? Are the ones found in the shoebox, the only ones that have survived? Time will tell …

 
 
 
 

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Charley #

    Fantastic story with a nice cliffhanger. Where are rest of those pretty cool shots…?

    Fine job guys!

    Charley

    May 19, 2013
  2. Jim #

    Great article guys. How many more pictures have you got?
    Jim.

    May 19, 2013
  3. I haven’t got the originals. A friend in the U.S. scanned those used today.
    I’ll check with him to see if any others are worthwhile getting for a possible
    follow up story on Betty Spiegelman and her El’s Angels.
    Would be kool if we could track down Betty, and some of the Angels…I’m
    sure they will have some stories to tell… If they are still walking this planet,
    that is?!

    May 19, 2013
  4. Jeroennl #

    Awesome story, awesome pics! Wow! Great Ger, thanks so much!

    May 20, 2013
  5. Erik Straver #

    Great shot of Betty with the brownie round her neck too. You can see a nice interior too.
    Reminds me of the books of Charles Phoenix who collected color kodachrome slides where you can see 50s america in all its glory.

    May 20, 2013
  6. Tony Stuchbury #

    One word: SUPERB !

    May 22, 2013
  7. Stanley #

    Those two photos of Elvis in the cool shades and sailor cap were taken in Florida in July 1961, while he was filming “Follow That Dream.” They were taken by Ron Elliot, who would later play lead guitar in the Beau Brummels. The ladies are his mom and grandma! They are in an Elvis book I got called Summer of ’61.

    November 22, 2013
  8. This is just fantastic… as if this site couldn’t pay out any more gold! – the whole story is charming and the box of photos is the sort of dream find any Elvis fan, well, would dream of… marvellous and another reason this site is such a gem.

    August 6, 2014
  9. Josep #

    This is probably the loveliest topic ever on Echoes. I just dig Betty’s story, and all the beautiful candids accompanying it.

    By the way, I know I’m not discovering any new ground, but I think it’s worth mentioning that the lady we see with Elvis on second row, middle pic, is rock and roll singer Alis Lesley, who had a single on the Era label in 1957, and toured Australia with Little Richard and Eddie Cochran, also in 1957.

    Thanks, guys. I never get tired of reading this topic.

    June 19, 2015
  10. Nige Grant #

    Great story, great photos.

    April 16, 2016
  11. We need a ‘Find Betty’ Campaign………..

    April 16, 2016
  12. Colin Bowling #

    Fantastic story, we can only hope more of the photos will turn up.

    April 23, 2016

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