Elvis Presley famously had two types of girls. He liked them sweet and demure like Anita Ward or his teenage girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu, who lost his interest when she became a mother to Lisa Marie. Or The King liked them sexy and sassy like Debra Paget and Ann Margret. But he found himself completely out of his depth when cinema’s greatest beauty of the time was opposite him in a bikini – and making it very clear exactly she wanted from him. Back at home, Priscilla was extremely worried about her boyfriend being around someone she admitted was a “sex goddess” when Elvis refused to fully physically consummate his relationship with her.
In 1963 Ursula was the hottest woman on the planet. After trying to make her mark in Hollywood since 1955, in 1962 she had finally shot to stardom emerging from the sea in that bikini in the very first James Bond movie, Dr No.
The King’s producers quickly snapped her up to play his love interest in another film set by the beach. Fun In Acapulco predictably provided plenty of opportunity for the statuesque Swiss-German beauty to flaunt her gold-plated licence to thrill.
Ursula later described how surprised and overwhelmed she was when she first met The King.
She said: “The only way I knew him was from TV, this new idol, this hip-swinging lover with a guitar. The first day I went to work, he came over, this humble man, full of charm, love in his eyes, and kindness, and being so considerate and warm. I was so surprised.”
Usually, it would be Elvis who would work his charm and pursue co-stars, but according to his Memphis Mafia friend Sonny West, this time it was the other way around.
West said: “They were very close. She went after him. She wanted him bad.”
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Elvis had apparently replied to Fortas’ teasing over a flirtation with Ursula: “No way, son, not with John Derek lurking all over the place. I’d be goddamned if I’d start a conversation with her and see his possessive eyes glaring at me. You know he gave her a car, and on the steering wheel it said, ‘Baby, you’re indispensable.’ Head over heels in love with her. Never saw anything like it.”
The King famously had a rule he established for himself and the Memphis Mafia from the beginning.
West added: “Elvis told us never to leave him alone with her. It’s because he had a thing: he never went for married women.”
But that wasn’t all, in this case. Rather shockingly, it was Ursula herself who put Elvis off.
It turned out Ursula also made The King feel very self-conscious. Not only did he prefer rather more sweet and deferential girls, but he was also intimidated by the Swiss glamazon’s body.
He said: “Goddamn, she was a big woman. Body like a man – no hips, and shoulders broader than mine. I was embarrassed to take my goddamn shirt off next to her.”
Elvis may have resisted, but Ursula’s own marriage was soon in trouble.
The year after Fun In Acapulco, her husband threw her out of their LA home over reports of an alleged affair with actor Ron Ely. Ursula went on to have public affairs with actors John Richardson and Marcello Mastroianni. She officially left Derek for Jean-Paul Belmondo in 1965, and their divorce was finalised in 1966.
Ursula was with Belmondo until 1972, moving on to Italian actor Fabio Testi in 1973, and then US star Harry Hamlin, who was 15 years her junior, in 1979.
In the mid-80s a series of relationships included Julio Iglesias before Ursula started a five-year affair with Fausto Fagone who was 30 years her junior. Since that ended in 1991, she has not been publicly linked with anyone.
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