Category Archives: ELVIS and OTHER STARS

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore died yesterday at age 80 after a long battle with diabetes.  The media has been filled with stories and pictures about her roles as Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 60s and Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 5

But Elvis fans also remember her as Sister Michelle Gallagher in a movie she made between the TV show runs.  It was Elvis’ last movie, Change of Habit, that premiered in November 1969.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 6

She did not wear the nun’s habit for most of the movie as she worked as a nurse with Elvis’ character Dr. John Carpenter.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 4

It wasn’t all work for the two.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 2

In fact, things got almost chummy, but this was one Elvis movie romance that did not end with him getting the girl at the end.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 7

Sister Michelle was firm in not straying from her vows.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit

But the chemistry between Elvis and Mary was strong and and kept things interesting.

Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in Change of Habit 3

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Good bye, Mary Tyler Moore.  We’ll miss you.  Say hi to Elvis for us.

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© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Remembering Joe Esposito

Joe Esposito

Joe Esposito died the day before Thanksgiving, so this post is unfortunately late. Blame it on the time demands of getting through one holiday and getting ready for another.

It saddens me to do these memorials to friends and musicians from Elvis’ world. The circle keeps getting smaller. Since ElvisBlog began 11 years ago, we’ve remembered Charlie Hodge, Lamar Fike, John Wilkinson, Gordon Stoker, Millie Kirkham, and Scotty Moore.

 

Graceland Remembering Joe Esposito

Like every other Elvis website, Graceland.com posted a memorial to Joe Esposito, but is was surprisingly brief. It did mentioned that Joe served as Elvis’ road manager, but omitted other functions he performed – bodyguard for a while and sometimes assisting in the bookkeeping.  Joe was also co-best man at Elvis’ wedding to Priscilla.

(Editor’s note: I did not copy the “Remembering Joe Esposito” title that Graceland.com used. That’s been the way I memorialized all the folks mentioned above, and this continued the pattern.)

 

Elvis and Joe Esposito riding a bike

 

Joe esposito and Elvis at memphis Airport

One interesting factoid about Joe Esposito is mentioned the book ELVIS: His Life from A to Z – “It was Joe Esposito who arranged females for Elvis to date.”

 

Elvis and Joe Esposito at Set of It Happened at the World's Fair

 

Did you know that Joe Esposito had bit parts in eight Elvis movies?

Joe Esposito in Elvis Movies

You can see him through the windshield in this shot taken during the filming of Spinout.

Elvis and Joe esposito on Set of Clambake

 

One thing I found out about Joe Esposito while doing research is that Google has way more images of him in his later years than during his time with Elvis. Here’s a good one of him having some laughs with Linda Thompson. Everyone says he was a great guy, fun to be around.

Joe Esposito and Linda Thompson

 

I got to know Joe just a little bit. Here I am at Elvis Week 2007 at a book signing table outside the venue for a concert presented by Darwin Lamm, Editor/Publisher of Elvis International magazine. I got to play pseudo-bodyguard protecting Joe and DJ Fontana from any pushy or unruly fans. Fortunately there weren’t any.

Phil Arnold, Joe Esposito, DJ Fontana

I will forever be grateful to Darwin for giving me the opportunity to hang out back stage with these two men plus Scotty Moore, Gordon Stoker, and Millie Kirkham.

 

Here is a picture of Joe with Elvis two months before Elvis died.

Joe esposito with Elvis Two Months Before He Died

 

And here’s a photo of Darwin vising with Joe Esposito two months before his passing.

Joe esposito and Darwin Lamm

Joe was an important earlier contributor to Darwin’s magazine, and the two have been friends for decades.

 

Joe esposito

 

We’ll miss you, Joe. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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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

 

 

© 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.

 

 

A Tribute to Scotty Moore – Part 2

Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley Performing at New Frontier Hotel 1956

This is the way most people think of Scotty Moore – playing guitar on stage while Elvis performs. Scotty will forever be linked with Elvis, and that’s fine, because his guitar skills played a huge part in Elvis’ music starting a revolution.

Scotty Moore died ten days ago at age 84, cause not announced, and ElvisBlog presented a tribute that generated much positive comment. Because there is still more to say about this rock pioneer, here is A Tribute to Scotty Moore, Part 2.

 

Elvis Leaning on Scotty Moore's Wife's 1954 Chevy Bel Air

This photograph has appeared on the web everywhere. The emphasis is always on Elvis’ wild clothes, especially the pink shirt, back in the early days. The thing most people don’t realize is that the car he is leaning on is Scotty’ wife’s 1954 Chevy Bel Air. The group used this car to travel on all their initial road tours. So, not only was Scotty’s guitar work instrumental in creating Elvis’ Rockabilly sound, he also made it possible for the singer to travel to appearances that added to his growing fame.

 

Cartoon of Scotty Moore

I don’t know the story behind this drawing, but I’m glad I found it. However, I’d change the tagline to “The Man that made the King Rock.”

 

Now for a few things about Scotty Moore you may not know.

 

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists -- # 29 Scotty Moore

Scotty Moore's Bio on Rolling Stone

How about that. When Rolling Stone magazine selected the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Scotty made the list. His # 29 position put him ahead of many famous names, such as Prince, Stephen Stills, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Kurt Cobain. Of more interest to me was how Scotty fared against his contemporaries in the early days of Rock & Roll. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley placed ahead of Scotty, but Duane eddy, Dick Dale, Buddy Holly, and Carl Perkins trailed him. In case you’re curious, Elvis’ guitar player in the 70s, James Burton, placed # 19.

 

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists

I was particularly struck by the praise Rolling Stone magazine heaped on Scotty. In a flip on the widely-accepted notion that Elvis was the first to mix country, gospel, and blues music, Rolling Stone‘s bio on Scotty said:

“Moore’s tight, aggressive runs mixed country picking with blues phrasing into a new instrumental language.”

Think about what that says. Was it the guitar player or the singer in those 1954 Sun recording sessions that deserves the credit for the monumental change in music that followed? Probably both together, but Scotty deserves more credit. I’m glad Rolling Stone got it right.

 

Priscilla Presley, Scotty Moore, and Gail Pollock

There are two women in this picture with Scotty. One you easily recognize as Priscilla Presley, but can you identify the other? She is Gail Pollock, who was the woman in his life since the early 80’s. I met Scotty at four Elvis Weeks, and Gail was with him every time. They were a team.

Gail Pollock passed away in November 2015, and I am only guessing here, but I think her passing may have hastened Scotty’s death. With her gone, Scotty must have had a huge emptiness in his heart.

That's Alright Elvis - Scotty Moore Bio

I remembered there was a cute story about Gail and Scotty in his autobiography, That’s Alright, Elvis. (Side note: The book is out of print, and the prices for used copies on Amazon have zoomed up since Scotty died). I got out my old signed copy and looked up the story. Back in 1973, Scotty lived in Nashville and worked as a free-lance recording engineer, frequently at Monument Records. Gail Pollock worked there, but had no idea of his background. Scotty never talked about it to anyone.

One day a man came into Monument Records to book studio time, and Gail introduced him to Scotty. After Scotty left the room, the man asked, “Is that the real Scotty Moore?” Gail had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Scotty Moore, the one who played with Elvis?” Gail answered, “No, he’s an engineer.”

Since then, Gail learned everything about Scotty, and the two of them had long friendships with most of Nashville’s ‘A Team’ session players, singers, and producers. She became famous for her “Southern Mother” cooking for countless recording sessions, jam sessions, or any other reason just to have friends get together.

Scotty Moore and Friends on his Back Deck

Here is Scotty (far right) with several friends socializing on the back deck of his Nashville home. We can presume that Gail either snapped the shot or was in the kitchen.

 

Colorized Scotty & Elvis on Stage

Here’s another strong photo of Elvis and Scotty on stage together, one of my favorites. I guess I am jumping around here. Hope you don’t mind.

 

Scotty on Elvis Trading Card

I wish they had used a clearer picture here for the only Elvis trading card that included Scotty.

 

Scotty Moore in Jailhouse Rock

Last week we looked at some photos of Scotty in the movie Loving You. Here he is at a recording session in the movie Jailhouse Rock.

 

Scotty Moore Album - The Guitar that Changed the World

This is an album that Scotty released in 1964, and I own a cassette copy made from it. It has since been released on CD, and Amazon’s Editorial Review says:

“Scotty Moore deserves this album’s title, exclamation point and all. His big, hollow-body Gibson electric provided the architecture that allowed Elvis Presley’s raw talent and charisma to assume its shape on those early Sun and RCA singles.”

Then, Amazon’s Editorial Review goes on to say some less complimentary things about the album itself. This is no surprise to me, because lots worse has been said about it, as related in an article I wrote for Elvis International magazine back in 2000.

“About ten years ago, I came across an interesting book in the music section of a large bookstore. The title was something like The 100 Worst Record Albums of All Time, which spiked my curiosity as an avid record collector. I flipped through it with mild amusement to see what albums the author had selected, but had quite a jolt when I came upon The Guitar That Changed The World by Scotty Moore.

“Wow,” I thought, “I didn’t know Scotty Moore recorded a solo album of Elvis songs.” Although I was pleased to learn of its existence, it bugged me that some jerk author could write such a bad review about the work of a legendary rock guitarist held in high esteem by Elvis fans. His argument was basically that the original songs were so outstanding nobody should have the audacity to record cover versions.”

Well, I got that cassette copy of Scotty’s album. I review each song in the article and had this summary, The Guitar That Changed The World is absolutely not one of the worst record albums of all time, but it sure is hard to find.”

 

Scotty, DJ and George Harrison

Last week, I wrote about how big Scotty Moore fans the Rolling Stones are. Same for the Beatles. Scotty and DJ Fontana hang out with here George Harrison in this shot. Scotty has done the same with Paul McCartney, and he has recorded with Ringo Starr.

 

Elvis and Scotty

Let’s finish up with a few more shots of Scotty and Elvis together. That’s probably the 54 Chevy Bel Air Scotty is sitting in.

 

Scotty and Elvis At New Frontier Hotel

This shot comes from May 1956 when Elvis performed at the New Frontier hotel in Las Vegas. It was nice that Elvis always moved back and let Scotty front the band when he did his guitar solos.

 

Scotty has already been buried in his hometown of Humboldt, Tennessee. However, his webmaster announced on www.scottymoore.net that a memorial celebration will soon be held in Nashville. When we read the media coverage of all the people in attendance, it will confirm that Scotty Moore was a very special person loved by many.

 

Good bye, Scotty Moore. I’m so glad I got to spend some time with you.

 

©  2016    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Beach Boy – (Uncredited)

Special Guests Added to Elvis WeekSpecial Guests At Elvis Weekk 2016

(Editor’s note:  Seven months after this post apeared, Christopher Riodan, the title subject, posted a long comment detailing his connections wih Elvis.  It is worth your time to click on Comments and read it.)

Did you get this email from Elvis Insiders like I did? The heading caught my eye. “Special Guests Added to Elvis Week.” So, I eagerly read on to find out who these special people might be.

As you can see, the first name is Christopher Riordan, identified as Elvis’ co-star. Now, I’m a big fan of Elvis movies and have books listing the entire cast and crew for each one. I have read them all several times, but I just couldn’t remember Christopher Riordan in any of them.

 

Christopher Riordan Bio

So, I clicked on Read More which brought up this bio. It does say he had roles in several Elvis movies, but there is no longer any mention of co-star status. Still, roles in six Elvis movies, plus the ’68 Special, is something to be proud of. You and I would be thrilled if we had been in six Elvis movies, no matter how small the parts.

(One side note: It seems EPE wants to phase out reference to the ’68 Comeback Special. The official preferred name is now Elvis ’68 Special.  Sort of like how they prefer Elvis Tribute Artist over Elvis Impersonator.)

Anyway, I was curious about Christopher Riordan’s participation in Elvis movies. So I decided to go to the best source for any and all information about movies – The International Movie Database. IMDb is a subsidiary of Amazon, and has 3.7 million movies and TV episodes in its database. Plus 7 million actors and other personalities.

IMDb Selections

I love this website. Look at the list of links available under the Movies, TV & Showtimes tab. There are two more tabs with tons more stuff. Check it out.
I typed Christopher Riordan into the Search box and confirmed his presence in those six Elvis movies and the ‘68 Special. Here is the summary of his roles:

1964 – Viva Las Vegas                    Dancer (Uncredited)
1964 – Roustabout                          Carnival Worker (Uncredited)
1965 – Tickle Me                             Dancing bit (Uncredited)
1965 – Spinout                                Party Guest (Uncredited
1967 – Double Trouble                    Young Englishmen (Uncredited)
1967 – Clambake                            Beach Boy (Uncredited)
1968 – Elvis (TV movie)                  Dancer.

Christopher Riordan and Elvis in Spinout

Christopher Riordan as Party Guest with Elvis in Spinout

I started to feel a little let down. Christopher Riordan seemed a little over-hyped – not a co-star, not in roles with character names and lines of dialogue. But, I checked out what else Riordan had appeared in, and found he has scored 101 credits in both TV and movies. The bulk of these were uncredited bit parts in dozens of movies each year 1964 through 1967. During this busy period, he also had recurring credited rolls in two TV shows – Ozzie and Harriet in 1964 and Many Happy Returns in 1965. Ironically, his character’s name in both series was Ronnie.

Christopher Riordan in 1977 Publicity Photo.

Christopher Riordan in 1977 Publicity Photo.

For some reason, Riordan’s appearances dropped off drastically in 1968 through 1971, and he had no credits at all in 1972-1974, and none in the decade from 1978 to 1988. Maybe nobody was looking for a guy with immense hair for their movie or TV projects. Obviously, Riordan was supporting himself with some other line of work during that time.

During the 90s, he resurfaced with bit parts in one movie, one short, and three TV show episodes. In the 2000s he appeared in seven TV episodes of House of Carters and Ugly Betty.

AjayMehta and Christopher Riordan in Outsourced - 2010

Christopher Riordan (right) on set of Outsourced – 2010

Then suddenly he showed up in 2010 in 21 episodes of the TV show Outsourced acting as the Call Center Supervisor. Wow, where did all the hair go? He’s had a few credits in the years since, and so far in 2016, he has appeared in five episodes of the NBC TV series Superstore.

 

Conversations on Elvis

So, the questions are why did Christopher Riordan get selected for the Conversations on Elvis panel, and will he have anything to add to the conversation. The sad truth is that many people close to Elvis have died, and it is obviously getting harder to fill the stage with suitable panelists.

I would prefer to think that Riordan was a young good-looking party guy and probably did have some chances to hang out with Elvis. He very well could have been around for some crazy antics, and if he shares these during Elvis Week, I think the fans will love it. My bet is that Christopher Riordan will be one of the most interesting people on the stage.

 

 

© 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.

 

Muhammad Ali and Elvis

Ali wearing the robe that Elvis gave him. March 31 1974

Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, died June 3 at a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz. at age 74.

The above photo was taken in a boxing ring on March 31, 1974. Notice anything familiar about the rhinestone and jewel design? Looks like what Elvis had on several of his jumpsuits, doesn’t it? Well, it should. Elvis gave it to him the year before.

 

Elvis with Ali in his Suite at the Las Vegas Hilton 1973

Here they are in Ali’s suite in the Las Vegas Hilton in 1973. It is reported that Elvis gave the robe to him on February 14, 1973 shortly before Ali’s fight with Joe Bugner. Ali did not wear it at the Las Vegas Convention Center that night, but he won the fight.

 

People's Choice Robe Elvis Gave to Mohammed Ali

Here is the back view of the robe. According to some sources, Elvis had directed it to say People’s Champion, but somebody screwed up and did People’s Choice. Naturally, Elvis was very upset about the mistake, but it was too late to do anything about it. The robe cost a reported $3,000, and Ali was thrilled to receive it.

He did wear it to the ring for his next fight on March 31, 1973 against Ken Norton. Ali lost the fight, which made him decide the robe was bad luck, and he never wore it again. The 1974 photo above was a staged shot.

 

Mohammod Ali wearing and holding picture of robe Elvis gave him

So was this one taken at the Hard Rock Café in 1988.

 

Glove Muhammad Ali gave to Elvis

Here is another example of the Elvis Presley/Muhammad friendship: Elvis. You are the Greatest Fan. Muhammad Ali. Peace 1973.

 

Muhammad Ali and Elvis

 

“Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to meet.”

 

Muhammad Ali BackStage Pass to an Elvis Concert

Although I cannot find anything to corroborate it, it seems likely Ali used this backstage pass at an Elvis concert in Las Vegas.

 

Ali, Parker, and Vernon

It looks like Vernon and Col. Parker got to spend some time with Muhammad Ali as well.

 

Muhammad Ali and Jack Snoden in the Memorial Garden 1984

Muhammad Ali came to Graceland in 1984 and paid his respect Elvis at the Meditation Garden.

 

“People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone. Like President Kennedy, there was no one like him, the Beatles, and my man Elvis Presley.”

 

Robe Elvis gave to Ali on display at the Ali Center, Louisville KY

The robe Elvis gave Muhammad Ali is now on display in the Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

 

Elvis and Ali in boxing pose

At one point, Elvis and Ali were the two most recognizable human beings on the planet. Even in death, they may still be.

 “I was the Elvis of boxing.”

 

We’ll miss you Muhammad Ali.  Say hi to Elvis for us.

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Elvis Meets Nixon – Part 3

Elvis Meets Nixon Banner

It is still a week until the premier of the new movie Elvis & Nixon. I hope to hear from some of you who watched it as well as the 1997 version Elvis Meets Nixon on YouTube. It will be interesting to read your comments, and maybe do one more blog post on the subject.

But now I want to share all kinds of miscellaneous stuff I have on this historic meeting.

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The Letter:

On the flight from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, Elvis got five pieces of American Airlines note paper and wrote a letter to President Nixon. Elvis planned to take it to the White House gate and ask the guard to see that it got delivered to the president. He thought it would convince Nixon to see him. And it worked out just like Elvis planned.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon

The letter is a classic. Here are some key excerpts with comments. If you have trouble reading Elvis’ penmanship on this next one, a text version follows.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - The Hippie Element

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - The Hippie Element in Text

Elvis follows that with, “Sir, I can and will be of any service I can to help the country out.”

Elvis was setting the stage for his real purpose for the visit. He wanted to get Nixon to give him a Federal Marshal at Large badge (more on this later).

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - In Depth Study of Drug Abuse

Yes, it really does say, “I have done an in depth study of drug abuse and communist brainwashing techniques.” Incredible stuff, pure Elvis.

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - Love to Meet You

Say, Mr. President, I was just hoping I could pop in for a quick visit.

 

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - Phone Numbers for Return Call

Elvis wanted Nixon’s staff to call him back and set up the meeting, so it makes sense to give the phone number for the Washington Hotel where he was staying. But why the numbers for his homes in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, and Memphis. He wasn’t at any of them. And three phone numbers for Col. Parker?

But look what it says below the hotel number – “Under the name of Jon Burrows.” If Elvis wanted to check in incognito, why would he show up like this?

Elvis' Outfit when He Met Nixon

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The Badge:

Elvis used his best powers of persuasion to convince Nixon to give him a badge as a special agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Elvis' Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Badge

If you have taken the Graceland tour, you saw that this badge was the centerpiece of Elvis’ collection of law enforcement badges.

Elvis' Badge from Department of Justic

 

The Gun Gift:

Elvis' Letter to Nixon - A Personal Gift for You

The gift Elvis referred to was a classic 45 caliber Colt pistol. It had been mounted in a glass case along with seven silver bullets and graced the walls of Elvis’ Beverly Hills home.

Elvis gift to Richard Nixon A 45 Caliber Colt pistol

Before Elvis left to go to LAX, he took the mounted gun off the wall and put it in his baggage (this was 1970, remember, before suitcases passed under x-ray scanners). The turmoil this gift caused with White House security was covered in the 1997 movie and certainly will be in the new Elvis & Nixon.

Gun Elvis gave Nixon on Display at Presidential Library

The Colt 45 gift from Elvis is now displayed at the Nixon Presidential Library.

Guess what the best-selling item there is.

Elvis Meets Nixon - The Official Picture

If you didn’t know, I’ll bet you guessed it.

 

Noxon's and Elvis' Suits on Display 2007 Nixon Museum

In 2007, Graceland loaned Elvis’ coat from the meeting to the Nixon Presidential library for an exhibit. They shouldn’t have the mannequin arms in the sleeves. Elvis didn’t wear it that way. It opened more draped over his shoulders, showing off that massive belt buckle.

 

Photoshopped Elvis and Nixon:

 

In 2009 and 2010, ElvisBlog presenting interesting variations on the historic photo. Here are some of the better ones.

 

Elvis and Nixon -- Heads Reversed

Heads Reversed

Elvis and Nixon' Faces reversed

Faces, but nnot hair, reversed

Double Elvis

Elvis Meets Elvis

Reagan and George Bush

George Bush Meets Ronald Reagan

Nixon, Elvis and Bubba Ho-Tep

Bubba Ho-Tep gets in the picture

Darth Vader and Elvis

Elvis meets Darth Vader

Nixon and Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello meets Nixon

 

So, that just about cleans out my file of Elvis and Nixon photos. Here’s something that is actually for sale at the Unites States National Archives:

Elvis and Nixon Snow Globes Snow Globes

 

One last thought. Rather than the official photograph of Nixon and Elvis, I much prefer this one.

Elvis Presley shakes hands with President Nixon

This one wasn’t posed. Elvis had just entered the Oval Office, still wearing his famous sunglasses and carrying pictures of Priscilla and Lisa and other stuff he wanted to show the President. Much cooler photo.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis Meets Nixon – Part 2

Elvis Has Entered the White House

Last week, ElvisBlog reported that a new movie about Elvis would premier on April 22.  It is Elvis & Nixon, starring Kevin Spacey as Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis.  Like all Elvis fans, I hope it will be a good film, but I expressed doubts that it could be as enjoyable as a 1997 made-for-Showtime movie titled Elvis Meets Nixon.

Elvis Meets Nixon DVD

Take a look at the fine print on this DVD cover.  The New York Daily News called it “The giddiest, funniest, most entertaining comedy …in years.”  I absolutely agree.

Elvis Meets Nixon follows a semi-documentary format with Dick Cavett as the host and frequent voice-over narrator.  I have only one beef with his commentary.  In the very beginning, he says Elvis was a forgotten performer in 1970, reduced to doing Las Vegas shows.  That is so wrong.  Elvis was huge in Las Vegas, setting attendance records with his concerts.  He was the hottest ticket in town.

Dick Cavett In Elvis Meets Nixon

 

From that point on, Cavett does a good job, and one statement he made captures the essence of this movie.  While talking about the short time Elvis and Nixon actually spent together in the oval office, Cavett said, “If what you are about to see didn’t happen exactly this way, it should have.”  Actually, that sentiment could be made about the entire movie.

 

Nixon and Elvis Giving Peace Signs

 

Of course, it’s all a dramatization of events, and quite a bit of artistic license has been taken with the two main characters’ personalities and the absurdity of the reality these two men lived in.  Both were so out of touch with everyday life that it could have been destiny they found each other in this truly ironic way.

 

Elvis and Nixon Hugging in Oval Office

According to Jerry Schilling, Elvis did in fact hug Nixon.  The President was caught off guard, but the scene in the movie is very endearing.

 

Here’s the story on the two actors in the key roles.  Bob Gunton showed pure genius of comedic timing in his portrayal on Richard Nixon.  You may not know him by name, but you’ve seen his face in lots of movies.

Bob Gunton as Richard Nixon

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The fellow playing Elvis is Rick Peters, and his acting career has been rather modest.  His last movie was in 2006.

Rick Peters

 

But with the wig, sunglasses, and attitude, he pulls off a great Elvis portrayal.

Elvis Smoozing the Srewardesses on Flight from DC to Dallas

This clip is from the flight Elvis took from Washington DC to Dallas.  You see, Elvis’ odyssey took him from Memphis to DC, DC to Los Angeles (via Dallas), and from LA to DC.

Elvis Mingling on Plane -- Nixon Visit


This is a photograph a passenger took of Elvis mingling with folks on the flight to Dallas.  He wore the same outfit that he did when he went to the White House a day and a half later.

 

Elvis in Donut Shop

This clip is from a scene when Elvis stops off at a donut shop (in a rather seedy part of town) on the way from the airport to the Washington Hotel.  He actually did this, but the “artistic impression” of what happened is one of the most amazingly surreal moments I’ve ever seen on film.  Take a few minutes and watch this.

 

Here’s another clip that takes even more creative license, but it’s a riot.  The set-up is that Elvis had time to kill in Los Angeles before the flight back to DC, so he went down to the Sunset Strip.  His friend Jerry Schilling (they used the name Bobby Bishop in the film for some reason) urged him to walk around and see if he was relevant to people on the street.  Elvis wanders into a record store and goes through some hilarious culture shock.  Rick Peters does this bit so well, you will think you are watching archival film of the real Elvis.  You definitely want to click on this.

Elvis Meets Nixon is 140 minutes long, but the scene of Elvis and Nixon together in the Oval Office lasts just 11 minutes.  That was plenty for these two very different men to bond together.  Before the movie gets to Elvis’ visit, there are three scenes of Nixon and H.R. Haldeman in the Oval Office.  They aren’t funny like the Elvis clips, but they are still fascinating.  One warning — if you were were offended by the profanity in the donut shop clip, you might want to skip the one below.

 

There is one more thing I suggest you click on.  It is the full movie on YouTube.  You can buy it for $7.99, or rent it like I did for $1.99.  I wasn’t able to get it to stream onto my smart TV, but maybe you can.  If not, it’s still a blast watching it on your computer screen.  Check it out here.  I guarantee you will be happy you spent the two bucks.

Elvis Meets Nixon DVD

 

There is enough stuff left in my Elvis and Nixon file to squeeze out one more article in this series next week.  Stay tuned.

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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ELVIS meets NIXON

Elvis and Nixon Shades and Flag

We are about to see a flurry of promos and media buzz for a new movie about Elvis’ famous December 21, 1970 meeting with President Richard Nixon. It is titled Elvis & Nixon and will premiere on April 22.

 

Elvis & Nixon Poster

As a big Elvis fan, I really want to see this film; and I really, really hope to like it a lot. But I have some doubts. For instance, the guy they chose to play Elvis is Michael Shannon. In the preview clips I have seen, he does not look like Elvis at all.

Michael Shannon Plays Elvis Presley

So, what do you think? See much Elvis there? Maybe he looks better wearing an Elvis wig and shades and clothes.

Michael Shannon as Elvis

Sorry. To me he looks more like Evil Elvis living a parallel existence in an alternate universe. Or maybe Keith Richards.

To be fair, Michael Shannon has been in dozens of movies and is an excellent actor. In 2008, he was nominated for an Academy Award — Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet movie Revolutionary Road. But he primarily plays intense, scary, bad guys, so why pick him to play Elvis?

 

President's Day Kevin Spacey as Nixon

The choice to play Nixon is perfect – Kevin Spacey. He is going great guns in House of Cards, and he’s excellent playing all those characters on the E-Trade commercials.

Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon

My worry after watching an Elvis & Nixon featurette on You-Tube, is that Spacey will dominate the movie with an inspired portrayal of Nixon. That won’t bother the casual movie-goer, but we Elvis fans want our guy to be the center of attention.

 

Elvis and Nixon in Oval Office

One thing we can count on to keep the story on track is that Elvis’ good buddy Jerry Schilling is an Executive Producer of the movie. He was with Elvis on the trip to Washington DC and was inside the Oval Office for part of the time Elvis was with Nixon.

Sonny West and Jerry Schilling with Nixon and Elvis

Sonny West and Jerry Schilling between Nixon and Elvis

This picture was one of 28 taken by the White House photographer that day. The public is very familiar with the famous one of Nixon and Elvis shaking hands. It is the most requested photo from the US National Archives

The Official Photograph of Elvis and Nixon

To see all the photographs taken, click here.

Colorized Photo of Elvis Meeting Nixon

They were all black and white, but here is a colorized version of one of them.

Photographer Taking Official Photograph of Elvis Meeting Nixon

And this is the scene from the movie where they posed for the famous photo.

 

Elvis and Nixon - Historical Drama

The key thing to me in the heading of this article is “Historical Drama.” This implies that they will be playing it straight. However, the whole story of Elvis’ visit to Nixon is bizarre and surreal. There’s little drama to it. To me, the best way to tell this story is with humor, and, in fact, that has already been done.

Elvis Meets Nixon -1997 vrs 2016

The above composite shows this is not the first time a movie has been made about Elvis and Nixon. I absolutely love the 1997 version, and will devote the next ElvisBlog post to it. It is one of the most hilarious movies I have ever seen, and there are three You-Tube video clips that will show you what a great fun romp it is. Next week is going to be a really great post.

 

Elvis & Nixon Title Block

 

 

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Celebrities with Connections to Elvis Who Died in 2015

Donna Douglas:

Elvis and Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Donna Douglas passed away on January 1, 2015 at the age of 82. Most of the memorials to her reference her role as Elly May Clampett on the TV show  The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971).

Donna Douglas in the Beverly Hillbillies

However, we Elvis fans remember Donna Douglas for her role as Frankie in the movie Frankie and Johnny. During the 1966 summer hiatus of The Beverly Hillbillies, she made the movie with Elvis. It was her only starring feature film appearance.

Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, Nancy Kovack in-Frankie and Johnny

Sue Ane Langdon, Donna Douglas, and Nancy Kovack in Frankie and Johnny

 

B. B. King:

Elvis and BB King

B. B. King passed away on May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. There are photos that show him and Elvis together on two different occasions. The photo below of Elvis, Claudia Ivy, and B.B. King was taken at the WDIA (Memphis radio station) Goodwill Review on December 7, 1956. Elvis and George Klein hung out backstage. Elvis made a brief emergence from behind the curtain, and received rousing applause from the audience.

Elvis, Claudia Ivy and BB King

Here’s a great quote from B.B. King about Elvis: “I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun Studio. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra’s. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness.”

To read other quotes from B.B. King about Elvis, click here to read a May 2015 ElvisBlog article posted a few days after the blues master’s death.

 

Kirk Kerkorian:

Elvis and Kirk Kerkorian Signing Contract at International Hotel

Elvis and Kirk Kerkorian Signing Contract at International Hotel

Kirk Kerkorian died on June 15, 2015 at the age of 98. He was a very successful businessman, investor, and developer. In 1969, he opened the largest hotel in Las Vegas at the time, the International Hotel. Barbara Streisand was the first entertainer he signed to perform in the hotel’s showroom. But he signed Elvis to be the second act, and Elvis set a new Las Vegas record by bringing in 4,200 people a day for 30 straight days.

 

Jerry Weintraub:

Jerry Weintraub

Jerry Weintraub died on July 6, 2015 at the age of 77 after a hugely successful career as a talent agent, concert promoter, and film producer He may not be a familiar name to many Elvis fans, but he had a significant role in Elvis’ career. In 1970, after Elvis had returned to live performances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Jerry Weintraub convinced Elvis and Col. Parker that Elvis should take his show on the road and do concerts in 18-25,000 seat venues. It was a bold move at that time, and Weintraub had to come up with a $1 million cashier’s check to convince Col. Parker to close the deal. From that point on, the three men made a lot of money together.

 

Yvonne Craig:

Elvis and Yvonne Craig in Kissin' Cousins

Yvonne Craig died on August 17, 2015 at the age of 78. Like Donna Douglas she was more noted for her acting career on TV than for her parts in Elvis’ movies.

Yvonne Craig in Star Trek

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.

Yvone Craig as Batgirl

Her biggest TV success was in the role of Batgirl in the 1967 season of the Batman.

Yvonne and Elvis in Kissin' Cousins

Regular readers of ElvisBlog know that Yvonne Craig is my favorite Elvis co-star. Here she is as Azalea Tatum in Kissin’ Cousins.

Elvis and Yvonne Craig in It Happened at the World's Fair

But it is this scene from It Happened at the World’s Fair that I could watch over and over. Craig’s part is small, but she makes the most of it. Elvis is all over her trying to score, but she wiggles away somehow. Very hot scene.

To read more ElvisBlog articles on Yvonne Craig, click here and here.

 

Dean Jones:

Dean Jones, Elvis and Judy Tyler in Jailhouse Rock

Dean Jones died on September 1, 2015 at the age of 77. He had a successful movie career, especially while working in Walt Disney films for thirteen years. He co-stared with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, playing disc jockey Teddy Talbot. In addition to helping Elvis’ character Vince Edwards’ singing career, Jones also served as another suitor for Judy Tyler that gave Elvis a little competition.

 

Fred Thompson:

Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson died on November 1, 2015 at the age of 73. He is well know as an actor, Senator, and Presidential candidate. What isn’t well know is that he is kin to Elvis Presley.

Specifically, they are eighth cousins once removed, according to research by Washington genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner. Thompson’s late father, Fletcher Thompson, and Elvis shared a set of great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, Jasper Hood and Tryntje Andries. For what it’s worth, Elvis is Jimmy Carter, sixth cousin once removed.

 

George Barris:

Elvis and George Barris

George Barris died on November 5, 2015 at the age of 90. While Elvis was the King of Rock, Barris was the king of customizes cars.

SeptembSept 2010 George Barris poses next to a 1966 Batmobile

George Barris in 2010 with the Batmobile he designed for the TV show

Perhaps you are familiar with Elvis’ customized Cadillac that toured all over Australia in 1968. It has an interesting story. Elvis wanted to have his own classic-styled luxury limousine, so he bought a 1960 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood for $10,000, and he took it to Barris Kustom City in North Hollywood, California.

Elvis told Barris what features he wanted, and Barris gave him many designs, artist renderings and engineering drawings before the modifications were decided. The price tag was $65,000, which is $487,000 in today’s dollars.

Elvis' Gold Cadillac on Display in Australia

It is not recorded just how much Elvis used his dream car, but souvenir-seeking fans caused enough damage to the car that he ultimately stopped using it. He sold it to RCA who used it for promotional purposes across the country from 1965 to 1967. Next, the car was shipped to Australia for a tour to raise money for the Benevolent Society of New South Wales. It made almost four-dozen stops and was viewed by almost 400,000 people.

Interior of Elvis' Gold Cadillac Designed by George Barris

This is one of six photos showing the innovative touches George Barris gave Elvis’ Gold Cadillac. Click here to see them all and read more about the story.

 

Happy New Year, Everybody

 

 

© 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.