He was there in 1956 for the singer’s first Hollywood screen test and later penned ‘The Sons of Katie Elder.’
Screenwriter Allan Weiss, who was on hand to witness Elvis Presley’s first Hollywood screen test and worked on six of the singer’s movies in the 1960s, has died. He was 90.
Weiss died Thursday at a nursing facility in Mission Viejo, Calif., his nephew, Ken Maas, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Weiss provided the story for Presley’s Blue Hawaii (1961) and wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for the films Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), Fun in Acapulco (1963), Roustabout (1964), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) and Easy Come, Easy Go (1967).
Weiss once noted that to write a screenplay for an Elvis movie, “You had to make room for 12 songs, and they had to be integrated.” He and Anthony Lawrence’s script for Roustabout was nominated for a WGA award for best movie musical that year, losing out to Mary Poppins.
Weiss received credit for just one other screenplay during his career — for The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), the Henry Hathaway-directed film that starred John Wayne and Dean Martin.
Weiss was an associate of renowned producer Hal B. Wallis, whose credits included The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942) and several films starring Martin and Jerry Lewis. The writer was present when Wallis, then based at Paramount Pictures, made Presley’s screen test in March 1956.
“No one had any expectations; [Presley] was such a strange, quiet fellow — so completely foreign,” Weiss said in the 2004 book Elvis Presley: The Man. The Life. The Legend. “But he sang and read a scene from [the N. Richard Nash play] The Rainmaker and answered questions asked from off-screen — and it was phenomenal. It was an amazing experience to be there, one of those life-changing experiences.”
A native of Sharon, Pa., Harry “Allan” Weiss served in the U.S. Army, was stationed in Germany and was as a translator during the Nuremberg trials. He then graduated from UCLA and worked as a sound engineer and in journalism.
Weiss’ partner, producer Paul Nathan, who also worked alongside Wallis, died in 1977. The two are buried near each other at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Maas said.