Sudden Fame at 59 - She's Having a Ball
Laughter springs spontaneously from Mrs. Elva Miller, the newest singing sensation, as she tells about how she "just happened" to make the record, Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits.
The pleasant woman from Claremont is calm and candid. She's so honest that she not only tells her true age- she gives her exact birth date. It's Oct. 5, 1907. About her overnight success as a recording artist and television personality, she says "I'm not a celebrity. I'm a housewife in Claremont. I have been for 30 years.''
With her recording passing the 200,000 sales mark, Mrs. Miller has gained the international spotlight and been contacted for personal appearance from Honolulu to London.
Her first nightclub appearance will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings in the gardens of the Royal Tahitian in Ontario. The show was canceled this weekend when Mrs. Miller returned from a week in New York City exhausted and with a slight cold.
While in the East, the singer was a guest star on the Ed Sullivan Show and recorded two programs to be released this week. She will appear Wednesday and Thursday on the Merve Griffith and Mike Douglas shows.
The record certainly wasn't my idea," explains Mrs. Miller. "It was just a series of coincidences that a could happen to anyone."
"Everyone has a hobby. Some people take pictures and file them in albums. Others paint pictures and store them in the garage. My hobby has always, been singing. I've made records and tapes of sacred or classical songs for my own amusement. A closet at home is filled with them."
At first, she recorded in Claremont, then EI Monte, and finally, in Los-Angeles where she was accompanied by pianist and organist Fred Block. Bock, now her manager, was the link with Capitol Records. The studio was experimenting in new sounds and needed a woman to record. Capitol Records called her and asked her to sing for them.
"I'd never attempted popular songs," continues Mrs.-Miller. "The studio men just popped the music in my hands- sorta sneaky like- and I started."
"The laughter on the record is unpremeditated, that's when I forgot the words," states Mrs. Miller. Other sounds include whistling, which she enjoys. She fills her mouth with ice before whistling, to get a better sound.
As to the stories that her husband, John, paid for the recording sessions at Capitol, Mrs. Miller strongly denies this. "Of course, my husband supported my hobby of recording songs- he's paid all the bills since we were married in 1934. But he didn't buy me a career." Dispelling another popular myth about her, Mrs. Miller says that if anyone ever told her to stop singing, she never heard him.
Mrs. Miller has an easy-going- attitude about her sudden fame. "I never worry about the future nor get concerned about the present," she states. "The last thing I want is an ulcer." She has no idea what each day will bring until she gets in the car and asks Bock where they're headed.
She even denies being nervous about appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show which she describes as "exciting but exhausting."
The singer enjoyed the rehearsals and meeting Nancy Sinatra and other entertainers. But the highlight, she says, was receiving a telegram from Elvis PresIey just before the show went on the air.
A refreshing change from the typical celebrity who hopes to climb to greater heights, Mrs. Miller takes her fame on a day-to-day basis.
"There's no tragedy if this ends tomorrow," she says, "I've got my home and my family and I'm perfectly happy with them."
"Meanwhile, I'm having fun and meeting some wonderfuI people."