The Muppets present “Great Moments in Elvis History”

As mentioned last week, the elves in the Muppet Classic Theater DVD were dressed in Elvis-type garb and had Elvis hair. And all three of them spoke and sang like Elvis. The picture above shows the three Elvises making blue suede shoes.

For those of you who got the incomplete postings last week on my first two tries, you missed the video of The Elves and the Shoemaker segment of the DVD where they do their stuff. This is fun, so here are two ways to check it out if you haven’t already.

The full 9-1/2 minute skit:

 

The 5 minute edited version showing the Bad Shoes Blues song sequence and a bit more:

 

The Muppets returned to TV in 1996 in a new show called Muppets Tonight. It was very similar to the original The Muppet Show.

It ran for three seasons, which was long enough for three more appearances by the Elvises in a recurring feature, “Great Moments in Elvis History.”

The concept is interesting. They chose three great moments in world history and substituted Elvises for three of the main characters in each.

 

The Declaration of Independence:

Sorry for the lame picture quality. The video I grabbed it from is the only one I could find. The story has some fun with quibbling going on between Washington and Jefferson, particularly when John Hancock tells them that all ties with the king have been severed, and they argue about who really is The King.

When Ben Franklin arrives and tells them he has discovered electricity, they cheer and bring up their electric guitars. They break into a song using the melody from “Blue Suede Shoes,” with brand new lyrics.

One if by land,
Two if by sea.
Let’s all rock for democracy.
Don’t you, don’t you tread on me.

At the end of the skit, we get a fake preview of next week’s Great Moments in Elvis History. This is Elvis of Arabia, but it was five more weeks until the next Great Moments is shown, and it was not Elvis of Arabia.

 

Elvis the King and His Knights of the Roundtable:

Here we have Guinevere, King Arthur, Lancelot, and Merlin. The gag here is that the dragon has captured Guinevere. Merlin goes to rescue her, and the dragon is glad to give her back. The song parodied in this skit is Jailhouse Rock, with these lyrics:

The dragon has captured Lady G.
Don’t you worry, Excalibur is here.
Everybody knows that dragon is hot.
We’re rockin’ here in Camelot.

I like this front shot of Muppet Elvis Merlin.

 

The gag preview at the end of this skit is Tarzan of Graceland.

 

Elvis Caesar:

Here the Elvises are playing Brutus, Mark Antony, and Julius Caesar. There is no singing in this short skit, but there are plenty of gags.

The bit with Brutus brandishing a large knife was interesting, considering the actual facts of Caesar’s assassination.

 

The gag preview at the end of this skit is Sir Elvis Newton.

 

Someone has put together a YouTube video that combines all three Great Moments in Elvis History. Check it out.

 

I hope you enjoyed my three-part series on The Muppets and Elvis.

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

The Muppets – Origin of The Elvises

Editor’s note.  My blog platform has been acting up.  The first two attempts at publishing this left out some important stuff.  I hope I’ve got it right this time.

 

Although The Muppet Show went off the air in 1981, the Muppets are still solidly ingrained in American pop culture.  This is because Jim Henson and his associates have used every media platform you could think of.  There were little things like calendars, coloring books and records, and big ones like TV specials.  These started coming out early in the show’s history. Here are some of the 15 post-Muppet Show specials that continued the tradition:

The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show (1982)
The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986)
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (1995)
A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)

 

There were also two full-length television movies:

It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie 2002)
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005)

 

And a number of theatrical movies, including:

The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Muppets from Space (1999).

 

And, most important to Elvis fans, there were three direct-to-video DVDs:

Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs (1993)
Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
Kermit’s Swamp Years (2002)

 

Muppet Classic Theater is where the Elvises were born.

 

The Muppet Theater

 

Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo, the hosts for the show

 

Muppet Classic Theater was released in 1994 and contained six ten-to-twelve minute long skits inspired by fairy tales:

Three Little Pigs
King Midas
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Rumpelstiltskin
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Elves & and the Shoemaker

 

I guess the similarity of the words Elves and Elvis gave the Muppet’s brain trust the idea to show the elves as Elvises in The Elves and the Shoemaker.

 

The Muppet Classic Theater adaption of the story featured Kermit the Frog as the Shoemaker, who makes shoes so ugly that nobody will buy them. The banker demands that he pay half of what they owe him the next day, or he will toss them out. His nephew, Robin, wishes for a miracle and his wish is answered.

 

Later that night, three elves show up and start making blue suede shoes.

In addition to making shoes, the Elvises banter back-and-forth with some clever dialog.  And, of course, they sing.  They do an original song called “Bad Shoes Blues,” and it is excellent. It clocks in at over two minutes long, and they don’t just stand still and sing.  The puppeteers got very creative with the action.

 

Some of the lyrics of the verses are hard to understand, but the lyrics to the chorus are very clear:

Listen to the news
No more bad shoes blues
Any old rhythm you choose
I got the blue suede shoes

 

I’ve watched this video five or six times, so I’ve started to notice some cool little things.  Here, one of the elves moves around in front of the workbench, and the other two start doing choreographed moves behind him.

 

As they leave the shoemaker’s store, the host’s voice-over says, “Ladies and gentlemen, the elves have left the building.”

 

The blue suede shoes are a huge success, and the shoemaker pays off the banker.  In appreciation to the elves, he makes them sequined white jumpsuits.  They move to Las Vegas and play the big room at the Palace Hotel, two shows a night. The skit ends with them doing a reprise of “Bad Shoes Blues.”

 

Hopefully, this long introduction has you ready to watch The Shoemaker and the Elves video. It was posted online four years ago, and when I started this research, it had been viewed only 157 times.  Now it’s 169, so in addition to my views, some other folks pushed up the total.  I think some of you were intrigued with my tease last week and looked it up on Google. Now everybody can check it out, too. I can’t wait to see what the count is a week from now.

Here it is. The Elves and the Shoemaker.  I think you’ll love it.

 

The Muppets returned to TV in 1996 in a new show called Muppets Tonight.  It ran for three seasons, which was long enough for three more appearances by the Elvises in a recurring feature, “Great Moments in Elvis History.”

 

Next week, we’ll look at all three.

 

©  2019    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland  are registered trademarks of  Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Elvis and The Muppets

  

When I read that Sesame Street celebrated its 50th anniversary this fall, it gave me an idea for an ElvisBlog post.  I remembered seeing some of their Muppet characters dressed as Elvis on the internet.  But when I started researching it, I found that with two exceptions, it was mostly characters from The Muppet Show.  There is a difference.

The little guys in front of Big Bird above include Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Elmo, Glover, and Oscar the grouch.  Jim Henson was already a successful puppeteer when he created them for Sesame Street in 1969.

 

 

Based on the popularity of his characters on Sesame Street, Henson introduced a whole new group for his The Muppet Show that debuted in 1976.  In addition to Kermit and Miss Piggy, there was also Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, and Rizzo the Rat.

 

While Jim Henson had been pleased with the success of Sesame Street, that show had branded the Muppets as a kids’ act. Henson wanted to create a show that would be entertaining across all age groups. The Muppet Show had a zanier tone to their skits and some of their occasional characters were pretty strange – like Dr. Tooth and The Electric Mayhem band.

 

 

So, before we take a look at Elvis and the Muppets, let’s mention the two Sesame Street characters that did do an Elvis impersonation.

 

This is Elmo from a “Singing” episode on Elmo’s World where he sang “Blue Suede Shoes”.  To my eyes, his shoes look black.

 

 

This was corrected in 2000 when Fisher-Price released Elmo – The Legend plush doll.  He is dressed in an Elvis jumpsuit and sings some of his songs including, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and “All Shook Up”.

 

 

And this is Elmo dressed as a young Elvis singing “Viva Las Vegas” at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show.  Believe it or not, this was for a discussion session on the effectiveness of children’s educational electronics.

 

 

This is The Count, a Dracula-like character that showed up occasionally on Sesame Street. Here he is dressed in an Elvis jumpsuit and singing a parody of “Blue Suede Shoes.”  It was an original song with different music and lyrics that mention the shoes.

 

So, now let’s look at The Muppets and Elvis.

 

This is a drawing of Gonzo obviously doing an Elvis impersonation, but I can’t find a picture or clip of him doing it on the show.

 

 

This is Fozzie at the Graceland gates.  I couldn’t find if this was part of a skit on the show or was created for some other purpose.

 

 

This is Blogg, a minor character, wearing an Elvis jumpsuit.  I couldn’t find out if he sang a song on the show.  I did find that on one episode he formed an Elvis head out of his earwax.  Man, did I ever waste a lot of time looking for a picture of that.

 

 

I think this is Gene the Genie.  I found that he did an Elvis impression when he mentioned spending a vacation in Las Vegas.  I don’t think he sang.

 

Next week we will take a look at the biggest Elvis presence with the Muppets – a wonderful creation called The Elvises.

 

 

You are going to love these guys.

 

 

©  2019    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

  

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland  are registered trademarks of  Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Graffiti Artists Rev Up Their Imaginations with Elvis’ Name

For years I have been adding Elvis graffiti to my files –  some are images, and some just his first name. Let’s take a look at the variety of ways creative people have presented ELVIS. The one above is interesting to me because of the splotchy yellow background and the white and blue stripes inside the letters.

Also, please note that it is all capital letters, except the i. It seems the favorite way for the graffiti people to spell Elvis is ELViS.

 

 

 

How about this one painted on railcar in Vienna. It’s got multi-hues of turquoise, white, and a little green inside the letters. There are cool little snowflake-like dabs of white in between the letters. So, it’s got a whole icy feel to it. I love the dot over the i, and I’ll pass on writing anything about the part below it.

 

This one from Frankfort, Germany has Elvis spelled the right way. It is interesting for two reasons. It includes a decent reproduction of the famous photo of Elvis during his return to live performing in 1969. And the colored stars were a nice touch.

 

Here’s a variation from Soumi, Finland. That looks to be two-story building, so that’s a really big ELViS. The S is the most normal one in this collection. There are quite a few wild ones. Note the two white stars in the L. There’s a few more of the Elvis graffiti coming up that have additional artwork inside the letters.

 

I’m not too crazy about this one from Ottawa. The letters are too jammed up. No artwork in the letters or around them.

 

This one is nicely spread out – maybe too much with that column in there. Is that a period at the end of Elvis?

 

You might have to gaze on this one for a while before it comes into focus. It’s easiest if you just concentrate on the light tan tops of the letters and then follow them down through the orange-tan and mustard. Those pink and red edges of the letters are colorful, but distracting. I like the little white balloons between the letters. The message at the bottom right is interesting, and London at the other end tells you where it was painted.

 

Here’s one from Evansville, Indiana. I am impressed with the many different shapes and styles of these five letters we are seeing in this pictorial, and there are some strange ones coming up.

 

Like this oriental-looking design from New York City. I can’t figure out the meaning of the numbers painted inside the letters.

 

See anything weird about this one from Miami? At first glance it looks like an ELVIS graffiti, but if you look close, it spells EVILS.

 

Speaking of spelling, this sure looks like Alvis to me. It’s from Vienna, so maybe this is some sort of Germanic version of Elvis.

 

Earlier, we looked at Elvis spelled out in free-form, icy-looking letters. This one is also from Vienna, so they both may have been done by the same artist. It must take some talent to make it look like the faces of the letters are covered with Slushies, about to melt off.

 

Another from New York City. The design is is nothing special – except for the E. The artist turned it into a face, complete with sunglasses.

 

This one from Belgium is notable for starting Elvis on a fence and continuing on to a wall. And that looks like quotation marks before and after ELViS.

 

Here’s a New Jersey original. I like the shapes of the letters and the multiple colors inside them.

 

This is painted on a railroad bridge in New Jersey. I guess the railroad is OK with it, because the artist signed it. Note, all lower case letters.

 

Another one from Vienna. There must have been an Elvis Graffiti contest there sometime, because six of these have come from Vienna.

 

As does this one. I’m not too fond of it. If the centers of the letters were gold, not black, I might like it .

 

This is my favorite, and it comes from Belgium. I love the variety of colors and designs inside the letters.

 

 

This was fun for me to put together. Someday we’ll look at the Elvis picture graffiti.

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Elvis Goodies from the Fuzzy Room – Part 8

I didn’t do very well last time with the Elvis Centerfolds offering, but I’ve got an eclectic selection of Elvis goodies this time. Some are pretty special. See if you can’t help an old Elvis fan sell some stuff before he downsizes to a smaller house.

As always, prices are for delivery to USA locations. Shipping to Canada will add about an additional 35% to the cost. Sorry, but I can’t ship to any other countries.

 

Red, “Heartbreak Hotel” Elvis Beanie Baby:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

I scanned eBay to see what this Elvis Beanie Baby was selling for. I found out that ty has created dozens of different models of Elvis beanies. There’s a bunch of smaller ones. The most sought after themes are the larger ones – “Burning Love” (pink), and “Blue Hawaii” (blue), and “Heartbreak Hotel” (red). But, red is the only one with a guitar. “Blue Hawaii” is pretty cool, because it as a fancy wide belt, but I’ve got the coolest, and I’m selling it.

As far as comparable prices on eBay, I didn’t consider the low-ball prices on used ones, especially those with no ty tag. There were very few of the red Heartbreak Hotel Elvis Beanie babies offered that are like mine – new, with the guitar and tag. The lowest price I found was $24 delivered, and I’ll beat that. Just $14 for the best, coolest, red Elvis Beanie Baby.

 

Royal Bobbles Elvis Presley Bobbleheads

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

I did a blog post on these back in 2013 titled “The Battle of the Elvis Bobbleheads.” Actually, it was no contest. These Royal Bobbles models were the cream of the crop, and I have seen nothing new since then that challenges that. Here’s what their press release says about them:

“They are hand-molded, hand-cast, then hand-painted, hand-polished, individually hand-checked for quality, and then hand-packed. The result is that our pieces are much heavier, much more finely detailed, and of much higher quality. Royal Bobbles is leading the industry with their realistic and lifelike likenesses.”

The Royal Bobbles Elvis Bobbleheads are made heavyweight polyresin and stand at over 8” tall. The hand-painting is an especially noticeable on the Aloha from Hawaii white jumpsuit one.

“If you check the individual stones on the back and side of the Elvis ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ model, you will see the remarkable detail that went into painstakingly painting each tiny little stone by hand. Some of the details are so tiny that the artists had to use a brush with only one bristle.”

Can you imagine having the job of painting all these?

And I guess this is important to some people:

“Each figure features a hologram with a unique serial number on the bottom of the base to indicate authenticity.”

You can find both of these models on Amazon today – $26.95 for Aloha jumpsuit and $24.95 for ’68 Black Leather – plus freight (and these things are heavy). I’ll take $17.00 for Aloha delivered and $15 for Black leather delivered. Or, If you want both, how about $25? A very good deal. They have only come out of the boxes twice – to look at them when they first arrived, and to take the picture above.

 

Stained Glass Elvis:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

My dad was a stained glass hobbyist and he made this for me. We have his work in every window of our house, but we will be scaling down and will have far fewer windows. So, my wife has decided that if we can’t put up all of dad’s creations, Elvis will be among the missing. My loss, your gain. Just $15 delivered, with lots of care in shipping to make sure it doesn’t get broken.

One note. This is a one-sided stain glass item. If you hang it in your living room front window, it will look great from outside, but not from inside. The best spot to hang it is in a second story window with the face visible from inside.

 

Tanzania, East Africa Elvis Stamp Sheet:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

Nine Elvis stamps in an unopened clear plastic sleeve with the official EPE seal at the bottom left (hard to see in my photograph). A simulation of the seal is printed to the left of Elvis Presley on each stamp. The best price I could find on line was $6.05 plus $1.25 postage, and that was for used. You can pick up this pristine limited edition for just $4.

 

Elvis “Now Showing” Illuminated Musical Ornament:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

You can find this fabulous Elvis Christmas tree ornament on several websites for $39.95, the original price when it was first introduced. But some fool has it on eBay at $14.99 plus $8.95 shipping, so I guess that sets the market.

Not only is it illuminated, it plays Elvis singing, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”

Here is the ornament out of the packaging. Excellent detail work. Who wants to pick this one off for a bargain price of $16?

 

A 3-Pack of Elvis-Related Movie DVDs:

There were no takers when I offered these for $15 in February. I was surprised, because these are three interesting movies. Anyway, let’s drop the price way down to $8. Here are thumbnail descriptions about them.

Elvis Has Left the Building. Kim Basinger looks terrific as a travelling cosmetic sales woman who inadvertently kills an Elvis impersonator and goes on the run. Lots of strange stuff ensues, including a cameo by Tom Hanks. The finale with all those Elvis impersonators up on the roof of the casino is classic.

Finding Graceland. This one is more surreal but very satisfying. If you can’t imagine Harvey Keitel in a jumpsuit performing Elvis songs, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Within the context of this story, he is achievement of this goal is very believable.

ELVIS – The Mini-Series: This was an eight-episode TV series back in 2005 that’s been packed into 173 minute video. Johnathan Rhys Meyers won a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Elvis in it. He had the Elvis speaking voice down well, but fortunately he just apes it to the real Elvis on the songs. Be sure to check out his outstanding moves wearing the famous gold coat. Trivia: Robert Patrick plays Vernon. That’s quite a transformation going from T-1000 in Terminator 2 to Vernon Presley fourteen years later. This is a duplicate of the original DVD, but it plays great.

 

Autographed Elvis International Magazine Birthday Tribute ’07 Collectors’ Edition:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

This is 52 pages of excellent Elvis photos and articles. (three written by me). But this copy is special because it contains autographs by Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Gordon Stoker, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, and other performers at Elvis Week 2007 concerts.

For $18 you can add this to your collection.

 

Autographed Elvis International Magazine 50th Anniversary of Rock & Roll Edition:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

Another special issue, this time celebrating Elvis’ first recording in 1954. It’s got three lengthy articles by me, lots of wonderful pictures, and autographs by DJ Fontana, TCB bandmates Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, and Glen D. Hardin, and Elvis’ back-up vocalist Millie Kirkham.

Let’s price this one at $12.

 

Autographed Elvis International Magazine Winter 2000 Issue:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

This contains the first long article I wrote for the magazine. It was called “The Guitar That Changed the World,” which is title of an album Scotty Moore released in 1966. It contained 12 instrumental versions of Elvis hits, and Scotty was joined by DJ Fontana, Boots Randolph, and The Jordanaires. When I got to work back-stage at an Elvis Week concert in 2005, I got Scotty to autograph my article.

You can pick this one up for just $10.

 

White Pinwheel Jumpsuit Ornament:

Here’s another Elvis Christmas Tree ornament. Although it has no packaging, illumination, or singing, it does have a guitar. It is well made and decorated. It also has glitter that didn’t show in my picture for some reason

.

You may already have tree ornaments of Elvis, but you probably don’t have this white pinwheel jumpsuit with a cool cape. $8 (Shipping will cost me half of that because of the packaging I’ll need to insure that guitar neck doesn’t break off.)

 

“Elvis’ Humor – Girls, Guns, a & Guitars”

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

I have featured this book three different times On ElvisBlog. With the kind permission of author Bo Keeley, I took some of the funniest passages and added pictures to come up with blog posts. Bo was also kind enough to send me some free copies. They have a cover price of $17.95, but you can pick one up for just $7 delivered. A bargain for 375 pages of fun stories about Elvis.

 

A 3-pack of 50s Rock & Roll DVDs:

Editor’s Note:  This item has been sold.

 

These are rare and hard to find, and they will bring back memories for those of you who lived through the early days of Rock & Roll. For those of you who are younger, these DVDs will give you a glimpse of a remarkable era when life was simple and the music was the best ever. You can get all three for $12.

Jamboree: This is like watching an hour-and-a-half of MTV videos, 50s style. The featured singers are Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, Charlie Gracie, The Four Coins, Carl Perkins, Connie Francis, Frankie Avalon and more.

Rock & Roll and the 50’s: Watch this DVD and it will be like opening up a time capsule to an exciting era. In addition to all the music clips, there is news footage, TV ads and movie trailers. The singers featured in the music clips include Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin, Charlie Gracie, Bill Haley, and Fats Domino. And they sing multiple hits, not just one song. Set aside a whole night to watch this – it lasts for two hours and twenty-five minutes.

Rock, Rock, Rock: This is a movie in the rock-musical-romance genre. There is a bit of plot about a manipulative showbiz agent trying to land a pop singer and conniving to break up his romance with female vocalist. Tuesday Weld, who later played Elvis’ love interest in “Wild in the Country,” made her movie debut in this at age 13. Lots of musical performances are woven in, including Chuck Berry, The Flamingos, Frankie Lyman, The Moonglows, LaVern Baker, Johnny Burnette, and more. If you like watching 50s teenagers jitter-bugging, this is the movie for you. This one lasts for two hours and thirty-five minutes.

 

FREEBIES:

To make this more interesting, here are freebies you can choose when you purchase something else.

1st pick goes to who gets the~~~Bobbleheads set
2nd pick ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Musical Ornament
3rd pick ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Stained-glass Elvis
4th pick ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Elvis Beanie Baby
5th pick (if anybody passes)~~~3-Pack of 50s Rock & Roll DVDs

Here are the choices:

Elvis trading cards: This is 16 cards out of a set of 704, which is selling for $169 on eBay. These are terrific quality. Heavy glossy cardboard with sharp graphics. The backs of the cards are nicely done with interesting info.

 

 

All Access Backstage Passes: These aren’t from actual Elvis concerts, or they would be going for hundreds of dollars. These are from Elvis Week concerts: 2002 Salute to Elvis, 2007 30th Anniversary Tribute and Concert, and 2007 Good Rockin’. Pretty cool to own.

 

Little Elvis Box: This is a cute 4” square metal box with a clear plastic insert in the lid that allows you to see an Elvis photo inside.

Editor’s Note:  This item has been selected.

 

 

Miscellaneous Goodies: Here we have a “Greetings from Graceland” refrigerator magnet, a 60th Anniversary patch, and an unused book of Elvis matches. The match book is listed on several websites as very rare, but none available to sell.

 

That’s a long list of Elvis items, and I hope you’ll find something that appeals to you. If you want an item, send me an email at philarnold@charter.net. (Do not notify me of your interest on Comments.)

As usual, first come, first served. I would prefer payment using PayPal, but checks will work, too. When I get your email, I will initiate billing on PayPal. You approve it and I send the item right out to you. With a check, it’ll take a little longer. And if you live in Canada, let me know, and remember the delivered cost will be about 35% higher.

 

Thanks for your support.

Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister (2005-2019)

 

Elvis, Elvira, and Halloween

Over the years, I’ve done several posts that feature Elvis in Halloween themes, but the supply of pictures available for this has been pretty much used up. So, this year, how about an article on someone who made a career out of Halloween themes… and also had a connection with Elvis?

 

Yes, we’re talking about Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the costumed vamp who hosted a horror movie show on television and went on to great fame.

 

 

Cassandra Peterson created the Elvira persona in 1981. Prior to that, she was a Las Vegas showgirl.

 

 

It was during this period Cassandra Peterson met Elvis.

“I had been patterning my whole life after Ann Margaret in Viva Las Vegas. So, Yeah, luckily, really, I met Elvis, and it was kind of my dream come true because by the time I went to Vegas, and I did meet Elvis, it was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s coming true! The whole movie’s coming true, you know!’ And, so, I did hang out with Elvis for a while, and he was wonderful and charming and nice, very down home, very sweet, innocent kind of person. He was so different than what anybody would ever think. Not like Mr. Show Biz Time, just a nice, really charming, wonderful guy, very funny sense of humor.”

 

 

Cassandra Peterson got started as Elvira in 1981, but back in 1969 she was just a 17 year old, struggling showgirl, when a friend of Cassandra’s managed to get them both invited to a party at Elvis’ penthouse suite in the Las Vegas International Hotel.

 

 

 

Elvis liked to be around showgirls, and on this night he took an interest in Cassandra.

“Elvis singled me out. I sat at the piano and he played songs for me. We were singing together and he said, ‘Oh, you have a good voice. Why don’t you go take some singing lessons, learn how to sing, and get out of here?’ He said, ‘Because this is a real short-lived career, being a showgirl.’ So, next day, I mean, really, the next day, I went out and I signed up for singing lessons, and within just a few months I got a singing part in the show. It really was the thing I needed to kind of get me out of there.”

Later, in a more private setting, they talked all night, and a variety of subjects were broached. Elvis told her he was very spiritual and discussed numerology. He showed her a jewel-encrusted belt buckle — a present from President Richard Nixon.

“It was the biggest, gaudiest things I had ever seen, and he was just so thrilled with it, like he was a little kid.”

She told him she smoked marijuana and that she was a virgin and both revelations had an effect on Elvis. He lectured her on the evils of pot, and marveled that there was actually a showgirl virgin in Las Vegas. After a while, she came to a realization.

“It was clear that he was not going to, like, hit on me. I could kick myself now for telling him. It would have been great to have him as my first lover. If it’s got to be somebody, it might as well be Elvis.”

 

How’s that for an understatement?

 

 

 

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis and the Ed Sullivan Shows

There was some interesting history leading up to Elvis’ appearances with Ed Sullivan, just the kind of stuff that makes a good blog article.

Early in 1956, as Elvis’ career took off, Ed Sullivan was not interested in booking Elvis on his show. Sullivan even stated to the press, “He is not my cup of tea.” So, when Col. Parker offered to book Elvis for $5,000, Sullivan turned it down.

Another reason for Sullivan’s rejection was the famous Bo Diddley incident that turned Sullivan against all rock & rollers. In November of ’55, two of the hottest songs in the country were “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford and “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley.

 

Sullivan booked both singers on the same show, but Ford had to cancel at the last minute. In a decision that seems totally bizarre, Sullivan thought the song was more important than the artist, and he pressed Bo Diddley to sing “Sixteen Tons” on the live show.

If you remember “Sixteen Tons” and the music of Bo Diddley, you know how ridiculous that notion was. Bo Diddley certainly must have thought so, but he was just starting out and needed the exposure. He didn’t fight with Sullivan’s producer. They printed up cue cards with the lyrics to “Sixteen Tons” for Diddley, and he did the song in rehearsal.

 

However, when it was show time, Diddley performed his own song. This enraged Sullivan, and he vowed to see that Diddley would never appear on TV again. Of course, this did not happen, but he was banned from ever appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show again (as were The Doors and comedian Jackie Mason in the 60s).

 

With Sullivan showing no interest in booking Elvis, Col. Parker cut a deal with Milton Berle for two shows at $5,000 each. Berle was finishing up his eight-year reign as the king of comedy on TV. Elvis’ second appearance on June 5, 1956, was Berle’s last show and, whether he planned it or not, Berle went out with a bang.

 

Elvis’ wild gyrations while singing “Hound Dog” totally freaked out the nation. Teenagers loved it, parents hated it, and newspapers across the nation condemned it with lines like this:

New York Journal American – “primitive physical movement difficult to describe in terms suitable for a family newspaper.”

New York Daily News – Elvis “gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos.”

San Francisco Chronicle – “in appalling taste.”

No doubt, this just reinforced Ed Sullivan’s determination to never have Elvis on his show. However, by then, Elvis was already signed to appear on The Steve Allen Show on July 1, 1956.

 

This was in the Sunday night slot directly opposite The Ed Sullivan Show. Because of all the outrage over “Hound Dog” three weeks earlier on the Berle show, Steve Allen thought about canceling Elvis’ appearance, but instead had him wear tails and a top hat and sing to a basset hound.

 

So how did Steve Allen with Elvis do in head-to-head competition with Ed Sullivan? Allen clobbered the king of Sunday night TV with 55% of the nation’s viewing audience. The ratings war went to Allen by a 20.2 to 14.8 margin.

 

 

Sullivan threw in the towel and negotiated with Col. Parker to get Elvis on his show. Parker knew he was holding all the cards and muscled $50,000 from Sullivan, an unheard of amount at the time. So, Sullivan who had passed on Elvis when the tab was $5,000, now had to shell out ten times that amount to get him later. At least it was for three shows.

 

Here’s a side thought. Eight months earlier RCA paid Sam Phillips $35,000 for Elvis’ recording contract, and now he was getting $50,000 for three TV shows. Did RCA get a good deal or what?

 

I have read several reviews and commentaries that express how important it was for Elvis’ career for him to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. I beg to differ. By the date of the first show, Elvis already had three #1 hits. His first album, Elvis Presley, was a million-seller and the first rock & roll album to go to the top of the charts. He was already filming his first movie and was under contract for several more. His live shows were jam-packed with screaming girls, and hardly a day went by without stories and photos of Elvis appearing in newspapers and magazines.

 

For the first show, anyway, I think Ed Sullivan needed Elvis more than Elvis needed him. About all Sullivan did for Elvis was make him more acceptable to the parents of his adoring fans. At the end of Elvis’ third appearance, Sullivan came out and called him “a real fine, decent boy.”

Sullivan closed with, “We’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you; you’re thoroughly all right.” That may have allowed the parents to breathe easier, but it had no notable impact on Elvis’ career, which was already cruising away in overdrive.

 

This promo and press ticket are from Elvis’ second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Here are the three dates and the songs he performed at each:

Sept. 9, 1956

Don’t Be Cruel
Love Me Tender
Reddy Teddy
Hound Dog

Oct. 28, 1956

Don’t Be Cruel
Love Me Tender
Love Me
Hound Dog

Jan. 6, 1957

Hound Dog
Love me Tender
Heartbreak Hotel
Don’t Be Cruel
Too Much
When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again
Peace in the Valley

 

 

If you own this DVD set, you have watched all of Elvis’ performances in sequence. This cleared up the confusion in my mind about whether Ed Sullivan filmed Elvis from the waist up on all three shows or just the last one. Actually, Sullivan allowed full viewing of Elvis on just one song each on the first two shows.

 

The song Elvis performs above was “Ready Teddy,” and it is my favorite when I watch the shows on the video. Scotty rocks out on the instrumental bridge, and we get a full-shot view of Elvis doing some hot footwork. This is the Elvis I tuned in to see back in 1956, and my preference is no different today. I must admit that one of his moves looks like classic James Brown, but I don’t care. Elvis’ dancing was great and I wished it had lasted much longer.

 

The Jordanaires backed Elvis on every song and were constantly visible behind or beside him except for the tight shots of Elvis’ head. That’s fine, but all of the band together was not seen except on two songs. You could tell Scotty, DJ, and Bill were close by, so why the camera didn’t pan to them mystifies me.

I really love the Jordanairs, but I think they should have been off to the side, and the band should have been behind Elvis for more than two songs.

 

Aside from that little bit of quibbling, watching Elvis on the Ed Sullivan shows was a wonderful treat back when I watched them on my family’s 10” B&W TV… and it’s even better on that DVD above. Do yourself a favor and get a copy.

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

The Many Faces of Elvis

These faces of Elvis over the years are pretty much devoid of emotion. However, Elvis did have eyes and mouth that could effectively express a variety of interesting moods. Let’s take a look at the many faces Elvis could make.

 

Like this. Good smirk face, Elvis. Here’s my idea of what could have been going on here.

Elvis has just told his cousin Gene Smith about a wild time he had one night in Las Vegas. Gene’s looking at him saying, “No way, man… Really?” And Elvis is giving Gene this silly smirk and laughing inside.

 

This is Elvis’ grunting face, and he sure does it well. Squinty eyes, curled lips, and bulging veins in his neck. You know if Elvis put that much emotion into every song he sang that night, the fans saw a powerful concert. I wish Elvis’ lip had curled up this much when he did his classic snarl.

 

Contemplative? That seems like a good tag for Elvis’ facial expression in this picture. His hair style would indicate this is toward the end of the movie years. Yet the shading on his face makes Elvis look older.

 

What do we call this look? Bemused? Amazed? If we were to put words to this picture, it might be, “Wow, can you believe all this mail I got.”

 

This is from Elvis’ performance of “Don’t Be Cruel” on the Ed Sullivan Show. I have written several times about the hypnotic effect of Elvis’ eyes at the end of the song. In fact, the pictures in those other posts show it better than this, but I wanted to use this colorized one. So what’s the tag? Intense? Entrancing? Piercing?

 

This is obviously Elvis’ happy look. Enjoying the moment with him is Jan Shepard, who played Elvis’ sister in King Creole. Sure makes you wish you could have have been at that table with them, doesn’t it?

 

Elvis is having fun with a fan here. This is definitely his amused look.

 

Does anyone know anything about this photo? We could call it Elvis’ despondent look. Or, maybe he is just thinking, or resting.

 

This clip from Change of Habit tickled me for several reasons. First, Elvis looks like he is ready to audition for Jim Carey’s part in Dumb and Dumber. Second, that horse over Elvis’ shoulder looks pretty ominous. But not as ominous as that serial killer behind them that’s looking toward Mary Tyler Moore. Anyway, I’ll call this a dumber face, but maybe you can come up something better.

 

This is Elvis giving us his bad-ass teenage rebel look. Like I wrote about years ago, Elvis wore eye makeup on stage. Looks like he has some on here.

 

And we’d have to label this as Elvis’ super-cool look. Sitting in his hotrod looking out the open window at a couple of girls, and thinking, “OK, are you gonna get in the car or stand out there giggling all night.”

 

Somber? Suspicious? Elvis is keeping a serious eye on something. And he sure looks different in Charro than in the other movies. That black leather bracelet got a reprisal on the ’68 Comeback Special.

 

This could be called Elvis’ intense or intimidating face. If a sword had been swapped for the mic, and John Wilkinson was removed, Elvis would look like some sort of Bavarian warrior.

 

This is a photo you all have seen before, but what a great illustration of Elvis’ pained-looking face.

 

I think this face is hilarious. It is a screen grab from G.I.Joe when he and his Army buddies are on a troop train through Germany. If anyone would like to describe what expression this is on Elvis’ face, please give it a go.

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

World Space Week — Elvis Style

Have you ever heard of World Space Week? Me, neither. Of course, there are days and weeks for all kinds of things, and if you want to look at the list, the URL is at the bottom of this picture. I wonder who gets to pick them.

Anyway, I discovered World Space Week while surfing the net a few days ago. I knew I had to do a post on the connection between Elvis and World Space. That just sounded too good to pass up. So here are some images that work pretty well for me as an exhibit of:

WORLD SPACE ELVIS

 

I think this one nailed it. You’ve got Elvis, the world, and the space. The yellow color in the center is a nice touch. Unfortunately, not all of the pictures are this noble and mesmerizing.

.

This one is such a mess. Elvis is riding through space on a flying guitar case, dragging balloons behind him. He has on a suit, but he is barefoot. And, he has a little Christmas tree sitting on his lap. It looks like he will have to change his direction if he wants to get to that world up ahead. So, it’s a stupid picture, but it covered the three things we’re looking for — Elvis, world, and space.

 

This is the Chalmuns Cantina located in the pirate city of Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine. We’ve got Elvis and a space theme, but no world. Still, I like it, although the Photoshop work could have been better.

 

This one has two worlds and lots of space. I can’t decide if the floating musical notes are really needed, but they are different. I think the muted image of Elvis works well with the overall tone.

 

Here we have Elvis in name, but no picture. And, we’ll count the word planet the same as world. I showed this T-shirt picture before in an article inspired by this magazine cover.

I think World Space Elvis tops Planet Hillary.

 

I’m getting double usage out of this one, too. Although there’s no world in the picture, we do get a cool guitar that shoots out lightning bolts. Plus, Elvis has shoes on. Great picture.

 

I know I may hear from someone offended by this picture. Sorry. Elvis and space aliens. It looks like the Grand Poohbah is the blue guy on the screen. And they’ve got Marilyn Monroe back there destined to get the same treatment.

 

Back to the good ones. I like the way Elvis has stuck his guitar into the cloud. It’s just floating along beside him.

 

This is Space Dandy and his two loyal sidekicks. He’s wearing a jumpsuit — look at the red cape. And the hair. This is definitely a nod to Elvis.

 

This combines so much, but it’s still a stretch. The space connection is the Star Wars storm trooper outfit on a LEGO figure with an Elvis head on it. That’s a crummy Elvis face, though.

 

Although I rotated and cropped the original, this simple picture does offer everything in Elvis World Space. I don’t get what the message is with Elvis trudging along the top of that world, but I find this image interesting.

 

All it takes is an arm and a white jumpsuit sleeve to understand that it’s Elvis. It’s more difficult to understand what the point of this image is, but the touching fingers seems to be inspired by the art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I guess we should just enjoy the design and not think about it too much.

 

This was a pretty simple Photoshop job, but I like it. A good one to end with.

 

I hope you enjoyed observing World Space Week — Elvis Style.

 

 

©  2019    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland  are registered trademarks of  Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Some Thoughts on Elvis Caricatures

 

We have all seen caricatures of Elvis. When I started a file of them 14 years ago, the drawings were pretty simplistic and unmemorable, like the ones above. They did, however, meet the definition of a caricature:

Caricatures are images showing the features of its subject in an exaggerated way. Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary.

Don’t worry, none of the nasty ones will ever be put on ElvisBlog.

 

Artist unknown

 

Obviously, caricature artists have a highly developed sense of facial observation. They can look at the features of a face and know which ones could be best exaggerated while still keeping the full image recognizable. Back in January, 2005, a website with a very long name (www.drawing-faces-and-caricatures-made-easy.com)  had an interesting topic:

 

“What Makes Any Face Caricaturable? How About Elvis Presley?”

 

How about him, indeed. When I saw that title, I knew it was going to be an interesting article. An expert was going to analyze Elvis’ face for the benefit of aspiring caricature artists. Cool.

Anyway, the writer explained how he would draw several features of Elvis’ face. Here are the highlights of what he had to say. The first one is the most incredible description of Elvis’ hair that I have ever seen.

HAIR: “Big. Huge. Massive. Larger than life.” All the superlatives you can conjure up for that top-heavy, fifties, bow-of-a-ship, tough dude, frontal assault of a hair-doo.”

Artist unknown

 

The article goes on to state that effectively drawing Elvis’ hair is a challenge.

“The answer is capturing the 3-D mass of it all. How do you do that? Lots of contours and highlights. Elvis also has lots of loose dangling ends of hair that fall across his face. You’ll see that in almost every caricature of Elvis, artists capitalize on this.”

Artist – LockUp Wallace

Now that’s some serious 3-D Elvis hair. But there’s none of the dangling ends like in the first two pictures. If you scroll back up to check them out again, also notice Elvis’ chin.

CHIN: “Elvis has a full rounded chin. About the only thing else I can say about it is when you draw it, think “sphere” or “square” and try to incorporate those shapes into the chin when you draw.”

Sorry, I don’t think it’s possible to incorporate square into anything about Elvis.

Artist – markdraws

 

Here’s another exaggerated Elvis chin. Nice job on the lip snarl, too. The article had little to say about Elvis’ snarl, but it did point out his cheekbones.

CHEEKBONES: “Whereas Arnold Schwarzenegger boasted really hard angles in his face, Elvis is softer edged. He has prominent cheekbones. They may drop low, because they have a mass to them. They also seem to rise high as they roll past the level of the eyes. You’ll see artists grab on that, too.”

Artist – Ron K

Note that Elvis’ eyes are closed in this one.

EYES, EYEBROWS, EYELIDS: “Women just plain love Elvis’ eyes. Even if this is what women find sexy, here’s what I see as the observable deal. It’s the low riding eyelids, almost that sleepy eyed look. You see Jack Nicholson and John Travolta do it. In any case, it’s the confidence and control factor half-mast eyes seem to exude. That’s what I think it is about his eyes women like. Then you couple the low eyelids with the slightly quizzical raised eyebrows, you get that come-on look.”

 

Artist – Bruce Stark

You have to say that this drawing has distinctive eyes, but they are not quite Elvis’ eyes. The legs remind me of Woody from Toy Story.

Artist Gabby Correia

Here’s a great job on Elvis’ eyes. The artist also nailed the big 3D hair. Also, you may notice that Elvis’ mouth is rather small.

MOUTH: “Traveling south down his face, you encounter the cheekbones, then rather full cheeks, then a relatively small maxilla behind the mouth (that’s the bone that holds your upper teeth). This explains why his mouth may seem small compared to Julia Roberts (who has a very broad, flat-at-the-front-where-the-teeth-are type of maxilla.) So, if you relate all that to Mr. Average, you could play up the forehead and cheeks and shrink the mouth.”

Artist – Benjamin Strobel

This drawing captures the small mouth, the high cheekbones, and of course, the big hair.

LIPS: “For a white guy, Elvis has pretty full lips. Even though, as mentioned above, the mouth overall seems on the small side (from corner to corner), the lips — especially the lower one — are very full.”

Artist – Tom Richmond

Here’s another full-lips drawing. This image of Elvis that has grown on me since I first discovered it. I think it is one of the best black and white caricatures of Elvis.

Several of the pictures above show Elvis in jumpsuits, but for some reason, that was not mentioned in the article as a major element for caricatures.

Artist – Zuo Chen

This one is a little puzzling. That’s a 50s Elvis pompadour, but he’s in a 70s jumpsuit. It is also an example of a frequently used caricature device – big head on a small body.

Artist – Carreno

 

NOSE: “You’ll see his nose drawn with a very broad root (where it comes out of the forehead between the eyes), that maintains that width right down to the sharp tip. A tip that has a dimple in it dividing left and right halves.”

I was surprised that the article made no mention of Elvis’ sideburns. Some of the photos above had big ones. Here is another.

Artist – Zack Wallenfang

These count as serious sideburns. This drawing has Elvis’ shades in it, but they are not really exaggerated. Not many of the Elvis caricatures I’ve found featured the glasses. That’s surprising, because they are a distinctive element associated with Elvis.

Here are a few more good drawings with a little comment.

Artist – Dan Adel

Another large Elvis head on a small Elvis body. This one shows young Elvis with a handful of fans up close and personal. Nice concept.

Artist – David O’Keefe

The big hair pictures generally seem to be young Elvis. And yet, here the sideburns are very subdued.

 

Artist – Alberto “Sting” Russo

Here’s a great Elvis caricature featuring his lip snarl. I guess I like the touches of color, but I’d like to see this one without it, too.

 

Artist unknown

I guess this is not technically a caricature because nothing is exaggerated. But I like it a lot, so we’ll end with it.

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.