Born January 8, 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley would go on to become one of the most famous rock stars and celebrities of all-time. Some called him Elvis, some called him E, but to most he was quite simply The King. Presley died this month in 1977 at the age of 42, but we’re here to celebrate his life and career. Enjoy this special photographic chronology of the one and only Elvis Presley.
The boy who would be King...well, of rock & roll anyway. An eight-year-old Elvis pictured here in 1943, in his birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi, more than a decade before anyone outside his family or school knew his name.
By the fall of 1948, the Presley family moved from Tupelo to Memphis, Tennessee, not realizing what part this music mecca would play on the teenage Elvis...and soon, the rest of the world.
By 1954, a 19-year-old Elvis had begun recording at the now-famous Sun Studio in Memphis, along with the likes of
Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. Within a year, Presley was a massive star in the South. By the end of 1955 he was signed with an even bigger label—RCA Victor Records—and would become a major star all over the country.
With his matinee idol looks, it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling and between 1956-1969, Elvis would star in more than 30 films; many of dubious artistic quality, but ever popular with his legions of fans. One of his first was
Jailhouse Rock, which featured the classic single of the same name. Here’s Elvis performing live in 1957 with his influential band—guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer D.J. Fontana and bassist Bill Black—who would also appear uncredited in the movie itself.
Only weeks after his 22
nd birthday, Elvis Presley meets his intended Jailhouse Rock co-star Barbara Lang for the first time (along with some fans) at the MGM lot. The publicity machine was a little quick on the gun this time around however, since Lang would be replaced by Judy Tyler before filming began.
In this rather historic photo, Elvis and the legendary songwriting team of
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (better known as Leiber & Stoller) go over the sheet music and lyrics of their newest song, “Jailhouse Rock,” on the MGM lot in 1957.
In one of his most iconic moments on film, Elvis demonstrated in
Jailhouse Rock that not only could he sing but he was pretty good on his feet as well, although his pelvic gyrations caused quite a backlash in those early days of rock & roll. Get up on them toes, E!
During a recording session of the songs for the
Jailhouse Rock film, Elvis communicates the groove he’s looking for from his rhythm section of bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana.
During the final weeks of shooting
Jailhouse Rock in June of 1957, Elvis (a.k.a. “The King of Rock & Roll”) received a visit from noted Chilean singer and actor Lucho Gatica (a.k.a. “The King of Bolero”). Gatica would receive his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 50 years later, in 2008.
Jailhouse Rock co-star Judy Tyler pose for this stunning publicity portrait. Some true Hollywood glamour in this one!
Elvis and his
Jailhouse Rock co-star Judy Tyler march to the beat of their own drum on the set. What’s even sadder about seeing these two so happy together is that only days after filming was completed Tyler and her husband were killed in an auto accident. Tyler was only 24, and when Jailhouse Rock was released three months later, Elvis was reportedly still so upset over her death that he couldn’t bring himself to watch the film.
Elvis discusses some script notes with director
Norman Taurog on the set of It Happened at the World’s Fair in 1963. Taurog ultimately directed Elvis in nine films.
In one of the most interesting bits of Elvis trivia, this eleven-year-old boy pictured kicking Elvis in the shins in
It Happened at the World’s Fair is none other than Kurt Russell in his first movie role, albeit an uncredited one. What makes it all the more interesting is that Russell would later play Elvis in the acclaimed TV Movie, Elvis, for which he would receive a Golden Globe nomination.
Elvis is on his best behavior with his seven-year-old co-star
Vicky Tiu on the set of It Happened at the World’s Fair. Little did he know that he was holding the hand of the future First Lady of Hawaii, as Tiu would marry that state’s Governor in 1997.
Elvis was not on such good behavior with women closer to his age in the same film, such as here with co-star
Yvonne Craig. Obviously he never would have tried this move if he knew that he was messing with TV's future Batgirl!
How’s about we get some color Elvis in here? Co-star
Gary Lockwood seems to be pointing out the vintage early 1960s décor to Elvis in this beautifully captured moment in time from It Happened at the World’s Fair.
Now this is definitely NOT the audience that the King of Rock & Roll was used to performing in front of! But in Hollywood anything can happen, like this scene from
It Happened at the World’s Fair.
In 1964, Elvis and co-star
Ann-Margret set theaters ablaze with their sizzling chemistry in the box-office smash, Viva Las Vegas. Throughout the filming news of a simmering romance between the two stars was spreading like wildfire.
Not really difficult to understand why Elvis can’t seem to peel his eyes away from the sassy dancing of his
Viva Las Vegas co-star Ann-Margret.
It’s easy to see that
Ann-Margret had a bit of a wild side herself, as she attempts to stand-up on her moving motorbike as Elvis watches during a break from filming Viva Las Vegas.
Elvis didn’t give out his comb to just anyone, so this is further proof that
Ann-Margret and The King had a special relationship indeed.
Fellow pop star
Paul Anka and his wife (and self-admitted Presley fan) Anne visited the set of Viva Las Vegas to say hello to Elvis.
Were Elvis and
Ann-Margret able to get through any scene in Viva Las Vegas without breaking into laughter? Just another case in point as they fight the giggles to get through this romantic picnic scene.
There were many
Viva Las Vegas fans who hoped that Ann-Margret and Elvis would tie the knot in real life, but it only happened in the movie. Ann-Margret married actor Roger Smith in 1967 and, unlike so many Hollywood marriages, they remain together to this very day.
In 1966, Elvis hit the concert stage and the race track as singer/race car driver Mike McCoy in
Spinout, directed by Norman Taurog. Here he is with co-star Deborah Walley going over script notes.
Always the gentleman, Elvis offers up some of his ice cream sundae to an interested canine on the set of
Spinout in 1966.
Elvis is surrounded by a bevy of bathing beauties as he performs the “Beach Shack” sequence in 1966’s
Elvis gave music fans one of the very first looks at Gibson’s now-famous double-neck guitars in 1966’s
Spinout, several years before Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page would make it famous.
Come on, you’re the King, you shouldn’t have hedged your bet! Did you really think any of these women would say “no” to a marriage proposal? Elvis seems to be in a quandary in this publicity photo from the set of
Elvis was in stellar company in the 1968 comedy/musical/western
Stay Away, Joe. Surrounding the star in his finest red duds are (L-R): Oscar nominee Katy Jurado, Oscar nominee Thomas Gomez (in background), Oscar nominee (and nearly unrecognizable) Burgess Meredith, and top character actor L.Q. Jones.
An early version of female mud wrestling with Elvis Presley as the referee? Not really, just Elvis doing his best to tame the wild west in this scene from 1968’s
Stay Away, Joe.
Elvis and fellow actors (L-R)
Brett Parker and Quentin Dean break out into laughter during this scene from Stay Away, Joe.
In the second of THREE films he appeared in during 1968, Elvis rocks the kids at The Hangout on the set of
Her boots were made for walking...That’s right, it’s Elvis dancing with none other than the go-go boot trendsetter
Nancy Sinatra in 1968’s Speedway.
Elvis seemed to be obsessed with
Nancy Sinatra in Speedway. Here he’s conjuring her up in a rock & roll crystal ball.
When a man chases after an IRS agent (in this case, the one played by
Nancy Sinatra), it’s usually not with a romantic notion in mind. But in Hollywood, anything is possible, like in this scene from Speedway in 1968.
And in the end, you knew it was going to happen this way. Elvis Presley and
Nancy Sinatra are all cuddles and love in this Speedway publicity shot.
“Smile, and say ‘Elvis’”...In his third film of 1968, Elvis played photographer Greg Nolan in
Live a Little, Love a Little.
Not exactly the best clothes for beach aerobics, E...but considering this was his third film in 1968, you can forgive him for not paying attention to the proper summer attire in
Live a Little, Love a Little, as co-star Michele Carey and “Albert” take in the seaside sites.
After that interesting aerobic workout,
Live a Little, Love a Little co-star Michele Carey gives the King a royal toweling off.
Elvis’s photographer character arrives in the office of a ficitional
Playboy-style publication looking for work in Live a Little, Love a Little.
It’s four-against-one, let’s even the odds a bit and send in more girls! Elvis poses with four of the models from the faux
Playboy empire in Live a Little, Love a Little.
In his last year of acting in feature films, Elvis did the unbelievable and dared to sport facial hair and perform no songs in the 1969 western,
Facial hair or not, his
Charro! co-star Ina Balin had no problem snuggling up to the scruffier King in this publicity shot from 1969.
Elvis has a good laugh on the set of 1969’s
Charro! one of the last movies he would act in as he decided to again focus his attention entirely on his music career.
Moving away from his film career, Elvis returned to the concert stage in 1970 with a tour that was captured by a documentary film crew and released as
Elvis: That’s the Way It Is in November of that year. Last August, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released this landmark film in a special Blu-ray Book Edition.
Elvis: That’s the Way It Is details many rehearsal sessions that went into The King’s return to the concert stage, such as this pic showing Elvis in his then-trademark aviator glasses.
Although the concert footage for
Elvis: That’s the Way It Is was filmed at his Las Vegas performance, he did perform in nearly two dozen cities during 1970—his first concert tour since 1961—including a concert on September 12 in Miami, Florida, which was attended by one of Elvis’s biggest fans and another rock legend...Jim Morrison of The Doors.
In 1972, Elvis hit the concert trail again and captured it all on film. Released as
Elvis on Tour, the film would go on to win the Golden Globe Award for “Best Documentary,” while also being the final movie that Elvis would appear in before his untimely death in 1977.
A 37-year-old Elvis Presley shows his trademark moves onstage during the filming of
Elvis on Tour.
Whether on a movie set or a concert stage, Elvis always knew how to flirt with the camera as he does here in 1972’s
Elvis on Tour.
Get further information on all of this year's Graceland events as the annual Elvis Week celebration is now underway!