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William Campbell: From Elvis to JFK to Captain Kirk

Veteran actor William Campbell sang with Elvis, worked with Coppola, acted on ”Star Trek“ — and oh yeah, his ex-wife Judith Campbell had an affair with JFK


Even if his life had never put him (indirectly but thoroughly) into a sex scandal involving the most charismatic president of the 20th Century, William Campbell would have enjoyed a remarkable string of close encounters with greatness.

William CampbellHe made movies with John Garfield; "sang" with Elvis Presley; was reportedly dumped by his wife for Frank Sinatra; helped Francis Ford Coppola launch his directing career; wound up in two cult horror movies ("Dementia 13" and "Track of the Vampire") and two classic "Star Trek" episodes; and played characters loosely based on murderer Caryl Chessman ("Cell 2455 Death Row") and on Liberace (one of his "Star Trek" episodes, "The Squire of Gothos," left). 

Throw in the fact that his first wife, Judith Campbell Exner, went on to reportedly (and perhaps even simultaneously) serve as the mistress of President John F. Kennedy and Mafia boss Sam Giancana, and you've got an actor who might never have been a star, but whose path took him to some pretty interesting places.   

Campbell, who died last week at the age of 87 in the Motion Picture & Television Home in Woodland Hills, also seemed to appear on every television drama that aired in the 1970s: "Ironside," "Adam-12," "Gunsmoke," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Police Woman," "Medical Center," "The Streets of San Francisco," and a slew of others.

Also read: William Campbell of TV Series Fame, Judith Exner's Spouse, Dies

But here's a livelier appearance of Campbell's, in Elvis Presley's first movie, "Love Me Tender." Elvis played Clint Reno and Campbell played his brother Brett in a film that was originally going to be titled "The Reno Brothers." Campbell is on the porch in the dark shirt, right next to our hip-swiveling leading man during the first musical number in Elvis' first movie.

Wikipedia says this appearance makes him the first actor to sing onscreen with Elvis – but judging from the voice, and the way the lips don't always match the words, it's a lot more likely that you're hearing a Jordanaire or a member of the Ken Darby Trio, and that Campbell was the first person to lip-sync with Elvis onscreen.