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A B-movie actor wrote an infamous song for Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii. She tried to write a title song for the film, but that never happened. Regardless, she gained some celebrity as her films became infamous.

Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Hawaii’ includes a song by director Ed Wood’s girlfriend

Dolores Fuller was an actor who had a relationship with Ed Wood, the director of Plan 9 from Outer Space. That film is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made, though it has a strong cult following among people who like camp classics. Fuller appeared in secondary roles in some of Wood’s films, such as Glen or Glenda and Bride of the Monster.

During an interview with Elvis Australia, Fuller discussed her songwriting career. “Well I have to attribute my break in getting into songwriting for [movie producer] Hal Wallis,” she said. “He was an old friend of mine, and when I was trying out for a part in the Blue Hawaii movie, he said, ‘Dolores, if you can write like this, why would you wanna be an actress?’ He says, ‘It’s a much more rewarding career.’ And goes on and on, the rest of your life.”

Dolores Fuller wrote a hula-themed song for ‘Blue Hawaii’ but not the title tune

Fuller further revealed what Wallis said to her. “And so he says, ‘Tomorrow morning you be at Hill and Range and meet Freddy Bienstock and we’ll put you with one of the writing teams,'” she said. “The competition is terrible.

“Twelve teams of writers, the top writers in the country,” she added. “Tepper and Bennett, Mack David, all, everybody trying for the title song. But I had had this background in acting. Whereas I would try for the dance number, and usually get it. Because I also had years of ballet training.” Fuller didn’t get to write the title song for Blue Hawaii, but she did write the famous (or infamous) tune “Rock-a-Hula Baby” for the film.


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The legacy of Elvis Presley’s ‘Rock-a-Hula Baby’ and Dolores Fuller

“Rock-a-Hula Baby” is often brought up as an example of Elvis’ kitschy, sub-par movie songs. It’s worthy of the compilation album Elvis’ Greatest S***, which includes other embarrassments such as “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car,” “Scratch My Back Then I’ll Scratch Yours,” and “Song of the Shrimp.”

“Rock-a-Hula Baby” might be most famous today for being mentioned at the end of Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood. In that classic film, Fuller was played by Sarah Jessica Parker of Hocus Pocus and Sex and the City fame.

During a 1994 Kansas City Star interview quoted in The Baltimore Sun, Parker said she eventually became famous as Wood’s films gained a following. On some level, it’s almost poetic that she wrote tunes for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s movies, as Wood’s movies and Elvis’ movies inspire the same sort of critical revulsion and underground appreciation.

Fuller was never going to win any songwriting awards, but she’s a part of Elvis’ musical history.