Monthly Archives: March 2012

Elvis, Captain Marvel Jr and the TCB Lightning Bolt

Just about every Elvis fan know the story behind the letters TCB on his jewelry.  Of course, it stands for Taking Care of Business, which was kind of a slogan for Elvis.

TCB Ring and Pendant


However, do you know the origin of the lightning bolt in Elvis’ TCB jewelry?

And on the wall decorations in the basement game room at Graceland.

Wall Decorations in Graceland TV Room

And on the tail of his Lisa Marie Airplane.

Lightning Bolt on Tail of Lisa Marie Airplane

I have numerous reference books that say it was inspired by the lightning bolt worn on the chest of Captain Marvel Jr., Elvis’ favorite comic book hero.

Young Captain Marvel Jr.

Even more significantly, these sources say that super-hero Captain Marvel Jr. influenced a great deal of Elvis’ life and appearance.

One web site asserts that Elvis read Captain Marvel Jr. Comics from September 1949 to January 1953 while living at the Lauderdale Court.  In fact, the Presley’s apartment has been preserved as a historic site, and a copy of Captain Marvel Jr. #51 sits on a desk in Elvis’ old room.

Captain Marvel Jr. Comic Book on Elvis’ Nightstand


In her book “Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend,” author Pamela Clarke Keough states, “Elvis used comics as an escape… Around the age of 12, Elvis discovered Captain Marvel Jr. and quickly became almost obsessed with him.”

Patriotic Captain Marvel

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin and longtime friend, said that Elvis especially admired the dual image of Captain Marvel Jr. and his alter ego — an everyday guy, poor teenager Freddy Freeman.  But, when he said the magic words, Freddie Freeman turned into super crime-fighter Captain Marvel Jr.

The comic book website Dial B for Blog sums it up nicely:  “This is why Elvis idolized Cap Jr. – because the Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr. character was a perfect mirror image of the once and future Elvis.  Freddy represented Elvis as he was, and Captain Marvel Jr. represented Elvis as he wished to be.”

Captain Marvel Jr. and Freddie Freeman

Pictures of Captain Marvel Jr. in the early fifties do indeed show a hairstyle ultimately affected by Elvis — long, glistening, black, with unruly locks hanging down over his forehead.  Also, there is a distinct similarity between Captain Marvel Jr.’s outfit and the seventies Elvis.  The argument certainly can be made that Elvis copied his one-piece jumpsuit, wide belt, boots, and most of all, the cape from his boyhood hero.

Finally, young Freddy Freeman was often seen wearing white scarves, and we all know how Elvis would go through dozens of them at every concert.

There does not seem to be any connection between Captain Marvel Jr. and Elvis in the use of the Taking Care of Business motto or the letters TCB.  That appears to be a unique personal creation by Elvis.

©  2012     Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister     All Rights Reserved
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Elvis and the 1992 Presidential Election

2012 is an election year, and already it has been the catalyst for one article connecting Elvis and politics.  Well, now I have found a source that inspires another.   It is the text of a 1993 San Francisco Examiner column by Greil Marcus.  That name should be familiar to you, because Marcus is the author of two famous Elvis books: Mystery Train (1997) and Dead Elvis.

Elvis Books by Greil Marcus


Marcus reported that during the 1992 Presidential campaign, the press corps started comparing Bill Clinton to Elvis, although the candidate never did this himself.  The press even made references to Clinton’s campaign plane as “Air Elvis.”

Clinton and Elvis Stamp from the Republic of Chad in Africa

His opponent, George H W Bush, felt compelled to respond to this linking of Clinton and Elvis, by stating this in a campaign speech:

“Clinton is on all sides of every issue.  He’s been spotted more places than Elvis Presley.  I guess you’d say his plan really is ‘Elvis Economics’.  America will be checking into Heartbreak Hotel.”

Bush didn’t get much traction with these assertions.

Autographed 1973 Photo of Elvis and George H W Bush


In fact, the “Heartbreak Hotel” reference may have worked in Clinton’s favor.  Many believe he turned the race around when he wore dark glasses and played the song on the Arsineo Hall Show.

Bill Clinton Playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on Arsinio Hall show


Marcus contends that an Elvis reference in any politician’s campaign speech is a guaranteed sound-bite on the evening news, although there is no guarantee what the public’s response will be.  This quote is said to have lost votes for former President Bush in his re-election campaign:

“I finally figured out why Clinton compares himself to Elvis.  The minute he takes a stand on something, he starts wiggling.”

The funniest thing in the Marcus column is this quote from noted dull and stiff politician, Al Gore, as he accepted the 1992 vice-presidential nomination at the convention in New York.

 “I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid – that one day I’d have a chance to come here to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis.”

Yep, that would really get the fans revved up.  Dream on, Al.

©  2012   Phillip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved


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

Al Wertheimer and the Dreaded Tonto Bar

I received an unexpected e-mail this week.  It was from Alfred Wertheimer, the most famous Elvis photographer and an interesting guy.  He sent me a joke.  Not just me.  He had a blast e-mail list of folks he shared the joke with, and I was thrilled he had me on his list.

The message was short:

All:     Time out for a good old fashioned laugh.      A W

And, at that point I realized Al had sent me a joke.  Cool.  Here it is:


Nice little joke.

When I wrote back to Al to thank him, I enclosed a photo I found on the Internet somewhere and asked him if it was one of his.  And, if it was, could I post it as well and comment on it.  Al was not only nice enough to say Yes, he also sent me a better copy of the photo.

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 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.

A couple of observations.  How do you like that wide belt Elvis is wearing?  Maybe a forerunner of things to come?  And, what’s with the white shoes, not cowboy boots?  I asked Alfred, and he said the photo was shot during rehersal.  Elvis wore boots for the live broadcast.

Alfred Wertheimer always has plenty of stuff going on — mostly Elvis related.  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.

For the past two years, Alfred has been involved with the Smithsonian Institution‘s touring exhibition “Elvis At Twenty-One.”

“Elvis At twenty-One” features forty of his famous photographs of Elvis, and it opened in January 2010 et the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.  The exhibition’s three-month run at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond just ended.  Click here for a great review of this exhibit by Troy Yeary at the Mystery Train Elvis Blog.

Alfred Wertheimer Describing One of his Photographs of Elvis Performing in Richmond, VA. July 1956

During April, May and June, “Elvis At Twenty-One” will be presented at the Dwight D Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.  the exhibition tour ends next year in Columbus Ohio, after stops in Memphis and Nashville.

Alfred Wertheimer Signing Copies of His Book “Elvis at 21”

 ©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved


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