Monthly Archives: June 2008

Another Chance to Vote on Elvis Images

It was fun to write recently about the 1992 voting for the favorite Elvis stamp picture.  There are probably many younger ElvisBlog readers who didn’t have the chance to participate, and maybe there are some older ones who never made it down to the local post office to vote.  Well, here’s a chance for everyone to decide which Elvis image they prefer in a dozen different categories.

There is no ballot to mark, and votes won’t be tabulated, but you still can have some fun making your picks.

image                                  image

Elvis Silhouettes:  This choice follows the pattern of the stamp voting, because there is a young Elvis in white-on-black and there is a 70s Elvis in traditional black silhouette.  (Ed. note: A number of easily recognizable Elvis silhouettes have shown up in fabric designs, bonus Elvis CDs on TV Guide covers, and Elvis Week advertising.  Some day we need to do a story on them.)

image                                      image

Elvis Caricatures:  We continue with the young Elvis vs. Older Elvis theme.  If the smitten fan had been in the younger picture, I doubt that there would be much of a contest here.  However, Elvis’ attraction to the ladies adds extra appeal to the not-so-complimentary depiction of jump suit Elvis.



Triple Elvis:  It’s certainly hard for me to pick a favorite here.  I have always thought Elvis looked sooo baaad in that black leather suit, and the first choice has three different poses of him in it.  There’s also one black leather picture in the other composite, and I really love the progression from 50s to 60s to 70s.  Tough choice.   image              image


Jukebox Elvis:  Both of these pictures contain familiar shots of younger Elvis.  I’d like to call my vote a tie, but that’s pretty lame.  OK, I’ll pick the Elvis from the Milton Berle Show.  Do you know which that is and where the other one came from?



Star Trek Elvis:  You have seen Spock Elvis before in Fun With Elvis In Photoshop – 2, posted last April.  Since then, I discovered Kirk Elvis while surfing deep in the net.  Check out the belly roll on Kirk.  Your choice here will probably depend more on your preference for Star Trek characters than the Elvis faces morphed onto the bodies.

image                                          image

Silver Lamé Suit / Green Lamé Suit:  Well, you’ve seen pictures of the gold lamé suit a million times, but here are two variations (although neither silver nor green is a cool as gold).



Really Old Elvis:  These two photoshop workovers are pretty interesting.  Lets face it, everybody gets old and loses their looks.  How do you like the one that makes Elvis look like some sort of mad scientist?  The other has a hint of Arnold Palmer, doesn’t it?



Foreign Elvis Stamps:  Dozens of countries have issued Elvis stamps, or more accurately stamp sets showing six or eight different Elvis images.  Here are sets form Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.  Although I couldn’t locate either one on a world map, their stamps are just more proof of the adage presented here frequently – Elvis is everywhere.



Cartoon Elvis:  Fred Flintstone and Homer Simpson as Elvis.  It’s so hard to choose.  (Ed. note: The Flintstone Elvis picture is a photo of a T-shirt I own.  If The Simpson picture ever shows up on a T-shirt, I’m buying it.)



The Elvis Lip Snarl:  I’m not crazy about either of these two images, but the different depictions of Elvis’ famous lip curl intrigues me.  So, forget about the young versus old thing and just pick your favorite lip.



Elvis Statues:  The first statue is in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.  I found the second picture on both French and German web sites, so I assume the statue is somewhere in Europe.  However, I don’t know either language, so I couldn’t read the text that told where it is located.



Elvis Sweeties:  These are two shots you haven’t seen much, if at all.  For my money, these are the two sexiest shots ever of Priscilla and Linda Thompson.  All I can say is “Elvis, you lucky dog.”


©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved



I ran into a few things about Elvis on the Internet that tickled me.  One was a UPI story from Stockholm.  Recently the National Tax Board of Sweden ruled:


            Elvis is the first name of a masculine type.


Wow, that’s a revelation.  Did you ever think otherwise?  Not me.


The Tax Board has told a Swedish couple that Elvis is not an appropriate name for a girl in Sweden.


Wow, they’ve got a board in Sweden that tells people what names not to give their babies.  That’s scary.  But, even worse, what’s their problem with Elvis?  That is a terrific name for a female.  Even though I’ve always thought it was masculine, I can see the name working for a girl.


Can’t say that I’ve ever met a woman named Elvis.  I wish I knew one, because I’ll bet she would be fun to be around.  Hell, I’d like to meet her parents.  Buy them a drink and talk about Elvis for hours.


Anyway, back in Sweden, the couple said they picked the name because they liked the sound.   Well, we hear the word Elvis spoken all the time.  Elvis is everywhere.  And, I guess it does sound pleasant.  Good name – for boy or girl.


Guess what the couple said was the most important quality they wanted in a name for their daughter?  That it be gender neutral.


The mother said, “We talked about a lot of names and then Elvis popped up.  We thought that it was a name that was both pretty and gender-neutral.”


She’s right.  If you think about it, the name Elvis is pretty.  I like this Swedish couple a lot more that that stupid Tax Board. 


Or at least I did until I read, “We’re not Elvis fans at all.”  Ok, forget what I said about meeting the parents.



The next funny thing about Elvis wasn’t really in the news.  It was in an e-mail.  My friend, Jim Lane, recently went on vacation out west, and here is what he wrote:


            “At Pike’s Market in Seattle, an old guy was playing the 

            acoustic guitar hoping people would throw money in his

            guitar case.  Along came a middle-aged guy with an Elvis

            belt and cape.  He put down a tip jar and started in on ‘All 

            Shook Up.’  Before the song was over, he made more money

            than that first guy had in 20 minutes.” 


Well, it just goes to show you that a tip jar snags more money than a guitar case.


No, I think the cape was the trick.  This wasn’t an Elvis Tribute Artist in full jumpsuit splendor.  Just a guy with a big belt and a cape and an acoustic guitar – singing some Elvis and bringin’ in the dough.  What a great gig.


My thanks to Jim for the story.



Back to  European countries.  According to, in an article about little known Swiss facts:


            “Swiss law forbids you to mow your front lawn while dressed as Elvis Presley.”


No problem.  Just wear a big belt and a cape.



And finally, we have two stories from a news website called The Spoof.  That title gives you a clue about the veracity of their articles.


The so-called breaking news report was titled, “Elvis Had Sex With Aliens.”  The source for this news was an old Elvis Memphis Mafia buddy, Lama Fyke, who supposedly said:


“Did you ever wonder why Elvis’ bedroom is off limits when you tour Graceland?  It’s because he’s up there, man.  I’m only revealing this because I need the money.”


That’s funny.  I like that line, whether it has a ring of truth or not.


But, here is the best one of all from The Spoof:


            “In a related story, a tourist on Beale Street [in Memphis] was

            sighted wearing a tee shirt that read:


Elvis Is alive and living in my pants

Feel him for a quarter.’”



©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved




Voting For The Elvis Stamp

I’ll bet not many ElvisBlog readers have heard of John Berkey.  He was a successful artist who died a few weeks ago, and he had a connection to Elvis.  Berkey painted the older Elvis picture that lost in the voting for the famous Elvis stamp.


There was no mention of his passing on or, my main sources for Elvis news.  However, it was mentioned on Star, for several reasons.  George Lucas commissioned John Berkey to work on pre-production designs during the planning stages for the Star Wars movie.  Berkey also painted the cover of the 1976 novelization of the movie, and he painted a poster depicting a dogfight over the Death Star.  The poster became a bonus insert in the original Star Wars soundtrack LP.




I wouldn’t have known about John Berkey’s passing if not for one of my blogger buddies, Tygrrius, who hosts  Ty is a science fiction movie fan and also an Elvis fan.  He and I did a little e-mailing back-and-forth about the news, and Ty mentioned that he voted for the older Elvis picture in the stamp competition sixteen years ago.  I voted for the younger Elvis, so we had a lively discussion.

In case there are some readers who are too young to remember the voting for the Elvis stamp, here is some history.  It took years of public campaigning before the US Postal Service decided Elvis was a proper choice for a commemorative stamp.  Members of Congress even debated the worthiness of Elvis as a stamp subject.

But, once the Postal Service embraced the idea, they decided to go big time with it.  The poster below announced there would be an election to decide which Elvis picture the public wanted to be on the stamp.  The poster was prominently placed in every post office in the country, as well as in the April 13, 1992, issue of People magazine.  The Postal Service showed surprising cleverness with the line “Decide Which Elvis is King.”





In order to vote, you had to go to the post office and get an official postcard-sized ballot.  The postal employees were not overly accommodating to Elvis fans trying to accumulate quantities of these as collectibles, but I was still able to get ten.  I mailed in seven and kept the other three with my stash of Elvis goodies.  You couldn’t fill the ballot out right there at the post office and give it back.  Oh no, you had to mail it in, requiring you to buy a stamp for each one.  Somebody at the Postal Service probably got a bonus for coming up with that profitable idea.  A total of 1.2 million ballots were mailed in, so you can do the math.


The two choices were marked “A” and “B” but everyone called them “Young Elvis” and “Old Elvis.”  “Young Elvis” was painted by Mark Stutzman, who depicted Elvis as he looked in a still shot from the 1956 movie Love Me Tender.   Stutzman’s images of Elvis and three other early rockers were used in the set of Legends of American Music stamps a year later.  “Old Elvis” was painted by John Berkey, who drew Elvis very similar to a shot from the Aloha From Hawaii TV special.  Over the years, a total of 16 Berkey drawings appeared on U.S. stamps.

image       image

Elvis was only 38 in the Aloha shot, so “Old Elvis” was not really fair.  However, some folks were even meaner and called it the “Fat Elvis.”  That was totally outrageous, because Elvis trained and dieted for months before that show, and he was in terrific shape.
I voted for “Young Elvis” without the slightest hesitation in making my decision.  I was 14 in 1956 when Elvis burst on the scene and changed everything.  He made a huge impression on me that year, so, in my mind, the “Young Elvis” just had to be on the stamp.  Fortunately, “Young Elvis” won over three-quarters of the vote.  I would have been crushed if it had been any other way.
As I said earlier, my friend Ty at The Film Frontier website told me he voted for the “Old Elvis.”  Well, Ty was only 17 when the voting was conducted.  He had never experienced the excitement of the young Elvis.  In fact, his introduction to Elvis came as a child when his mom played  her favorite Elvis music from the 1968 to 1977 period over and over. 
Even as a teenager, Ty was so adamant in favoring the mature Elvis stamp picture, that he wrote this letter to his local newspaper:
“It is time to clear up a common misperception about Elvis Presley.  The news media have been referring to the 70s Elvis postage stamp picture as the “porky” or the “older and wider” Elvis.  People who make these comments clearly have never given the 70s stamp picture more than a passing glance, for it is obvious that the Elvis shown is no more overweight than the one pictured in the 50s version.”
Ty sent me an August 1992 AP newspaper article that showed John Berkey was also upset over criticism that began even before his design was unveiled:
           “I understand what happened, the negative feelings.  But I  painted the King.  That other guy is a prince.  As a matter of fact, he weighed 160 pounds and he was 38 years old, at the time.  That’s not fat and that’s not old.”

To this day, Ty still favors the mature Elvis stamp picture.  He sent me a clip from a 1994 newspaper with a quote by a nine-year old girl:
“(In the 50s stamp), he’s just holding a microphone here.  I like him (in the 70s stamp) because he’s singing.”
Ty also believes that if Elvis had voted, he would have wanted to be memorialized with the stamp picture showing him singing .  Maybe so.
Ty and I both agree that the Postal Service was correct in selecting the two best finalists for the voting.  They commissioned eight artists to develop potential designs for the Elvis stamp, and 60 were submitted.  Here are some that did not make the cut.
image  image  image

Although my friend strongly preferred the 70s Elvis drawing, he did make a concession in a recent e-mail:
“I will concede that his biggest contribution in the historical sense obviously occurred in the 1950s.  In that sense, the right stamp probably won.”
©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved

Rock Around the Dock

In the early years of his career, Elvis performed in all sorts of venues: high school gymnasiums, amusement parks, VFW Halls, county fairs, honkytonks, you name it.  But did you know he even gave one performance on a riverboat – one that the police declared was unsafe to sail?  It happened on March 23, 1956 on the Potomac River in Washington, DC.




Steamboat excursions on the Potomac River became very popular social events after WW II.  One of the prominent ships was the Wilson Line’s SS Mount Vernon.  Each morning and afternoon, it carried primarily families to George Washington’s mansion and to the Marshall Hall Amusement Park.


But, it was in the evening that the SS Mount Vernon made its big impact.   Each night, starting at 8:30, hundreds of Washington DC’s young lovers danced on the ships moonlit decks as the lights of the Potomac shore glided by.  The SS Mount Vernon had its own house band and often put on floorshows and contests.  Although there was a glass-enclosed cabin for use during inclement weather, most of the young couples preferred to dance on the open upper decks, with the breeze off the river cooling them in these pre-air-conditioned times.


SS Mount Vernon

The SS Mount Vernon itself contributed to this romantic setting.  It had an art deco design, layer-cake color scheme, and gleaming chrome rails.  However, it wasn’t always like that.  The ship was originally built in 1916 as the City of Camden, and it sailed in the Delaware Bay.  In 1939, the Wilson Line had it rebuilt from the hull up, a glamorous makeover to “the Potomac’s first steamliner.”  Advertisements proclaimed that she could carry “1000 dancing couples on moonlight cruises.”
During the early 50s, a DJ and promoter originally from Lizard Lick, NC (no joke) named Connie B. Gay (also no joke) regularly booked Saturday afternoon country and western shows at Washington DC’s Constitution Hall.  In March 1956, she learned about a young performer who had caused a stir with his first five appearances on the Dorsey Brothers’ TV program, Stage Show.  He would be passing through Washington while traveling from New York to Richmond for a concert appearance at the Mosque Theater.  She booked him for a Saturday night appearance on the SS Mount Vernon.
Ms. Gay made the right call.  Elvis Presley was the new young talent, and he had created a buzz among teenagers that would explode just a few months later.  His first national hit “Heartbreak Hotel” was ripping up the charts, and the teens of the DC area descended on the SS Mount Vernon in record numbers.  When Elvis arrived at Pier 4, he found the riverboat overflowing with young people.
However, neither Elvis nor the fans had any idea that the riverboat had blown a steam pressure valve the previous afternoon and had to be towed back to the pier.  Although pipe fitters worked steadily to restore engine power, repairs were incomplete as the mob of teenagers boarded the boat.  For safety reasons, the police refused to let the overloaded and partially disabled riverboat sail, but they would allow the concert to proceed on the docked ship.  I guess they figured everyone could get off the SS Mount Vernon if it started to sink at the dock, but they feared a disaster should it happen in the middle of the river downstream.
Connie B. Gay announced to the crowd that the show would go on.  The riverboat would not cruise down the river, but they would get a special double-length concert.  Elvis came through and performed for almost three hours.  We can only image what Col. Parker extorted from Ms. Gay for that.
Apparently, some of the couples in attendance were there for the river excursion and didn’t care who was performing.  Before the concert began, about one hundred chose to take their $4 refund and left the riverboat.  I wonder how often those folks have regretted that stupid move.
Because the evening was cold and blustery, the remaining couples abandoned the decks for the glass-enclosed cabin.  It was so crowded that they could not dance.  So, they missed out on the ship’s two main attractions – cruising down the river and dancing – but they got to see Elvis perform for three hours.
Pretty good trade-off, if you ask me.
©  2008   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


I don’t usually write an extra article just one day after a regular post, but I have been a Bo Diddley fan since my high school years, so this is my small tribute to the rock & roll legend who died today at age seventy-nine.  There isn’t a huge connection between Bo and Elvis, but there are a few goodies.
The First Bo Diddley Album I Purchased
Elvis was also definitely a Bo Diddley fan.  In 1956, while Elvis was in New York to appear on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show TV program, he went to the Apollo Theater to see Bo Diddley perform.
In the early years of Bo Diddley’s career, he wiggled his hips a good bit while singing.  Elvis was becoming a national sensation with his gyrations at the same time, so some people thought Elvis was copying Bo Diddley’s style of performing.  Bo has been quoted, “If he copied me, I don’t care.  More power to him.  I’m not starving.”  Of course, Elvis had been shaking his hips since an August 1954 concert at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis, so Elvis came up with his movements a year-and-a-half before ever seeing Bo Diddley perform.
However, the myth of Elvis copying Bo endured.  In an August 16, 2007 article, NY Daily News writer David Hinkley wrote:  “The one bright spot in the trip, apparently, was a trip to the Apollo Theater to see Bo Diddley.  Elvis loved Bo's music and Bo would later say Elvis stood in the wings and studied Bo's moves, close variations of which would later show up in Elvis' own act.”  It sounds like Bo Diddley cared more than he had originally let on.
So far as is known, Elvis performed one Bo Diddley song in concert.  On December 28, 1976, at a performance in Dallas, Elvis sang “Hey Bo Diddley.”  Technically, the song was an instrumental featuring drummer Ronnie Tutt, with Elvis just scatting along from time to time.  You can here this version on the bootleg Elvis album called “A Hot Winter Night In Dallas,” or the CD of the same name, released in 1998.
And finally, here is my favorite Bo Didley story, reprinted from the February 11, 2007 ElvisBlog article titled “Elvis and Ed Sullivan.” 
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.  For some reason, 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 again on TV.  Of course, this did not happen, but he was banned from ever appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show again.
Bo Diddley Performing In 2006
Bo, you were an original, and we will miss you.
(C)  2008   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved

Never Before Told ELVIS SECRETS

How do you like that for a news headline?  Or, perhaps you would prefer:  Elvis Revealed: Secrets of the King.”  You get both in the October 3, 1978 edition of MIDNIGHT GLOBE, a classic example of supermarket tabloid journalism.


The issue followed in the grand tradition of the blockbuster National Enquire story “EXCLUSIVE… Elvis – The Untold Story,” that came out on September 7, 1977, just a few weeks after Elvis’ passing.  It can be said that National Enquire started a brand new tabloid genre with that issue.  Many headlines promising revelations of new Elvis secrets would grace the supermarket checkout lanes in years to come.




So, do you want to learn some juicy Elvis secrets?  Here’s a selection from MIDNIGHT GLOBE ‘s nearly 100 ‘never-revealed-before’ facts about Elvis.  They are presented in the sequence in which they appeared.
Press Clippings:  “Elvis’ secretaries kept every word printed about Elvis, according to his secretary Becky Yancy.  From time to time Elvis would drop by the office and leaf through the scrapbooks.”
So, the ace MIDNIGHT GLOBE writer contacted Elvis’ secretary to try and dig up a scoop on Elvis.  It doesn’t look like he found very much.  I guess the juicy secrets will come later.
I Don’t Do Diapers:  “When his daughter Lisa Marie was small, there was one fatherly job Elvis absolutely refused to do.  ‘Elvis never changed a diaper in his life,’ his stepbrother Rick Stanley told MIDNIGHT GLOBE.’
The reporter contacted a man who would become a major source for Elvis insider stuff in later years, but in 1978, this is the best they could come up with.  Pretty weak.
Pimples:  “Until he was well into his 20s, Elvis had terrible skin problem – just like a lot of young people.  Pimples are his curse.  He even had them on his back.”
Wow!  I guess that is revealing, but it’s also disappointing.  We were hoping for juicier secrets than that.
Pajamas:  “Elvis slept in fancy pajamas; some with rhinestones on them.”
Why does that not surprise us?
Leave My Mom Alone:  “At the first house Elvis bought at 1034 Audubon Dr. in Memphis, his mother used to hang out the wash.  Some snotty neighbors were outraged.  Elvis told them: ‘This is my house and my folks can do anything they want.’”
Give ‘em hell, Elvis.  I liked this fun episode so much I wrote a blog about it two years ago.  But, we’re still not into the juicy secrets yet. 
Throw A Punch, Get A Pink Slip:  “While in high school, Elvis worked from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. each night as an usher in a Memphis movie theater.  This is generally known.  However, few people know that Elvis was fired because he punched another usher.”
Well, the reporter tried to dig up something steamy about Elvis’ high school years.  This wasn’t much, but it was better than their ‘revelation’ that Elvis once tried to grow a mustache – without success.  At least, there was this next funny one.
Chicken Neck:  You would never think that would be a nickname Elvis had for his girl friend, beautiful Ginger Alden.
“When riding on Elvis’ motorcycle, Ginger could never keep her head up under the weight of the helmet and the jerking of the bike.  Her head would flop into Elvis’ back – thus the name ‘Chicken Neck.’” 
Good, we’re at least up to Ginger Alden.  Surely the juicy stuff starts here.
Brigitte Bardot.  NOT:  “In his younger days Elvis had a secret crush on Brigitte Bardot.  When the army shipped Elvis to Europe, he told a friend, ‘The first place I want to go when I get there is Paris and look up Brigitte Bardot.’”
Unfortunately, that’s all they said.  Nothing about whether he ever pulled it off.  We know Elvis went to Paris and had a real good time.  But Bardot???  MIDNIGHT GLOBE had a superb opportunity to give us some really juicy Elvis and Brigitte Bardot secrets, and they blew it entirely.  I’m starting to get suspicious.
Elvis the Pelvis:  Question: What do you think?  Elvis loved it – or Elvis hated it?  Answer: He hated it. 
”I don’t like being called ‘Elvis the Pelvis.  It’s one of the most childish expressions I ever heard.”
Good answer, but it didn’t stop people from calling him The Pelvis.  And it looks like the chances of anything really juicy are waning fast.
Did He Like These Nicknames Any Better:  “… In the early days he was also called ‘Mr. Wiggle and Shake,’ ‘The Hillbilly Cat,’ and ‘Mama Presley’s Son.’”
This is inexcusable.  They left out ‘The Atomic Powered Singer,’ which appeared on many Elvis concert posters, but they did include ‘Mama Presley’s Son.  Yuk, who thought up that one?  I’m starting to lose confidence in this Midnight Globe article.
The Colonel Didn’t Care:  “In 1969, he made an astonishing admission – the Colonel had not seen Elvis’ last three films, nor listened to his last four albums.”
I’ve given up.  There will never be any juicy stuff.  But, some of the tidbits have been interesting, so I read on.
Proper Apparel for Football Viewing on TV:   While watching football games on TV, Elvis liked to wear his pajamas, a robe… and his football helmet.”
What, no rhinestones on the helmet?
The supermarket tabloids have been accused of making up much of what they print, but the big offenses must have come in later years.  This Elvis stuff from 1978 is not clever enough to be fiction.  If I were going to fabricate Elvis stories, they would have titles like, “What Elvis and Brigitte Bardot Did On Top of the Eiffel Tower.” And they would be juicy.
©  2008   Philip R Arnold   All rights Reserved