You have to hand it to the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. Elvis has been dead for thirty-two years, but they are still publishing cover stories about him. Two weeks ago, I’m in the checkout line, and what is staring back at me? Just my old favorite Weekly World News with a photo of Elvis on the cover. Actually, it’s just a small picture, with a tease line, sharing a side column with two other stories. It’s not as prominent as the Elvis headlines used to be, but that’s OK. Nowadays, you wouldn’t expect the world’s shortest marriage or Elvis to beat out a Senate steroid scandal for the top spot below the masthead.
Beside the tiny Elvis face is an image that’s hard to recognize. It’s a car that is upside and on fire. Below that was the title: “ELVIS DIED LAST WEEK – In Tragic Car Wreck.”
In spite of that sad news, I was so happy. My face beamed. Weekly World News finally had Elvis on the cover again. After a long four-year absence, I had been starting to think maybe Elvis had seen his last days on the tabloids. Now, my patient vigil was being rewarded, and I couldn’t wait to plop down $3 for a copy.
The management of the Weekly World News probably doesn’t figure that Elvis fans have saved any of their old issues, but they underestimate us. I’ve got boxes full of tabloids, classic ones from the late seventies, like National Enquirer, Midnight Globe and The Sun. Each issue tried to outdo the others with outrageous Elvis cover stories.
In the eighties, my interest in owning every Elvis tabloid waned, but for some reason I have picked up Weekly World News over the years. It’s been fun to follow their sequence of alive and dead Elvises.
This is an early eighties issue announcing “ELVIS IS ALIVE.” It played right into the Elvis is still alive mentality possessed by a substantial number of Elvis fans at that time. How about that headline? Elvis is still alive and secretly living in Michigan. Check out the ridiculous picture of Elvis. Some staff artist altered a photo by adding a beard and mustache and removing all the hair on the top of Elvis’ head. It’s so stupid, it’s funny.
Then in June, 1993, the Weekly World News had another scoop: “ELVIS DEAD AT 58.” This time they had Elvis moving around, living in Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee, before finally succumbing to a diabetic coma. The 1993 photo had Elvis with thinning hair on top, combed down in front, almost in bangs. Not a good look for him, at all.
In May 2005, the Weekly World News came up with a wonderful headline for us fans: “ELVIS IS ALIVE — That was a double in my coffin.” And check out the picture. That’s a good looking man in his seventies. Inside, the article said Elvis was not only alive, but that he was running for president. I was ready to vote for him, but somehow Elvis’ campaign never materialized.
During the entire time I waited for a new Weekly World News article on Elvis, I knew what the next storyline would be. With a pattern of Elvis being alive, dead, and alive, it was an easy call. It was time for Elvis to be dead, again.
Supposedly, Elvis’ fiery car crash took place in Las Vegas. Weekly World News had him travelling all over the place: Memphis, Michigan, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and now Las Vegas. I love the clever proof the paper offered to confirm it was Elvis. It was an autopsy report on file at the Las Vegas Police Department, which describes the decedent as, “an obese male in his mid-seventies, who was dressed in a rhinestone jumpsuit and wearing a bouffant hairpiece.”
Well, that settles it. What more proof do we need? It had to be Elvis. You can explain the wig by rationalizing that the older Elvis lost his hair. Being dead for thirty-two years will do that to you.
The story continues and tells us that the man crashed a 1957 Cadillac into a dumpster behind an all-night barbeque restaurant. What could be more Elvis? That was the last of the facts, but the fiction that followed in the article was so much fun.
There were several quotations attributed to officers on the scene. As to the cause of the crash, they speculated he was: “attempting to maneuver into position at the establishment’s drive-through window, and that the steering wheel became wedged beneath his ample girth.”
The crash victim was still alive when police and paramedics arrived. Supposedly, the police report revealed the victim was babbling incoherently about a hound dog, Heartbreak Hotel, Lisa Marie, and thank you, thank you very much.
I’m a little skeptical of that police report. It listed the contents of the victim’s stomach:
A pound of bacon
Half a pound of pork sausages
12 buttermilk biscuits
A large jar of peanut butter
Two pounds of mashed potatoes
Wow. No jelly donuts or grape jam? They ought to send that report to the Guinness Book of World Records. Of course, it might actually be possible. The report says he weighed a staggering 343 pounds.
The story says the crash victim died in the hospital, but was never identified before two mysterious women arrived at the medical examiner’s office and carried off the body in an unmarked hearse. You know what that means, don’t you? He’s not really gone for good. In a few years we’ll get to read about how Elvis’ body was cloned and yes, he is back.
I can already see the Weekly World News headline: “ELVIS IS ALIVE, AGAIN.” I’m buying that one, too.
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