Irene Tsu has worked with some of the most recognizable names in Hollywood – but none compare to the king.
The actress recently published a memoir entitled “A water-colored dream: the many lives of Irene Tsu”, which chronicles her rise in Hollywood, helping to break barriers for Asian Americans. In the book, she remembered working alongside several stars, including John Wayne, Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart, just to name a few.
The 75-year-old shared the screen with Elvis Presley in 1966’s “Paradise, Hawaiian Style”, an experience she will never forget.
“It was the first day on the set and I was so nervous,” Tsu told Fox News. “Everyone was having lunch and I really didn’t feel like eating because I was so nervous. So I decided to take a nap and, if it was necessary on the set, they would call me. I went to my trailer and the air conditioner was not working. I was just hysterical – really hysterical. I thought, ‘Oh no, this is not happening’. You could only imagine how hot it was. And there was no one around, because everyone was having lunch.
Frank Sinatra’s ex-girlfriend, IRENE TSU, remembers his breakup, despite the age difference: ‘YOU WERE JUST CAPTIVATED’
American singer and actress Elvis Presley surrounded by Linda Wong, Julie Parrish, Suzanna Leigh, Marianna Hill, Donna Butterworth (little girl) and Irene Tsu, on the set of ‘Paradise, Hawaiian Style’, directed by Canadian Michael D. Moore. (Photo from Sunset Boulevard / Corbis via Getty Images)
“I started walking around and suddenly I found this big cabin,” continued Tsu. “I thought, ‘There must be an air conditioner there.’ Suddenly, a hand stopped me. I apologize immediately, without even looking up. And they said to me, ‘It’s Elvis’ dressing room’. You cannot just enter. I will have to ask if you have permission.
At that moment, Tsu didn’t see Presley, but she was given the green light to go out in his room. Upon entering, she immediately felt the relief of a working air conditioner and collapsed on a nearby sofa.
Tsu said that the man who initially stopped her suddenly came running.
“Elvis told him that I could stay as long as I wanted and not worry about it,” said Tsu. “So I fell asleep.”
KEITH COOGAN TALKS WITH JACKIE COOGAN, ESCAPING THE CURSE OF HOLLYWOOD’S CHILD STAR
Elvis Presley (Photo by Liaison / Getty Images)
MATTHEW MODINE STAR EXPLAINS WHY OPENING ‘TOP GUN’, ‘BACK TO THE FUTURE’
Tsu stated that when she opened her eyes after a restful sleep, she saw Presley’s face looking back at her.
“He was putting a cold compress on my face,” recalled Tsui. “He thought I should have passed out or something.”
The star admitted that she was stunned.
“He was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I mean, people with great voices are attractive to me, but that was something else. I didn’t even know what to say because I was so shocked. And then he said, ‘Don’t worry. I just want you to feel good. Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat? You are thirsty?’ I couldn’t even speak!
“I was impressed with everything I was experiencing,” she continued. “He smelled like talcum powder and milk. But he kept insisting if I needed or wanted anything.
After Presley left, Tsu finally got up and left, where he saw Presley surrounded by his entourage.
‘SUZI FOUR OF THE 70’S ROCK PIONEER SAYS THAT HE HAS NEVER BEEN ATTEMPTED BY FAME:’ YOU’LL GO CRAZY OR WIN DEAD ‘
Young Chinese-American actress Irene Tsu in Hollywood, around 1967. (Photo by Vittoriano Rastelli / Corbis via Getty Images)
THE ROD OF THE ‘TWILIGHT ZONE’ WASN’T ‘THIS DARK AND TORTURED SOUL’ AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR, SAYS HIS DAUGHTER
“The colonel [Presley’s manager] it was there and it just gave me a bad vibe right away, ”she said. “He was not a kind man.”
Tsu stated that she and Presley quickly became friends on the set. At the time, the singer was fascinated by martial arts and knew that Tsu knew Bruce Lee. But there was another reason why they came together easily.
“He was a Southern Baptist and my family was very Christian,” said Tsu. “So we connect with just that. He was very spiritual.
Tsu emphasized that they were never lovers. And as long as they became friends, their friendship would be brief.
“I remember the last time we talked, we were in his trailer,” she said. “He just looked at me and said, ‘Keep that light on, baby.’ That was it. I think he lost the light. You couldn’t find your way home, you know? I really feel like he killed himself. It was very tragic.
THE DAUGHTER OF JAMES GARNER SAYS THAT “THE STAR OF ROCKFORD FILES” HAS A DIFFERENT MINDSET “ABOUT HOLLYWOOD
Irene Tsu in Hollywood, around 1967. (Photo by Vittoriano Rastelli / Corbis via Getty Images)
JACK BENNY’S DAUGHTER REMEMBER GROWING WITH THE FAMOUS COMEDIARY: ‘I LOVE BEING FAMOUS’
Presley passed away in 1977 at the age of 42. Doctors said he died of a heart attack that was probably caused by his addiction to prescription barbiturates.
Tsu has kept himself busy over the years appearing in film and television, as well as seeking art and design. Tsu said he still remembers his time with Presley fondly.
“It was filled with so much light,” she said. “He was very generous and attentive. He was always surrounded by people wherever he went. But if you just sat with him, he was just a good friend.