Pop Culture

Celebrate Elvis Presley's 80th birthday with 8 must-see moments from the King

Elvis Presley died in 1977, at the age of 42, but the King of Rock 'n Roll is still alive in the hearts of fans.

Thursday marks what would have been his 80th birthday, and while thousands gather outside the gates of his Memphis home to celebrate the occasion, as they do each and every year, the rest of us can celebrate by taking a shorter trip — down memory lane.

Here are eight memorable Elvis moments worth getting all shook up about:

You can't handle the pelvis!
When viewers of "The Ed Sullivan Show" tuned in to see the rising star perform "Hound Dog" in 1956, they saw "Elvis the Pelvis" in action, with hip gyrations in full swing. But just one year later, legend has it that the powers that be behind the show decided those moves were too hot to handle, and only allowed him to be shot from the waist up.

Rockin' the big screen
Mastering the music charts just wasn't enough for the Elvis. He made his big screen debut in 1956's "Love Me Tender," and hit even bigger in '57 with "Jailhouse Rock." He made more than 30 films over the course of his career.

Today
Elvis Presley's Graceland estate.

A home fit for a King
In 1957, Elvis acquired Graceland, an 18-room mansion that became synonymous with his luxury lifestyle. The grounds of the estate now serve as his final resting place, and the mansion is a museum that celebrates his life.

Today
Lost locks.

G.I. blues
Elvis was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1958, but his rock-worthy locks weren't welcome. So, like so many other G.I.s, Elvis was issued the standard buzz cut — but in his case, it was dubbed "the haircut heard 'round the world."

Hulton Archive / Today
Elvis with his bride, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, on their wedding day.

Burning love
Elvis met the woman who would be his queen, Priscilla Beaulieu, when she was just 14 years old. He was taken with the teen from the start, and seven years later, in 1967, they were married. The pair remained together until 1973.

Return of the King
After his film career went from red hot to a series of flops, Elvis needed something to put him back on the musical map, and a TV special called "Elvis" (but now better known as the "'68 Comeback Special") did just that. Decked out in black leather from head to toe, he took the stage before an intimate crowd and reminded everyone what made him such a sensation.

Today
President Richard Nixon meeting with Elvis on Dec. 21, 1970.

The odd couple
Elvis and Richard Nixon had little in common — other than this photo (and a mutual distrust of hippies). The then-President of the United States posed alongside the biggest name in showbiz when, on a whim in 1970, Elvis arranged a meeting to see if he could add to his collection of law enforcement badges with a federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. Nixon was happy to oblige.

Viva Las Vegas
The last great Elvis moment on the list wasn't so much a single moment and it was the launch of a movement. In 1969, hot off the heels of his comeback success, Elvis' longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker, set up a gig of a lifetime for his client — one that lasted almost until the end of Elvis' life. For seven years and over 700 sold-out shows, the King of Rock 'n' Roll became the King of Vegas as he performed at the International Hotel (which later became the Las Vegas Hilton).

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    The rise and fall of the King of rock 'n' roll.

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    Young King

    Elvis Presley with mother Gladys and father Vernon in 1938. Vernon Presley was a sharecropper and truck driver, while Gladys was a sewing machine operator. The couple was married in 1933. Young Elvis Aaron Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935.

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    Debut album

    Elvis Presley's debut RCA album. Photo taken on January 31, 1955

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    Shake it, baby

    Presley performs during a concert in the mid 1950s. Presley's hip gyrations caused a storm of controversy during early TV appearances on Milton Berle and Steve Allen's talk shows.

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    Thrilling the masses

    Presley sings and dances on stage before a predominantly female audience. The singer attracted hordes of teenage fans, which led one New York Daily News critic to write that pop music "has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley."

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    Silver-screen King

    "Jailhouse Rock" was Presley's third Hollywood movie. He'd already made "Love Me Tender" and "Loving You." Presley made a total of 31 movies.

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    The military years

    Presley received his draft notice on Dec. 20, 1957. He chose not to receive special treatment and was posted in Friedberg, Germany. He returned to the U.S. on March 2, 1960.

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    A wave of success

    Presley starred as Chad Gates in 1961's "Blue Hawaii." The film told the story of a soldier who'd recently gotten out of the army and was celebrating with his buddies in Hawaii. It featured Angela Lansbury in a supporting role.

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    Happy couple

    Presley holds hands with his bride, Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, on their wedding day, May 1, 1967, in Las Vegas, Nev.

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    Baffling meeting

    President Richard Nixon meets with Presley on Dec. 21, 1970, in Washington, D.C. The meeting between two of the most improbable cultural icons of the 1970s lasted all of 30 minutes, but it has fascinated the nation for years.

    White House via AP / White House via AP
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    Little Lisa Marie

    Lisa Marie Presley was born Feb. 1, 1968, to Elvis and Priscilla. Lisa Marie has been married four times -- Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage were two of her husbands. Lisa Marie inherited her father's estate when she was 30.

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    Classic concert

    Presley performs onstage at the International Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Jan. 14, 1973. The "Aloha from Hawaii" concert was broadcast via satellite and reached at least a billion viewers.

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  • Elvis Presley With Girlfriend Linda Thompson Arrive At Hotel After Concert - March 21, 1976

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    Life after Priscilla

    Presley with girlfriend Linda Thompson at the Hilton Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thompson began a relationship with the recently separated Presley in 1972. She lived with him at Graceland for three and a half years.

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  • Headlines After Elvis' Death

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    Shocking news

    The front page of the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis, Tenn., delivers the news the day after Presley's death. The main headline reads "Death Captures Crown of Rock and Roll -- Elvis Dies Apparently After Heart Attack." Later it was found that drug use played a role in Presley's death.

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  • Elvis Presley's Grave

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    Paying homage

    An annual procession through the Graceland estate and past Presley's grave takes place every year on the anniversary of his death (Aug. 16, 1977). The largest gathering to date was in 2002 and estimated at 40,000 visitors.

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    We'll leave the light on

    Mark Omdahl of North Dakota, dressed as Elvis Presley, sings during a candlelight vigil on the 28th anniversary of Presley's death during Elvis Week 2005 at Graceland.

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    35th anniversary

    Fans from around the world take part in a candlelight vigil at Graceland, Presley's Memphis, Tenn., home, on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

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    Sing along

    A group of Australian Elvis fans lines the driveway of Graceland on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 to pay tribute to Presley on the 35th anniversary of this death.

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    Paying respects

    Fans pass by Elvis Presley's grave during a candlelight vigil at Graceland on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

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