More than 50 years after Elvis Presley sang “This is Living” from the porch of Hidden Lodge beneath towering Tahquitz Rock, many Idyllwild residents fondly recall when he came to film Kid Galahad.
Robin Oates was paid $18 for being an extra at age 11 in “Kid Galahad.” Courtesy of Idyllwild Area Historical Society.
In the 1962 film, Presley portrayed a young man just out of the Army who is training to be a prizefighter. His co-stars were Gig Young and Charles Bronson. He was helped on set by boxing trainer Al Silvani and former welterweight champion “Mushy” Callahan. Since the film’s release, the location has drawn Presley fans from around the globe.
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Real estate broker Robin Oates was one of 50 Idyllwild Elementary School students who were extras. He remembers meeting Presley at age 11 and recalls that it was a “big thrill.”
“They would pull three or four kids out of school and have us for the day,” he says. “We’d go into one of the local restaurants that the film crew rented and they would have a teacher there to give us instruction. Elvis and his cousin and others from the film crew would throw a football in the street during breaks. One time, several of us were told to stand in a certain area and Elvis would come by. He appeared out of nowhere and gave us each an autograph. At night, fans would hang out in front of the house where he was staying. Somebody would come out and hand out photos of Elvis and try to get the people to leave.”
The crew filmed at many locations around town, such as Idyllwild Inn and a market in Fern Valley. Some stayed in private homes.
This year, 29 visitors came on tour from the UK to see the lodge. Bob Smith, volunteer archivist with Idyllwild Area Historical Society, escorted them. “It was a pilgrimage,” says Smith, with a smile. “They all just stood and stared reverently.”
When the movie was made, the property was 40 acres and included a swimming pool. It was later subdivided for single-family homes. The lodge was built in the 1940s and became a resort for horseback riding and skiing.
PRINTED BY PERMISSION OF MGM
Kid Galahad movie poster.
PRINTED BY PERMISSION OF IDYLLWILD TOWN CRIER
Elvis on set of Kid Galahad.
As the name implies, Hidden Lodge can be tricky to find in this forested area. Once a visitor locates Glen Road, however, it’s easy to recognize the famous porch surrounded by manzanita, pine cedar, and oak trees.
Most prospective buyers are more interested in the upgrades in the 3,450 square foot lodge than the Hollywood connection, according to listing agent Tiffany Raridon. However, she says, everyone loves the porch where Elvis sang. The log-cabin-style building has great views of Tahquitz Rock and sleeps 20 people. The kitchen bar and stools are original, Raridon says, but the rest of the interior has seen many improvements over the decades. While the exterior has been upgraded, it’s still recognizable from the film.
Kid Galahad was set in summer but filmed in Idyllwild in autumn. As the crew endured occasional snow and ice, some feared the actors’ long johns would show beneath their shorts, according to an Idyllwild Town Crier columnist of the day.
Thanks to Idyllwild Area Historical Society for assistance with historical research.
Elvis thanked Idyllwild with a notice in Idyllwild Town Crier. Used by permission.
CURRENT PHOTOS BY GLIDETOUR & PHOTOGRAPHY
The current exterior of the Hidden Lodge.
The interior of the Hidden Lodge — upgraded since Elvis was in the building.
The Hidden Lodge’s kitchen bar and stools.