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Actor And Elvis Confidant Red West Dies At 81 (Photos)

| by Michael Doherty
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Red West, an actor and childhood friend of Elvis Presley, has died at age 81.

Red reportedly died on July 18 after suffering an aortic aneurysm, according to his wife, Pat, New York Daily News reports.

Memphis native Red started his career as a stunt man, and had also worked as Presley's bodyguard. He was known for his roles in movies like "Road House," "Goodbye Solo," and "Black Sheep Squadron," along with co-writing a number of Presley's songs, such as, "That's Someone You Never Forget," "You'll Be Gone," and "If Every Day Was Like Christmas."

He had roles in movies with the famed singer, too, including "Blue Hawaii," "Flaming Star," "Live a Little, Love a Little," and "Viva Las Vegas."

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He also made appearances on "Nashville" and "Rectify."

During his career, Red worked with artists including Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He co-wrote a book about Presley, whom he had met in high school, titled, "Elvis: What Happened?"

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The controversial tell-all book, which became a bestseller, documented Presley's dangerous drug habits and lifestyle; Red had reportedly been fired by Elvis' father after suggesting that the singer had a problem with drugs.

Red and Presley would frequently spar together at Memphis' Tennessee Karate Institute, which Red co-owned along with kickboxing champ Bill "Superfoot" Wallace, the Commercial Appeal reports.

"He was a tough son of a gun," said Wallace of Red.

In a 2008 interview with Presley's Australian fan club, Red opened up about his relationship with the singer, recalling an incident in which he saved Presley from a group of bullies that wanted to cut his hair:

The story is Elvis was always different. We had crew cuts, wore tee-shirts and blue jeans, Elvis had the long duck-tail, the long sideburns and he wore the loud clothes and naturally he was a target for all the bullies, and one day luckily I walked into the boys' bathroom at Humes High School and 3 guys were going to cut his hair just, you know, to make themselves look big or make them feel big or whatever, and I intervened and stopped it, and I guess that stuck because a couple of years later after Elvis had his first record he came over and asked me if I would like to go with him, I think it was Grenada, Mississippi or somewhere, and I went and I was with him from then on, except for a couple of years in the Marine Corps.

"Whatever, Elvis and I were great friends," he added. "Some things happened that... I want to dwell on the happier times at this get-together because they out-weigh the bad times. We had some good times, some great fun times, and in my opinion there's nobody that will ever compare to Elvis."

"He was my good friend and I'll always remember him as that," he concluded.

In a 2009 interview alongside the release of "Goodbye Solo," Red said, "It took me 59 years to be an overnight success."

"I started in this business as a stunt man, and it's taken its toll on me," he said. "I've had knee replacements, and I've got big calcium deposits in my neck from falling on my head so many times. So this is just in time."

"From the very start, we had a bond that was just unusual," said Red's wife about her husband. "He was just a straight shooter."

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, New York Daily News, Commercial Appeal, Elvis Fan Club Australia / Photo credit: PixabayWireimage via New York Daily News, Roadside Attractions via Commercial Appeal

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