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The Amazing Stories of Mayoral Candidate Tony Hall 

Wednesday, Aug 10 2011

When interim Mayor Ed Lee said he wasn't interested in running, it appears he was only telling stories. If San Franciscans wish to cast their votes for a storyteller, perhaps it's worth considering a candidate whose stories are, in fact, true.

Enter Tony Hall. His stories are also better than Lee's because Elvis is involved.

The former westside supervisor worked his way through UCLA in the early 1960s as a driver for Hollywood studios. Chauffeuring stars from here to there was a daily endeavor — but only Elvis Presley jumped into the front seat. "There'd be six or seven cars all following us. All his Memphis buddies," recalls Hall. The notion of one of them giving Elvis a ride apparently never came up.

The King remembered his driver, shouting, "Hey Tony, come on down!" some months later when he spied Hall in the rafters of a soundstage working as a grip. Elvis' cronies were playing cards, and Hall was asked to join for a few hands. When Hall noted that he didn't have any money, Elvis didn't bat an eye. "It's all my money," he said. Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

Less entertaining than taking in an Elvis lecture ("You in school? I never done that. Finish college, Tony") was Hall's other studio job: ferrying film. This was a high-pressure assignment in which he had to pick up 20 or 30 cans of the day's footage from numerous studios and race it to the lab on a quick turnaround. So he was less than thrilled when some guy sitting on his fender wouldn't scoot after Hall deposited portions of Gidget Goes Hawaiian into the truck. Words were exchanged, and Hall popped the clutch. The loafer sprang up "and he came at me, so I opened the door, spun him around, and pushed him down on the hood of the car." It was at this time that Hall realized he'd just manhandled Jimmy Darren — the star of Gidget Goes Hawaiian. Fortunately, Hall's union saved his job.

Hall's next opportunity to punch a celebrity went better. A Golden Gloves boxer, he was asked to spar with a heavyweight of note tuning up for a big fight. Hall went three rounds with a fella named Cassius Clay (who would change his name to Muhammad Ali two years later). After the bout, Hall treated Clay to one of the 25-cent beers at the bar beneath the gym; Clay said it was his first brew.

He didn't finish his beer. But he did go on to finish off Archie Moore in four.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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