Monthly Archives: April 2015

So, How Much is an Elvis Autograph Worth? – Pt. 5

Elvis Autograph Sample

It’s been a year-and-a-half since we last looked at Elvis autographs. For some reason, not too many came on the market during that time, at least not at the five auctions I’ve followed – three Heritage rock memorabilia auctions and two Auctions at Graceland. What was for sale tended to be more expensive, partially because of the items Elvis put his autograph on. Here’s a look at them in ascending price order.

 

Autographed Fan Photograph (1965):

Elvis Autographed Photograph

In 1965, Elvis signed the back of this 5” x 4” b&w photo taken by a fan club president at Elvis’ Bel Air, California home. For some reason, the back with the autograph was not shown on the auction website. The signed photo went for $650 including the 25% auction house service charge. One reason for the low price has been noted here before. Photos, postcards, etc. signed on the front make a much better display in a proper frame, with matting, and non-glare glass, and they bring a higher price. With this one, you would just see the autograph on a blank piece of paper.

 

Signed Promotional Photograph:

Elvis Wild in the Country Group

The group of items above were part of a promotional package for Elvis’ 1961 movie Wild in the Country, when it had its national premier at the Malco Theater in Memphis. The b&w photo at the bottom left is 7.5” x 9.5” and is signed on the back. Elvis must have turned it sideways when he signed it.

Elvis Wild In the Country Photo Autographed -- Blow-up

This one went for $1,375, but certainly part of that value is from the accompanying eight-page premier program and the bumper sticker. How do you like that message? “Official Teenage Press Agent – Ask Me”

Example of How Presentation Affects Value:

Elvis Signature and Color Photo

See that little piece of white paper under the color photo of Elvis? It measures just 2.5″ x 2.5”, and may well be the smallest thing Elvis ever autographed. So, how do you turn this tiny item into something that brings $1,500 at auction? Easy, put it in a nice matted frame with a good Elvis photograph.

Elvis Signature Blow-up

Over the years, I have seen so many scraps of paper with Elvis’ autograph up for auction that had no attempt at proper presentation. Why don’t these sellers spend some money and make displays of their autographs. They’d come out hundreds of dollars ahead, like this seller did.

 

Autographed German Postcard:

Elvis Signed Postcard

There is certainly some intrinsic value to German Elvis postcards from 1959. Although Elvis’ autograph is on the backside, this went for $1,500. The auction website said another not-autographed German postcard was part of the lot, so that probably added to the total value.

Elvis Signed Postcard - back

The German text on the back is promotion for Pulverdampf Und Heibe Lieder (Love Me Tender). One thing I don’t understand is that the postcard front is rectangular and the back is square. How can that be? The auction website offers no explanation.

 

Signed 1956 Promotional Photo:

Elvis Signed Photograph

Well, this one is big (8” x 10”) and it goes back to the early days of Elvis’ career. Is that enough to make it bring $1,625 at auction? It was for one bidder. The auction description states that all four corners display Scotch Tape residue. We can assume the young fan thought it was more important to display Elvis’ face than his autograph. I wonder what the new owner will decide.

 

Autographed Envelope, 1955

Elvis Signed Envelope

You need to know the history behind this autograph to appreciate why it sold for $1.625.

The front of this envelope is postmarked “Mar 20 1955 / Greenville Tex.,” and addressed to “Carol Eldred.” The original letter to Carol is still enclosed inside. It is from Bobby Belew of the teenage singing act, The Belew Twins — two young brothers who performed around the South in the early 1950s, and who crossed Elvis’ path a few times at various gigs. Carol obtained this autograph in May of 1955 when she went to see her friends The Belew Twins perform at “The Big D Jamboree” at the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Elvis was also on the bill that night.

Carol remembers not caring much for Elvis, but when she saw him backstage while she was waiting for Bobby Belew, Elvis asked her if she wanted his autograph. She didn’t, but she also didn’t want to be rude, so she fished this letter out of her purse and the future King signed the back of the envelope for her.

You know it had to be real early in Elvis’ career if he had to ask a girl if she wanted his autograph. That soon changed drastically.

 

Early Elvis Autograph:

Early Elvis Autograph

This has to be the crappiest-looking Elvis autograph ever offered, but removing the piece of white notepaper to crop and display it would lose another cute story about how the fan obtained her cherished treasure.

The handwriting says, “Elvis Presley’s autograph. One Sat, Helen, Miriam Whipple & I were driving by his house & he was out on his motorcycle & we ran up and got his autograph. I touched him & his motorcycle too!!”

Don’t you love it? – I touched his motorcycle, too!! Also note that she misspelled Elvis on her first attempt.

The auctions website warns, “The note shows evidence of being well loved and admired by an adoring fan. The note has stains and folds and signs of tape and residue. Slightly torn and creased.” In spite of that (or maybe because of it), this autograph went for $2,000.

 

Signed “Suspicious Minds” Picture Sleeve:

Elvis Autograph on Suspicious Minds Picture Sleeve

This went for more than I expected, topping out at $2,250. The 45 RPM picture sleeve is in excellent condition, which certainly helped, but the auction site doesn’t mention whether the actual record is in there.

Elvis Suspicious Minds Autograph - Blown Up

I can see top value in an Elvis autographed picture sleeve for one of his 1956 hits, but “Suspicious Minds” was released in 1969. The auction site noted that the song was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as #91 on its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

 

Elvis-Signed Note to a Fan:

Elvis-Signed Note to a Fan

The supporting documents say Elvis signed this piece of lined notebook paper backstage at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium on October 26, 1957. I have no idea why nine people wanted it so much that they ran the top bid up $3,250.

However, it was sold at the second Auction at Graceland in January 2015. The idea of an Elvis-only auction held in Memphis on his birthday was brilliant, as almost every item sold for more (sometimes much more) than comparable items had at general Rock & Roll memorabilia auctions previously.

 

Signed Letter to MGM (July 24, 1964):

Elvis Signed Letter to MGM

This letter looks like it was typed by MGM Studios and included in the mailing package for the reels of Viva Las Vegas film sent to Elvis. Elvis returned it signed, and it and confirmed, “I agree that said print will be used by me only for my personal library purposes,” plus some other legalese. I don’t find it a particularly compelling collectible, but somebody did and paid $3,750 for it.

 

Elvis and Priscilla Autographed Print:

Elvis Signed Color Portrait

Back in 1967, a devoted fan, Marilyn Tittle from Ohio came to Memphis determined to see (and maybe meet) Elvis. She hung out at the gates of Graceland, ultimately impressing the guard with her perseverance. First, he gave her this 16” x 20” color portrait of Elvis. Then he told her Elvis and Priscilla were honeymooning at the Circle G Ranch, and he facilitated her getting on the grounds.

Elvis Signed Color Portrait - Close up

It worked, and Ms. Tittle got both Elvis and Priscilla to sign the portrait. A month later, she returned to Memphis with the portrait and got Vernon to sign it. I don’t know if there are any other collectibles signed by Elvis, Priscilla, and Vernon, but this one sold for $3,875 a few weeks ago.

 

Signed Checks to Red West and Jerry Schilling:

Elvis Signed Check Written to Red West, 1975

Elvis Signed Check Written to Jerry Schilling

These two checks were offered at the first Auction at Graceland on August 16, 2014. They were both issued to members of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia. The interesting thing is that the check to Red West went for $5,125, while the one to Jerry schilling brought in $6,250.

Why the difference? My opinion is that many fans feel the same way I do about these two men. Schilling was a true buddy until the end and waited thirty years before he wrote a book about Elvis, a very positive book. Red West wrote that hatchet job in 1977 that hurt Elvis deeply. I would be happy to display an Elvis collectible with Jerry Schilling’s name on it. Red West, not so much.

 

 

© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis Missed Out on National High Five Day

National High Five day - 3rd Thurday in April

Did you observe National High Five Day last Thursday? This strange celebration started in 2002 at the University of Virginia and has spread to a national event every third Thursday in April. We can imagine if Elvis was still around, he would happily join this celebration and give high fives to everyone he encountered on the special day.

Apparently there are no photos in the Graceland archives of Elvis actually giving a high five, but they still saluted the day with this post on Graceland.com.

Graceland.com Salute o National High-Five Day

That sure looks more like a wave. Well, I’ve got zillions of Elvis pictures, so I went through them to see if there was an Elvis high five. There wasn’t, but there were some photos of Elvis’ hands doin things at least as interesting as the one above. Here they are, with comments.

Elvis Spanking Troublemaker

You probably recognize this one from Blue Hawaii. I didn’t come up with the cloud comment, but it works pretty well.

 

Elvis incorporates levitating air piano to his act

I love this one. It looks like Elvis incorporates levitating air piano to his act.

 

Elvis' Army Physical

How about this shot of Elvis during his Army physical. Eyes up, ladies. Look at his hands.

 

Elvis' Face Covered by Hands

This doesn’t inspire any sage comment, so use your imagination to figure what Elvis was doing.

 

Elvis Writing Graffiti on Bathroom Wall

Oh, oh. Elvis writing graffiti on a bathroom wall.

 

Yarn Around Elvis; Hands

It’s hard to figure out why Elvis would let this woman wrap her yarn around his hands.

 

Elvis Helping a Woman Get in Jeep

Elvis is putting his hands to good use in this one, but the expression on his face is priceless.

 

Elvis -- Oh My

Here’s a caption: “Oh. Man. What made me do that last night?”

 

Elvis Putting A Spell On Guy

It looks like Elvis and this guy are trying to put spells on each other.

 

Elvis Shielding Eyes

Whatcha looking at, Elvis?

 

Elvis Getting A Shot

It looks like Elvis is about to get a second shot, and he didn’t have a good reaction to the first one.

 

Elvis -- Watch That Hand, Mister

And my favorite: “Watch that hand, mister.”

 

 

© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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King Creole #1 — That’s The Way It Isn’t

Elvis Movie Madness Championship Brackets

Okay, the fans have spoken.  52,000 votes were cast in the Elvis Movie Madness championship, and Elvis: That’s The Way It Is edged out King Creole by EIGHT VOTES.

Early TTWII Poster

My prediction last week was a bust, but congratulations to TTWII for the victory.

However, as I have said here before, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is a documentary/concert film, not a movie with acting, comedy, and plot.  The voting results showed the fans consider these the seven best Elvis acting movies.

#1 –            King Creole

#2 (tie) –   Jailhouse Rock

                  Viva Las Vegas

#4 (tie) –    Loving You

                  Blue Hawaii

                  GI Blues

                  Girl Happy

 

After the results were announced, I realized I didn’t have enough appreciation tor TTWII.  I’ve seen it several times, but it’s not a film I can watch over and over like some of my favorite Elvis acting movies like Tickle Me, Live A Little, Love A Little, Follow That Dream, or Kissin’ Cousins (in addition to that Top 7 above).

So, I did a little research to find out what makes Elvis: That’s The Way It Is so popular.

 Possibly the Greatest Elvis Film Ever Made

 

Well, how about the fact that the extensively remastered original 1970 film debuted in Blu-ray and had its world premiere theatrical showing at Elvis Week 2014 at the Orpheum Theater last August 16.

 TTWII Special Elvis Week Screening

 

Do you think those fans who saw the film on the special day commemorating his death might still have a warm fuzzy feeling for it eight months later?  Sure, but there couldn’t have been that many folks who squeezed into the Orpheum for a single 8pm show.

Well, how about all the folks who saw it at the 300 theaters across the country that also featured limited engagements after Elvis Week?

 TTWII Exclusive Engagement

Now you’re talking about a lot of serious fans that saw TTWII last August – the kind of fans that probably follow Graceland.com and voted in Elvis Movie Madness.

For those of you who don’t know what the reediting and remixing of TTWII is all about, here is a little history.  The original movie was 108 minutes long.  It consisted mainly of concert footage from Elvis’ triumphant 1970 shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Elvis Headlining at International Hotel

It also contained the informal and easy-going practice sessions at MGM Music Sound Stage in Culver City, CA.

Elvis Wearing Shades During TTWII Rehersals

Unfortunately, it also wasted a lot of film time on fan interviews and other superficial stuff.

Then in 2000, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is received some drastic editing.  The fan sequences were eliminated, and the rehearsal and concert sequences were expanded using recently discovered footage.  The resulting film was twelve minutes shorter than the original, but focused entirely on Elvis as a musician, performer and beloved icon.

 TTWII-Special edition

The newly “reconstructed” film was issued on DVD, and it also had a second run in the movie theaters that year.

Then, in 2014, Warner Home Video released what they call a DigiBook two-disc edition — the original 1970 version on DVD, and the 2000 updated version on Blu-ray.  Tied in with this release, EPE scheduled the Elvis Week showing at the Orpheum Theater.

When 300 theaters across the country also showed the film
around the same time, TTWII became the only Elvis film to claim three theatrical runs (1970, 2000, and 2014).

 That's the Way It Is

If all that attention in August 2014 wasn’t enough to sway the vote, TTWII had one more big promotional push with the March 2015 opening of a new Graceland exhibition about the movie.

Graceland Exibitions

You have to admit that TTWII had a lot of stuff pumping it up the Elvis Movie Madness vote, but it is truly a great film.  If you want to find out why, check out any of the 288 Five-Star reviews on Amazon.com.  You’ll probably end up buying the Blu-ray.

 

I couldn’t do this article and resist the temptation to look up how many Five-Star reviews King Creole got on Amazon.com. 

 Elvis and Carolyn Jones in King Creole

There were just 112.  I guess the fans voting on Elvis Movie Madness got it right.

 

 

©  2015    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis Movie Madness — Handicapping the Final Four

Elvis Movie Final Four

You can see the survivors of Round 3 voting above.

King Creole knocked off Loving You 71% to 29%.

Viva Las Vegas topped GI Blues 67% to 33%.

Jailhouse Rock slammed Girl Happy 73% to 37%.

ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is got by Blue Hawaii 55% to 45%.

 

I would like to make my predictions right now. The Final Four losers will be Viva Las Vegas and ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is, meaning they tie for honor of third best Elvis movie. King Creole and Jailhouse Rock battle it out in the finals with King Creole coming out on top.

King Creole Poster 3

In list form, the Top 4 Elvis movies will look like this:

#1 – King Creole

#2 – Jailhouse Rock

#3 (tie) – Viva Las Vegas, and ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is

That’s my prediction. I made it primarily on my gut feelings, then decided to do some research on the three websites used for the Worst Elvis Movies post two weeks ago. There was much agreement on the worst, but their rankings for the best four Elvis movies were more disparate. That wasn’t enough to bolster my picks, so, I added one more source and the pattern became very evident. Here’s what they showed.

IMBd Elvis Movie Rankings

 

 

 

#1 – Follow That Dream
#2 – Loving You
#3 – Flaming Star
#4 – Blue Hawaii

Follow That Dream - Lobby Card

These folks seem to be taking a contrarian point of view, but all of their picks showed strength in the Elvis Movie Madness voting. Loving You and Blue Hawaii made the Elite Eight, and Follow That Dream had 47% of the vote against Loving You in the first round. It’s a shame they had to be paired up so early. The same could be said about Flaming Star that had the misfortune to go against Love Me Tender in the first round, but still got 43% of the vote
.
For what it’s worth, here’s where my favorites ranked on IMDb: Jailhouse Rock – 6, King Creole – 7, and Viva Las Vegas – 18. IMDb included only Elvis acting movies in their ranking.

 

Ranker Elvis Movie Rankings

 

 

 

 

 

#1 – Viva Las Vegas
#2 – King Creole
#3 – Jailhouse Rock
#4 – Blue Hawaii
#5 – ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is

Viva Las Vegas Lobby Card

Not bad. Ranker got all of the Final Four in that list.

 

USA Today Elvis Movie Rankings

 

 

 

 

 

#1 – King Creole
#2 – Jailhouse Rock
#3 – Loving You
#4 – Flaming Star

King Creole  Poster 2

Another good list. Viva was #6. No concert films included on the USA Today list.

 

King Creole and Jailhouse Rock showed a lot of strength in the listings above. However, when I added one more respected ranking source, things became perfectly clear.

MovieFone Elvis Movie Rankings

 

 

 

#1 – King Creole
#2 – Jailhouse Rock
#3 – ELVIS: That’s The Way It Is
#4 – Elvis On Tour.

MovieFone placed Viva Las Vegas at #7

So, based on these four listings, I feel confident in my Elvis Movie Madness picks. King Creole will be named Elvis’ best movie.

King Creole Poster 1

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© 2015 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.