Tag Archives: Al Wertheimer

Sharing an Elvis Fan’s Sentiments 40 Years Later

Newspaper Headline of Elvis' Death

This is the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal on the day after Elvis died. Just about every newspaper in the country had something similar. There were also many articles in their inner pages that featured the heart-felt sentiments from Elvis fans. Reporters sought them out.

But one journalist wrote her own personal story — Linda Deutsch, a 33-year-old Associated Press reporter who had loved Elvis since she was twelve.

Young Linda Deutsch

Linda’s story went out on the AP newswire to all the papers and was printed by many. I couldn’t find a photo of it on Google, but the original transmission paper showed up at last year’s Elvis Week Auction at Graceland.

I Was an Elvis Presley Fan - Linda Deutsch

 

Here is the incredibly moving personal story told by Linda Deutsch:

August 17, 1977

I was an Elvis fan. Not just an admirer who casually bought records, but a fanatic.

One of my clearest memories is the day in 1956 when I, a pre-teenager, first heard “Heartbreak Hotel” on the radio.

Soon, all the girls in penny loafers and poodle skirts were talking about this “dreamy guy,” Presley.

My junior high school girlfriends in Bradley Beach, N.J., selected me president of our own Elvis Presley Fan Club. We had nine members and held meetings in my basement.

Our local record store, stocked with Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra, placated us by ordering some 45 records by this southerner with the strange name – Elvis.

We collected his pictures, listened to his music, and danced because Elvis just made you feel like dancing.

Then, something miraculous happened. We wrote to a Memphis address found in a movie magazine. And – fantastic – we received in the mail pink membership cards signed by “The King” himself.

Ours was now an “authorized” Presley fan club in a list circulated by the singer’s manager. The mail began to pour in. We had Presley pen-pals as far away as England, Germany, and New Zealand.

Elvis had given us an identity. No matter our age, we were now “teen-agers.” Better yet, we were rebels.

Our teachers hated Elvis. Our parents didn’t understand. They looked on in befuddlement as “the fan club” screamed at the TV screen while Elvis sang on the Ed Sullivan Show. The tears when my parents forbid me to travel in a snowstorm to see soldier Elvis arrive at Ft. Dix.

Once, a friend’s mother, yielding to cries that we would “just die” if we didn’t see Elvis in person, rode a bus to Philadelphia with three giggling 13-year olds to attend an Elvis Presley concert.

We climbed to the top of the bleachers of an arena holding 28,000 frenzied kids. Flashbulbs exploded, the building shook with screams. Way down on the stage, all we could see was a tiny wiggling speck. We couldn’t hear him, but we knew it was Elvis.

“He looked at me,” shouted my trembling girlfriend.

We screamed. Kids fainted. Doctors and nurses rushed around reviving them. Our mother-chaperone was terrified. We loved every minute of it.

I never stopped loving Elvis’ music. But times changed. My best friend in high school carried a picture of Van Cliburn and wanted to be a nuclear physicist. She “tolerated” my Elvis passion.

Years later when I came to California as a journalist and covered the music industry, I had fleeting thoughts of trying to interview the “King.” I never did: perhaps I didn’t want to.

Then he died on Tuesday. It was like losing an old friend who had shared my youth and my dreams.

I realized I could still sing all the words to “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Love Me Tender.”

For the first time in my life, I felt old.

 

Do you have a lump in your throat after reading that?  Does it to me every time.

I absolutely love the lines:

“It was like losing an old friend who had shared my youth and my dreams.  

For the first time in my life, I felt old.”

 

I felt exactly the same way, and I’m sure many of you readers did too.

 

Linda Deutsch Elvis Presley Fan Club Membership Card

This is a membership card for a fan club Linda Deutsch joined in addition to the one she and her friends started. Please note the mailing address. Madison, Tennessee is where Col. Tom Parker had his office. It shows Linda was on board right from the very start when Elvis became a national phenomenon. You can almost envision Parker’s secretary putting this card in an envelope and sending it off to Linda.

 

Linda Deutsch and Dick Clark

This is Linda at age 15 with Dick Clark on American Bandstand January 8, 1959. The way she got in this memorable photo is a wonderful story of a dedicated fan’s unceasing effort to support Elvis. By now she was the president of an Elvis fan club with over 300 members, while he was in the Army and not likely to be home for another year. So, Linda started on a project and worked constantly to get it done in three weeks.

It’s hard to believe, but she got 3,500 signatures on a petition urging Dick Clark to play nothing but Elvis records for the entire program on his 24th birthday. Linda and a friend went to Philadelphia and somehow managed to get in to see Dick Clark just the day before that show. He listened to her plea, and when she rolled out the 16 foot long petition, he was convinced.

Linda Deutsch's Petition to Dick Clark

The following day, Dick Clark announced at the start of the show that he had talked to Col. Parker, and Elvis’ manager had agreed to the special program. The Colonel must have jumped at a chance for this wonderful publicity.

I applaud Linda Deutsch for being an extraordinary Elvis fan. She has achieved many other successes in her life.

As part of her duties as an Elvis fan club president, she published The Elvis Times, a newsletter that was distributed to 300 fans around the world. She wrote, typed, mimeographed it, and licked the stamps to mail it. It was her first foray into writing for a mass audience, and it stuck, giving her a life-long love for journalism. She followed her dream with stops as a reporter for the Perth Amboy (N.J.) News, the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press and the San Bernardino (Ca.) Sun, before joining the Associated Press in Los Angeles.

Linda once aspired to be an entertainment journalist, but wound up covering many celebrities in a very different venue – the courtroom.

In nearly a half century with the Associated Press, Linda Deutsch has been ranked among the foremost American courtroom journalists of modern times. She is best known for her detailed, objective reporting on some of the most sensational, newsworthy and influential trials — O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Sirhan Sirhan, Charles Manson, Patty Hearst, Angela Davis, Robert Blake, and the Menendez Brothers.

 

Linda Deutsch in front of Graceland Gates - 25 Anniversary of Elvis' Death

This is a photo of Linda in front of the Graceland gates in 2002, her first visit. It was part of an article about her in an official Graceland collectible magazine, ELVIS Then & Now.

ELVIS Then & Now

This is my favorite quote from the article:

“People like Linda come to Graceland because Elvis injected energy into their lives when they needed it most — during their teenage years. You could say that Elvis provided the soundtrack to their adolescence.”

 

Linda has been back to Graceland numerous times since. And she gets to spend time with important people in Elvis world, too.

Linda Deutsch and Priscilla Presley

Linda Deutsch and Al Wertheimer

Linda Deutsch and Al Wertheimer

Linda Deutsch With Elvis Statue Feb 28, 2010

 

 

You can see that Linda Deutsch has remained an Elvis fan all her life. Like the rest of us, she will remember him this Wednesday, August 16, the 40th anniversary of his death. And along with those of us whose connection with Elvis goes way back to the beginning, we will think of him as old friend who shared our youth and our dreams.

And we will feel young.

 

Check out Linda’s website  and Facebook page to learn more about this extraordinary Elvis fan.

 

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

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Eight Years of Al Wertheimer Stories on ElvisBlog

Al Wertheimer Holding The Kiss

Al Wertheimer Holding “The Kiss”

If you regularly follow other Elvis websites or blogs, you probably already know about the passing of Alfred Wertheimer, the iconic photographer who snapped over 4,000 photographs of Elvis in 1956. The remaining circle of folks with a connection to Elvis shrunk again Sunday when Al died of natural causes at age 85.

Fitting tributes to Al Wertheimer are all over the internet, but most tell you the same information everyone else has. You may feel like you’ve heard it all already, but please don’t skip this article. In 2006 and 2010 I had six lengthy telephone interviews with Al, a total of 8-1/2 hours, and he really told me some stuff. Enough to result in eight ElvisBlog articles, a six-page spread in Elvis The Magazine, and the forward to Al’s book, Elvis: The Early Years. Here they are in chronological order.

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The Al Wertheimer InterviewElvisBlog, June 4, 2006:

Darwin Lamm, the editor of Elvis The Magazine set up a phone interview between me and Al Wertheimer so I could get material for an article celebrating the 50th anniversary of him taking all the photos of Elvis.

Elvis The Magazine - August 2006

Elvis The Magazine – August 2006

Actually, I had two interviews with Al on successive nights totaling 5-1/2 hours.

The best paragraph in this blog post was a thumbnail description of Al‘s experience with Elvis:

During Al Wertheimer’s odyssey, Elvis performed two live concerts, did a rehearsal and two live TV shows, and recorded “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis moved around between three states: New York, Virginia, New York, and Tennessee. There was nearly fifty hours of train travel linking it all together, none of which Al had to share with any other photographers.

This blog article was pretty much a tease for future posts about Al as well as the magazine article, but it hopefully it whetted the readers’ appetites for more.

Al Wertheimer Showing his Photo in Magazine

Al Wertheimer Showing his Photo in Magazine

Click on the article title above to read the whole post.

 

Elvis Departs for GermanyElvisBlog, June 18, 2006:

One thing omitted from most Al Wertheimer biographies is that he also photographed Elvis a second time in 1958 when he boarded an Army troop ship for the trip to Germany. Al was one of 250 reporters, photographers and cameramen, so his photographs weren’t much different than those taken by others.

Elvis Boarding USS General Randall

Elvis Boarding USS General Randall

However, Al told me about some of the things he witnessed that day, like this:

The ship had four decks and soon Elvis appeared on the top one – along with Col. Parker. Wertheimer wondered to himself, “What is Parker doing on a troop ship?” To give something to Elvis, it turned out. Elvis opened a box from Parker, and guess what it contained? Dozens of playing-card-sized autographed photos of Elvis. Then, Elvis flipped then one-by-one over the railing, and they fluttered down to lucky fans standing on the dock four decks below as the band played “Hound Dog.” Just your average troop deployment.

For more of Al’s memories and thoughts about this day, click on the title of the blog article above.

 

Alfred Wertheimer – But His Friends Call Him Al ElvisBlog, July 18, 2006:

Franed Copy of Elvis on his Harley

Franed Copy of Elvis on his Harley

I have referred to Alfred Wertheimer as Al several times so far. This old blog post explains why that is. But the fun part of this article is about the time Elvis took Al for a ride around Memphis on his Harley:

Although Wertheimer had taken almost 4,000 photos of Elvis during the previous week, he had no shots of himself and Elvis together. He tried to correct that while they zipped along on the cycle. He held the camera out as far as he could with one hand and shot back toward their faces. It was a big guessing game as to the proper angle and alignment, so Wertheimer moved the camera around and kept snapping until he ran out of film.

When he developed the prints and discovered his guesses at the correct shooting-backward camera positions were all wrong. He got Elvis’ cap, his nose, and a few full-face shots of Elvis, but none contained his own face, too. Oh well, at least he got to ride on the Harley with Elvis. How many people can say that?

Elvis and Al also ran out of gas on that Harley ride. To read about that and other good stuff, click on the title above.

 

Al Wertheimer: Have Photos, Will TravelElvisBlog, December 9, 2007:

This post resulted from a two-page letter Al sent me outlining his recent travels to Holland, Paris, and China in support of various projects with his Elvis photos.

I also used the occasion to tell about the time that Al inadvertently caused an article I wrote specifically for the 25th Anniversary issue of Elvis The Magazine to get bumped.

…. a four-page picture spread of six photos Al Wertheimer took of Elvis back in 1956… those four-pages were originally supposed to be mine. I had a lengthy article already approved and submitted with art-work at the graphic designer for lay-out. Then, a week before the magazine went to the printer, editor Darwin Lamm acquired six new Al Wertheimer pictures. Of course, he wanted to get them into the issue, but he needed a lot of space so the photos could be presented large size. Guess whose article got cut? It killed me not to be in the biggest and best issue in the magazine’s history.

By now, you know the drill. Click on the title to read about Al’s travels and more.

Only Known Photo with both Elvis and Al Wertheimer in It

Only Known Photo with both Elvis and Al Wertheimer (top left) in It

 

Writing With WertheimerElvisBlog, August 22, 2010:

I got to brag a little in this article. It told the story of how I was selected to write the forward for Al’s latest book of photographs, Elvis: The Early Years, published by earBooks.

The following snippet mentions ‘my article’ which was the one I wrote for Elvis The Magazine — “Al Wertheimer – 7 Days with Elvis, 4,000 photographs, 50 Years Ago”:

Alfred Wertheimer’s last book, “Elvis at Twenty-One,” contained a foreward by noted Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick. EarBOOKs’ editor Astrid Fischer wanted to use somebody new this time, so she did an internet search and found my article. She liked what she read, and she contacted Alfred Wertheimer to get his opinion. He told her he “found the text very good.” Ms. Fischer then contacted me and we worked out a deal for me to write the forward. To say the least, I am thrilled to be associated with an Alfred Wertheimer project.

The rest of the blog post covered four stories about Al and his Elvis photos: two travelling exhibits, the use of twenty images in the new Cirque du Soleil show Viva Elvis, and Al’s participation in the 2009 Elvis Cruise. Al told a couple of good cruise stories.

Al Wertheimer in his Office Surrounded by His Elvis Photos

Al Wertheimer in his Office Surrounded by His Elvis Photos

 

Elvis: The Early YearsElvisBlog, November 14, 2010:

Elvis   -  The Early Years

Elvis – The Early Years

The title of the forward I wrote for this Al Wertheimer book was “Elvis Presley – Before the Opaque Curtain Fell.”

We agreed on a title for the forward that incorporated a line he had written years earlier. When describing how Col. Parker severely restricted media access to Elvis in late 1956, Wertheimer said, “I believed an opaque curtain had been lowered around Elvis.”

Al kindly gave me permission to reproduce the entire forward on this blog post. Be sure to read this one. If you really want to learn about Al Wertheimer, this is for you.

 

Al Wertheimer Reflects on Photographing “The Kiss” ElvisBlog, August 20, 2011

This one was fun to write. My 2006 phone interviews with Al were preserved on tape. So, when the news came out revealing who the woman in it was in Al’s iconic photo, “The Kiss,” I remembered he had lovingly related every detail about taking this shot. I asked if I could reproduce it word-for-word on ElvisBlog, and he kindly agreed:

I move in three or four feet, I take another shot. And then I go Hollywood. I say, “Well, this is not too good an angle. I can get a better angle than that.” So, I climb up on the handrail, and now I’m three feet away from them. Elvis is up against the wall while she is sort of in his arms.

And now I’m clicking away and they still don’t see me. Totally oblivious to me. I now get courage, so now I’m doing like acrobatics with my legs, leaning forward. I’m practically on top of their heads.

Of course, Al took many shots during this episode, and he gave me the okay to use three of them that illustrated the narrative.

Al Wertheimer Shot of Elvis Moving in for The Kiss

Al Wertheimer Shot of Elvis Moving in for The Kiss

Please check out all of Al’s recollections and pictures in this blog post.

 

Al Wertheimer and the Dreaded Tonto Bar ElvisBlog, March 17, 2012:

By this time, I had been added to a list of email contacts Al would occasionally send stuff to. This post started with a cartoon that he liked and shared with us. When I sent back a thank you to Al, I also included a photo of Elvis on the Steve Allen Show that I had recently found on the internet, and I asked if it was his. It was, but Al said he had a better one and sent it to me. So, that picture ended up on the blog post, too, along with the story about the “Tonto Bar” in it.

Do you know what Elvis is doing here? If you are familiar with his 1956 TV show appearances, you might recognize this shot from the Steve Allen Show. It is from the same night when Elvis had to wear a tux and sing to a real hound dog. Allen had Elvis in a skit about cowboys. Here we see him shooting a dreaded Tonto bar being pulled along the stage on a wire. The skit was pretty lame, but I always enjoy watching Elvis doing it.

Elvis Shooting the Tonto Bar

Elvis Shooting the Tonto Bar

As usual, Al informed me of his latest project. So, this blog post includes news of his “Elvis at Twenty-One” touring exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.

One other paragraph in this blog post causes me regret:

I keep asking him if I could do another phone interview, this time about his gig as a film photographer at Woodstock, the 1969 three-day festival of love and peace. Al was on the Woodstock staff. Talk about being in a situation that gives you amazing opportunities for memorable events. You know Al has to have some good stories to tell. I’d be very pleased if I can someday write about them.

Well, I never did get to do that interview, but I will always have fond memories of the other ones with Al Wertheimer.

Al Wertheimer and Elvis' Teddy Bear

Al Wertheimer and Elvis’ Teddy Bear – 1956

Al Wertheimer Signing Elvis at Twenty-One

Al Wertheimer Signing Elvis at Twenty-One – 2012

 

Al often signed his emails

Be well,
Alfred

So, I’ll repeat it here.

Be well, Alfred, and say hi to Elvis for us.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis Plus Guitars Make Interesting Collectibles

Every once in a while I check in at Elvis.Com and click on News.  I scroll down the list of items and read the ones that interest me — maybe, one out of five.  Paul McCartney popping in at Graceland is news.  A plug for Legends Elvis Bedding doesn’t make the cut.

Elvis Rock 'n Roll Tequilla - In box

So I went to the site today and found this on the first page.   Elvis Presley Rock ‘n Roll Tequila.  Put it in my basket and send me to checkout.  I want one of these, even if they cost $33.

Over the years, ElvisBlog has bemoaned some of the lame Elvis stuff on the market.  But, all that is forgiven, now that EPE has come through with a dynamite idea for us mature, male fans of Elvis.

Blanco-Tequilla-750-ml

Fortunately, there was a link to a site with a front shot of a bottle out of the box.  That’s what I really want.  My current whisky decanters are pretty stodgy.  I’d like to replace my Tequila one with this nifty guitar design (imagine the labels are off).

Then I noticed that nowhere on the label are the words Elvis Presley.  All it says is:

ROCK ’n ROLL

TEQUILA

“One More Time, Twice

BLANCO

Plus some fine print about the proof and origin.

Hey, that’s not right.  Elvis’ face or name needs to be on any bottle claiming to be Elvis Presley Tequila.  Isn’t it kind of cheating to take a generic product and put it in some packaging with Elvis on it, and then call it an Elvis Gift Box Set.

I was getting worked up over this affront when I remembered I wanted to soak the label off, anyway.  Duhh.

Now, I suppose many fans who buy Elvis Presley Rock ‘n Roll Tequila will never take the bottle out of the box to preserve the collectible value.  Fine, but not me.  I’m going to have some fun with it.

 

Elvis Neon Guitar Wall Clock

While filing away these Elvis Tequila pictures in my “Elvis Products” file, I scrolled down to see what other type of Elvis/Guitar combinations might be in there.  Here’s a good one.   An Elvis, Neon Light, Guitar Wall Clock.  I’d like to have one of these, too, but it looks like it’d be hard to tell the time without any hour marks.

 

Blue Suede Shoes Beer Steins

I guess this lidded stein is clever, but it’s a little weird, too.

Elvis Beer Stein - Top

So, you press down on the guitar neck and the top opens up.  Think I’ll pass.

Wertheimer Collection Watch - Open

How about an Al Wertheimer Collection wrist watch inside a miniature guitar case?  I think this is really cool.  Maybe one of my family members would like this as a Christmas present idea for me.  Otherwise, she will just buy me the first dumb Elvis thing she runs into.

 

All the guitars in the next picture caught my eye, but it doesn’t really fit the theme of this article – a product combining Elvis and a guitar.  This is just images of Elvis holding a guitar.

Party Invitations

Then, I read the message.  How clever is a birthday party invitation that says, “You can knock me down, step on my cake.”

 

Elvis Blue Hawaii Guitar Bank

I actually own one of these Elvis guitar-shaped banks.  It came filled with popcorn.  I’ve never put any money in it, because my wife takes all my change and puts it in her Georgia Bulldog bank.

 

Metallic Pink Elvis Guitar Bag

What do you think, ladies?  Would you like a pink Elvis guitar-shaped purse?  It also comes in gold and silver models.

 

Elvis-Guitar Lamp

I’m not sure if I like this lamp with an Elvis shade and a guitar base.   Maybe it works well in a private Elvis Room.

 

Elvis Presley Sun Records Guitar Salt & Pepper Shaker Set

There is no doubt in my mind about the Elvis Sun Studios Salt and Pepper Set.  This is ridiculous.  Where does the salt or pepper come out – from the end of the neck?  When not in use, do you just lean the guitars against the Sun building?  If I tried to put this on our dining room table, my wife would go ballistic.

 

Elvis on Heavy Metal magazine

We’ll end with the most bizarre combination of Elvis and a guitar I have ever seen.  This 1980 Heavy Metal magazine cover morphs the guitar onto a nude female body.  How come the strings don’t stop at the end of the guitar?  Pretty strange.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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