Monthly Archives: March 2011

Elvis Presley, Fashion King — The Dark Side

On March 1, 2010, EPE introduced a new exhibit at Graceland called Elvis Presley: Fashion King.  According to the press release at the time, it explores the fashion trends ushered in by the King of Rock & Roll.



Three months later, Graceland announced that they were making five photos from Elvis Presley: Fashion King available for free download to the Elvis Mobile App on your iPhone or iPad.  It was nice of them to make it easy for us to check out the fashion trends Elvis ushered in.


This sounds like a great exhibit to me, and Elvis certainly wore some spectacular clothes.  But, did he truly start fashion trends with them?  I’m not so sure.  But, I am sure that there were a few times he wore certain outfits that never inspired anything – except maybe a cringe.  Here are some that I found:

Pink Everything:


In this photo Elvis was getting a ticket in downtown Memphis in 1955.  We see Elvis wearing a pink shirt (he wore many of those), a pink belt (a little strange), and pink socks.  I think we can safely say Elvis never started a pink sock craze among high school boys.  That would have been like asking to get beat up..

The Pirate Look:


Here’s another one that never caught on.  What is that over Elvis’ shoulders?



The Gay Look?:



We all know Elvis was totally heterosexual, but, if this outfit ushered in a fashion trend, it had to be in the gay community.  Fortunately, the second photo shows Elvis with his arm around a pretty girl. 


The Pink Suit:


Elvis was really big on pink back in 1955.  Here is a photo of him at the Louisiana Hayride wearing a pink suit.  I’ll bet Bill and Scotty just loved wearing their pink vests.


The Overstuffed Look:


Elvis must have bought this when he was younger and slimmer.  I’m guessing the Graceland fashion exhibit doesn’t contain much wardrobe from this period in Elvis’ life.

The Policeman Look:


We know Elvis had a collection of law enforcement badges, but did he also collect the hats, too?  The hat and badge go so nicely with huge white collar.


Elvis Grimley?:


I used this photo before, comparing it to Martin Short’s character Ed Grimley, but it belongs here as well.  Looks like the pants from a Zoot Suit.  Maybe Elvis helped to usher out that fashion trend.

Just Plain Ugly:

Even a legend and fashion icon can make a mistake, and this outfit definitely is one.  It looks like something Moammar Gadhafi would wear, doesn’t it?

Man from Outer Space:


Maybe Elvis did start a fashion trend with this.  Remember the outfits worn by rock band Devo?  I had to look at the red image behind Elvis for a while before I figured out it was Charlie Hodge holding a scarf, ready to hand it to Elvis


In fairness to Elvis, let’s end with one of those phone app pictures.  When he looked like this, Elvis really was a Fashion King.

One of the Elvis Mobile App Fashion Pictures


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis Scrapbooks — Part 4

This will be the last installment of the series on Elvis scrapbooks.  Here’s a look at several more Elvis scrapbooks I found on the internet.





Now, let’s take a look at the last six pages of the Elvis scrapbook we have been covering this month.



Page 16 lacks much interest.  The top left photo caption says, “Birth of sideburns during high school years.”  Next to it is a photo of Elvis and director Norman Taurog on the set of one of the eight Elvis movies he directed.   At the bottom there is a cropped photo of Elvis’ head and a familiar shot form Aloha From Hawaii.


Page 17:  The main thing of interest here is the one color photo.  Most of photos of Elvis doing his lip snarl are from the earlier days.  I can’t remember too many jumpsuit shots of his lip curl.  It sure looks like the jumpsuit top is open all the way to the belt.


Page 18:  This is the forth and possibly the most interesting photo of Priscilla in our scrapbook.  She obviously spent some time with a top-notch photographer to produce these glamour shots.  Perhaps it was part of the healing process after splitting with Elvis.  Maybe something to bolster self-esteem?  I have pictures of Priscilla covering fifty years, and I strongly believe she hit her peak of beauty at age 27 or so when these were taken.


Priscilla looked substantially different in her mid-thirties, but still a beauty, as shown on this magazine cover from the early 80s.


Page 19:  This clipping came from the National Enquirer, so you know it has to be pretty strange. It appeared shortly after Elvis’ death.  The guy with the white hair is Dr. George Nichopoulos, Elvis’ personal physician.  Readers of this blog know I don’t think too much of Dr. Nick, and this story didn’t change my mind.  He touched on drugs ever so briefly, and then blamed Elvis’ problems on the Graceland cooks.  Seriously!   Here are some of Dr. Nick’s quotes:

“They [the cooks] mothered him to death.  They couldn’t believe they were doing him harm by making a fuss of him.”

So, the cooks are what did Elvis in, not anything out of Dr. Nick’s bag.  He did offer up an example to prove the cooks were the problem.

“He’d say fix up a hamburger and some fries, and they’d send up enough for six people.”  … He’d nibble on it until it was all gone.”

What a heinous plot — death by hamburger.  The National Enquirer writer contributed to the slant Dr. Nick was pushing by adding that Elvis had an insatiable craving for junk food.  Believe it or not, the article got worse after that.  Dr. Nick explained that food consumption was only part of the reason for Elvis’ weight problem,

“Part of his obesity was diet, part was that enlarged colon he had.  His colon was four or five inches in diameter – and when there is several feet of it, it fills a lot of space.”

Too Much Information!  This article filled a lot of space in the National Enquirer, but I’m not sure why an Elvis fan would put it in her scrapbook. 


Page 20 has beautiful flowers from Elvis’ funeral and another jumpsuit shot.  The other shot is the interesting one.  It shows sharp-dressed Vernon Presley briskly walking out of Probate Court in Memphis where he was “given ironclad control over the huge estate, as executor and trustee.”  Vernon surely mourned for his son, but he also seems to have adapted well to the spotlight.  No boring suit and tie for this appearance.  Very natty, Vernon.


Page 21:  The scrapbook ends with this one large color photo, as kind of a tribute to Elvis.  Notice how a puffy-looking Elvis still had that magic with the fans.  He had it to the end.


Nice scrapbook.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Ferlin Husky and Elvis

We lost another of Elvis’ old musical buddies this week.  Ferlin Husky was a successful country singer based in Memphis who scored two huge cross-over pop hits “Gone” and “On the Wings of a Dove.”  He met Elvis in 1955 when the young swivel-hipped singer was added to several packaged tours throughout Mississippi and the south.


Poster for February 6, 1955 concert at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis (Husky's name is misspelled)

In addition to becoming Elvis’ friend, Ferlin Husky also got to know Presley's parents, Vernon and Gladys.   When Elvis was drafted in the late 1950s, he continued to correspond with Husky while serving with the U.S. Army in Germany.




Ferlin Husky, Elvis, Farron Young and Hawkshaw Hawkins backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, December 21, 1957 


On the occasion of Ferlin Husky’s death, it is appropriate to retell a story about him and Elvis’ passing.  In August of 1977, Husky had heart surgery in Minneapolis.  When he regained consciousness, he was read a list of the people who had left messages wishing him a speedy recovery.  One of these people was Vernon Presley.

Husky once recalled, “I don't remember the date of the surgery, but I will never forget date they took the stitches out. I was laying there on the table and there was small, black and white television monitor up on the wall. All of the sudden they flashed a news bulletin on the screen. Elvis had died. It was Aug. 16, 1977, the day I got the stitches out.”

“You don't know how I felt. He was a good friend and a good person. It really took something out of me.”


Early publicity photo of Ferlin Husky


Let us say good bye to Ferlin Husky with a happier quote he once made about Elvis.
“He was so eager to learn how to entertain an audience.  He'd watch everything I did.  How many people can say Elvis Presley opened shows for them?”


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Elvis Scrapbooks — Part 3

Did you know there is an Elvis scrapbook in the Smithsonian Institution?  Back in January 2010, the Smithsonian opened a special Elvis exhibit titled One Life: Echoes of Elvis in the National Portrait Gallery.

The scrapbook they displayed was created just after Elvis died. It was found in a warehouse in Chicago, and the fan who assembled it is unknown.  A Smithsonian spokesman stated, “The devotion with which it was collected and labeled indicates how shocked Presley’s fans must have been at his early death.”  He also said he had confirmation that there were thousands of similar Elvis scrapbooks.


They didn’t let you flip through the pages of the Smithsonian scrapbook, but we can do it with the Elvis scrapbook we’ve been looking at for the last couple of weeks.

So, let’s check out five more pages.


Page 11 has all late 50s photos.  The top one may be hard for you to figure out, but this is a photo of Elvis in the Army.  He is tying his shoes while getting dressed in his fatigues.  That’s his belt hanging over his neck.  The picture to its left is from one of the Ed Sullivan shows in 1956.

The bottom photo is obviously from Jailhouse Rock.  I like the text below the shot, because it states that many people think it was Elvis’ greatest all-around performance.  I’d put it number 2, right behind King Creole.



Page 12 has three unexciting photos of Elvis.  The right one is of Elvis leaving a concert and getting in a limo.  The driver had to sneak past the fans to get back to the hotel.

The two articles are interesting.  The top one came out just after Elvis’ death, and according to the hand-written note, it is from a Catholic newspaper in September 1977.  The article contains the usual biographical information found in every Elvis news account after he died.  But, this also talked about Elvis’ faith.  “He was a young man of good intentions, a kind of man who had spiritual yearnings and a love of Jesus Christ.”  I like how the Catholic newspaper gave Elvis a pass on his assorted discretions because he had good intentions

The bottom article is a hoot.  It appeared in a February 28, 1977, issue of Newsweek magazine, and it is not complimentary.  Here are the title and selected quotes:

Rock ‘n’ Roly-Poly Elvis


“The entertainer’s cult shows no more signs of thinning out than its hero does.”

“The King – a jowly, raunchy figure…”

Fistfights broke out in the scramble for autographed scarves that Presley flung as he sang…”

Well, even though Elvis was on the decline six months before his death, the fans still came to his shows, and they still got rowdy, just like in the early days.  Elvis still had it.


Page 13 has two photos of Elvis holding guns.  The one on with the rifle should have had the caption:  “OK, fat man, now we’re gonna rewrite that rotten contract that gives you a 50% cut.”  The one with the pistol actually has this caption: “Elvis… and his boys liked shooting guns during parties, ranging from hand guns and rifles to Browning Automatic Rifles.”   Well, it’s a good thing there were never any drugs or alcohol at those parties.

The bottom section is an ad for a set of three Elvis eight-track tapes.  Sign of the times.


Page 14 has two color pictures of Elvis in jumpsuits.  Looks like old Elvis could still put a charge in the fans, although he’s got quite a gut in the smaller picture to the right.  I didn’t know Elvis threw pink scarves to the fans, but what else could he be holding?  Definitely doesn’t look like a bra or panties.

The bottom photos show younger Elvis with an unidentified woman, and a shot taken in Hawaii in 1972.


Page 15 is the third large color photo of Priscilla, but with cute little Lisa Marie in it, too.  Lisa looks to be about four-years-old.  If so, that would put the date around February, 1972, the month Priscilla left Elvis.  Based on all the pictures of Priscilla I have seen, I would say that whole breaking-up period was the least photographed time in her life.  So, this is a rare picture.  Priscilla would have been twenty-seven then, and I’ve decided she was at her peak of beauty in these scrapbook pictures.  Too bad they are all so badly aged and discolored.


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis Scrapbooks — Part 2

Last week we started a discussion on Elvis Scrapbooks and took a look at the first six pages of one I recently borrowed.  50s teenagers enjoyed compiling Elvis items in organized scrapbooks.  It should come as no surprise to you that Col. Parker saw the fad for Elvis scrapbooks and marketed a few to meet this demand.  Of course, there was no shortage of newspaper and magazine articles to cut out and past in the books.  Here are three scrapbooks that went on sale early in Elvis’ career.




Zippered 3-Ring Elvis Scrapbook


The Elvis scrapbook we looked at last week was totally a home-made endeavor.  Here are the next four pages with a few comments.


Page 7 gets into older Elvis – a shot from the ’68 Comeback Special, a color Jumpsuit shot (probably from a magazine) and two black-and-white jumpsuit newspaper photos  Finally, there is the second Priscilla picture.  It is another look at Priscilla around the time she parted with Elvis.  Although it’s not full page like the first one, it does have a nice caption: “Friends say he never got over their divorce – and never stopped loving her.”


Page 8 is a real hodge-podge of pictures.  We get a shot of Elvis on the set of Flaming Star with an unidentified woman, probably a fan.  Then, yet another picture of Elvis and Natalie Wood.  The caption reports that Wood said Elvis had almost mystical beliefs.  At the bottom of the page, Elvis hangs out with film crew on location.  Too bad they didn’t say what movie it was.  Next, we get our second look at Lisa Marie, perhaps a little older than in the earlier photo.  Finally, we get the scrapbook’s third shot of Priscilla, and she looks young in all of them.  Priscilla was twenty-eight when she and Elvis divorced, and it would seem all these photographs were taken shortly after that.



Page 9 is a strange one.  The three newspaper photos are nothing unusual.  You can see the date 9/12/77 written on the picture of Elvis performing, so it appeared in the weeks after his death.  The photo on the right side seems to be from Viva Las Vegas.  And the bottom one says, “Elvis leaves a concert in a flurry of action and tension.”

The newspaper article is sort of interesting.  It quotes Richard Fulcher of the Brentwood Historical Society in Tennessee, who traced Elvis lineage through eleven generations..  He states that Elvis father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all struggled as sharecroppers in the Mississippi bottom land.  It was during Reconstruction after the Civil War that the fortunes of Elvis great-great-grandfather turned for the worse and he moved his family to Mississippi.

According to Mr Fulcher, things were much better for the earlier generations of Presleys, who lived in Tennessee.


Page 10:  This does not look like a casual photo snapped at random.  I know it was done during a professional session, because I have another pose in the same outfit. 



In these shots, Priscilla is twenty-eight or so, and she has an appearance that is different from both the early black hair and heavy makeup period and the mature period when she appeared on Dallas on TV and the Naked Gun movies.  I’ll go out on a limb and say her peak of beauty was at the time of these photos.

More Elvis Scrapbook stories to come.


©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Two Recent Celebrity Deaths — The Elvis Connections

Elvis’ exalted position in the entertainment industry made it possible for him to meet many celebrities in his lifetime.  When I run across photographs of Elvis and other stars, I save them in a file for future use.  Sadly, this is usually when the celebrity dies, as in the case of Jimmy Dean and Tony Curtis last year.

Now, we have two more.  Within a few days of each other, both baseball slugger Duke Snider and voluptuous actress Jane Russell passed away.  It should come as no surprise that Elvis had met both of them.

Duke Snider and Elvis

Duke Snider was the power-hitting outfielder for the Dodgers in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles.  There was no information about the timing of Elvis and Duke Snider encounter pictured above.  However, the sideburns resemble those Elvis sported in The Trouble with Girls and Change of Habit, so it had to be around 1968-69.  Snider’s playing career was over by that point.


Elvis and Jane Russell

There is no question about the timing of this picture. Jane Russell and Elvis were photographed on June 28, 1957 at Russwood Park in Memphis.  TV star Danny Thomas presented the Shower of Stars show to benefit St. Jude’s Hospital.  Some of the other stars were comedian Lou Costello, actress Susan Hayward, and singer Ferlin Husky.  Here is another shot from that occasion.


There must have been at least one other meeting between Jane Russell and Elvis, because this photo is obviously from another time.

You can bet Elvis had seen Russell’s most notorious film, The Outlaw, and remembered her sultry character.  Do you think he might have liked to see Jane Russell a few more times?



©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.