Elvis is still on our minds 33 years after his death
Fans all shook up over The King
SYDNEY: Elvis Presley may have left the building nearly 33 years ago, but a raft of new events and books released this week to mark what would have been his 75th birthday ensure The King lives on – and so do his earnings.
Presley, who died in August 1977 at 42, is one of the top earning dead celebrities, bringing in $55 million last year according to Forbes.com, and marketed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which entertainment mogul Robert Sillerman revitalised in 2005.
His birthday yesterday occasioned a cake-cutting ceremony at his Graceland home, a new exhibit of his costumes, movie marathons, a Facebook application, a cruise later in the year, and a new Jailhouse Rock doll in the Barbie collection.
Around the world other events include a gathering in the Australian town of Parkes, where Elvis impersonators are donning lamé suits and perfect quiffs for an annual Elvis Festival despite temperatures of 40°C. Three new books about the singer, whose life has been scrutinised in up to 50 other books, will also add fuel to the marketing flame in whose spotlight Presley remains young, hazing over his final years of battling poor health and weight gain.
Author Alanna Nash examined the role of the women in her fourth book on Presley, Baby, Let’s Play House, concluding an unhealthy bond with his mother, Gladys, and the loss of a stillborn twin brother set him up for doomed relationships.
“I think what he wanted from a woman was to be mothered but he only went out with younger women so that never happened,” Nash said after interviewing a list of lovers, friends, co-stars and family members.
“But what really surprised me was that I found he remained emotionally aged about 15 to 17. I think this is why he continued to like 14-year-old girls and found a lot of happiness in mentoring
‘What he wanted from a woman was to be mothered’
them. He was stuck as a teenager himself.”
George Klein, a DJ and TV host who outlines his friendship with Presley at school in Elvis: My Best Man, said the importance of Presley’s mother in his life could not be underestimated.
“She had a tremendous power over him. She was the reason he was so polite and such a gentleman. Elvis loved her to death and never argued with her. They had a tremendous bond,” said Klein.
Presley’s mother died in 1958 at the age of 46.
A third new book, The King and Dr Nick: What Really Happened To Elvis And Me, is by Dr George Nichopoulos, also known as Dr Nick, who was Presley’s personal physician for 11 years. The book is written with Rose Clayton Phillips.
Nichopoulos was in the spotlight after Presley’s death from heart problems after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs. He had his licence permanently suspended in 1995 after a medical board found he had overprescribed to numerous patients for years.
Both Nash and Klein said Elvis’s death was premature.
“It was a shame he didn’t pay more attention to his health and his diet. I don’t think he would have ever got off his prescriptions drugs but he could have lived longer if he had improved his diet,” said Nash.
Klein believes Presley would never have died so young had his mother been around, saying the two people that had most to lose – his manager “Colonel” Tom Parker and his father Vernon who worked for Elvis – failed to help him.
“His father was scared Elvis would fire him or kick him out while Colonel Parker was all about making money. They kept their mouths shut and did not step up to help Elvis, not wanting to get into a confrontation with him and be cut off. It would have been different if his mother had been there.” – Reuters
MEMORABILIA: A glazed ceramic sculpture by Robert Arneson, left,
The Book of E,
a scrapbook by an unknown individual, exhibition curator Warren Perry, and an Elvis lunchbox and toy.
ELVIS STAMP: One of the many exhibits featured on the Smithsonian Institution exhibition.