Monthly Archives: September 2010

More Elvis Auctions Coming — Let's Wrap Up The Last One

Within the next month, three companies will hold auctions containing Elvis items.  Heritage Auctioneers has their latest “Music and Entertainment” auction starting October 25.  Julien’s has their “LEGENDS Pop Culture Artifacts” auction starting on October 8, and Guernsey’s has their “Iconic Objects and Documents” going on right now. 

I plan to follow all three, and there will be some interesting Elvis memorabilia to report on here.  However, before doing that, it would be a good idea to finish up on the wonderful “Ultimate Elvis Auction” presented by Heritage at Elvis Week this year.  Let’s start with a strange-looking item.

What Is This – And Why Would It Be Worth $500?:

This strange looking item is a mailing box addressed to bandleader, theatrical agent, and Elvis Presley staff member Al Dvorin in Chicago.  Dvorin is the man credited with coining the phrase “Elvis has left the building.”

On August 16, 1977, Dvorin was in a hotel in Portland, Maine, with the Colonel's advance group, preparing for the start of Elvis' upcoming tour — one that would never take place.  Elvis died in Memphis that day.

Dvorin had brought with him a case of Elvis photo medallions on chains that were to be sold during the tour. With the news of Elvis’ untimely death, the necklaces were sent back to the warehouse in Chicago, where they remained for more than 20 years.

There were twelve of these photo medallions in the box.  They measured 2.25 inches across and came with a chain of so-called silver metal.  I can’t imagine why the auctioneers didn’t just try to sell the medallions without the shipping box.  However, I can imagine why nobody anted up the $500 minimum bid.

Elvis Slot Machine from Japan:

This 1980s era slot machine is 32 inches high and still works.  It even came with 132 steel game tokens.  It is rather modest compared to today’s Elvis slot machines…

…but it still went for almost $3000 (and you have to pay freight from Japan).

 

Loving You Slacks:

                       

    Back Up Pants                      Actual Pants Worn In Movie

Sometimes bidders don’t read the fine print on the auction website.  It clearly says, “This pair of maroon Western-style slacks with white piping was a back-up pair made by legendary tailor Nudie Cohn for Elvis during production of his second feature film Loving You.

Because they were not the real pants Elvis wore in the filming of the movie, the pre-auction estimate was only $4,000.  This was reasonable because Nudie was the man who designed Elvis’ famous gold lamé suit.  Nudie’s personal label with Elvis Presley's name and a Paramount studio stamp are on the outside lining of one of the back pockets.  The pants certainly have collectible value, but some fool must have thought they were the real ones from the movie and paid $20,315.  Uh-oh.

 

You Gave Me A Molehill:

“You Gave Me A Molehill” Promo Record

This was part of a set of radio show albums, so there is no way to know what the pre-auction estimate was for it individually or what the bidders thought it was worth.  However, there is an interesting story behind this strange record title.

On March 27, 1972, Elvis and the TCB Band assembled in RCA’s Studio C in Hollywood.  It was the first studio recording session using Elvis’ touring band, and it was very productive.  Both “Separate Ways” and “Burning Love” went on to be hits for Elvis.

After the serious recording was finished, a film crew moved in on March 30 and 31.  The plan was for Elvis and the band to create “mock recording session” footage to be edited into the upcoming Elvis on Tour motion picture.  In fact, Elvis and the guys actually rehearsed the songs they would perform on the fifteen-day concert tour.

One of the songs was “You Gave Me A Mountain,” written by Marty Robbins.  When the instrumental introduction during one take was rather weak, Elvis joked, “It sounds like a molehill to me.” 

For some reason, the tape rolled on, and Elvis failed to take the lyrics seriously for the rest of the song.  He changed one line to “…blamed for the loss of his eye…er, uh…of his wife…”  When the line repeated, Elvis ad-libbed “you dirty bastard.”

 

Elvis’ Personal Address/Phone Book:

         

This book measures 7″ x 9″ and Elvis maintained it in the 50s and early 60s.  The pre-auction estimate was $3,500.  In addition to addresses and phone numbers of his friends and big Hollywood stars (the open page includes Tommy Sands, Red Skelton, Hank Snow, and Ed Sullivan), it contains business cards, studio directories, and lots of hand-written personal notes.  Wouldn’t you love to read all those notes Elvis wrote?  You could have if you had shelled out $10,217.

©  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 3

Once again, it is time to thank John Biefuss at GoMemphis.com for the research he does each year which makes possible this series of ElvisBlog articles.  As the movie critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he sees every movie that comes to town.  And since that town is the home of Elvis Presley, he makes note of every Elvis connection in those movies.  Each year during Elvis Week he presents his “Elvis Allusions in the Movies” column.   An allusion can be an Elvis song in the soundtrack, a picture of Elvis in a scene, a Jumpsuit or other Elvis-related item.

Here are ten movies that had Elvis allusions in the past year.  Unfortunately, there are none where Elvis was actually a character in the film like in “Lonely Street” last year.  Likewise, there are no films just loaded with Elvis like Duane Johnson’s comedy “The Game Plan.”  We’ll have to settle for more obscure Elvis connections.

The Runaways:

This is one of the five movies on the list I have actually seen.  I wanted to see how Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough did in her small part as the sister of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), the lead singer for the band.  Riley did a creditable job as Marie Currie, who stays home and takes care of their ailing dad, while Cherie goes off on tour with the band.  In a couple of scenes, Riley’s beautiful face showed a resemblance to Priscilla.  She certainly looks more like him than Elvis.  Riley has now done a couple more films, including the next  Mad Max sequel.  This girl is going to be a movie star.

 


Dakota Fanning and Riley Keough

The Elvis allusions in “The Runaways” are verbal.  Early in the movie, Joan Jett is wearing a rockabilly outfit, and she asks a friend, “Who am I?”  The friend answers, “Elvis.”  The band has a flamboyant, creepy record producer guiding their career.  In one of his motivational rants he says, “Elvis and Priscilla got divorced, the president is a prowler, and all the housewives are talking to the plants.”  I’m really not sure that would inspire anybody in real life, but it did in the movie.

 

 

Looking For Eric:

This movie also uses an Elvis allusion as a motivational device.  Real-life soccer star Eric Cantona plays a sort of ghostly, inspirational, magical muse.  He points at a stereo, and Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes” starts to play.

 

 

Up In The Air:

The Elvis allusion in this film is so small and is on screen for just a second, so John Biefus must have the most incredible powers of observation.  I watched “Up In The Air” on DVD, and it took the use of rewind and pause for me to find what he saw.  In the movie, George Clooney’s sister is getting married, but the couple couldn’t afford to go on a honeymoon.  So, months ahead of time, they gave three-foot photo cutouts of themselves to all wedding guests and asked them to photograph it in front of any place they travelled.  Clooney got several shots, including in front of the St. Louis Airport and the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.  At the wedding, all the photos were pinned to a large bulletin board.  When Clooney pinned up his photos, one was right next to a shot in front of the gates of Graceland.  It would have been better if that had been one of his photos.

 

 

When in Rome:

In this screw-ball romantic comedy, Kristen Bell plays a young curator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and she is in charge of putting on a very important exhibit.  All of her romantic entanglements seem destined to sabotage the project, and her boss, Angelica Houston, keeps telling her she will lose her job if a key artwork doesn’t get there in time.  At her peak of frustration, Houston says, “I’ll see that the only artwork you’re ever allowed near are the velvet Elvis paintings on sale in Times Square.”  I never knew that Velvet Elvises were sold in Times Square, but that pretty cool news.

 

 

Paper Heart:

I never saw this one, but John Biefus describes it well. “In the insufferably cute looking-for-love semi-documentary “Paper Heart,” comic Charlyne Yi visits the Graceland Wedding Chaopel in Las Vegas, where Elvis impersonator Brandon Paul presides.  He reappears at the very end of the film, after the credits to say ‘Thank yuh very much.’  Also in Vegas, we see the Little White Chapel, where you can pose for pictures in a car labeled ‘A Tribute to Elvis.’”

 

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians:

I really liked this combination of comedy, road trip, and sci-fi.  When Percy and his friends arrive in Las Vegas and head into the Lotus Hotel Casino, the soundtrack blasts Elvis’ remixed version of “A Little Less Conversation.”  It cut off a little too soon to suit me. 

 

 

 She’s Out of My League:

The Elvis allusion in this romantic comedy is pretty minor.  Before a trip to Branson, Missouri, the obnoxious girl friend of the lead character announces, “On Saturday night, we’re going to see both of the Elvis tributes.”  Sounds like a great night to me.

 

 

A Single Man:

During a classroom sequence set in 1962, a college professor laments, “Fear is taking over the world.”   He disparages several phony worries like fear of minorities and fear of Communists.  He should have quit there, but he went on to include the fear of Elvis Presley’s hips.  Then he made it worse by saying, “Actually, that one may be for real.”  Actually, that one is stupid.

 

 

Kick-Ass:

An Elvis song is featured in this violent comic-book adaption.  There is a climactic action scene where the teen superhero named Kick-Ass is wearing a jet pack and flies into roaring flames to rescue Hit-Girl from the treacherous Red Mist (love these names).  Believe it or not, Elvis’ version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” plays during this for comic effect.

 

 

Daybreakers:

I haven’t seen this vampire movie, but the plot description has me intrigued.  In the future, vampires have taken over the world, but now they are running out of mortals for their food supply.  Of course, there is a pocket of non-dead survivors led by Willem Defoe who could save the human race.  Defoe’s character is nicknamed Elvis, and at one point he sings a few lines of lyrics from “Burning Love.”  Dafoe later talks about how vampires can be killed by the daylight, and says, “Elvis once said, ‘Truth is like the sun – you can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.’”  I can’t wait to watch a movie where a man named Elvis is the last hope to save humanity.

 

©  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.

 

Elvis Commentary Mini-Nuggets — # 16

I haven’t done any Mini-Nuggets for a year now, and I miss it.  They are always fun little stories.  And now, most of them have pictures.  Here are four good ones.

 

Geraldo Rivera and Elvis:

Last weekend, Fox News did two hours of specials celebrating Geraldo Rivera’s forty years in the TV business.  During his career, Geraldo had several Elvis-related events. 

In 1979, Geraldo Rivera was an investigative reporter on ABC’s news-magazine 20/20.  It had been two years since Elvis died, and Geraldo was aware of the silly stuff going around that Elvis wasn’t really dead.  So, he put together a show called “The Elvis Cover-Up,” and it become 20/20’s highest rated program with 43% of the total network audience.  “The Elvis Cover-Up” also established a TV newsmagazine ratings record that stood for 21 years.  I love the program that finally beat it — Barbara Walters’ exclusive interview with Monica Lewinsky.

Geraldo had so much success with his Elvis show, that he went back to the well a few more times and presented these programs:  “Elvis Cover-Up #2” and “The Legend Sells.”


 

In 1987 the Geraldo Rivera Show premiered, and it went on for over 2000 episodes.  Geraldo returned to Elvis once more in 1992, when he hosted a group of Elvis Impersonators.  (They weren’t referred to as Elvis Tribute Artists until years later.)  Not to be outshined by his guests, Geraldo hosted the show wearing a white jumpsuit with a gold cape.  It appears to be an original design, not a copy of an Elvis style.  It figures he still has that Elvis jumpsuit hanging in one of his closets.  Do you think he ever puts it on and does a little Karaoke?   I’ll bet he does.

Geraldo Rivera has bragged that he and Elvis are among the small group of people instantly recognized by their first name alone.

 

Bad News Ladies’ T-Shirt: 

Last week we looked at fifteen Elvis Tees on ShopElvis.com I like.  However, there was also one that just weirds me out.  It is called “Stage Dance Ladies Red T-Shirt.”  Even the name is strange.


Stage Dance Ladies Red T-Shirt

The website says it features a black-tone image of Elvis performing on stage with a yellow streak through the center.  But, look at the image.  Given just a quick look, you might think Elvis is being enveloped by a giant feather, or banana or a phallic symbol.  Who approved this one?  No wonder it was recently marked down by $5.

Bling, Elvis Style:

There was a fantastic piece of Elvis jewelry up for auction in England earlier this year.  This pendant was given to Elvis on closing night of his 1975 run at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel.   The person who gave it to Elvis was Barron Hilton, co-chairman of the Hilton Hotel group.  Later, he would be known as the grandfather of Paris Hilton.


 

Elvis’ St. Gaudens Gold and Diamond Pendant

 

At the center of the pendant is an exceptionally rare 1924 St. Gaudens $20 US gold coin, named after the designer, famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  It is among the most collectible coins in the world, worth $1,600 to $2,500, depending on rarity and condition.

The larger circle around the coin is 870 grams of solid gold.  There are 12 round-cut brilliant diamonds in a ring around the coin.  And, at the top of the medallion, there are forty round-cut diamonds spelling out E L V I S.  The total weight of the diamonds is 2.60 ct.

The pre-auction estimate was 750,000 to 1,000,000 pounds.  Although the minimum bid was 360,000 pounds, the auction website says the final bid was only 60,000 pounds ($96,000).  I don’t get it.  Sounds too cheap.


 

Elvis in Rainfall Jumpsuit Wearing his St. Gaudens Gold Medallion

 

Another Wertheimer Exhibition:

 


 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will unveil its latest exhibit devoted to the King of Rock and Roll — ELVIS 1956.  Here’s what the RockHall website says about it.

As a part of the Museum’s 15th anniversary celebration, ELVIS 1956: Photographs by Alrfred Wertheimer will open to the public on Monday, September 13.  Taken during the year Elvis turned 21, Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs are a remarkable visual record of a defining time for rock and roll’s most enduring figure.

1956 was the year Elvis first appeared in the national consciousness. His RCA records and national TV broadcasts helped make him a star. Alfred Wertheimer, then a young freelance photojournalist, was there to document the extraordinary transition.

ELVIS 1956 is the first and last unguarded look at Elvis, featuring images of him in every aspect of his life—from performance and with the fans, to the recording studio and at home with his family.

©  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.

Elvis T-Shirt Review 2 — Ladies Tees

All summer long, a two-year old article has been among the daily top ten most popular ElvisBlog articles, often in the top five.  It is “Elvis T-Shirt Review,” and I have wondered why it is so popular.  I guess Elvis fans were thinking about T-shirts during the summer season.

I also wondered if most of the fifteen shirts I recommended in that July 2008 blog had cycled off the offerings from ShopElvis.com.  Had they been replaced by new ones worthy of comment?  After doing a little research, I noticed the abundance of new tee designs for women.  Some of the designs are available on men’s T-shirts as well, but some are exclusives just for you ladies.
 
So, before summer becomes a distant memory, let’s look at the best fifteen ladies Elvis T-shirts according to ElvisBlog.  They are in no particular sequence. 

 

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Vegas Remembered:  This tri-color image of Elvis in jumpsuits is an attention catcher.  Check out the outstretched hands of the fans at the bottom of the picture, giving it the feel of a concert setting.  That’s a nice touch I like a lot.

 

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Elvis Singing Blues:  I prefer a variety of colors in my Elvis T-shirt collection, so I was favorably inclined toward this blue one for women.  There are many more T-shirt designs with jumpsuit images than with 50s Elvis images, so this one gets points for depicting young Elvis.

 

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Elvis ’68 Lights:  Simple but stunning.  Everyone will recognize this image from Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special.  Would it be cool if the back said, “…will never leave the building.”

 

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Elvis Stick ‘Em Up:  This is truly clever.  The picture of Elvis is from the movie Loving You, when Elvis wore a cowboy outfit while singing “Teddy Bear.”  I love the stick ‘em up shadow silhouette behind him.

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Elvis Smile Lines:  Strange, but interesting.  With lines criss-crossing over Elvis’ smiling face, this shirt name is probably as good as you could come up with.  It gets extra consideration because it is green.
 

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Don’t Be Cruel Heart:  In my opinion, all of the designs so far would work as well on men’s T-shirts.  However, I see this one as a chick shirt only.  It must be the pink heart.  They could have skipped the crossed guitar necks and made the heart bigger and the Elvis Presley signature a lot bigger.  Quibble, quibble.  I still like it.

 

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Elvis Sings:  Great image, nice blast of red color on a black background.   A good option could have been variations with green, blue, and yellow backgrounds.

 

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Pink Rhinestone Sweatshirt:  Okay, it’s not a T-shirt, but I like it.  It’s hard to see the rhinestones, even if you blow up the picture, but if they sparkle in the sun, this could be pretty cool.

 

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Elvis King Scroll:   Several different images have been used on T-shirts with the theme King of Rock & Roll.  This one is a painting by Betty Harper, who has the most wonderful portfolio of Elvis art.  There are Swarovski crystals in the design, bringing the price up to $130.

Alfred Wertheimer Photos Make Great Tees

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Elvis Chopper:  This one looks like it would be more fitting for men, but I’m sure it would look great on younger ladies.  Maybe not so good on the old gals my age.  The Harley picture is one of several iconic Alfred Wertheimer photos from 1956 that have been used on Elvis T-shirts.

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Elvis Spotlight:  Here’s another Alfred Wertheimer photo, one of many I like so much.  This image came from Elvis’ appearance on the Steve Allen Show on TV, where Allen had Elvis wear a tux and sing to a basset hound.  Elvis hated the whole concept, but the picture makes a great T-shirt.  Elvis in a tux, from the back.

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Elvis White Light:  This is the third of my favorite Alfred Wertheimer ladies tees.  The famous photo on this shirt was one Al took during Elvis’ concert at the Mosque Theater in Richmond, VA in July 1956.  The picture has been colorized, but the white circle is on the original photo.  Just as his shutter snapped, someone in the audience flashed a bulb, and the effect is almost cosmic.  I can’t imagine why EPE didn’t use Al’s title for his shot:  Starburst.  I like that better, and I love this shot.

Joe Petruccio Art and Swarovski Crystals

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Elvis King of Rock:  This image is not a photograph, it is a painting by Joe Petruccio, whose work appears on all sorts of Elvis items.  At the moment, EPE is marketing exactly 100 different items featuring Joe Petruccio paintings.  Here’s the description of this shirt on ShopElvis.com: 

 “This women's black babydoll features a Joe Petruccio design of Elvis in his '68 Comeback Special leather suit accented with “King of Rock N Roll” text and Swarovski crystals.”

I don’t know what a babydoll T-shirt is, and I don’t know what Swarovski crystals are.  However, I do know that you will have to shell out $65 to buy this one.

 

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Elvis Heartbreak:  The Joe Petruccio artwork here is from Elvis’ first 1969 concert appearance in Las Vegas as he returned to live performing.  This time, they call the sparkly items Crystallized Swarovski.  They must be pretty special, because the price for “Elvis Heartbreak” is $130.

 

Rock n’ Roll Racerback Tank:  We will end with a pretty girl wearing an expensive tank top.  The website item description has delightful prose that warms you up for the sticker shock:

“Light and airy with a chic, edgy feel, these tanks sparkle with hand-applied crystals. Two side pockets are perfect for carrying tiny treasures. Created by Susan Fixel and featuring artwork by Joe Petruccio.”

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Well, even on a tank top, Joe Petruccio’s images of Elvis don’t come cheap.  Especially if they are covered with hand-applied crystals.  This fine item goes for $120.

It really wouldn’t surprise me to see them come out someday with men’s Elvis T-shirts with Swarovski Crystals, but I don’t think they will sell.  Guys won’t pay over $100 for a T-shirt – unless they are buying one for their chic, edgy babydoll.

©  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.

 

Caption Contest # 23 — Winner

We have a new first-time winner for this Caption Contest.  Congratulations to Steve Heckman.  Second place went to Garard Montz, who submitted the longest caption ever, and even provided editorial comment on it.

I Want the Man who Stepped on my Blue Suede Shoes To Come Forward.