Remembering Millie Kirkham

Millie Kirkham

Just as I started to work on this year’s “Merry Christmas Elvis” post, I got the news that Millie Kirkham had passed away at age 91, after suffering a stroke last week. Hopefully, you fans all know her as the back-up singer with the sweet soprano voice that recorded and toured with Elvis for fifteen years.

Most tributes to Millie will feature later-day photos of her like the one above. But it didn’t take much looking to find some younger pictures from the period when she worked with Elvis.

 Millie-Kirkham-and-Five-Jordanaires-in-1958

Here she is with the Jordanaires in 1958. I’m not sure why there are five Jordanaires in the photo. Her first recording session with them and Elvis was for the Elvis Christmas Album on September 5-7, 1957.

 

Millie Kirkham, Elvis and Jordanaires

In this shot, the fifth Jordanaire is gone, replaced by some good-looking guy next to Millie.

 

Millie and the Jordanaires

Another one with the Jordanaires. Too bad the mic blocked out part of her face, because this is the most attractive photo of her in circulation.

 

Elvis with Millie Kirkham in Mini-skirt

This is my favorite picture of Millie Kirkham during the days when she worked with Elvis. It is from the movie That’s the Way It Is, filmed in 1970. Check out Millie wearing a white mini-skirt at age forty-seven. She, Elvis and the group are walking from the dressing rooms to the stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Back in 2007, I was a contributing editor to Elvis International magazine. The editor, Darwin Lamm, was promoting two concerts at Elvis Week that year, and he arranged for me to have a backstage pass for both nights. The line-ups for both shows were great: TCB Band, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham, and much more.

 

Backstage at the Legends Concert - 8-15-04

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo I took during the sound check for another concert back in 2004. Darwin Lamm is second from the right wearing an Elvis T-shirt. Millie is on the left, and behind her to her left are Gordon Stoker and the Jordanaires.

When Darwin told me I would have a backstage pass for the 2007 concerts, I knew I would be rubbing elbows with the performers. I wanted to be able to make conversation with all of them, so I did research and came prepared with stuff to ask them about.

 

Phil Arnold and Millie Kirkham

This is me and Millie in a room backstage that everybody seemed to hang out in. (note my pass) I got there early before the performers arrived and made like a fly on the wall for a while before going after everybody’s autographs. A number of people connected with Elvis popped in and out. It was like a big reunion. Ultimately, I got up enough nerve to ask everybody to pose in pictures with me.

I never had any private time with Millie in that gathering room, but she left and walked over to an area where folded tables and chairs were stacked up. So, I wandered into the area and asked if I could join her. She was very friendly, but to my big surprise Millie was a smoker. Here was an eighty-three year old woman whose career was singing, and she smoked. I couldn’t figure that one out, but I didn’t say anything. In fact, she offered me one and I accepted. Luckily I was a former smoker who could handle an occasional cigarette without going back to the habit.

So, Millie and I shared our smokes and chatted. This is where my research paid off. I told her I had recently watched That’s the Way It Is, and noticed the white mini-skirt she had worn. She laughed and said something like, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t have the legs for mini-skirts.” That opened the floodgates of conversation, and we had a delightful chat that lasted long after we snuffed out our cigarettes.

 

Millie Kirkham Ray Walker, Gordon Stoker

So, that’s my little Millie Kirkham story. I’m glad I have that memory. In this photo, she is with Ray Walker and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires. Unfortunately, I had to write about my 2007 Elvis Week experience with Gordon after he passed away last year. It’s disturbing every time we lose another person who was part of Elvis’ world.

So, goodbye, Millie. We will miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Keep Those Links Coming In

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody 2

My family and friends all know I am a big Elvis fan and have been doing ElvisBlog for ten years. So, when they come across something Elvis-related on the internet, they send me a link by email. Sometimes one of these will result in enough good stuff to turn into a blog post. Most don’t. However, the four links I’ve received over the past month are interesting, so here they are all together in one post.

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Unchained Melody:

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody 3

How many of you have seen this footage of Elvis singing “Unchained Melody” on April 24, 1977, barely four months before he died? If you have, you’ll never forget it. Elvis was bloated, sweating profusely, and performing through a cloud of painkillers. And yet, he gave an utterly moving rendition of the song. A great triumph for Elvis.

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody

I’ve seen it several times over the years, so it seemed like old news when both my son and an old high school friend sent me links to it recently. However, there was something new. Instead of just the film of Elvis singing to his own piano accompaniment, the new video included two minutes of Elvis getting ready to sing. He and Charlie Hodge talked, got the coke cup put where Elvis wanted, fiddled with the mike, and other little stuff. Realizing the delay, Elvis asked the audience, “How do you like it so far?”

So, the plan was to give you readers a link to see this very rare video. Sorry, look what comes up now:

Elvis Video No Longer Available

Come on Graceland. Give the fans a break. We know Elvis wasn’t well when this was filmed, but seeing it won’t diminish him in our minds one bit.

At least they haven’t removed the shorter video of Elvis’ performance. Click here to see a video that has been viewed over 1,300,000 times. (However, I believe they show the wrong date)

 

CMT All Time Top 40:

CMT All Time Top 40

Country Music Television conducted a poll among the biggest stars in country music to find out what artists influenced them the most. The top influence was Merle Haggard, followed by Hank Williams and Elvis. Then CMT interviewed some of the country stars that voted for each of the winners. In addition to Lisa Marie, the artists who spoke about their personal Elvis connection were Wanda Jackson, Trace Adkins, Brenda Lee, Charlie Daniels, and a pretty young lady I’m not familiar with named Ashley Monroe. However, when she said she has “Elvis” tattooed on her hip and “Love Me Tender” tattooed on her back, I became a big fan. Click here to view the Elvis video.

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Could Elvis Be Alive in a Parallel Universe?

Sounds like a cover story on the National Enquirer, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, this is the title of an article on BBC online.

Elvis Alive in Parallel Universe

Instead of the article being an absurd tabloid story, this is actually a highly scientific tome talking about fast-moving protons and other boring stuff. They could have used anybody’s name in the title, but there’s nothing like another “Elvis is alive” theme to suck in unsuspecting readers. I’m not going to bother putting a link here.

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Your 10 Favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Stars of All Time:

AARP  - Ten Favorite Rock and Roll Stars

Over the years, I’ve studied many varied Rock and Roll polls and even posted some articles about a few. One thing, I’ve noticed in that Elvis’ popularity (or his songs or albums) drops lower as the newer voters or selection committees are folks farther and farther removed from Elvis’ heyday. So, I was tickled when my neighbor sent me a link to a poll by AARP members selecting their Top 10 Favorite Rock ’n’ Roll Stars of All Time. I knew there would be no Lady Gaga or Foo Fighters in this poll.

Elvis Seated

I wish I could say that Elvis came in Number 1, but that honor went to the Beatles. It’s hard to see much in the little thumbnail strip above, but it shows the top eight (the first box shows screaming fans). The ten winners are:

Beatles
Elvis
Rolling Stones
Bill Haley and the Comets (obviously some real old-timers voted in this poll)
Little Richard
Chuck Berry
Jerry Lee Lewis
Beachboys
Buddy Holly
Everly Brothers

We can wonder what the list will look like when today’s twenty-somethings grow old and join AARP. I think maybe Elvis and the Beatles will still be on it.

 

I love discovering fun things about Elvis on the internet. Keep those links coming in.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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History Repeats — Geraldo Trashes Elvis Again

Geraldo Rivera Reports Elvis at 80

The night after Thanksgiving, I had the misfortune to watch this TV show. I had only modest expectations, thinking it would probably cover all the stuff we fans know so well already. However, after ten minutes, I realized this was a piece of trash journalism of the first order. After some research, I now know that Geraldo Rivera has a history of slamming Elvis going back to 1979.

The Elvis Cover up 1979

This was a September 13, 1979 episode of the ABC network show 20/20. The supposed cover-up was about Elvis’ abuse of prescription drugs.

The Elvis Cover-Up 20-20 Sept 1979

This is footage of Geraldo doing the Elvis Cover-Up. He seems pretty happy dragging Elvis through the muck, doesn’t he? Because that show scored huge ratings, Geraldo apparently couldn’t resist reusing significant portions of it in his new Elvis at 80.

Geraldo Announcing Elvis' Death 1977

He didn’t waste any time getting into old footage. He opened the show with a clip of himself announcing Elvis’ death in 1977.

In Elvis at 80, Geraldo’s first reference to Elvis and drugs came just two minutes into the program. At the thirty minute mark, Geraldo was still talking about Elvis and drugs. By this point, I was screaming at the TV, “Geraldo, you worthless piece of s**t. That’s enough. This show sucks!”

Another evidence of his lack of taste in Elvis at 80 was the eight minutes he spent on tribute artists rather than on Elvis himself.

17 year old ETA

Believe it or not, two minutes of the show were wasted interviewing this guy and having him sing a few lines of “Hurt.” No wonder some folks have a negative image of Elvis impersonators

If Geraldo hadn’t given so much time to the prescriptions and ETAs, he would have had plenty of time to cover all the things he never mentioned or gave only passing mention to, like:

Tupelo birthplace (didn’t even show the house)
Gladys and Vernon
Humes High School
Girlfriends June Jaunico and Anita Wood (but we did get an interview with Tori Petty. Ever heard of her?)
Sun Records (no inside of outside shots, no archival Sam Phillips footage)
Scotty, Bill and D.J. (totally unforgivable)
Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, and Steve Allen TV shows.
Significant movies (Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, Viva Las Vegas, Blue Hawaii, etc)
Circle G Ranch
Jaycees’ Outstanding Young American Award
’68 Comeback Special (far too little, considering the impact on Elvis career)
Elvis’ love for Gospel music
Aloha From Hawaii
Linda Thompson
Elvis’ charitable giving (no specifics, just a quick reference to his legendary generosity)

This is probably an incomplete list because just wrote down what came to me. If you spot a big omission, mention it on Comments and I’ll add it.

So what did we get on the show if they left out all these significant parts of his life and career? In addition to Geraldo’s favorite topics, drugs and tribute artists, we got a lot of face time of Geraldo himself.

Geraldo in Jumpsuit on Elvis Mania

He couldn’t resist showing himself in an Elvis jumpsuit. This old clip came from an August 14, 1992 show called Elvismania.”

We also got tiresome sound bites from a strange assortment of people: Gene Simmons (from KISS), Ray Stevens, Chubby Checker, Larry Gatlin, Neil Sedaca, and Tommy Roe. There was a little recycled footage of Priscilla (looked like something from an old Elvis Week interview.

On the other hand, Brenda Lee was good, because she had actual connections to Elvis to talk about. Best of all were Jerry Schilling and George Klein, both of whom I consider to be good guys among Elvis circle of friends.

Geraldo and Jerry Schilling

George Klein

Yes, there were short segments on Col. Parker, Graceland, Army life (including mention of Elvis’ introduction to GI Speed), Priscilla, and Lisa Marie. Near the end of the show, Geraldo stated that he would have loved to interview Priscilla and Lisa Marie, but they were unavailable. Yeah, right. They probably wouldn’t be caught dead appearing on a hatchet job like this show.

 

Geraldo had plenty of negative slams about Elvis in his narrative, but he did mix in some praise as well.

Slams

Fading King of Rock and Roll
Fat at forty, strained and swollen
The decline and fall of the king
Almost became a joke in the 60s
Enough dope from enough doctors to kill a horse
Worth more dead than alive

Praises

An idol to millions of us growing up in the 50s and 60s
He revolutionized the music business
In one way of another he touched most of us
His music will live forever
Enriched America’s cultural heritage

Geraldo Rivera’s website has its own Elvis Page, on which it says, “over the years, Geraldo has had some great insights on his (Elvis’) character, culture and place in the American sphere.

Did Elvis Committ Suicide

Give me a break. Do you call it insights or trash journalism when you do shows like The King’s Deep Dark Secret (1982) or Did Elvis Commit Suicide? (1990)?

Geraldo ended Elvis at 80 with this: “Elvis, thanks for the memories.”

I say, “Geraldo, this show is a memory I want to forget.”

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Thank you, thank you very much

Elvis Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving and Elvis. Three times in the past five years, I found enough photos connecting Elvis and Thanksgiving to create ElvisBlog posts. This year, because it’s the time when we all give thanks, it seemed like a good idea to Google ‘Thank You, Elvis’ and see what came up. With luck, there would be some pictures that could be used in another Thanksgiving post.

Well, not exactly. What Google did find were dozens of images containing the famous Elvis phrase, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” So, here are some of the best.

Elvis Thank You 13

Elvis Thank You 5

Elvis Thank You 7

Elvis Thank You 8

Elvis Thank You 6

Elvis Thank You 2

Elvis Thank You 1

Elvis Thank You 10

Elvis Thank You 18

Elvis Thank You 19

Elvis Thank You 17

Elvis Thank You 16

Elvis Thank You 4

Elvis Thank You 12

Elvis Thank You 11

Elvis Thank You 3

Elvis Thank You 9

That last picture looks like it came from a birthday celebration, but this is Thanksgiving, so we’ll end with this.

Elvis Happy Thanksgiving 2014

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Also check out:

Elvis and Thanksgiving 2009

Elvis and Thanksgiving 2010

Elvis and Thanksgiving 2012

(Editor’s note: I found the last picture on the internet and traced it back to the Facebook page of Wendee Preslee. If you’d like to see all her Elvis creations, click here.)

Elvis and Comic Books

 Elvis Reading Archie Comic Book

This is an altered Al Wertheimer photo showing Elvis traveling by train to Memphis on July 4, 1956. He is reading Betty and Veronica and Jughead comic books, which have been colorized. I found the picture on the website Dial B for Blog, the self proclaimed World’s Greatest Comic Blogazine. The site once did a four-part series on the connection between Elvis and Captain Marvel Jr., and I condensed it for an ElvisBlog article back in 2005.

 

Jughead's Folly 1957

As much as Elvis liked the Archie series comic books, it seems the feeling was mutual. This is a 1957 issue where Jughead imitates Elvis and sings “All Shook Down.” Jughead’s Folly is believed by experts to contain the very first reference to Elvis Presley in a comic book. For that reason, a very good quality copy of it sold for $460 at a 2005 auction.

 

Elvis on Archie and Me Cover

This Archie and Me issue has a drawing of Elvis on the cover. This artwork is much better than the one of Fats Domino’s face. It looks like the artist didn’t know who Fats was and painted Big Joe Turner instead. This comic book was part of a lot of 41 that sold at auction in 2008, so its value can’t be reported here.

 

Life With Archie

This time it’s Archie, not Jughead, with the guitar on the cover. Jughead doesn’t seem to be too happy about it. I guess he liked being the one making like Elvis. This Life with Archie cover showed up on Google, and the year wasn’t noted. But, it’s original price was just ten cents, same as the first one above that came out in 1957.

 

Elvis on Spoof Comic

Marvell Comics also put Elvis on the cover of a comic book. Actually, this issue of Spoof featured a galaxy of rock stars. Starting from bottom left above the railing, you can recognize the Jackson 5 (isn’t little baby Michael cute?). Above them are the Osmonds. Moving right we see John Lennon administering the oath of office to David Cassidy. To the right of John is Yoko Ono, then George, Paul, and Ringo. Next is Mick Jagger and another member of the Rolling Stones. Finally, we get to Elvis (did he ever really say “Far out?”). I guess the guy in the fluffy
shirt is David Bowie. This 1973 issue sold for $60 in 2007.

 

Elvis on I Love You Comic Book

I don’t know if Charlton Comics are still around, but they put out this      I Love You issue in 1966 with a drawing of Elvis on the cover. Too bad we can’t see what the “Here Comes Elvis” story is all about. This comic sold for $1,300 in 2011.

 

Elvis on Young Lovers Comics

This is a little different. Instead of a drawing of Elvis on the cover, here we get an actual photograph. The price is ten cents, so it probably came out around 1957.

 

Elvis-Looking Ren and Stimpy Comic

We’ll finish up with other Elvis-related comic books I found on the internet. This one is a kind of interesting variation on the Elvis stamp. Check out what’s in Ren/Elvis’ hand. It’s not a mic, it’s a hotdog.

 

Starman

I don’t know anything about Starman. If he’s a good guy, then the guy in the Elvis jumpsuit must be the villain.

 

King Comics

Is this Elvis-looking dude a villain?  Or maybe all those zombies are the bad guys and King is just a scary-looking good guy.

 

Trencher Comics

There’s no doubt that Trencher is the bad guy here. What’s up with Elvis’ hair? And what’s that sticking out of his mouth?

 

Elvis on Crossfire Rainbow Comic

We’ll end with a comic book cover that portrays Elvis as he really looked. Crossfire and Rainbow are the two characters at the bottom. The title of the story inside is “This Isn’t Elvis.” If not, he still had two fine side-kicks. Wish I could read the story.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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50th Anniversary Elvis Movie Pictorial: Roustabout — 1964

Roustabout

Elvis’ 16th movie, Roustabout, opened on November 11, 1964. It used to be more fun doing these pictorials on the early Elvis movies that were mostly pretty good. But, I found it hard to get cranked up for Roustabout, because I just don’t really care for it.

Elvis and Joan Freeman in Roustabout

Part of the problem for me is Elvis’ love interest in this movie. Joan Freeman just doesn’t work for me as woman Elvis would be attracted to. Or, maybe she just didn’t have the attributes needed to keep my interest. You women get to oogle at Elvis, but us male fans need our eye candy, too. Girls like Ann Margret, Yvonne Craig, Barbara Eden, Shelley Fabares, Tuesday Weld and Michele Carey. These love interests added some sizzle.

Elvis and Sue Anne Langdon as Madame Mijanou in Roustabout

In Roustabout, the only sexual tension came from Sue Ane Langdon, who as fortune teller Madame Mijanjou wanted Elvis badly, but he pushed her away for Joan Freeman. Stupid move.

Speaking of Sue Ane Langdon, Elvis must have liked her, because she later appeared in Frankie and Johnny with him.

Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, Nancy Kovack in Frankie and Johnny

This publicity photo shows Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, and Nancy Kovack. Now that’s some eye-candy.

So, what else does this dull movie have interesting enough to put in this article? How about the opening credits? Think about how many Elvis movies start with him travelling down the highway (or the air or the water) singing the title song. Here are some examples:

Elvis Singing Title Song - Follow That Dream

Follow That Dream

Elvis Singing Title Song - Girls, Girls, Girls

Girls, Girls, Girls

Elvis Singing During Opening Credits - Kid Galahad

Kid Galahad

Elvis Singing Title Song - It Happened at the World's Fair

It Happened at the World’s Fair

Elvis Singing Title Song - Fun in Acapulco

Fun in Acapulco

So, when Roustabout starts, we hear the title song and see a convertible coming down the road.

Roustabout Opening Credits

Naturally, we think it’s Elvis behind the wheel. But, no, it’s four college kids. Surprise.

Elvis Singing Title Song - Roustabout

See the dark haired girl in the back seat? This is Raquel Welch in her first movie role.

Raquel Welch in Roustabout

Raquel had one line. She says to this waitress, “How can you call this a teahouse, dear?

Raquel Welch and Guy from Girl Happy

See the guy next to Raquel in the blue letter sweater? He also showed up later in Girl Happy.

Elvis and Wolf Call O'Brien in Girl Happy

 

Roustabout has another actor in it with duel credits in Elvis movies.

Elvis and Jack Albertson - Roustabout

Jack Albertson as stage manager/MC at the roadhouse where Elvis performed in Roustabout.

Jack Albertson as Captain Salbo in Kissin’ Cousins

Jack Albertson as Captain Salbo in Kissin’ Cousins

And there is on person who appeared in Roustabout and five other Elvis movies as a dancer.

Elvis and Teri Garr - Roustabout

That’s Teri Garr to the right of Elvis. Check her out in other Elvis movies by clicking here.

Here’s some other Roustabout tidbits.

Elvis Winning Fight with Karate Chop in Roustabout

Elvis beats up on these two college smart-asses using karate. He used that a few more times in his movies, didn’t he? In Roustabout, Elvis actually has four fights. Seems like that should be a record, but I’m not going to watch all the movies again to find out for sure.

Elvis in Jail - Roustabout

Uh, oh, Elvis landed in jail. How many times has that happened in Elvis movies? Let’s see, Jailhouse Rock, Girl Happy… probably more.

While looking for photos of Joan Freeman, I came across this one:

Joan Freeman and Roy Orbison

Joan looks hotter here, but who is that with her? Give up? It’s Roy Orbison in his one and only movie role, The Fastest Guitar Alive.

Fastest Guitar Alive Poster

The movie was made in 1967 and is thought by some to be a classic because it is so weird.

Hidden Rifle in Fastest Guitar Alive

How’s this for a plot device? Turn that little knob and a rifle barrel comes out of a secret compartment and you’re ready to shoot-‘em-up.

Roy Orbison and Girls in Fastest Guitar Alive

In this promo shot both Roy and Joan look pretty good.

Roy Orbison Kissing Joan Freeman

And this is them kissing.

I always end these Elvis movie pictorials with a shots of him kissing his leading ladies, so here’s Elvis and Joan Freeman.

Elvis Kissing Joan Freeman in Roustabout

Frankly, I think Roy got the better kiss from her.

But, don’t worry, Elvis. You got this one from Sue Ane Langdon.

Elvis Kissing Sue Ane Langdon in Roustabout

You should have given in, Elvis, and enjoyed the sizzle.

 

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Graceland’s Elvis Pumpkin Contest Winners Announced

ElvisBlog Pumpkin Entry

No, this is not the the contest winner.  It is the ElvisBlog entry. Because there were actually three winners, the best I call it is the unofficial 4th place winner. Here are the top three:

Winner Graceland Pumpkin Contest 1

This appears to be carved on one of those foam craft pumpkins mentioned in the post two weeks ago (especially in the Comments). This medium certainly does offer enhanced design possibilities with all the variety of colors possible depending on how deep into the foam you cut.

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Winner Graceland Pumpkin Contest 2

I’ve got this figurine and several others, so maybe i’ll get an inspiration on how to use one without totally plagiarizing this concept.  I particularly like the hole in the top allowing Elvis to be lit from below.  Pretty clever.

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Winner Graceland Pumpkin Contest 3

I’m ambivalent about this one.  It probably isn’t up to the caliber of the other two winners, but it is certainly ahead of the losers.

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Speaking of losers, I have a photo file called Elvis Impersonator Losers (some are featured here). I think I should start one called Elvis Pumpkin Losers, and this group from the 2014 contest should be in it:

Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 1

How do you like the stem growing out of Elvis’ head?  Or the pink lips?  I always wondered why anyone would buy the fake Elvis shades with black sideburns hanging down.   Now I know.

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Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 2

OK, how about Albino Elvis?   Just love the hair.

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Graceland Pumpkin Contest Loser 3

So, maybe Magic Marker hair is even worse.  The blue suede shoes are a nice touch.

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Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 4

Is this Elvis or the Pillsbury Dough Boy?  With that huge nose, its hard to tell.

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Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 5

Another weird nose.  And hair line.  Interesting pendant and colorful collar, though.

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Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 6

If you showed this one to ten people on the street, how many do you think would recognize this as Elvis?

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Graceland Elvis Pumpkin Contest Loser 7

The mouth on this one is way better than the ones above.  But the hair?

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Presumably, there will be another Elvis Pumpkin Contest next year.  All, I can say is that hopefully Elvis fans will up their game and make better submissions.

Hope you all had a great Halloween.

©  2014    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis and the Top Ten Halloween Costumes

Top Ten Best Selling Adult Halloween Costumes

On October 19, USA Today featured an article about all the money Americans spend each year on Halloween. They showed a list of the top ten best-selling adult costumes according to the National Retail Federation. My first impulse was to try to find pictures of Elvis in each of those costume types and post them on ElvisBlog. Then I realized three of them were for females: Witch, Princess, and Wench/Tart/Vixen. That definitely made the challenge greater.

WITCH:

Priscilla Witch

As you can see, I was stymied by the number one costume on the list. If there’s a picture on the internet of Elvis wearing a witch’s hat, Google couldn’t find it. However, Priscilla makes a pretty good witch, so we’ll go with that.

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ANIMAL:

Elvis in Elephant Mask

I’ve never seen an elephant mask, but I guess Elvis found one for this shot.

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BATMAN CHARACTER:

Elvis as Batman

Elvis wouldn’t dress up as the Riddler or the Joker. No, sir, it gotta be Batman himself.

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PIRATE:

Elvis as Pirate

Elvis looks excellent as a swash-buckling bad-ass pirate, doesn’t he?

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ZOMBIE:

Zombie Elvis

Wow, Elvis wouldn’t get any candy coming to the door looking like this.

 

VAMPIRE:

Vampire Elvis

This is a great job making Elvis look like a vampire, but here’s another one I had to show, as well.

Dracula Elvis and Marilyn Monroe

Who wouldn’t want to bite into Marilyn Monroe’s neck?

 

DOCTOR:

Elvis as Dr John Carpenter in Change of Habit

This was too easy. Anybody recognize Dr. John Carpenter?

 

ACTION/SUPER HERO:

Elvis as Action Hero

I guess this would be Elvis as a generic action hero, but he sure looks like someone the evil guys shouldn’t mess with.

Hulk Elvis

The incredible Hulk is a super hero, isn’t he?

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PRINCESS:

Queen Elisabeth and Elvis Morphed

I thought the second costume associated with females would be a problem, but it wasn’t as bad as Witch. I could lie and say this is Elvis in a princess costume, but is actually some strange morphed picture of Elvis and Queen Elizabeth.

 

WENCH / TART / VIXEN:

elviris

Whoa. Now that is kind-of creepy.

 

Anyway, I hope you all have a happy Halloween.

Halloween Elvis

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Eight Years of Al Wertheimer Stories on ElvisBlog

Al Wertheimer Holding The Kiss

Al Wertheimer Holding “The Kiss”

If you regularly follow other Elvis websites or blogs, you probably already know about the passing of Alfred Wertheimer, the iconic photographer who snapped over 4,000 photographs of Elvis in 1956. The remaining circle of folks with a connection to Elvis shrunk again Sunday when Al died of natural causes at age 85.

Fitting tributes to Al Wertheimer are all over the internet, but most tell you the same information everyone else has. You may feel like you’ve heard it all already, but please don’t skip this article. In 2006 and 2010 I had six lengthy telephone interviews with Al, a total of 8-1/2 hours, and he really told me some stuff. Enough to result in eight ElvisBlog articles, a six-page spread in Elvis The Magazine, and the forward to Al’s book, Elvis: The Early Years. Here they are in chronological order.

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The Al Wertheimer InterviewElvisBlog, June 4, 2006:

Darwin Lamm, the editor of Elvis The Magazine set up a phone interview between me and Al Wertheimer so I could get material for an article celebrating the 50th anniversary of him taking all the photos of Elvis.

Elvis The Magazine - August 2006

Elvis The Magazine – August 2006

Actually, I had two interviews with Al on successive nights totaling 5-1/2 hours.

The best paragraph in this blog post was a thumbnail description of Al‘s experience with Elvis:

During Al Wertheimer’s odyssey, Elvis performed two live concerts, did a rehearsal and two live TV shows, and recorded “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis moved around between three states: New York, Virginia, New York, and Tennessee. There was nearly fifty hours of train travel linking it all together, none of which Al had to share with any other photographers.

This blog article was pretty much a tease for future posts about Al as well as the magazine article, but it hopefully it whetted the readers’ appetites for more.

Al Wertheimer Showing his Photo in Magazine

Al Wertheimer Showing his Photo in Magazine

Click on the article title above to read the whole post.

 

Elvis Departs for GermanyElvisBlog, June 18, 2006:

One thing omitted from most Al Wertheimer biographies is that he also photographed Elvis a second time in 1958 when he boarded an Army troop ship for the trip to Germany. Al was one of 250 reporters, photographers and cameramen, so his photographs weren’t much different than those taken by others.

Elvis Boarding USS General Randall

Elvis Boarding USS General Randall

However, Al told me about some of the things he witnessed that day, like this:

The ship had four decks and soon Elvis appeared on the top one – along with Col. Parker. Wertheimer wondered to himself, “What is Parker doing on a troop ship?” To give something to Elvis, it turned out. Elvis opened a box from Parker, and guess what it contained? Dozens of playing-card-sized autographed photos of Elvis. Then, Elvis flipped then one-by-one over the railing, and they fluttered down to lucky fans standing on the dock four decks below as the band played “Hound Dog.” Just your average troop deployment.

For more of Al’s memories and thoughts about this day, click on the title of the blog article above.

 

Alfred Wertheimer – But His Friends Call Him Al ElvisBlog, July 18, 2006:

Franed Copy of Elvis on his Harley

Franed Copy of Elvis on his Harley

I have referred to Alfred Wertheimer as Al several times so far. This old blog post explains why that is. But the fun part of this article is about the time Elvis took Al for a ride around Memphis on his Harley:

Although Wertheimer had taken almost 4,000 photos of Elvis during the previous week, he had no shots of himself and Elvis together. He tried to correct that while they zipped along on the cycle. He held the camera out as far as he could with one hand and shot back toward their faces. It was a big guessing game as to the proper angle and alignment, so Wertheimer moved the camera around and kept snapping until he ran out of film.

When he developed the prints and discovered his guesses at the correct shooting-backward camera positions were all wrong. He got Elvis’ cap, his nose, and a few full-face shots of Elvis, but none contained his own face, too. Oh well, at least he got to ride on the Harley with Elvis. How many people can say that?

Elvis and Al also ran out of gas on that Harley ride. To read about that and other good stuff, click on the title above.

 

Al Wertheimer: Have Photos, Will TravelElvisBlog, December 9, 2007:

This post resulted from a two-page letter Al sent me outlining his recent travels to Holland, Paris, and China in support of various projects with his Elvis photos.

I also used the occasion to tell about the time that Al inadvertently caused an article I wrote specifically for the 25th Anniversary issue of Elvis The Magazine to get bumped.

…. a four-page picture spread of six photos Al Wertheimer took of Elvis back in 1956… those four-pages were originally supposed to be mine. I had a lengthy article already approved and submitted with art-work at the graphic designer for lay-out. Then, a week before the magazine went to the printer, editor Darwin Lamm acquired six new Al Wertheimer pictures. Of course, he wanted to get them into the issue, but he needed a lot of space so the photos could be presented large size. Guess whose article got cut? It killed me not to be in the biggest and best issue in the magazine’s history.

By now, you know the drill. Click on the title to read about Al’s travels and more.

Only Known Photo with both Elvis and Al Wertheimer in It

Only Known Photo with both Elvis and Al Wertheimer (top left) in It

 

Writing With WertheimerElvisBlog, August 22, 2010:

I got to brag a little in this article. It told the story of how I was selected to write the forward for Al’s latest book of photographs, Elvis: The Early Years, published by earBooks.

The following snippet mentions ‘my article’ which was the one I wrote for Elvis The Magazine — “Al Wertheimer – 7 Days with Elvis, 4,000 photographs, 50 Years Ago”:

Alfred Wertheimer’s last book, “Elvis at Twenty-One,” contained a foreward by noted Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick. EarBOOKs’ editor Astrid Fischer wanted to use somebody new this time, so she did an internet search and found my article. She liked what she read, and she contacted Alfred Wertheimer to get his opinion. He told her he “found the text very good.” Ms. Fischer then contacted me and we worked out a deal for me to write the forward. To say the least, I am thrilled to be associated with an Alfred Wertheimer project.

The rest of the blog post covered four stories about Al and his Elvis photos: two travelling exhibits, the use of twenty images in the new Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis, and Al’s participation in the 2009 Elvis Cruise. Al told a couple of good cruise stories.

Al Wertheimer in his Office Surrounded by His Elvis Photos

Al Wertheimer in his Office Surrounded by His Elvis Photos

 

Elvis: The Early YearsElvisBlog, November 14, 2010:

Elvis   -  The Early Years

Elvis – The Early Years

The title of the forward I wrote for this Al Wertheimer book was “Elvis Presley – Before the Opaque Curtain Fell.”

We agreed on a title for the forward that incorporated a line he had written years earlier. When describing how Col. Parker severely restricted media access to Elvis in late 1956, Wertheimer said, “I believed an opaque curtain had been lowered around Elvis.”

Al kindly gave me permission to reproduce the entire forward on this blog post. Be sure to read this one. If you really want to learn about Al Wertheimer, this is for you.

 

Al Wertheimer Reflects on Photographing “The Kiss” ElvisBlog, August 20, 2011

This one was fun to write. My 2006 phone interviews with Al were preserved on tape. So, when the news came out revealing who the woman in it was in Al’s iconic photo, “The Kiss,” I remembered he had lovingly related every detail about taking this shot. I asked if I could reproduce it word-for-word on ElvisBlog, and he kindly agreed:

I move in three or four feet, I take another shot. And then I go Hollywood. I say, “Well, this is not too good an angle. I can get a better angle than that.” So, I climb up on the handrail, and now I’m three feet away from them. Elvis is up against the wall while she is sort of in his arms.

And now I’m clicking away and they still don’t see me. Totally oblivious to me. I now get courage, so now I’m doing like acrobatics with my legs, leaning forward. I’m practically on top of their heads.

Of course, Al took many shots during this episode, and he gave me the okay to use three of them that illustrated the narrative.

Al Wertheimer Shot of Elvis Moving in for The Kiss

Al Wertheimer Shot of Elvis Moving in for The Kiss

Please check out all of Al’s recollections and pictures in this blog post.

 

Al Wertheimer and the Dreaded Tonto Bar ElvisBlog, March 17, 2012:

By this time, I had been added to a list of email contacts Al would occasionally send stuff to. This post started with a cartoon that he liked and shared with us. When I sent back a thank you to Al, I also included a photo of Elvis on the Steve Allen Show that I had recently found on the internet, and I asked if it was his. It was, but Al said he had a better one and sent it to me. So, that picture ended up on the blog post, too, along with the story about the “Tonto Bar” in it.

Do you know what Elvis is doing here? If you are familiar with his 1956 TV show appearances, you might recognize this shot from the Steve Allen Show. It is from the same night when Elvis had to wear a tux and sing to a real hound dog. Allen had Elvis in a skit about cowboys. Here we see him shooting a dreaded Tonto bar being pulled along the stage on a wire. The skit was pretty lame, but I always enjoy watching Elvis doing it.

Elvis Shooting the Tonto Bar

Elvis Shooting the Tonto Bar

As usual, Al informed me of his latest project. So, this blog post includes news of his “Elvis at Twenty-One” touring exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

One other paragraph in this blog post causes me regret:

I keep asking him if I could do another phone interview, this time about his gig as a film photographer at Woodstock, the 1969 three-day festival of love and peace. Al was on the Woodstock staff. Talk about being in a situation that gives you amazing opportunities for memorable events. You know Al has to have some good stories to tell. I’d be very pleased if I can someday write about them.

Well, I never did get to do that interview, but I will always have fond memories of the other ones with Al Wertheimer.

Al Wertheimer and Elvis' Teddy Bear

Al Wertheimer and Elvis’ Teddy Bear – 1956

Al Wertheimer Signing Elvis at Twenty-One

Al Wertheimer Signing Elvis at Twenty-One – 2012

 

Al often signed his emails

Be well,
Alfred

So, I’ll repeat it here.

Be well, Alfred, and say hi to Elvis for us.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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The Elvis Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Announcement of Elvis Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Did you see this announcement on Graceland.com a couple of weeks ago? I’m going to enter it, and maybe I’ll win the $100 prize.

2014 Elvis Pumpkin Contest Prize

Too bad I didn’t enter the first Elvis Pumpkin Contest back in 2012 when the prize was $250. Wonder why they cut it back?

 2012 Elvis Pumpkin Contest Prize

 

ElvisBlog usually has an Elvis/Halloween post each year, and some of them have featured pumpkins carved with his image. The first was back in 2008, so unless you dig deep into the archives, you likely haven’t seen most of these. So here is a look at the best of the Elvis Pumpkins from those posts.

Outstanding Elvis carved pumpkin

I wanted to start with this one for two reasons. First, it is just an outstanding design. And, second, it is an example of what seems to be becoming a lost art – cutting completely through the shell to make the image.

 

Elvis Pumpkin 2

This is equally outstanding work, but here only the outer dark shell is carved away. Light inside the pumpkin shines through the thinner yellow membrane to show off the design. Here are nine more designs using this technique.


Elvis Pumpkin 3

Elvis Pumpkin 4

Elvis Pumpkin 5

Elvis Pumpkin 6

Elvis Pumpkin 7

Elvis Pumpkin 8

Elvis Pumpkin 9

Elvis Pumpkin 10

Elvis Pumpkin 11

 

Here’s yet another carving technique where the design is revealed in relief by cutting away the thick pumpkin shell to different depths.

Elvis Pumpkin 12

 

The next design seems to be some advanced technique that involves copying an Elvis image to the pumpkin and possible even adding colors. The white on the jumpsuit just doesn’t look like something you get naturally from the pumpkin. Kind of seems like cheating.  (Editor’s note:  The “seems like cheating” reference here was in bad judgement.  I should have quit after “just doesn’t look like something you get naturally from the pumpkin,” because that is true.  This design was carved on a foam craft pumpkin bought at Michael’s Hobby Shop.  Check out the comment below from the carver, Bryan Moore, who describes the whole process and many other interesting things.  Sorry, Bryan.)

Elvis Pumpkin 13

 

So, we’ve seen four different techniques for Elvis pumpkin decorating. I have a fifth one that I will submit to the contest.

ElvisBlog Pumpkin Entry

It helps if you own your own personal granite Elvis bust. Wish me luck.

 

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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