Monthly Archives: September 2016

A Look at One of Young Elvis’ Favorite Haunts

Good Home Style Eating at the Arcade Restaurant

There are many ways in which ElvisBlog topics are generated. As you know, some are deeper looks at subjects that appear on Graceland.com/news. Also, regular readers sometimes send me a link to stuff on the internet that lends itself to a blog article.

 

Elvis Style Book Cover

And sometimes I am sent a comp copy of a new Elvis book about to be released. ElvisBlog does not make a practice of giving free publicity for things. However, if a book contains something unique that I can build a blog article around, I’ll go with it.

From the subtitle of the book Elvis Style, you would think it is all about Elvis fashion. Indeed, the 90+ pages on his clothing are incredibly complete – well written and full of great photos. But it was in Chapter 3 – Elvis Food – that I found something unknown to me a possibly to you as well.

 

Arcade Restaurant

No discussion of Elvis’ food preferences is complete without a page or two on his favorite, the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Author Zoey Goto wrote in Elvis Style:

“The Arcade Restaurant in Memphis continues to be the Elvis sandwich temple, as fans from across the globe flock to sample their fried peanut butter and banana sandwich in the original booth where Elvis once sat.”

Elvis' Booth at Arcade Restaurant

Elvis’ Booth at Arcade Restaurant

The Arrow Marks Elvis' Favorite Booth at Arcade Restaurant

The Arrow Marks Elvis’ Favorite Booth

“Elvis was a regular visitor in the 50s, often accompanied by the Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips. The duo would sit at a booth at the back of the restaurant, conveniently located next to the back door in case Elvis had to make a dash from his enthusiastic fans.”

Elvis’ favorite booth next to back door at Arcade Restaurant

Elvis’ favorite booth next to back door

Henry Zepatos, the third generation owner of the Arcade, says that although the peanut butter and banana sandwich is one of the most popular items on the menu, when Elvis visited he would actually come in for traditional Southern cooking – meat and vegetables. He also liked black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes.

Arcade Restaurant Current Sandwich Menue

Portion of Current Arcade Restaurant Menu Showing Sandwiches

View from Elvis’ favorite booth at Arcade Restaurant

View from Elvis’ favorite booth.

The Arcade has the honor of being Memphis’ oldest restaurant, having opened in 1919. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Arcade Restaurant on National Register of Historic Places

 

Since 1925, the Arcade has undergone very little change. In fact, the counter was replaced only after repeated elbow rubbing wore through the plastic laminate.

Worn Counter top at Arcade Restaurant

Speros Zepatos founded the diner in 1919 after emigrating from Cephalonia, Greece. Situated at the corner of South Main Street and G.E. Patterson, the original building was a small, one story, wood framed building. Food was actually cooked on potbelly stoves. In 1925, Speros tore down the wood structure and built the Arcade Building in a Greek revival style, complete with retail stores to signify the “Arcade” name.

His son, Harry Zepatos, took the Arcade to a new level in the 1950’s. He made the cafe into the hip, fifties diner you see today. The interior design and furnishings, the spectacular neon signage, and original storefront have all stood the test of time.

Arcade Restaurant Neon Sign

As you look around this old part of Memphis, it still has the same look and feel that it did many years ago. The neighborhood buildings have been refurbished, yet the old-time charm still exists.

 

Walk the Line and Great Balls of Fire

It is interesting that movies about two of Elvis’ contemporaries at Sun Records, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, have included scenes shot at the Arcade Restaurant. The diner’s nostalgic feeling has attracted many other movie makers. Some of the films with scenes shot at the Arcade include Mystery Train, The Client, The Firm, 21 Grams, and others.

 

Arcade Restaurant Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

This is a photo of the peanut butter and banana sandwich served by the Arcade Restaurant. There is a video on their website that shows how they make it. Next time you visit Graceland, you might want to take a side trip to order this specialty at the Arcade.

 

Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special Black Leather Outfit

And if you want to take a detailed look at Elvis’ wardrobe, check out Elvis Style by Zoey Goto. As said above, it also contains a section on Elvis food, plus his jewelry, his hair, his cars, and even the architecture of three Elvis homes.

The book ends with a chapter on Elvis’ legacy in modern-day fashion. Zoey has said she’s really up for me reproducing the chapter (with lots of photos) on a future ElvisBlog post. She is a famous fashion and design journalist, so she has unique insight into Elvis’ tangible and direct influence on fashion almost 40 years after his passing. You can be sure I’ll be taking her up on this opportunity.

 

 

© 2016 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.

 

Elvis’ Fabulous Rings — Part 7

Elvis Presley's Pyramid Ring in Case

In the last two two auctions I’ve followed this year, eleven rings owned by Elvis have come up for sale. We will probably never know exactly how many he had over the years, but with this post, ElvisBlog will have covered over sixty-five in the Elvis’ Fabulous Rings series.

The first eight rings here were offered at the Julien’s Rock Icons Auction in May 2016.

 

Yellow Canary Irradiated Diamond Ring:

Elvis Presley's Yellow Canary Irrddiated Diamond Ring

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I didn’t know what irradiated diamond meant, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Who knew that bombardment by protons and deuterons via a cyclotron had anything to do with jewelry? These high-energy particles physically alter the diamond’s crystal lattice, producing more intense colors. We can imagine when Elvis first learned about irradiated diamond rings he just had to have one.

This one contains a 1.75 ct full-cut diamond surrounded with 16 round diamonds, approximately .65 cts. The ring is set in 14k yellow gold band weighing 16 grams.

The auction website estimated the ring would sell for $10-12,000. The bidding topped out at $10,000 plus the 28% auction house fee for a total cost of $12,800.

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Diamond Ring:

Elvis Presley's Diamond Ring

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Here’s a beauty with 29 round full-cut diamonds totaling 1.45 cts mounted on an oval dome.  The 14k yellow gold setting weighs 20 grams.  The pre-auction estimate was $10-12,000, but the top bidder shelled out $15,360 to get it.
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Chieftain Ring:

Elvis Presley's Chieftan Ring

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Although this ring looks like silver, it is 14k gold.  The chieftain features a round emerald accenting the headdress.  Two full-cut diamonds are his eyes, and thirteen others totaling .75 cts complete the headdress.
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Elvis Presley's Chieftain Ring -- Top View
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The auction website does not state the weight of this 14k gold ring, but it is huge.  It’s hard to see it in this photo of Elvis wearing it, but you can get an idea of the size.
 Elvis Wearing Chieftain Ring
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This is the second time the Chieftain ring has sold at Julien’s Auctions.  In 2011, the buyer paid $15,360.   It sold for $19,375 in 2016, but remember, that price includes the auction house premium.  After taking that out, the seller barely broke even.
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Three-Tiered Diamond Ring with E.P. Engraved on Interior of the Band:

Elvis Pesley's Three-Tiered Diamond Ring with E.P. Engraved on Interior of the Band
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Elvis wore this ring on stage, but he had trouble keeping it on his finger.  He handed it to bodyguard Dave Hebler during a performance at the Lake Tahoe Sahara.  When Hebler tried to return it, Elvis told him to just keep it.  Elvis was very generous giving his rings away, especially stunning ones like this.  36 round-cut diamonds totaling 2.40 grams.  And mounted on a 14k gold band weighing 24.3 grams.  We can assume the engraved E.P. on the interior of the band added to its value, and it went for $20,480.  I think if this ring had been offered at the Auction at Graceland three months later, it probably would have gone for much more.
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Diamond Circular Ring:

Elvis Presley's Diamond Circular Ring
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This is another loose-fitting ring Elvis gave to Dave Hebler.  It has seven full-cut diamonds weighing 1.05 cts.  The band is 14k gold weighing 9.8 grams.  The pre-auction estimate of $10-12,000 was right on the money as the winning bid came in at $12, 800 including the auction house premium.
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Three-Channel Diamond Ring:

Elvis Presley's Three-Channel Diamond Ring
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This ring went for the same $12,800 price as the previous one, but it seems to be a superior ring.  It contains 25 full-cut diamonds totaling 1.25 cts.  The band is 14k gold weighing 10 grams.  The reason it didn’t go for more is hinted in the auction website description.  It says it was owned by Elvis, but makes no mention that he wore it.  Because it came from the estate of his Vernon Presley, it seems like Elvis bought this ring to gift to his father.
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Kempo Karate Ring:

Elvis Presley's Kempo Karate Ring
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Not every Elvis ring at the Heritage Rock Icons Auction was a winner.  This 14k white gold ring had a pre-auction estimate price of $20-40,000, which would mean an opening bid of $10,000.  Apparently no bidder thought it was even worth that.  There are no diamonds or other jewels.  I guess nobody was that impressed with a ring showing a dueling tiger and dragon in high-relief.
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Pyramid Ring:

Elvis Presley's Pyramid Ring
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The first photo at the start of this article is another view of Elvis’ pyramid ring.  The auction website said, “With the exception of the TCB ring, this may be the most exquisite ring Elvis owned.”  They also call it oversized, and that is no exaggeration.  The 14k white-gold band weighs a staggering 47.5 grams.  Then there is a .40ct full-cut round diamond in the top of the pyramid shape.  Finally, there are 76 pavé-set diamonds covering the concave sloping sides.  Elvis wore this ring at many performances and then gave it to Dr. George Nichopoulas.
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The pre-auction estimate was $30-50,000 which seems reasonable.  For some reason, the ring did not appear in the published results.  Surely, it couldn’t have been because nobody met the minimum bid.  More likely, the owner pulled it from the auction.  In my opinion, if he waits until the next Auction at Graceland, he will get the price he is hoping for.
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Speaking of the Auction at Graceland, the most recent was held on August 14 during Elvis Week in Memphis.  I have stated before that Elvis memorabilia goes for higher prices here than at other auctions.  See what you think about these three rings.
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Black Star Sapphire Ring:

Elvis Presley's Black Star Sapphire Ring -- Side View
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Elvis liked sapphires and coin rings in particular, and several of each have been shown in the Elvis’ Fabulous Rings series.  For some reason the auction website did not list separate stats on the stone and band, but together they weighed in at 21.6 grams.  The nugget-style setting is 14k gold.
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Elvis Presley's Black star Sapphire Ring
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The pre-auction was just $10-15,000, but when the dust settled after 25 bids, this black star sapphire ring sold for $35,000.
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 1911 Indian Head Gold $2½ Coin and Diamond Ring:

Elvis Presley's 1911 Indian Head Gold $2-1/2 and Diamond Ring
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The auction website says Elvis was known to adorn his fingers with multiple rings during his performances.  Because this one is only a size 6-1/2, it would have fit on only his pinky finger.  All the other rings covered in this article were sizes between 9 and 11.  In addition to the coin, the band contains 15 grams of 14k of yellow gold.  The face of the ring is surrounded by 24 diamonds.  The pre-auction estimate was $20-25,000, but bidding topped out at a cool $40,000.
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Horsehead Ring:

Elvis Presley's Ugly Horsehead Ring
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I featured this ring in a blog post a month ago on the Auction at Graceland.  In it, I questioned the rings visual appeal and said it looked weird.   Bidders apparently thought so, too, because it went for $12,800, well below the previous two beauties.  I see a pattern where returns are better at the Auction at Graceland, but a ring still has to look good to bring in the big bucks.
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Taking a Second Look:  Back in January, in Part 6, I said, “I think this is one of the ugliest rings presented in this series.  Well, I got an email from the man who bought the ring for $16,750 at the January 2016 Auction at Graceland.   He said, “I would like to change your mind.”  And he did.
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Aztec Ring:

Elvis Aztec Ring -- Poor Views
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These are the pictures from the auction website.  The buyer insisted. “The pictures of the auction house did not do it justice.  There was not a picture from its best angle, the front!”   He sent me this.
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Elvis Presley's Aztec Ring -- Front View
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I can’t imagine why the auction house didn’t take a shot from this angle, but that omission probably enabled the buyer to get it for less.  His email said, “There is also an enormous amount of detail in the ring. Of course we have the Maya calendar God on one side, There is a complete Maya village on the top of the ring in miniature, then a big temple with in the middle the roof for the sun worship
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I can’t see all that in the photos, but I’m sure you can looking at the actual ring up close.
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Now, If the buyer of that ugly horsehead ring would send me a picture showing it from an angle making it look good, I’ll be happy to publish that, too.
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©  2016    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.

 

Live Long and Prosper

star-trek-50th-anniversary

The original Star Trek TV series premiered on September 8, 1966. Since then, we can certainly say that Star Trek has prospered.

 

elvis-lives

Although Elvis left us in 1977, we can also say he has prospered.

So what does Elvis have to do with Star Trek? There are more connections than you would think. We will celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary here… Elvis style.

 

elvis-kirk

Thanks to those talented Photoshop jockeys, we see what Captain Elvis T. Kirk would look like.

 

elvis-spock

And here we have Spock Elvis. Or is it Elvis Spock?

 

spock-elvis-24-karat-hits

Well, let’s see. If this is Elvis Spock, I guess the other has to be Spock Elvis.

 

elvis-in-star-trek-the-next-generetion

Study this one for a minute. Somebody has morphed Elvis heads onto all the male characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation. How do you like bald Elvis as Captain Picard. He looks better than I would have expected. My other favorite is Elvis as Worf. And it was pretty clever to have Lisa Marie as Counselor Troi and Priscilla as Dr. Crusher.

 

elvis-kirk-standing

Here’s a nice shot of Elvis as Captain Kirk.

 

Nixon with William Shatner as Elvis

And in an opposite switch, William Shatner replaces Elvis in the iconic photo with Nixon. I now have 28 Photoshopped variations of the famous Elvis/Nixon photo. There’s more out there, but I’ll have to explore many Strange New Worlds in the Google Galaxy to find them.

 

The Elvis - Star Trek Connection

Back in 2009, I posted a two-part series on the Elvis / Star Trek Connection. It featured eight actresses who appeared in both Star Trek episodes and Elvis movies. Now is the perfect occasion to post them again (with a few updates).

 

CELESTE YARNALL:

Some of you may have met Celeste Yarnall at an Elvis Week, because she has become something of a regular guest there these past few years.  She appeared briefly in Live A Little, Love a Little, from 1968, just four films from the end of the Elvis movie string.  His movies were starting to get bad, but this one was so stupid it was funny.

   

                   

Yarnall played Ellen, a model he met at a party.  One of the ways Elvis (Gary Nolan) convinced her to come back to his apartment with him was by singing, “A Little Less Conversation.”

When Elvis gets her home, Bernice, another woman with an eye on Elvis, creates a ruckus while vacuuming, totally breaking the mood.  Ellen gets mad and insists Elvis take her home.

One year earlier, Celeste Yarnall appeared in a Star Trek episode titled, “The Apple.”  Instead of being hit on by Elvis, this time it was Ensign Chekov.

She escaped Checkov’s advances, and later, Captain Kirk consoled her by showing her his giant horn.

 

TERI GARR:

Teri Garr appeared in six Elvis movies:

Kissin’ Cousins  1963
Fun in Acapulco  1963
Viva Las Vegas  1964
Roustabout   1964
Girl Happy   1965
Clambake   1967

However, her screen time was not as an actress.  At this early point in her career, she was a dancer trying to break into acting.

Teri Garr in a scene from Viva Las Vegas

Blow up of Teri Garr in that scene

 

Teri Garr in Roustabout

Teri Garr in Kissin’ Cousins

Teri Garr Dancing in Girl Happy

Teri Garr dancing in Girl Happy

There has been some argument among Elvis fans about whether the girl in this and other dancing sceens was really Teri Garr.  The detail just wasn’t sharp enough to be sure.

Teri Garr in jail in Girl Happy

It was your ElvisBlogmeister that finally proved she appeared in Girl Happy. Remember how Elvis landed in the Ft. Lauderdale jail?  I found this shot while doing single frame advance to get to something else.  Note she is wearing the same top as in the dancing shot.

 

Teri Garr got one of her first acting jobs in Star Trek episode # 55 titled “Assignment Earth.”  Captain Kirk and Spock travelled back in time to 1968 Earth to stop Gary Seven, a villian who was trying to explode an orbital bomb over Asia.  Teri Garr played Roberta Lincoln, a ditzy blond in a very short mini-skirt who was hired by a henchman of Gary Seven to supposedly develop a new ecyclopedia.  In the end, she became suspicious and helped save Earth.

 

yvonne craig:

 

Most Elvis fans know she was one of the Tatum sisters in Kissin’ Cousins, but she appeared in an earlier Elvis movie in a small part.  Yvonne Craig had a small role in It Happened at the World’s Fair, released in 1963.  She played Dorothy Johnson, a love interest of Elvis’ character, Mike Edwards.  While her scene with Elvis was short, it could be called pretty hot, as you can see by these stills.


Two movies later, Yvonne Craig showed up in a much larger role in Kissin’ Cousins.  Do you think Elvis might have really liked her first performance and put in a good word for her?   Anyway, she played Azalea Tatum, who had to fight with her sister Selena for Elvis’ attention (Air Force Captain Josh Morgan).  Azalea finally ends up the winner in the Elvis sweepstakes.

 

These roles were tame compared to her character in a Star Trek episode in 1967: “Whom Gods Destroy.”  Yvonne Craig played Marta, a green-skinned inmate at the Federation asylum on Elba ll.  She was delusional, seductive and skilled in exotic dance.   The evil Garth of Izar coerced her to carry out a plot to assassinate Captain Kirk.  

She got alone with Kirk, started to seduce him, and then pulled a knife and tried to stab him.  He fought her off, and Spock arrived to help subdue her.    After the failed assassination attempt, her master, Garth of Izar, ended her life by blowing her to bits with a new explosive.


        

 

laurel Goodwin:

Laurel Goodwin  played Laurel Dodge, Elvis’ love interest in Girls, Girls, Girls.  Actually, it was more like “the winning love interest,” because Stella Stevens was a former flame that still hoped for a future with Elvis’ character, Ross Carpenter, and she kept popping up throughout the movie.

 The dance that Elvis and Laurel did (pictured above) is one of my favorite scenes from his films.  It must have been difficult to come up with a dance routine that was funny, but this one was.

On Star Trek, Laurel appeared as Yeoman Colt in an episode that contained Spock, but not Captain Kirk or any of the other familiar Enterprise crew members.  That’s because she was in “The Cage,” the one hour pilot that was produced to sell NBC on the series.  Parts of it were used for flashback scenes in a later two-part episode, but “The Cage was not broadcast intact until 1988, twenty years after the series ended.  I like Goodwin’s look in this better than in the Elvis movie.  That’s Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike.  Don’t you bet he and Laurel Goodwin would have had significantly better careers if they had kept their roles when the series went into production?

 

Nancy Kovack:

Nancy Getting Elvis' Eye in Frankie and Johnny

Nancy Kovack also had a major role in an Elvis movie.  She played Nellie Bly, the “losing Elvis love interest” in Frankie and Johnny.  (Not to say Elvis’ movies were formulaic, but do you notice the pattern here?)  Nellie Bly was immortalized in the song as the girl who caused Johnny (Elvis) to do Frankie wrong.  Actually, Johnny just believed Nellie was a good-luck charm for his frequent gambling, but Frankie and the riverboat owner (Nellie’s former boyfriend) thought otherwise.  Skullduggery ensued, and Johnny discovered the real good-luck charm was the one Frankie gave him.  He carried it in his breast pocket, and it saved him from a bullet to the chest.  Of course, Frankie and Johnny got together at the end of the movie, but Nellie did okay too, as she went back to the riverboat owner.

          

On Star Trek Nancy Kovack played Nona in “A Private Little War,” and got to wear the nifty warrior witch outfit you see above.  Nona was the wife of Tyree, leader of the Hill People on the planet Neural.  However, she wanted power and betrayed him.  She stole Dr. McCoy’s phaser and sought out the leader of a rival faction, but ended up being stabbed to death.


Julie Parrish:

Julie Parrish played Joanna, an employee of the Kahala Hilton hotel in Paradise, Hawaiian Style, but she did not play an Elvis love interest.  However, she was part of a scene that requires much willing suspension of disbelief.  She had Elvis’ character (a helicopter pilot named Rick) transport a consignment of pedigreed dogs to a dog show.  The dogs freaked out and Elvis lost control of the helicopter.  Before he could gain control, he ran a car off the road and into a ditch.  Well, the driver of that car just happened to be a big shot in the Federal Aviation Administration (oops).  Gee, what a coincidence.

 

Her Star Trek role was as Miss Piper, Starfleet Adjutant to Commodore Mendez on planet Talos lV in the two-part episode “The Menagerie.”  This is the show where parts of “The Cage” were shown in flashback.  Captain Pike was also in the newer plot, but he had been badly disfigured by delta rays.  Fortunately, Julie Parrish’s figure was just fine, and it was well displayed throughout the story.

Emily Banks:

The credits for Live A Little, Love A Little list Emily Banks’ character as “Receptionist.”  I know it’s hard to notice with that voluptuous stand-up occupying so much of the photo above, but look closely, there is a receptionist here.  Hey, Elvis, don’t stare.  Emily Banks fared a bit better with dialogue, as she had enough lines to be the fifth woman listed in the credits.

For her Star Trek appearance in “Shore Leave,” Emily Banks played Yeoman Tonia Barrows and got to do considerably more acting.  When some of the Enterprise crew beamed down to Omicron Delta for badly needed shore leave, a mysterious energy field (they show up at lot, don’t they?) caused strange things to happen individually to each crew member.  For Yeoman Barrows, it was a visit from Don Juan.  Too bad for Dr. McCoy, who thought scoring with her would be the perfect form of R&R.

 

Tanya Lemani:

Tanya Lemani did not appear in an Elvis movie, but she was featured in the ’68 Comeback Special.  She had significant screen time as a belly dancer in the segment where Elvis sang “Little Egypt.”

She had a much larger part playing Kara in the Star Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold.”  Kirk, McCoy and Scotty beamed down to the hedonistic pleasure planet Argelius II, and went to a favorite café.  Kara’s dancing infatuated them all, especially Scotty.  When she came over to their table, Scotty put his best moves on her and she agreed to leave with him.  As you can see in the picture above, Scotty was really pleased with this development.  Unfortunately, Kara was attacked out on the street and stabbed to death (awww, not that again).

 

Let’s end this Elvis-style 50th anniversary tribute to Star Trek with him getting a promotion.

Star Trek Commander Elvis

If you look back at the group photo of The Next Generation above, you will note the crew had a serious uniform update from those of the original show.  Will Riker was the Commander in that series, so a photo of him was converted to this. I think Elvis looks perfect in a Commander’s uniform.

And finally, how about a shot with both Elvis and Kirk on it?

Elvis and Kirk with two lovlies

Photo Credit – Therese Bohn — https://trekkerscrapbook.com/

 

 

© 2016 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.

 

 

The Elvis Concert I Would Most Have Liked to See

Elvis and Band Performing at New Frontier Hotel

In March 2015 and again this year, Graceland Blog has presented variations on college basketball’s March Madness betting brackets. They modified them so fans could vote their preference on different elements of Elvis’ career. Remember these?

Elvis Movie Madness:             Winner — Elvis: That’s the Way It Is

Elvis Bracket Challenge:         Winner – “Don’t Be Cruel”

Now Graceland has come up with an interactive concept allowing fans to vote their favorite of two choices in twelve different categories.

Would You Rather - Elvis Edition
You can see three of the twelve choices in the announcement box above. Fans preferred chatting with Gladys over Vernon buy a huge margin, and horses won by a hair over motorcycles. Other interesting choices were: Would you rather receive one of Elvis’ rings or a scarf he wore on stage? (The ring won 78% to 22%. I don’t know why it wasn’t 100% to 0%); Would you rather go for a spin in the Pink Cadillac, or fly in Elvis’ custom jet, the Lisa Marie? (Pink Caddy won, but I feel strongly that a ride in the jet would be way cooler.)

Vote for Elvis' '68 Special or Aloha from Hawaii

The first question in the announcement box made me think. I did vote for the winner, the ’68 Special, but I knew in my heart there was one other Elvis concert I would have strongly preferred over either of the two choices. It was a concert at 2PM on April 28, 1956. Here is the story.

Years ago while surfing the net I found an Associate Press story by Steve Kanigher on LasVegasSun.com that contained some significant facts about Elvis I did not know. The subject was his two-week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel’s Venus Showroom from April 23 to May 6, 1956. What I learned has caused me to question the prevailing belief that Elvis’ shows then were something of a bust and kept him from performing in Las Vegas for the next thirteen years.

Billboard for Elvis' Performance at the New Frontier Hotel

Elvis performed two shows a night, 8PM and midnight. The audience was older types who favored the traditional Las Vegas shows. Freddy Martin’s Band and comedian Shecky Greene fit the standard. But Elvis did not. The patrons just didn’t get him, and Elvis’ appearances were roundly panned by the Las Vegas press.

But one performance was much different. For some reason, Col. Parker decided to add an extra Saturday afternoon matinee show for teenagers on April 28. According to Elvis: Day By Day by Guralnick and Jorgesen the price was a mere one dollar, and that included one free soft drink.

Wow. Think about that for a moment. Suppose you were among the lucky teenagers who came along with Mom and Dad to Vegas that weekend. Can you imagine learning about a special Elvis show being added just for kids while you were there – and freaking out! And it only cost a buck. Sign us all up. We’re headed to the Frontier to see Elvis!

Elvis at New Frontier Hotel

Now, try thinking about how great that show was. We can tell by this description of how these young fans’ reacted to Elvis’ appearance. According to the Associated Press story, “Teens screamed with delight.” This is confirmed by a quote from D J Fontana in Scotty Moore’s biography, That’s All Right, Elvis, “The Colonel did a show for teenagers on Saturday, and it was just jam-packed, with everybody screaming and hollering.”

Scotty and Elvis on stage at New Frontier

Okay, so now we know Elvis had one Vegas show in 1956 with his real fans in attendance, and a fine time was had by all. Of course the teenage fans screamed. That was what they were doing for Elvis all over America in arenas and stadiums. But that Saturday matinee was in the intimate environment of the Venus Showroom at the New Frontier Hotel. Everybody there was up close and personal. No bleachers or nose-bleed section for this show.

Elvis on Stage at New Frontier Hotel

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Look how close those kids in the front rows were to Elvis. And those in the back weren’t very far away either. The attendance that day has been reported at a little over 1000 teenagers. This is much less than Elvis had been pulling in at arenas all year leading up to his gig in Las Vegas.

Venus Showroom at New Frontier Hotel

This is obviously not an Elvis performance, but it gives you a good idea of the intimacy of Venus Showroom audience and the performers on stage.

Elvis came to Las Vegas after performing in front of big crowds in large venues. The shrieking at all of them was so loud and so sustained that the music from Elvis and the band couldn’t be heard. I read somewhere that even the band couldn’t hear the music.

But, I doubt the volume of shrieking from the much smaller crowd in the Venus Showroom would had been enough to drown out the music. In that case, those 1,000 young Elvis fans in Las Vegas were not only close to Elvis, they could actually hear him.

Elvis Wth Scotty Moore Performing at Venus Showroom

If I could go back in time and be at just one Elvis concert in his entire career, I would pick the 2PM Saturday matinee at the New Frontier Hotel on April 28, 1956.

Elvis Performing at New Frontier

After a week of facing mature audiences that just did not get him, can you imagine what kind of performance Elvis gave in front of screaming teenaged fans? It was the same one-and-a-half show he gave every night, but the whole vibe had to be different.

Man, I wish I could have been there.

 

 

{Editor’s Note: While the photos above were snapped at the Venus Showroom, most were not actually the Elvis concert for teenagers.}

 

Elvis - Welcome to Las Vegas

 

 

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