35th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s Death: The King’s Pennsylvania Connections

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Aug. 16 marks the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Here are some of Elvis's biggest moments in Pennsylvania, as well as ways that people and places across the state have paid tribute to the King since his death.

* Elvis's Philadelphia concert debut was in April 1957 at The Arena at 46th and Market streets. While on stage, he was pelted with eggs by a group of Villanova University students. After an egg narrowly missed guitarist Scotty Moore, Presley told the crowd, "He got egg on his guitar. Whoever threw that will never make the Yankees."

* Although he never appeared on the popular Philadelphia-based teen dance show "American Bandstand," while he was in the Army in the late 1950's Elvis did participate in three telephone interviews with host Dick Clark. When asked by Clark if was working on his music while stationed in Germany, Elvis replied, "I have a guitar up here in the room. I don't want to get out of practice if I can help it." Elvis's first interview with Clark -- on April 5, 1957 -- marked "Bandstand's" first nationally-broadcast show.

* In 1977, Unionville, Pa. sculptor Eric Parks was commissioned to create a 25-foot, 50-ton bronze statue of the King. The famous sculpture stood on Beale Street overlooking the Mississippi River in Memphis for more than decade before it was moved for restoration. Parks said of the iconic Elvis statue: "I put him in a classic Greek-god pose."

* Elvis Presley rang in his final New Year with a concert in Pittsburgh. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16,000 fans gathered at the Civic Arena to ring in 1977 with the King, where he performed a 90-minute set. At the stroke of midnight, he led the crowd in "Auld Lang Syne."

* Pittsburgh-born artist Andy Warhol's "Eight Elvises" is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, going for $100 million in 2009, while Warhol's 1963 life-size silkscreen painting, "Double Elvis" -- which shows the King in a gunslinger pose -- sold for $37 million at Sotheby's earlier this year. The Warhol Museum's permanent collection includes some of the artist's pop art images of Elvis.

* Last year the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Pa. paired the King with boxing legend Muhammed Ali for the "Ali and Elvis: American Icons," photography exhibit. The exhibit featured 56 photos of Elvis from The Smithsonian-curated "Elvis at 21" show alongside images from "Muhammad Ali: The Making of an Icon." Brian Peterson, chief curator at the Michener Museum, found out after booking the exhibits that Elvis once visited Ali's training camp in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and gave him a rhinestone cape.

* The Pines Dinner Theatre in Allentown, Pa. presents the show "All Shook Up" through Aug. 19. The musical-comedy is not an Elvis impersonation show, but features his classic songs like "Heartbreak Hotel," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Don't Be Cruel." Call 610-433-2333 for information.

* October 2012 marks the Pocono Mountain's Elvis Festival, which will feature tribute artists, a Vegas-style show, Elvis collectibles and music contests. The three-day event at Bushkill's Fernwood Resort will celebrate the King's life and music 35 years after his death.

Victoria Leigh Miller is a freelance writer and a lifelong Pennsylvania resident.

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