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updated 8/23/2004 6:11:15 PM ET 2004-08-23T22:11:15

Al Dvorin, the concert announcer who made famous the phrase “Elvis has left the building,” was killed in an auto accident in California. He was 81.

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Dvorin was thrown from the car he was riding in Sunday after it swerved off a desert road near Ivanpah, the California Highway Patrol said.

The night before, Dvorin performed his signature closing line at an Elvis impersonator concert in California.

A former bandleader and talent agent in Chicago, Dvorin was with the King from his early days as a performer and was on his last tour in 1977, the year Presley died.

The phrase that Dvorin made his signature was first uttered by other announcers early in Presley’s career. It was intended to disperse audiences who lingered in hopes of an Elvis encore.

“Al made it his own with his particular style,” said Todd Morgan, a spokesman with the Presley estate in Memphis. “He’s the man when it comes to that saying.”

Dvorin’s version was captured on many recordings of Elvis’ performances and has become a pop-culture catchphrase and punchline.

Dvorin told The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., in an interview published Saturday that he had not heard others use the phrase before he began saying it.

“Everybody and his brother has claimed the line, and I’m sure Elvis’ mother, when somebody called him, said, ’Elvis is not home. Elvis has left the building,”’ Dvorin said. “As far as I know, I created it.”

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