Elvis 1956

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-11-10
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
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In 1956, a twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley was at the beginning of his remarkable and unparalleled career. Photojournalist Alfred Wertheimer was asked by Presley's new label, RCA Victor, to photograph the rising star for a one-day assignment that quickly developed into an odyssey. With unimpeded access to the young performer, Wertheimer was able to capture the unguarded and everyday moments in Elvis' life during March and July of 1956, the pivotal year that made Elvis' career--taking him from virtual obscurity to the verge of international stardom and his crowning as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll." Wertheimer's unobtrusive photographs of Elvis in performance, with his fans, in the recording studio as well as at home with his family, present a unique look at one of the world's most famous cultural figures. These images represent the first and the last unguarded look at Elvis, and are an extraordinary portrait of a charismatic young man who would go on to become a legend.

Author Biography

ALFRED WERTHEIMER began his career in 1951, publishing his work in such magazines as Life and Paris Match. When RCA Victor asked him to photograph Elvis in 1956, Wertheimer turned the assignment into a unique ooportunity. No photographer ever again was allowed the same intimate access. Apart from Elvis' own recordings from this period, these images are the most compelling vintage documents of Elvis in 1956.

Sixty-five of Wertheimer's photographs were featured in a one-person exhibition at the Foundation Cartier for Contemporary Art in Paris and in 2006 a major monograph, Elvis at 21: New York to Memphis, was published.

CHRIS MURRAY is founder and director of Govinda Gallery, Washington D.C. He has organized more than 200 exhibitions celebrating many leading artists, including Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz. Murray has been the author or editor of over a dozen books and catalogs including Soul Rebel: A Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley (2009), John and Yoko: A New York Love Story (2008), and Elvis at 21.

AMY HENDERSON has been a cultural historian at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery since 1975, specializing in 20th and 21st century music, movie, and theater history, and in the history of American celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions include On the Air: Pioneers of American Broadcasting (1988), and Red, Hot, & Blue: A Smithsonian Salute to the American Musical (1996: the SITES traveling version of this exhibition went to 28 venues); Exhibiting Dilemmas: Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian (1997); the six-part PBS American Masters series Broadway; "The Changing Face of Celebrity Culture" (2005); KATE: A Centennial Celebration (2007-08); and Elvis at 21 (SITES exhibition, 2009-).

E. WARREN PERRY, JR., a native of Memphis, Tennessee, is a writer and researcher for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. He holds graduate degrees in medieval literature and creative writing from the University of Memphis and in drama from the Catholic University of America. Warren's most recently published work is his play The Sitters which can be found in the anthology The Best of the Strawberry One Acts, Volume IV (2007).

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