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R.I.P. Red West, the Elvis Presley bodyguard who played the perfect TV tough guy

The "Memphis Mafia" member, stuntman and songwriter passed away at the age of 81.

Image: The Wild Wild West

Red and Sonny West were attending Humes High School in Memphis, Tennessee, when they met a fellow classmate named Elvis Presley. The two athletic cousins — Red played football and boxed — became quick friends with the teen musician. The two West boys went to work as drivers and bodyguards for the rising star in 1955.

Being part of Elvis' entourage had its perks. Red West, an aspiring songwriter and actor himself, penned some tunes for the King and took bit parts in sixteen Elvis movies. West collaborated with Elvis on two lovely songs in the early 1960s — the shuffling, Latin-flavored "You'll Be Gone" and the haunting ballad "That's Someone You'll Never Forget." West wrote hits for other acts, as well, including "I'm A Fool," which Dino, Desi & Billy performed on Ed Sullivan and took to No. 17 on the pop charts in 1965.

Around this time, West befriended Nick Adams, the hunky star of The Rebel. Adams hooked up his pal with stunt work on the Western, which lead to a slew of TV roles. West, befitting his name, found steady work on The Wild Wild West, appearing in 35 episodes. Notably, in "Night of the Viper," he gets in the boxing ring with Jim West, displaying his skills at fisticuffs.

West went on to appear multiple times on Mannix, Black Sheep Squadron, The Fall Guy, The A-Team and Hunter. His biggest role came in 1989, when he played Red Webster in the Patrick Swayze cult classic bar-brawl flick Road House.

As his acting career flourished, his friendship with Elvis crumbled. He was fired from the "Memphis Mafia" surrounding Presley in 1976. Weeks before the pop star died, West co-authored a book called Elvis: What Happened?, detailing the idol's drug problems.

Last Tuesday, on July 18, West passed away at the age of 81, as reported by Deadline. The death was reported by his wife, Pat.

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ADAM WEST, TV'S BELOVED BATMAN

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BARBARA HALE OF 'PERRY MASON'

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DINA MERRILL, THE BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS WHO PLAYED BATMAN VILLAIN CALAMITY JAN

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The actor will be forever remembered for his tough-guy television role. READ MORE

Don Rickles

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RICHARD HATCH of 'BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'

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MICHAEL PARKS OF 'THEN CAME BRONSON' AND 'TWIN PEAKS'

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Chuck Barris, host of 'The Gong Show'

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Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'

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ELENA VERDUGO OF 'MARCUS WELBY, M.D.'

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CURT LOWENS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAR HERO AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES' ACTOR

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JUDGE JOSEPH WAPNER OF 'THE PEOPLE'S COURT'

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CHELSEA BROWN OF 'ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN'

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QUINN O'HARA OF 'THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI'

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PETER HANSEN OF 'GENERAL HOSPITAL' AND 'GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.'

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  • ADAM WEST, TV'S BELOVED BATMAN
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • BARBARA HALE OF 'PERRY MASON'
  • Roger Moore
  • ERIN MORAN OF 'HAPPY DAYS' AND 'JOANIE LOVES CHACHI'
  • DINA MERRILL, THE BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS WHO PLAYED BATMAN VILLAIN CALAMITY JAN
  • Mike Connors, star of 'Mannix'
  • Don Rickles
  • RICHARD HATCH of 'BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'
  • MICHAEL PARKS OF 'THEN CAME BRONSON' AND 'TWIN PEAKS'
  • Chuck Barris, host of 'The Gong Show'
  • Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'
  • ELENA VERDUGO OF 'MARCUS WELBY, M.D.'
  • CURT LOWENS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAR HERO AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES' ACTOR
  • JUDGE JOSEPH WAPNER OF 'THE PEOPLE'S COURT'
  • FILM HISTORIAN ROBERT OSBORNE
  • Dick Gautier, Hymie the Robot from 'Get Smart'
  • LAWRENCE MONTAIGNE OF 'STAR TREK'
  • LOLA ALBRIGHT OF 'PETER GUNN'
  • CHELSEA BROWN OF 'ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN'
  • QUINN O'HARA OF 'THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI'
  • PETER HANSEN OF 'GENERAL HOSPITAL' AND 'GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.'
  • JOHN CYGAN OF 'THE COMMISH' AND 'BOB'
  • MIGUEL FERRER, SON OF JOSÉ FERRER AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY
  • Francine York, 'Batman' actress and 1960s star
  • BRUCE LANSBURY, BROTHER OF ANGELA, PRODUCER OF 'WONDER WOMAN' AND 'WILD WILD WEST'
  • JEFFREY HAYDEN, DIRECTOR OF ALL OF OUR FAVORITE TV EPISODES
  • ADAM WEST, TV'S BELOVED BATMAN
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • BARBARA HALE OF 'PERRY MASON'
  • Roger Moore
  • ERIN MORAN OF 'HAPPY DAYS' AND 'JOANIE LOVES CHACHI'
  • DINA MERRILL, THE BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS WHO PLAYED BATMAN VILLAIN CALAMITY JAN
  • Mike Connors, star of 'Mannix'
  • Don Rickles
  • RICHARD HATCH of 'BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'
  • MICHAEL PARKS OF 'THEN CAME BRONSON' AND 'TWIN PEAKS'
  • Chuck Barris, host of 'The Gong Show'
  • Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'
  • ELENA VERDUGO OF 'MARCUS WELBY, M.D.'
  • CURT LOWENS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAR HERO AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES' ACTOR
  • JUDGE JOSEPH WAPNER OF 'THE PEOPLE'S COURT'
  • FILM HISTORIAN ROBERT OSBORNE
  • Dick Gautier, Hymie the Robot from 'Get Smart'
  • LAWRENCE MONTAIGNE OF 'STAR TREK'
  • LOLA ALBRIGHT OF 'PETER GUNN'
  • CHELSEA BROWN OF 'ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN'
  • QUINN O'HARA OF 'THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI'
  • PETER HANSEN OF 'GENERAL HOSPITAL' AND 'GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.'
  • JOHN CYGAN OF 'THE COMMISH' AND 'BOB'
  • MIGUEL FERRER, SON OF JOSÉ FERRER AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY
  • Francine York, 'Batman' actress and 1960s star
  • BRUCE LANSBURY, BROTHER OF ANGELA, PRODUCER OF 'WONDER WOMAN' AND 'WILD WILD WEST'
  • JEFFREY HAYDEN, DIRECTOR OF ALL OF OUR FAVORITE TV EPISODES


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