Kissing of a king exposed

By Dean Stephens

CHARLESTON, SC. (WCIV) -- It is simply known as "The Kiss" -- a classic shot of Elvis Presley and an unknown woman.

It turns out that woman is from Charleston, her identity recently revealed.

"Fifty five years I never bothered about it, but once and that was in 1977," said Barbara Gray. "That's when Elvis died."

Gray was 20-years-old when the picture was taken. She didn't realize a photographer was present.

"I've seen the kiss because originally that came out in the National Enquirer and Pat Boone is a friend of mine and said what are you doing with my biggest rival. It was the first time I ever knew there was a picture."

As the world wondered about the identity of the woman in the picture, Gray had no idea who Elvis Presley was in 1956. The king was just 21-years-old and was staying at the Francis Marion hotel in June of that year after performing at College Park.

"A bunch of my friends said 'hey Bobby have you seen Elvis Presley yet' and I said 'I don't know who he is.' I had a couple of drinks, I didn't care. I called the Francis Marion Hotel where he was staying. His cousin answered, put Elvis on and we talked for an hour."

That conversation led to an invitation to Presley's next concert stop in Richmond, Virginia. She met him face-to-face in a coffee shop.

"He turned around and I thought my gosh he's so beautiful."

From there Presley and Gray took a cab to the Mosque Theatre and then to a stairwell near the stage. That's where Gray's life changed.

"That is when I stuck my tongue out at him and said, 'no you can't kiss me,' and that's when he stuck his tongue out and moved in quickly and that's when history was started. "

It was the last night she saw Elvis.

He left on a train to New York and she traveled a different path.

"Pat Boone led me to Jesus Christ and baptized me," she said.

The kiss is captured in books about Elvis and now Gray wants to write one herself.

"I want to do a book so that I can reach young girls and say look at what my life was. Yes it was exciting but it almost destroyed me and it destroyed Elvis."

From purses to lunch boxes, to clocks, to a painting found in a Charleston garage sale, the kiss is everywhere. And now Barbara Grays' life has changed now that the world knows the woman behind the kiss.