On August 16, 1977, I was at my dad’s office, sitting at the
reception desk, organizing the contents of the drawers and desktop. I was
preparing to start the fourth grade at a new school.
Suddenly, one of Dad’s regular clients walked inside. He
muttered something like, “I need to sit down,” and then proceeded to stretch
out his six-foot-two frame over the apartment-sized couch across the small room
Typically a hyper-active type A personality, this man in
front of me was white as a sheet, and barely moving. I was scared to death. I
hopped up from my desk chair and ran to get my dad.
“Come quick,” I’m sure I yelled. “Larry’s here and I think
Dad dropped everything and came running. He was at his
friend’s side, asking if he needed to call the doctor. Was it a heart attack?
Was he ill?
“Elvis Presley is dead,” was all he could say.
There are very few events in my life that I can say that I
remember exactly where I was or what I was doing when I heard the news. But one
thing I can: the day that Elvis Presley died.
I was never a huge Elvis fan—not in the way many people are.
I enjoyed a lot of his music. He had a great talent. I appreciate his movies.
What strikes me most, however, was the impact he had on our culture.
His music is still included in movie soundtracks today.
IMDb.com lists 349 title credits, from 1955’s The Pied Piper of Cleveland: A
Day in the Life of a Famous Disc Jockey, to 2011’s Memphis Rising: Elvis
Returns. He has 31 acting credits, as well as writing, producing, and
My favorite Elvis songs are “Viva Las Vegas,” “A Little Less
Conversation,” “Blue Moon” (his version is incredibly soulful) and “Can’t Help
Falling in Love.”
His voice, his moves, the curl of his lip, these are what made
him The King. His blend of country, soul, and rock and roll keep him enthroned.
His influence on Americana
established rock and roll as a necessity—not just a passing fancy.
His music is part of movie history, because it evokes deep
and involuntary feelings in audiences that transcend a single moment. It binds
the past, present and future. I am certain that in another thirty-four years,
movies will still include his songs. In that respect, Elvis still lives.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!