This was quite an evening. Over 1000 people attended this dinner! Many of the usual honored guests were there - Jerry Schilling, Joe Esposito, Dr. Nick, Sam Thompson, Dick Grob, Cynthia Pepper, Patty Parry. And the big surprise - Priscilla! She's never attended this event before and it was a major secret until she walked in. She said a few very nice words about Marian, and then she sat down at her table.
The joyous part of this evening was in the performances by Terry Mike Jeffrey, the Jordanaires and Millie Kirkham. They had obviously NOT gotten together beforehand to discuss anything, not even song titles. But these professionals know their stuff so well, it wasn't even necessary.
First Terry came up and sang alone, accompanying himself on the guitar. Then the Jordanaires came out and did a bunch of great songs (except for the first song after they came out - "Happy Birthday" to Gordon. They sang several songs and then did "It's Now or Never". This blew everyone away. Then they called Millie Kirkham up to the stage to sing the same song - this time with her soprano part. IT WAS SO AWESOME.
Then they sang "Blue Christmas" and Millie told a story I'd never heard. Elvis didn't want to record it so he told everyone to do something silly. Millie started that undulating soprano part. Elvis told her to keep doing it, and she did, for the whole song. When they finished recording it Elvis said "they'll never release it". And now it's the MOST played song on the radio in history.
Marian then gave out several special awards to 4 people, George Klein and Jerry Schilling among them. One was to a woman who had been to all of Marian's fundraisers, and for that loyalty Marian gave her a gold cross that had been made for Marian by Mike McGregor. Isn't that sweet?
There had already been a silent auction earlier, but now there was an additional auction that included some of Marian's personal Elvis-related items. Most significant one (IMO) was the silver fur coat that Elvis gave her. This is the one she mentions in "200 Cadillacs" - she said he gave her a silver coat to match her hair. Tonight Marian said her hair is white so it doesn't match anymore, anyway. If this isn't the last benefit she does, I'll be really surprised.
Mark James performed and some ETAs got to sing one song each with the Jordanaires. I didn't see this but I heard there was one really good one.
This event ran very, very long, but it was a most moving tribute to both Elvis and Marian. (And the food was pretty good, too).
End of an era.