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Still loving him tender: 6 great Elvis moments to honor the King's birthday

Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:11 AM ET

Elvis Presley would have been 79 on Wednesday, but we lost the King of Rock 'n' Roll when he was just 42, back in 1977. Unless you're one of the crowd that chooses to believe the King never left us, that he's still around somewhere, hanging with Bigfoot or aliens, living a happy life out of the public spotlight that so dominated his life.

But regardless of that, Presley lives on forever in our popular culture. Here are six great moments from the world of the one, the only, Elvis.

'55 Singer Elvis Presley
Michael Ochs Archives
The rise and fall of the King of rock 'n' roll.

'Ed Sullivan Show' appearances in 1956 and 1957
Popular television host Ed Sullivan had said Presley was unfit for a family audience, but when the singer was a hit on other shows, Sullivan decided to bring him on. Urban legend claims that Presley was only seen above the waist due to his "Elvis the Pelvis"-style gyrations, but that was only on his third of three "Sullivan" appearances. It was that first show, where the camera was discreet, but not censored, that cemented Presley's reign as the true King of American rock 'n' roll.

Sergeant Elvis
Near the end of 1957, Presley received his draft notice. He could've sought assignment to a special military department where he would perform for military personnel, but the singer and his manager, Col. Tom Parker, made the decision that Presley would join as a regular soldier. The military stint forever changed his life — it was while stationed in Germany that he met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, who would later become his wife.

IMAGE:  Elvis Presley
Michael Ochs Archives
Elvis Presley served two years in the U.S. army.

1968 comeback special
Presley's star had slipped a bit by 1968, but his now-famous television comeback special, "Elvis," was a return worthy of the King. It resurrected the singer's career, reminded America of his talent, and even set the stage for MTV's later "Unplugged" series.

Elvis meets Nixon
The famed 1970 photo of a velvet-clad Presley shaking hands with then-president Richard Nixon is reportedly the most-requested photo held by the National Archives. The meeting was Presley's idea, and he expressed his patriotism and spoke out against drugs, even mentioning The Beatles by name as an example of anti-Americanism and drug abuse. But it's the image, not the content of the meeting, that sticks in our minds. Jowly Nixon and sultry Presley might as well have come from different planets.

IMAGE: Nixon and Presley
ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Richard Nixon met Elvis Presley on Dec. 21, 1970, in Washington.

Shooting the TV
It sounds like an urban legend, but Elvis' own father confirmed to Good Housekeeping that his son did indeed shoot out a television set. Vernon Presley didn't specify why, but the most common belief is that he shot it out due to an appearance by singer Robert Goulet, who reportedly dated a singer Presley knew. Goulet himself said that the two singers got along, and that he heard that Presley shot out television sets all the time.

Elvis stamp vote
In 1992, Americans cast their votes. Not to elect a president, but to select which of two proposed Elvis Presley 29-cent postage stamps should be chosen to adorn the country's bills, letters and wedding invitations in 1993. The choice was between white-jumpsuited Vegas-era Elvis and a younger, thinner gold-suited King, seen against a pink background. Young Elvis won in a landslide, earning about 75 percent of the vote.

Image: Elvis Presley
Phillip Harrington
See vintage and rarely seen photos of Elvis Presley from the archives of Graceland and The Commercial Appeal newspaper.


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