Tag Archives: Wertheimer

Elvis Has Left the Building

The other day as I surfed the internet, I discovered that Frank Zappa once recorded a song titled “Elvis Has Just Left the Building.”  What a bizarre combination – Zappa and Elvis.  So I Googled it to see if I could find the lyrics, or even better, the paper jacket for the 45 record if it had been released as a single.

My search found the lyrics (nothing special) but no picture sleeve, because it was not a single, but an album cut from Broadway the Hard Way, a live Zappa album from his 1988 world tour.  However, my search did bring up numerous links to things connected to the classic phrase, “Elvis Has Left the Building.”  Here is a brief history of this iconic five-word phrase and some of the more interesting ways it has been used.

“Elvis has left the building” originated at the Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956.

Elvis on stage at the Louisiana Hayride, Decmber 15, 1956

Between October 1954 and April 1956, Elvis performed forty-nine times on the Louisiana Hayride.  He was contractually obliged to make more appearances there throughout 1956, but his soaring popularity put Elvis in much so demand nationally that Col. Parker worked out a way for Elvis to skip those shows.  Parker cut a deal to pay the Louisiana Hayride $10,000, roughly $400 for each missed appearance.  Plus, Elvis would do one last grand performance on December 15, 1956.

To accommodate the expected large crowd for this event, the venue was switched from the usual Shreveport Municipal Auditorium to the much bigger Hirsch Youth Center at the Louisiana Fairgrounds.  Ten thousand kids jammed the Youth Building and screamed at the top of their lungs for the duration of the King’s 45-minute show.  After Elvis had given his final encore and left the stage, the crowd headed for the exits, even though many other acts were still waiting to perform.  Hayride founder and producer Horace Lee Logan took the microphone and made a plea to the audience just after Elvis walked off stage.

“Please, young people . . . Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away. . . . Please take your seats.”

Apparently, the fans’ screaming had made it useless to try and record the show, so there is some disagreement about what Logan actually said that night.  Here is another version from Wikipedia.

“Alright, alright, Elvis has left the building. I’ve told you absolutely straight up to this point, you know that he has left the building; he left the stage and went out the back with the policeman and he is now gone from the building.”


Elvis and Al Dvorin

The man usually associated with the phrase is Al Dvorin.   He first met Elvis in 1955 and worked with him for 22 years, helping to organize his tours and personal appearances. It was in the early 1970s that Col. Parker asked Dvorin to inform fans after a concert that Elvis would not be coming back for an encore. Dvorin took the stage and made his now legendary announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight.”

“Elvis has left the building” continued as a staple at Elvis concerts and has become part of the Elvis legend.  It has lived on long past his death.  Now the catchphrase has universal meaning that is clear to all:  the show’s over, the curtain has fallen, the sun has set, that’s all she wrote, the fat lady has sung, our work here is done, end of story.

Now for some of the stuff this famous phrase has inspired.


This crudely drawn cartoon was inspired by the phrase’s origin, but the artist felt it necessary to ridicule the announcer’s Southern accent and Elvis’ hair.


This is much better.  Elvis’ friend and the leader of the back-up group The Stamps released a tribute album after Elvis passed away.


Of course, EPE never misses a chance for a marketing opportunity and came up with this keychain for $9.


This 4” x 3” belt buckle appears on a Australian website, so it may have been made without any licensing from EPE (or copyright payment to Al Wertheimer for his photographic image).



This is one of several T-shirts bearing the phrase “Elvis has left the building.”


This is a tribute album that I wasn’t aware off.   I’d like to get a copy.  Check out this tracklist:


This is the artwork for an article in the Westbourne Academy on-line newsletter.  “Elvis has left the building” was selected as their English Idiom of the Month.  I wish they had selected a better picture.


This is a play that has appeared in local theaters around the country.  We looked at it in an ElvisBlog article two months ago.


This is a pretty clever movie from 2004 starring Kim Basinger and John Corbett.  ElvisBlog covered it six years ago.


This is from the opening credits of the movie.  The pink lipstick is part of the storyline because Kim Basinger is a cosmetic saleslady who wears pink clothing and drives a pink Caddy convertible.


We could go on and on with examples of how “Elvis has left the building” has been used, but we’ll end here.  This phrase makes the perfect title for a picture of Elvis and a collage of newspaper headlines from the day he died.


©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net



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    www.ElvisBlog.net


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