Elvis Presley

Film on Friday

Frankie and Johnny.jpg

Elvis Presley is an American icon.  Considered one of the most important entertainment icons of the twentieth century, Presley is considered the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. He dabbled in rockabilly, country and western, gospel, rock ‘n roll, rhythm and blues, and pretty much every genre that was out there during his lifetime (1935 to 1977), but that all said, he really just wanted to be a respected actor. Unfortunately, he did not attain his goal, as critics were often quite harsh towards his movie performances, with his twentieth film being no exception. 

Frankie and Johnny, released in 1966, is his story of a chronic gambler, Johnny, on a Mississippi riverboat set in the nineteenth century who is constantly at odds with his girlfriend Frankie (played by the lovely Donna Dixon, immortalized as Elly May Clampett on CBS’s The Beverly Hillbillies) and constantly getting into trouble, was described as “feeble and obvious” and having opened with a “dull thud.”  Alas, the movie did not make a profit during its theatrical run, although the soundtrack was certified platinum in January 2004.  The music offered traditional songs that never really hit the charts individually. That all said, the poster advertising the film is fun.  Come check it out!

Tunes on Tuesday

Brenda Lee - All Alone Am I.jpg

Question:  who is four feet nine inches tall, the only woman to be inducted in both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame, and is ranked the fourth best-selling artist of the 1960’s, behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Ray Charles?  Answer: Brenda Lee, of course! Born in 1944, she weighed less than five pounds when she was born to poor parents in Georgia, often living hand-to-mouth. One of the few joys young Brenda had was in music, and in fact she could sing along with the radio by the time she was two years old.  By three she was singing for candy at the local store, and soon after that singing solos at her family’s Baptist church. She got her first recording contract at age eleven and became a national sensation not long after.

Her album All Alone Am Iwas released in 1963, and was already her eighth studio record. The title track was a translation of a popular Greek song that reached the Billboard Top 10.  In fact, every song on the album was a cover of music previously performed by luminaries including Tony Bennett and even Cole Porter. It was hoped that Brenda, already hugely popular among America’s teenagers, would be able to cross over into a more mature audience. It turned out to be less popular than hoped for, but was a brief glitch in an otherwise stellar decade for the affectionately-called Little Miss Dynamite. By the 1970’s, Brenda’s voice began to mature, pushing her out of the popular charts. She does remain active in music, almost exclusively in Country Music.

Film on Friday

So many movies, so little time.  If you love movies, but simply don't have the time to watch them, we have an alternative for you:  come to the American Treasure Tour to enjoy our collection of vintage movie posters.  We know it's not the same thing, but it counts for something, and we have a wide array of variety in the posters we display; however, as with our music, much of it does ultimately come back to Elvis Presley.  Why?  Because he made so many top-selling records at the height of his popularity.  AND he was in so many movies!  

Elvis’ nineteenth film (out of thirty, give or take) was released in 1965 (one of three films he put out that year).  It tells the story of an American movie star, Johnny Tyrone, who travels to the Middle East to premiere his newest film. He is seduced by an exotic local, then kidnapped by a man who tries to get him to help assassinate the king. Johnny meets a slave girl named Shalimar, who also happens to be the royal daughter. Of course, Johnny frees her, saves the king, and is a hero to all.  Much of this film would likely seem familiar to fans of silent film, as it not only used the set upon which Cecil B. DeMille shot his famous 1927 silent The King of Kings, but is loosely based on the story made famous by Rudolph Valentino in 1921’s The Sheik.  A harmless film, it actually has the distinction of being a favorite among “so bad their good” movie fans.  It received a special call out by the founders of the Golden Raspberry Awards.  And if you don’t know what they are, here you go:  http://www.razzies.com/index.html

Film on Friday

Girl Happy.jpg

The American Treasure Tour is a wonderful repository for such things as celebrity headshots and movie posters (as well as far too many other items of popular culture to get into today). Of course we have items honoring "The King," Elvis Presley.  A funny thing about Elvis.  When most people think of him, they think about his music and his unforgettable image.  The influence he had on what people listened to and how they dressed was so significant that it's actually kind of easy to forget that he also starred in somewhere around thirty-two movies. Elvis aspired to be considered an actor for most of his career, hoping to emulate the careers of Marlon Brando and James Dean. Unfortunately, it was not to be. His early successes with Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock showed that his soundtracks were more popular than the films themselves and, when he tried to make a film in which he didn't sing, they rarely did well critically or popularly.  

His seventeenth movie in nine years, Girl Happy, came out in 1965.  It revolves around a spring break journey Elvis and his friends take to Fort Lauderdale to follow some attractive young women on a journey from Chicago. That's about it. There's waterskiing and fun by the pool. Notably, Elvis wears long-sleeved shirts throughout much of the movie despite the beach scenes, and none of it actually takes place in Fort Lauderdale, except for a few establishing shots. The song "Puppet on a String" was the only moderate hit from the film, reaching the #14 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  Poor Elvis, wanting to be an artist, but that's not what his fans wanted.  His last fictional film was released in 1969.  We'll tell you about that some other time....  And yes, we do have a whole slew of posters and artwork dedicated to the King. 

Wacky Wednesday

Elvis Plate.jpg

The American Treasure Tour is full of many wonderful and amazing things, with more of the same coming soon (no spoilers here, though?).  The problem is that it's not always easy to catch them all, so you have to look carefully.  Or read our blog so you can enjoy special call outs for them. Today, we are happy to point out three - count them, three! - porcelain plates that hang right near the entrance to the Music Room.  But they're not just any porcelain plates.  Oh no, they all have an image of none other than the King of Rock 'n Roll himself, Elvis Presley, surrounded by flowers!


Yes, they're pretty special.  Now, you may not know this, but during his singing career, Elvis Presley recorded over six hundred songs.  He wrote none of them.  Even more shocking than that, his famous black hair ... was dyed.  He was born with naturally brown hair.  Even more surprising than all of that: he never toured internationally, outside of his stint with the United States Army.  The closest he got was a handful of gigs in Canada.  Why?  It's believed that his Dutch-born manager, Colonel Parker, was illegally in the United States and feared being deported if he ever applied for a U.S. passport.

Elvis Presley - August 16, 2014

The king is dead, long live the king. It’s a sad day for Elvis Presley fans. The King of Rock & Roll passed away on this day in 1977 at the age of 42, although there remain plenty of hardcore fans and conspiracy theorists who believe he still walks among us. But we’re pretty sure that Elvis has left the building… 


How many Billboard number 1 hits did Elvis have?

a)   1

b)   9

c)    18

d)   22

Answer below!


Watch Elvis the Pelvis do his thing in “Jailhouse Rock,” widely considered to be the first music video.


I knew by heart all the dialogue of James Dean's films; I could watch Rebel Without a Cause a hundred times over.

~Elvis Presley



Elvis is all over the American Treasure Tour. Here’s a small sampling.

And don't forget all the Elvis items in our gift shop, including this brand new Elvis lunch box! We also have tote bags, glasses, salt & pepper shakers, and more.

And don't forget all the Elvis items in our gift shop, including this brand new Elvis lunch box! We also have tote bags, glasses, salt & pepper shakers, and more.


c) 18 


Mike Douglas - August 11, 2014

Happy Birthday to Mike Douglas! Born on this day in 1925, he had some success as a singer, but is best known as the affable host of The Mike Douglas Show. Douglas had huge stars and musical acts on his show over the years and it was the first syndicated TV show to win an Emmy award. The show ran from 1961 to 1980.


According to legend, Elvis Presley shot the TV in his Las Vegas hotel room while watching The Mike Douglas Show in 1961. Presley later apologized to Douglas, explaining that he wasn't aiming for Douglas but rather his guest. Who was Presley’s target?

a)   Paul Anka

b)   Robert Goulet

c)    Pat Boone

d)   Neil Sedaka

Answer below!


Two-year-old Tiger Woods made his first television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. Watch little Tiger impress not only Douglas, but fellow guests Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart! 


In the old days, I was often confused with Merv Griffin. We were the same height, the same weight and we were both Irish tenors.

~Mike Douglas



Douglas died on his 81st birthday in 2006.



b) Robert Goulet

Clowns - June 5, 2014

Visitors to the American Treasure Tour can take many things home with them - except, of course, any of the pieces on display.  There are plenty of ways people can reconnect with childhood memories, learn about history and technology, or develop a strong appreciation for quality antiques and quirky oddities.  Anyone with a love - or fear - of clowns will certainly be impacted by the impressive collection on hand as well. In fact, there are clowns all over the Toy Box - and not just the guides!

Everyone loves to laugh, and who better to inspire laughter than the clown.  They have been around for centuries, but clowns as we know them today tend to be traced to the turn of the 19th century with the English performer Joseph Grimaldi.  His "Joey the Clown" became the inspiration for countless imitators.  He was the first to use the heavy make-up and he developed the pantomime so many clowns have brought into the modern era.  Few Americans are familiar with Joey today, but his legacy can be seen everywhere.

QUESTION:  There are two quintessential clown cars in the American Treasure Tour.  (Grimaldi never would have used these, though.  He died long before automobiles were ever produced in France.)  What type cars are they?

a)  Stanley Steamers

b)  Dodge 440

c)  Vespa 400

d)  Mini-Cooper

Answer Below


Very few books ever published have had as great an impact upon publication as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Prior to its release in book form, it appeared in the abolitionist newspaper National Era in installments spanning ten months.  Today, in 1851, the first installment ran.  It created a sensation that, according to some historians, directly led to the start of the Civil War.  The depiction of the hard lives Southern slaves suffered in the novel inspired great controversy, and proof that the written word could change the world.

Another culture-changing event happened on this day in 1956, when a young musician named Elvis Presley appeared on The Milton Berle Show to introduce his new single.  As he sang "Hound Dog," he scandalized viewers with his dance.  The gyrating movements he made inspired both the approval of his young fans and the condemnation of his older critics.  The era of rock 'n roll was in full swing.


We celebrate two actors today.  First is Ron Livingston.  Born in 1967, Ron has been a familiar face in television and film since the 1990's, but is most fondly remembered by fans for his unforgettable role in the 1999 Mike Judge film Office Space, in which he plays the character Peter Gibbons, a mid-level drone who rebels against the dynamics of office politics.

Turning 42 today, Mark Wahlberg is a well-established entertainer.  The youngest of nine brothers and sisters, he took advantage of the fame of older brother Donnie when he was a member of the boy band New Kids on the Block to start his own musical career as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  From there, a successful film career followed and he has been busy ever since, most recently starring in Lone Survivor and the upcoming sequel to the Transformers franchise.  

QUOTE:  I never lie.  I believe everything I say, so it's not a lie. - Mark Wahlberg

Answer:  c)  Vespa 400

Gloria Estefan - March 24, 2014

Happy Monday, blog readers!  We at the American Treasure Tour have, as our loyal fans know, discussed many different elements of the tour of late - moving between our signs, the movie posters, record albums, manufacturers of mechanical music, yadda yadda yadda.  And of course we have examined the "Faces of the Tour."  Today, we are going to continue with the "Faces of the Tour," not because we are running out of other topics, but because we like to look a little closer at the celebrities honored with their own plaques....

It is time to spend some time focusing on the life and career of Gloria Maria Milagrosa Fajardo Garcia de Estefan, or more simply, Gloria Estefan.  She was born in Cuba in 1957, while her father worked as a bodyguard to then-President Fulgencio Batista.  Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution compelled the family to hastily emigrate to America a few years later ( dad Jose also participated in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961).  Gloria is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and may have been approached by the CIA to work for them as a translator before she began her career as a singer. Her band, the Miami Sound Machine, formed in 1977 and became amazingly popular internationally.  In fact, she has sold over 100 million albums across the world (with 31.5 million of those albums sold in the States!) in both English and Spanish.  With seven Grammy Awards under her belt, she is considered the most successful crossover performer in Latin music to date, and she continues to perform, with her most recent album, The Standards, being released just last year.


Gloria and Emilio Estefan are part-owners of what professional athletic team?

a)  Jacksonville Jaguars 

b)  Tampa Bay Rays

c)  Florida Panthers 

d)  Miami Marlins 

e)  Miami Dolphins

Answer Below.


The year was 1958, and teenage girls across the United States wept at the news.  Some wrote letters to the government in Washington, D.C., desperate to stop the tragedy.  But it was true: Elvis Presley received his draft notice on this date and would be off to Germany as part of a two year stint with the Army.  Worse, still, Elvis had to cut his hair!  Some believed that his draft was a government conspiracy designed to destroy the career of the controversial rock 'n roller.  If that was true, it didn't work.  He came back more popular than ever, and ready to jump into a new medium for the rocker:  the movies.

The older members of the ATT blog-writing committee recall the Exxon Valdez oil spill like it happened yesterday.  In fact, it happened on March 24th, 1989.  25 years ago!  It was bad.  Approximately 750,000 barrels of oil spilled into Alaska's Prince William Sound when the ship struck a reef just after midnight and punctured the hull under  mysterious circumstances.  The captain was apparently drunk but off duty, the ship may or may not have been up to code, and many questions followed the tragic accident. The remoteness of the Sound made it difficult for adequate environmental clean up, too, such that the oil spread over 1,300 square miles. There was no loss of human life, but intense environmental devastation in the area. The Valdez accident inspired many new rules in the effort to prevent future maritime pollution incidents.


There have been way too many notable March 24th babies, so it has been especially challenging to highlight only two Americans born on this day.  We must sadly look past Ub Iwerks and his contribution to animation, presidential candidate Thomas Dewey, and actor Steve McQueen. Maybe next year. Today, we are going to recognize the pioneering spirit of the second ever Director of the American Geological Survey:  John Wesley Powell.  He held his position in the federal government for twelve years but, before taking on that assignment, he fought for the Union during the Civil War.  He lost an arm at the Battle of Shiloh, but continued fighting.  Then he became an adventurer and the first white man to explore the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  He passed away in 1902 at the age of 68 having led a fascinating life.

Another interesting American celebrating a birthday today, whose career may not have been as constructive as Powells, was Clyde Barrow.  Born in 1909, the poor Texan had ambitions to be a rich man, although he did not have the patience to actually work for it.  He partnered with Bonnie Parker and a few other nogoodniks for a two year robbery spree that left a trail of bodies behind it.  By 1934, his was one of the bodies.  He was 25 years old when, on May 23rd, a posse of four Texas Rangers caught up with him and Bonnie in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.   


The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.  The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features.  Language and illustration combined must fail. - John Wesley Powell.

Answer:  e)  The Miami Dolphins.  The Estefans are the first Hispanic-American couple to buy a stake in a professional football team in the United States.