Debra Paget

Love Me Tender, 1956

Real Name: Debralee Griffin
Born: August 19, 1933 in Denver, Colorado.
Husbands: David Sheets (1958 - 1958)
Budd Boetticher (1960 - 1961)
Louis Kung (1962 - 1971)

Debra with Elvis in Love Me Tender
Debra Paget was an established star of adventure films and historical epics, like The Ten Commandments, when she starred opposite Elvis in his debut film, Love Me Tender, in 1956. She was born Debralee Griffin, in Denver, Colorado, to a mother who was determined to see her children's names in lights. Debra's brother and two sisters all became actors. At the age of 15, Debra made her film debut in Cry of The City (1948). She worked steadily, mostly in supporting roles, for the next five years, until she and her mom decided Debra was ready for more glamorous adult roles, and began to pitch the idea to the movie execs. In 1954, she was cast in the starring role in Princess of the Nile, the first of many costume roles. While not exactly a critical success, it can't be a coincidence that this same year, Debra was topped only by Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable on Twentieth-Century-Fox's fan mail list! Two years later, Debra appeared in one of the all-time great epics (and her own personal favorite of her films), The Ten Commandments.

Elvis first met Debra while appearing on "The Milton Berle Show" on June 5, 1956. They both took part in a skit in which Debra is described to Elvis by Milton Berle as a sophisticated, refined Hollywood type ("not in your league; stick to Heartbreak Hotel and stay away from the Waldorf.") Debra Paget then comes out on stage, and of course, proceeds to scream & swoon over Elvis. (See the video clip, and lots of others, at Luis' Debra Paget website)

She began work on Elvis' first film, Love Me Tender, on August 23, playing the part of Cathy Reno, Elvis' wife in the film. The film opened in New York on November 15. For the first and last time, Elvis did not receive top billing. Both Debra and Richard Egan were billed ahead of Elvis. Debra retired from films in 1962 after marrying millionaire Louis Kung, but not before completing The Haunted Palace, with Vincent Price. Since the early '90s, Debra has appeared as a guest fairly often on a few religious programs, and even hosted her own, An Interlude with Debra Paget on TBN. Debra is currently living near Houston Texas. Here's hoping she's doing well!

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The Jailhouse Rock and
Love Me Tender soundtracks
are combined here

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with Vincent Price,
from The Haunted Palace

Elvis, Debra and a friend
on the set of Love Me Tender

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Debra Paget, For Example
A brief biography documentary on Debra available with Fandor on Amazon!

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