RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- It was the smooch seen around the world. Sixty years ago this summer, Elvis Presley and a young woman were captured on film kissing in a Richmond hallway.
For decades, Barbara Gray, the woman in the picture, went unidentified, but now she is reflecting on kissing The King.
Barbara's brush with Elvis Presley began with a dare.
In June of 1956, Barbara's friends convince her to call Elvis in his hotel room at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. Elvis had just performed in South Carolina before 4,000 screaming fans.
"I didn't really know him or know what he was about," said Barbara. "The operator answered and I said 'Elvis Presley's room please.'"
Barbara said the 21-year-old singer chatted with her for at least an hour. A curious Elvis invited Barbara to his next concert in Virginia. Two days later the pair would meet at the diner in the Hotel Jefferson.
"He just reached out and hugged me," said Barbara. "I didn't know what to say. It was like I was numb."
From her home in South Carolina, the 80-year-old remembers seeing the sultry singer for the first time at The Hotel Jefferson in Richmond.
"Elvis turned around and I almost fainted. He was absolutely gorgeous," said Barbara. "I just melted."
Click below for the famous photos and Barbara today:
Woman kissing Elvis in mysterious photo comes forward
Woman kissing Elvis in mysterious photo comes forward
Barbara and Elvis flirted over lunch hours before his two concerts at The Mosque.
In a cab ride to the auditorium Barbara says, "He played with me the whole way and it is only three blocks!" At the Mosque Theatre Barbara said Elvis took her out to the hallway just a few feet from the stage where thousands of his fans were waiting. Barbara said the King moved in to canoodle.
"I said no I'm not. He said, 'Yes you are,'" said Barbara. "And he was just quick enough to just lean forward and stick his tongue out and that is how quick it happened."
The seminal moment was captured in a dimly lit hallway at Richmond's Mosque Theatre where not much has changed in the hallway. A series of legendary images show young lovers locked in an embrace.
"Oh yeah. I just laughed at it. I thought it was silly," said Barbara.
In the photo called "The Kiss" Elvis touches tongues with the shapely 20 year-old known then as Bobbi Owens. Critics call it one of the most iconic and erotic photographs in American history.
"Right of the bat he started to embrace me and hug me and said kiss me and I said 'no'," said Barbara. "At least he got a kiss of some kind."
Days after the photos were taken on June 30th, 1956 Elvis would rocket to fame after appearing on national television. Barbara would fade into obscurity.
"We were both drawn to each other because he wasn't going to let me go," said Barbara.
The storied snapshots were the work of free-lance photographer Al Wertheimer hired by RCA to capture Elvis' every move.
"I didn't even notice him and neither did Elvis," said Barbara.
In a 2011 interview, the late-photographer described how he nearly missed The Kiss.
"I come down this staircase and find these two people down this narrow hallway and its Elvis and the girl. And I say to myself, 'Hmmm. I have got to get closer,'" he said.
Following the concert Elvis wanted Barbara to stay with him. Presley would invite Barbara to join him in New York City.
"He was taking me to the train station with him," said Barbara. "I told him that I had a boyfriend that I was going to see."
Barbara turned down the offer and walked out on Elvis.
"I never saw him again," she said.
Since Elvis' death in 1977 the grainy kiss frozen in black and white has tantalized legions of fans.
"Everybody wanted to know who that (girl) was. And nobody knew who that was," said Barbara.
Barbara knew. She wanted to kiss and tell, but said photographer Al Wertheimer rebuffed her claims.
"He said no. That couldn't be me," she said.
Over the years, countless women claimed to be the secret woman in Barbara's high heels that unforgettable day.
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Elvis through the years
Elvis through the years
HAWAII - MARCH 1977: Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley with his girlfriend Ginger Alden in March of 1977 in Hawaii. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
ELVIS PRESLEY WEDDING: ... to Priscilla Beaulieu, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 01, 1967. (AP-Photo)
The King would have been 80 years old on Friday. January 7th marks what would have been Elvis Presley 's 80th birthday. To commemorate the event, Legacy Recordings have planned a yearlong celebration of Presley's music for modern-day Elvis fans. First up, the singer's The Complete '60s Albums Collection Volumbe One has been released onto iTunes. The set highlights all the LPs Presley recorded between 1960 and 1965 with newly mastered sound for the digital medium.
Rock'n'Roll-Saenger Elvis Presley auf einem undatierten Bild vor dem Schild seines Battaillons in Friedberg, wo er 18 Monate - von 1958 bis 1960 - als Soldat stationiert war. Am 21. November 2004 wird im 'Haus der Geschichte' in Bonn eine Ausstellung "Elvis in Deutschland" eroeffnet. (AP Photo)
Lisa Marie Presley poses for her first picture, safe in the lap of her mother, Priscilla, on February 5, 1968, while proud father, Elvis Presley, beams his approval. The baby is the first child for Elvis and his wife, the former Priscilla Beaulieu. (AP Photo/Perry Aycock)
1967 And the Years That Followed
Elvis Presley during winter shield exercise in Bavaria. (03/01/1960)(AP Photo)
Singer Elvis Presley gestures during a press conference inside his private railroad car at Los Angeles Union Station, California, United States as he arrived on April 20, 1960 to make a movie. (AP Photo/HPM)
Elvis Presley and actress Ann-Margret shown in a publicity photo for the 1964 film, "Viva Las Vegas". (AP Photo)
South African dancer and actress Juliet Prowse has been in America only 18 months, but already sheâs beguiled both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Here she plays opposite Presley in âG.I. Bluesâ in Hollywood, Los Angeles on July 6, 1960. Scenes like this have developed into dates, which Juliet successfully has managed to juggle between dates with Sinatra. (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley | January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977
Elvis Presley pereparing his hair for forthcoming entry into the Army. (1956) (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley shown as a Hollywood star kidnapped in the Middle East in the 1965 film, "Harem Scarem". (AP Photo)
'MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION'
An Elvis Presley signed photograph, estimated between $100 and $1500, is displayed during a press preview at auction house Bonham's in Hollywood, California, on November 15, 2012, where Charlie Chaplin's iconic bowler hat and cane are to go under the hammer in this weekend as part of an auction which also includes the John Lennon nude drawing of himself and Yoko Ono, part of the Lennon lot estomated between $18,000 and $22,000 , among memorabilia from other artists. The hat and cane trademark of Chaplin's Little Tramp character are in 'remarkable condition' and are estimated to go for between $40,000 and $60,000 at the sale by auction house Bonhams on Sunday November 18. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION == (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Elvis Presley poses with wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie, in a room at Baptist hospital in Memphis, Tenn., February 05, 1968. (AP Photo)
Elvis and Priscilla Presley cut their wedding cake after exchanging nuptials in the Aladdin Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas in this 1967 photo. (AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau)
Fair Exhibit Youth Talent
Elvis Presley, right, and Horace Logan, left, pose with disc jockey Ed Hamilton backstage at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, La., in an undated photo. In October 1954 Logan introduced the teen-age Elvis Presley to America by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, you've never heard of this young man before, but one day you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren you heard musical history made tonight." (AP Photo/Louisiana Hayride)
Elvis Presley is shown performing in this undated photo at an unknown location. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 21: An autographed pair of Elvis Presley's original blue suede shoes and a photo of him autographing them on auction at Gotta Have It! store on March 21, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
A 45 rpm record of, "I forgot to remember to forget," is one of the items in a new "60 years of Elvis" exhibit sits inside an annex at Graceland on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. The exhibit features jump suits worn by Presley, an organ played in his California home, a copy of the original âThatâs All Rightâ record and other miscellaneous Elvis items. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
Tim Greeway/Staff Photographer: the watch that was owned by Elvis Presley is on sale at Windham Jewelry in Windham on August 11, 2011. (Photo by Tim Greenway/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Army photographs of Elvis Presley are seen during the preview day of the 'Icons and Idols' and 'property from the life and career of Johnny Cash' auctions at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California on November 19. 2010. The auctions will be held in Beverly Hills next December 3 and 4. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
An Elvis Presley red velour pullover is seen during the preview day of the 'Icons and Idols' and 'property from the life and career of Johnny Cash' auctions at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California on November 19. 2010. The auctions will be held in Beverly Hills next December 3 and 4. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elvis Presley items are seen during the preview day of the 'Icons and Idols' and 'property from the life and career of Johnny Cash' auctions at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California on November 19. 2010. The auctions will be held in Beverly Hills next December 3 and 4. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Dan Hahn, of Scarsdale, N.Y., listens to the music of Elvis Presley, as Presley's last guitar he played live in concert, far right, is now on display now at the Musical Instrument Museum Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in Phoenix. The 1975 Martin D-28 acoustic guitar is the one Elvis played during his 1977 tours, including his last concert on June 26, 1977, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Singer Elvis Presley in an undated photo. (AP Photo)
The grave of Elvis Presley at Graceland, Presley's home in Memphis, Tenn., is seen on Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, Presley's 75th birthday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A new exhibit is going up at Masur Museum in Monroe, La., that features photographs of a young Elvis Presley on the stage of the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, La. The show focuses on 40 black and white photographs taken by Shreveport photojournalists Jack Barham and Langston McEachern, most depicting Elvis in his final performance in Shreveport on Dec. 15, 1956. (AP Photo,file)
Nancy Anderson, 89, a former reporter and West Coast editor of Photoplay magazine, looks through an old issue featuring Elvis Presley on the cover at her home in Bell Buckle, Tenn., Jan. 5, 2008. Anderson's first interview with Presley led to a friendship that lasted until his death in 1977 and continues today with the family of the late singer. Presley would have turned 73 on Tuesday, Jan. 8.(AP Photo/Jeff Adkins)
Displayed on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006, in Beverly Hills, Calif., are two original ticket stubs to the Ed Sullivan show when Elvis Presley appeared in 1956. The stubs are with the original ticket folder. They're expected to auction for $25,000. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
FILE - This 1964 file photo originally released by MGM shows Elvis Presley. Television and radio personality Wink Martindale and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, attended the annual birthday party at Presley's longtime Memphis home on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. The event featured a cake cutting and the singing of "Happy Birthday" by 16-year-old Canadian David Thibault. Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug. 16, 1977. (AP Photo/MGM, File)
Elvis Presley is seen as a honky-tonk performer on the midway in this photo from the 1964 MGM film "Roustabout". (AP Photo)
The file photo from January 21, 1960 shows Elvis Presley in a US Army uniform during his military service in Bad Nauheim, Germany. (AP Photo) ---- Unser Archivfoto vom 21. Jan. 1960 zeigt Elvis Presley in Bad Nauheim, wo er als Soldat der USA-Armee stationiert war. (AP Photo)
This is a publicity photo from the 1960 film "G.I. Blues", starring Elvis Presley as a guitar playing tank gunner with the American Army in West Germany. (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley, a camera enthusiast, finds a favorite subject in his newest leading lady, Judy Tyler, on the set of MGM's "Jailhouse Rock", July 8, 1957. Whenever he wasn't in a scene, Elvis grabbed his camera to shoot his fellow players and the activity on the movie set. (AP Photo)
A publicity photo from the 1957 film, "Jailhouse Rock", in which Elvis Presley plays a convict who becomes a rock star. (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley is seen relaxing in 1958. (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley and Rudy Vallee, each a singing legend of his era, meet for the first time in this Hollywood photo as they report for work in a new movie, "Live a Little, Love a Little", May 13, 1968. (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley, left, appears in a scene from the movie, "Kid Galahad". (AP Photo)
Elvis Presley displays his Sergeants stripes in his home in Bad Nauheim, Germany, on Jan. 21, 1960. He was promoted to acting sergeant and squad leader in the 3rd armoured divisions 32nd armour scout platoon yesterday. His promotion doesnt mean a raise in pay. It is only temporary. As acting Sergeant Presley now commands a three-man reconnaisance team of his own. The singers service time is up in March. (AP Photo/Lindlar)
Elvis Presley performs in 1971 at an unknown location. (AP Photo)
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"People always thought it was a tall girl. Nobody realized that I was 4'11''," said Barbara.
Harry Kollatz, Jr. senior writer for Richmond Magazine wrote about Elvis' 1956 visit to the River City and even tried discovering who the mystery girl was in the photo.
"It remained a mystery and Wertheimer liked it that way," said Kollatz. "It is a guy and girl in a stairwell and he happens to be Elvis Presley."
Kollatz finds it ironic that one of the most famous performances in Richmond unfolded off stage.
"In terms of popular cultural history it is a landmark photograph," he said. "There was only one Elvis and only one moment and we got it. That is something we can be proud of."
Kollatz said the image is dripping with mystique.
"When people see that photograph I don't think they're thinking about her. They're thinking about, 'What if that is me,'" he explained.
Throughout the decades Barbara could not escape the smooch.
"Well, I just think it is funny. It is very popular all over the world," she said. "It's on everything. It is not just lunch boxes. It's on jewelry, watches, clocks."
Barbara never sought fame and fortune. The happily-married real estate manager just yearned for recognition as the mystery woman in the photo with Elvis. In 2011, Barbara's veil of anonymity was lifted in a Vanity Fair article.
"He was a wonderful boy," said Barbara.
Eventually Al Wertheimer and Barbara became friends. The photographer even shared some images.
"I don't feel 60. I don't feel 80. I still feel young," Barbara says.
Barbara reflected on her intimate moment with Elvis with a tinge of regret.
"I wish he didn't let me go," said Barbara. Barbara says Elvis in her mind will forever be 21.
"I'm so sorry he is gone but I'm happy where he went to. He is in heaven," she said.
It all started sixty years ago, when the 20-year-old accepted a dare.
"It was a very comfortable day. You know? It was like I knew him all my life," said Barbara.
All of these years later Barbara Gray relishes the day she was the King's Queen.
"I thought, my God, why didn't I go with him," said Barbara. "It was wonderful and I'm sure every girl in the world wanted to be me."
Barbara Gray who was born in Charleston does have roots in Richmond. Her mother's family was from the Lakeside area of Henrico County. She said she enjoys meeting fellow Elvis fans and signing autographs of the famous photo of her kissing Elvis Presley.
If you would like to contact her about obtaining an autographed photo you can reach Barbara Gray at Bobbisgray@yahoo.com.