Monthly Archives: May 2010

Happy Memorial Day, Elvis

 

 

Elvis' Wedding Reception Redo

Lots of Elvis fans celebrate the anniversaries of events in Elvis’ life, including May 1, the day he and Priscilla married.  However, not many folks this week celebrated the forty-third anniversary of Elvis’ second wedding reception on May 29, 1967.  This event is pretty far down on the list of Elvis lore, but it is still an interesting story.

In her book, “Elvis and Me,” Priscilla Presley devotes a few pages to the special wedding party she and Elvis hosted in Memphis four weeks after they were wed in Las Vegas.  The most telling line was: “We threw a big reception at Graceland for all our friends and relatives.”  The italics were provided by Priscilla, to indicate she and Elvis were not happy with way some of the folks in their circle were excluded from the wedding ceremony.  She categorized them into three groups:

Those who hadn’t known about the wedding.

Those who knew but couldn’t attend.

Those who knew but weren’t invited.

Yes, there were a few people, especially among Elvis’ Memphis Mafia pals, who got cut out from the wedding.  And guess who cut them out – Col. Parker, who was running the whole show, as usual.

Elvis had assembled a large wedding party at his Palm Springs home the day before the wedding.  Then, two leased jets took everybody to Las Vegas.  Shortly before the scheduled time of the wedding, Col Parker advised most of Elvis’ entourage and their wives that there was no room for them at the ceremony.  They had to sit and wait until the reception room opened and they could join the celebration.

 

Here are the five Elvis buddies that actually got into the wedding:

        

             

Joe Esposito is no surprise.  He was Elvis’ tour manager and has been called Elvis’ best friend.  He was the logical choice to be Elvis best man.  However, Elvis actually had two best men.

Marty Lacker was the other.  He was Elvis’ personal bookkeeper and secretary.   This probably involved a lot of contact with Col. Parker, so my guess is that the Colonel liked him better than the rest of the guys and allowed him to be at the wedding.  Another guess that would logically follow is this:  Elvis knew there would be big trouble with the excluded guys if Marty Lacker got to go and they didn’t.  Do you think Elvis might have named Lacker Co-Best Man to justify him being at the wedding?

George Klein was a buddy of Elvis’ dating back to high school.  He did not work for Elvis, but he hung around a good bit with Elvis, and travelled with him sometimes, so his place at the wedding ceremony was natural.  If anybody should have been Co-Best Man with Joe Esposito, it was George Klein.  A few years later, Elvis was the best man at George Klein’s wedding

Billy Smith was a cousin on Elvis’ mother’s side.  He took care of Elvis’ wardrobe and served as his valet.  Billy and his wife lived in Graceland for many years.

Gee Gee Gambill was married to a cousin on Elvis’ dad’s side.  He had just married Elvis’ cousin three months earlier, but that gave him the family status it took to be assured a place at the ceremony.

 

So, Colonel Parker excluded some men very close to Elvis, most notably Jerry Shilling, Red West and Charlie Hodge.  In the photo below, you can see Shilling and Hodge (second from left and second from right, respectively) as they joined Elvis at the reception.  Red West was so furious about being excluded from the wedding that he refused to attend the reception.

Farther down on the pecking order, Alan Fortas and Lamar Fike did not receive invitations to anything.  Larry Geller first learned of the wedding from a supermarket tabloid (Parker really did not like him).

According to Priscilla, the second wedding celebration at Graceland was a lot more fun.  “Elvis and I wore our wedding clothes, greeted everyone, sipped champagne, and shared cake just as if the party were taking place after the wedding ceremony.”

                          

                    Cake at First Reception in Vegas                               Cake at Second Reception in Memphis

It would appear she had a lot less cake to share with a lot more people at the second party, but that didn’t really matter.  They had lots of champagne.  “It was much more comfortable and relaxed than Las Vegas.  Laughing and somewhat high from the champagne, we could really have a good time.” 

 

Elvis and Priscilla Enjoying Champagne at Their Wedding Reception Redo

 

“There were no photographers watching our every move.  It was fun seeing Vernon get loose.”   Here is a favorite memory Priscilla has from this reception:

“Daddy, you want some more champagne?”  Elvis asked, his eyes twinkling.

“Don’t mind if I do, Son.  That’s pretty good stuff.”

“Yeah.  Well, don’t drink too much.  I don’t want my daddy gettin’ in trouble.  I see that blonde you’ve been eyein’.”

Vernon stole a glance at the girl and, with the same twinkle replied, “She ain’t too bad, is she?  Think I’ll go see if she needs anything.”

 

Go for it Vernon, you old hound dog.

 

The New Bride and Groom Start their Honeymoon

©  2010    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 Movie Theater: One Building Elvis Will Never Leave — Part 2

Last week we started our look at Elvis’ presence in the movies.  Not the old films where he was an actor, but new ones where an allusion is made to Elvis.  The research for this was done by John Beifuss, movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal.   We can presume his job enabled him to see just about every movie that came to town, and since that town is the home of Elvis, he noted every connection to him in these films.

Each year, John Beifus would update his “Annual Survey of Elvis Allusions in the Movies” on the website www.GoMemphis.com/news/movies .  Here are more movies from recent years that remind us — Elvis is everywhere.

 

 

He’s Just Not That Into You: 

As you can see from the DVD cover, this movie featured an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly and others.  Two stars that are not on the DVD cover, Jennifer Anniston and Kris Kristofferson appear in a scene with two Elvis references.  While Anniston is taking care of her recuperating father (Kristofferson), Elvis can be heard in the background singing “I’ve Got A Woman.”  Then another character looks through the dad’s collection of LPs and finds an Elvis album.

 

 

Dreamgirls:

We get a little lesson in the history of Elvis music in Dreamgirls.  The singers’ ambitious manager, played by Jamie Foxx, asks a song writer, “Who was the first artist to sing “Hound Dog?”  The songwriter show his ignorance when he answers, “Elvis.”  Foxx corrects him, “Big Mama Thornton.”

 

 

Crazy:

On May 10, 2009, I wrote an ElvisBlog commentary on legendary guitarist Hank Garland and how he deserved to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Sideman Category.  Garland recorded with Elvis on a dozen hits, including four #1s.  He also recorded with seven other performers in the Rock Hall.  Garland had an interesting life, but he had a car crash in 1961 that put him in a coma for months, pretty much ending his career.  The movie Crazy tells the Hank Garland story, and it is full of Elvis references.   Two great lines are in a scene when Garland comes home from a concert tour and tells his wife, “The King’s in town.  I gotta go to the studio.”  When she complains that he just got home, he responds, “But Elvis is the King, babe.”

 

 

The Brave One:

Directors never seem to tire of playing Elvis songs as background music in their movies.  And, sometimes they even use fairly obscure ones.  A good example would be “You Don’t Know Me,” which plays during a dinner featuring Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard in The Brave One.  Elvis sang the song in the movie Clambake, and when it was released as a single it did not break the Top 40.

 

Soul Men:

This is another movie with a music business theme, and like most of them, it contains an Elvis connection.  Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac are Photoshopped into a 70s Elvis picture, which is seen on the wall at a party.

 

The Hangover:

I wouldn’t mention this movie if this lame Elvis connection was the only one in it.  The film opens with tribute artist El Vez, who bills himself as the Mexican Elvis, singing “It’s Now or Never.”  The other Elvis allusion occurs when the party animals wake up in an amnesiac stupor in a hotel suite that includes a mysterious infant, a Bengal tiger and an Elvis jumpsuit.  Come to think of it, that’s a pretty lame connection, too.

 

Cars:

In the wonderful Pixar animated hit Cars there are dozens of vehicles with names like Sally the Porsche and Mater the Tow Truck.  There is also one called the King, and it has sideburns and a Southern dialect, so John Beifuss decided it was an automotive caricature of Elvis.  However, because King was voiced by Richard Petty, the animators may have had a different idea.

 

The Game Plan:

John Beifuss says it best about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as football quarterback Joe Kingman in The Game Plan.  “Kingman – nicknamed “The King,” like his idol – is an avid Elvis fan whose bachelor apartment is decorated with football trophies and Elvis memorabilia, including a red jumpsuit.  Kingman’s cell phone has a “Jailhouse Rock” ringtone, and his front door chime plays “Love Me Tender.”  When Kingman scores a touchdown, the P.A. system at his home stadium blares “Jailhouse Rock.”  Kingman watches the Elvis diving sequence from “Fun in Acapulco” on TV, and sings “Burning Love” into a mirror.  When the playboy superstar becomes saddled with the 8-year-old daughter he never knew he had, he asks his King Creole poster: “Any advice?”  Later, he strums the guitar and serenades the girl with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” … The movie opens with the Paul Oakenfold remix of Elvis’ “Rubberneckin’” and the end credits find the cast dancing and singing to Elvis’ recording of “Burning Love.”

 

              

Of course, there are two recent movies where Elvis was a character with significant screen time.  Walk the Line and Lonely Street have both been covered previously on ElvisBlog.  Click on the links to read lots more about Elvis’ parts in these movies. 

 

©  2010    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 Movie Theater: One Building Elvis Will Never Leave — Part 1

Have you noticed how Elvis continues to loom so large in American pop-culture?  One significant example of this is his presence in a dozen or so movies every year.  Not necessarily as a character, but in more subtle ways, like his name being used in dialog, or his image in video clips or photos visible in a scene, or his songs playing in the background  (or over the credits), or familiar Elvis trappings like jumpsuits and those famous sunglasses, or even his well-known moves and mannerisms.

I was fortunate to stumble unto an article on www.GoMemphis.com by John Beifuss, movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper.  Each year during Elvis Week, Beifuss presents what he calls the “Annual Survey of Elvis Allusions in the Movies.”  Mt Beifuss’ lists are very inclusive, covering not only hit movies but also little-viewed critical failures and low-budget independent films .  However, today we will just look at some of the more popular movies of the past few years that contained Elvis content.

 

 

 

The Dark Knight:

I’ll bet would wouldn’t expect to see Elvis in a Batman movie, but he was.  Remember how the police were trying to figure out Batman’s identity in The Dark Night.  If you looked closely at the police bulletin board showing “Batman Suspects,” you would see pictures of Abraham Lincoln, Bigfoot and Elvis.  This was an attempt to put some humor in an otherwise grim film.  If you watch it again, keep an eye out for the photo of Elvis spreading the cape of his jumpsuit, Batman style.

 

 

Hannah Montana, The Movie:

Elvis’ image was featured in a comedy bit in this film, too.  John Beifuss described it as follows:  “Billy Ray Cyrus gives grandma a coveted Elvis plate to complete her display collection [of] Country Music Legends dishes.  Says grandma, ‘There’s only one King, and I’ve been saving him a place of honor.’  Unfortunately, slapstick ensues, and all the plates fall and break except for the Elvis plate, which Billy Ray catches. ‘Great news, everybody, Elvis is alive and well,’ he exclaims, brandishing the plate – and smashing it against a nearby chandelier.”

 

 

 Mamma Mia:

One of Meryl Streep’s buddies in this movie was played by Julie Walters (she was left off the DVD cover).  During the “Dancing Queen” number, Walters wears Elvis sunglasses and does a little Elvis imitation when these lyrics are sung:  “Friday night and the lights are down low/ Looking out for the place to go/ Where they play the right music, getting in the swing/ You come in to look for a king.  That may be a weak connection, but there is a better one during the end credits.  Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgrd wear Elvis jumpsuits during the big sequence of wild musical performances.

 

 

Cadillac Records:

This movie uses the device of Elvis being on television to twice make commentary on the music industry.  First, when Chuck Berry sees Elvis on the tube, he says, “There’s your king.”  Later, as Muddy Waters prepares to go to Little Walter’s funeral, Elvis is performing on TV.  The song during the funeral montage has a deeper message about the extra challenge for black musicians in that era.  The song is “My Babe,” a Little Walter classic, but it is sung by Elvis.

 

Happy Feet:

Because this animated musical had a papa penguin central character named Memphis, you can be sure it had Elvis references.  Memphis (voiced by Hugh Jackman) did several Elvis moves, and even sang “Heartbreak Hotel” to his true love, Norma Jean.  We have had Elvis/Marilyn Monroe pairings in art and Photoshopped pictures, and now there is one in a cartoon.

 

The Lucky Ones:

This definitely was not a musical, but a guitar supposedly once owned by Elvis gets a lot of screen time.  The movie is about a trio of Iraq war veterans traveling across America, Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña.  McAdams said she got the guitar from her dead soldier boyfriend, Randy.  “Randy got the guitar from his daddy, who got it from his granddaddy, who got it from Elvis.”  The truth turns out to be something different, but the guitar still plays a part in the plot arc.

 

Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story:

John Beifuss does a good job explaining this movie:  “Rock star Jack White briefly appears as Elvis in Walk Hard, a spoof of music piopics with John C. Riley as the Johnny Cash-esque title goofball.   We see a marquee that reads: ‘Tonight – Elvis Presley and Others,’ then see Elvis… proclaiming ‘Ah’m the King,’ and demonstrating the martial art of ’kara-tay, known only to two kinds of people, the Chinese and the King.’  Elvis gives Dewey his big break when he lets him close a show (‘Elvis wants to get out of here early – he’s hungry’).”   This was not a very favorable depiction of Elvis.

 

Fred Claus:

Two Elvis songs are featured in this comedy about Santa Claus’ loser brother.  “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” plays over a montage of Christmas scenes.  And, Fred tries to jack up the elves in the workshop by replacing traditional Christmas music with the remix of “Rubberneckin’.”

Many thanks to John Beifuss for doing the research.  Part 2, next week.

©  2010    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.

Hard Rock Cafe Displays Elvis Clothing Around the World

 

Every once in a while I check out the Hard Rock Café website.  You might find it interesting as well.  One tab I suggest you click on is “Memorabilia,” which contains photos and descriptions of 1452 items on display at Hard Rocks around the world.  If you don’t care about the memorabilia of Guns ‘N Roses, Motley Crue, etc., you can simplify things by clicking on Elvis Presley in the Featured Artists box.  Follow the instructions to navigate through the items, but if you find it a bit confusing and unwieldy (I did at first), ElvisBlog is happy to present the cool Elvis clothing on display at seventeen worldwide Hard Rock Cafés.

 

Cozumel, Mexico

                     

Amsterdam. Holland

                     

    
St. George’s Bay, Malta

                       
              

Cartenaga, Columbia

                      

 

London, England

                          

 

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

                  

 

Bogota, Columbia

                        

 

Warsaw, Poland

                   

New Delhi, India

                   

 

 Munich, Germany    

                            

                

Hyperabad, India

                   

 

Osaka, Japan

                          

 

Athens, Greece

                   

 

Republic of Singapore

                               

 

Beirut, Lebanon

                        

 

Gothenburg, Sweden

                         

 

Rome, Italy

                          

 

I will apologize for some of the editorial comments in the stories about the articles of clothing.  Of course, a few Elvis movies weren’t so hot, but most did not suck.  And the idea that any of Elvis’ fashion tastes were influenced by John Lennon is ridiculous.  Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the sartorial travelogue.  It illustrated two things:  One, Elvis is everywhere, and Two, ElvisBlog is where you find the most unusual Elvis articles on the web.

 

©  2010    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.

 

Postscripts To Earlier ElvisBlogs — 5

LEGO Elvis:  Last August we looked at Mixed-Media Elvis Art, featuring Elvis images made from an incredible variety of materials.  Since then, the photo of an interesting Elvis bust showed up.  It is made entirely of LEGOs:

Old Elvis:  To commemorate Elvis’ birthday in January, we looked at what some artistic people thought Elvis would look like at 75.  It has continued to one of the most popular Google search topics bringing people to ElvisBlog.  Here’s a new image I found, but it’s not very flattering:

Wrong Elvis:  Another Google search that brings lots of folks to this blog is Elvis Meets Nixon from October 2008.  In that article we looked at Photoshopped versions of the classic photo taken in the Oval Office.  I guess it was just a matter of time until someone stuck Elvis Costello into the frame.  Yuck!

Bobble-Head Elvis:  The December 2008 post called The Tiny Elvis-Head Challenge included six Elvis bobble-heads, but none of them had the Gold Lamé theme.  This void has now been corrected.

Impossible Elvis:  Back in April 2009, we looked at Strange Elvis Searches on Google.  Since then, Bing has joined the search engine market, and they have had some strange Elvis topics, too.  This one obviously came from somebody who doesn’t know their Elvis timeline very well.  He died 35 years ago, and his grandson is now 18.

Embarrassed Elvis:  In that article about strange Google searches, one of the topics was Elvis Splits His Pants.  It turns out there is a short fan-filmed video about the event.  Although this is pretty fuzzy, it does show how Elvis covered the split with a towel and finished the song.

 

Pistol-Packing Elvis:  In November 2007 ElvisBlog covered the Strange Odyssey of Elvis’ Shot-Up TV.  It seems Elvis fans are intrigued with Elvis getting upset with Robert Goulet and shooting his TV.  The blog article was before I included photos, so this recent altered picture has been added to it as an illustration.

Nipper Elvis:  In November 2008 we looked at a Los Angeles columnist’s assertion that 6000 Fans Cheered Elvis’ Frantic Sex Show.  He made the ridiculous claim that Elvis mimicked the sex act on stage with the RCA iconic dog Nipper.  I have presented what I thought were all the available photos showing what a huge exaggeration that was, but here is one more.

Staff Sergeant Elvis:  Last February, the post titled Sergeant Elvis A. Presley covered the ranks he achieved in the Army.  We also showed the dress blue uniform Col. Parker had specially tailored for Elvis to wear on the train trip home to Memphis after his discharge.  It had the stripes of a Staff Sergeant on the sleeve, a rank he did not achieve.  Well, this little white lie was stretched a bit more in the 2005 two-night mini-series Elvis.  The photo below shows Elvis (Jonathon Rhys Meyers) as he departed from Germany.  On that day, Elvis had not yet been discharged, and he wore the official Army issue uniform. Of course he wore his actual rank of Sergeant on his sleeve, as seen in this discharge press conference photo. 

                     

 

Blog Elvis:   On four different occasions, my friend Tygrrius provided guest columns for ElvisBlog.  Ty is the chief blogger honcho of TheFilmFrontier, and he has often written about Elvis there.  Now he has started another blog, The Mystery Train, and somehow he finds a way to write about new Elvis stuff two or three times a week.  Ty is particularly good at reviewing Elvis videos and CDs.  Do yourself a favor and check out http://TheMysteryTrain.wordpress.com.

 

©  2010    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.