If you want to make a baby boomer feel real-l-l-ly old, remind him or her that Elvis Presley would have turned 75 today.
Graceland, the famed site of birthday weekend activities and the home of the official Elvis website, is providing live coverage of several high-profile events. Tributes, such as the weekend-long celebration at the True Oldies Channel radio network, are popping up everywhere. And you can check out all things Elvis at the Elvis Information Network.
No matter that it has been nearly 33 years since the King’s death, he remains a show-biz giant — and guaranteed money-maker, actually finishing fourth in the most current annual ranking of dead celebrities’ ongoing income ($55 million).
In the years since he first burst on the national scene in 1956, Elvis acted in 31 films, charted more than 150 singles, sold more records than any artist and still annually draws more than 500,000 visitors to his Memphis estate.
Family, friends, fans and — of course, in that good old American way — entrepreneurs looking for a financial score will be celebrating moments big and small throughout this anniversary year.
The world sure isn’t forgetting to mark the day, so why should we?
Here are a few of the ways the King still reigns in America today:
New, new, new
A new exhibit: The Newseum in Washington, D.C., looks at media coverage and the pop culture impact of Elvis in what is billed as a “Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story.” The exhibit opens March 12.
A new Vegas — and Cirque du Soleil — show: The latest Cirque extravaganza “Viva Elvis” — which already has experienced several delays (it originally was supposed to open today) — now is set to open in February at Aria, the city’s newest casino resort. Here’s a sample of the work-in-progress:
And, of course, a new iPhone app: As comedian Mitch Benn, the app “voice” of Elvis, notes: “With ‘Pocket Elvis’ you can take a bit of Elvis everywhere you go, and hopefully have a lot of fun.”
His impact, of course, has been felt for many years in both pop culture and society as a whole:
Stamp champ: His 1993 postage stamp image appears to be the most collected stamp in U.S. postal history (more than 124 million), although it now looks like the recent “Simpsons” stamps may have replaced Elvis as the all-time best-seller.
Artistic inspiration: His likeness has been captured by artists ranging from Andy Warhol to Michael Israel and his live “Art in Concert” renditions of music legends. Not to mention more than a few velvet Elvises.
Broadway musicals: He’s inspired two Broadway musicals:
• “All Shook Up,” a 2005 “jukebox collection” of songs pieced together with a lame-o plot. It lasted for nearly 250 performances before going on tour.
• “Bye Bye Birdie,” which recounts the national “agony” surrounding a certain teen idol’s Army induction. The 1960 musical is currently back on Broadway in a revival. The 1963 film version, meanwhile, happens to include my favorite movie-musical production number, the well-choreographed “Lot of Livin’ to Do.”
And some personal favorites . . .
Favorite movie theme: “Flaming Star” (1961)
Favorite B side: “Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello,” the flip side of “She’s Not You” (1962)