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

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.

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    '55 Singer Elvis Presley

    Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

    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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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    Debut album -

    Elvis Presley's debut RCA album. Photo taken on January 31, 1955
    RCA
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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."
    Frank Driggs Collection / Getty Images
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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.
    Getty Images
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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
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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.
    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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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.
    Tom Wargacki / WireImage
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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.
    Getty Images
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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.
    Ron Galella / WireImage
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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.
    Carlo Allegri / Getty Images
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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.
    Mark Humphrey / AP
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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.
    Lance Murphy / EPA
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    Paying respects -

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

'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.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Image: Elvis Presley

    Rare images of the King

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

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    Elvis in Memphis -

    Elvis Presley, the undisputed King of Rock 'n' Roll, died 33 years ago on Aug. 16, 1977. The newly released book "Elvis Presley's Memphis," presented by Elvis Presley Enterprises and The Commercial Appeal, features vintage and rarely seen photographs of the King and the city he loved. This slideshow highlights 21 photos and captions from the book. The images were culled from the archives of Graceland and The Commercial Appeal, Memphis' 169-year-old newspaper.

    This photo shows Elvis on Aug. 5, 1955 at his second appearance at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis, Tenn.
    Robert W. Dye / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Relaxing at home -

    Taking a break from fans, Elvis relaxed with family on the patio of his home at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis. Elvis paid $40,000 for the four-bedroom, ranch-style house in 1956, a year before he puchased Graceland. On the same day this photograph was taken -- July 4, 1956 -- Elvis also played a benefit concert at Russwood Park in Memphis.
    Alfred Wertheimer / "Elvis Presley's Memphis"
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    Back home after tour -

    Elvis in the front yard of his home at 1034 Audubon Drive in May 1956. When this photo was taken, Elvis had just returned from touring; the band's instruments were still packed on the roof of his car. His famous pink Cadillac can be seen over his right shoulder.
    Phillip Harrington / "Elvis Presley's Memphis"
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    Captured backstage -

    Elvis pictured backstage at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis on Feb. 6, 1955. Between shows, Col. Tom Parker met with Sam Phillips of Sun Studio, Elvis and Bob Neal, Elvis' manager at the time, to begin negotiations for Parker to represent Elvis.
    Robert W. Dye / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Dancing with his girlfriend -

    Elvis danced with Barbara Hearn in the living room of his house at 1034 Audubon Drive on July 4, 1956. Hearn, Elvis' former girlfriend, later recalled that Elvis' bedroom was pink with twin beds. "It looked like a teenage girl's room," Hearn said in "Elvis Presley's Memphis." "His mother just bought what she thought was pretty, and he loved it too. If she did it, he loved it."
    Alfred Wertheimer / "Elvis Presley's Memphis"
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    Singing with Dewey -

    Legendary disc jockey Dewey Phillips joined Elvis on stage at Ellis Auditorium on Feb. 6, 1955. When Phillips first played Elvis' song "That's All Right" on the radio, the phone lines jammed with callers wanting to hear more.
    Robert W. Dye / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Overflow crowds -

    Elvis performed at Ellis Auditorium on May 15, 1956, as the headliner for the Memphis Cotton Carnival. The demand to see Elvis was so great that both sides of the auditorium, North and South Halls, were opened to accommodate the overflow.
    Robert W. Dye / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Making radio history -

    As the fast-talking host of "Red Hot and Blue" on WHBQ raido throughout the 1950s, Dewey Phillips was considered by many to have been the greatest deejay of the era. His eclectic show -- which mixed blues, country, R&B and dance records seamlessly -- helped prepare Southern audiences for the coming wave of rock 'n' roll. Phillips died on Sept. 28, 1968 at age 42.
    The Commercial Appeal
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    Joining the Army -

    The raised right hand of Elvis Presley meant the singing idol was officially in the U.S. Army. Administering the oath at the Memphis induction center was Maj. Elbert P. Turner. By midnight March 24, 1958, Elvis and 20 other inductees from Memphis were lining up for their first formation at Fort Chaffee, Ark.
    Barney Sellers / The Commercial Appeal
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    Back in the U.S.A. -

    Some 200 fans waited at Union Station to welcome Elvis home from his stint in the U.S. Army on March 7, 1960. He was wearing a non-issue dress blue Army uniform made in Germany. Elvis was discharged with the rank of sergeant, but the tailor had mistakenly given him the stripes of staff sergeant. The formal white shirt was a gift from Frank Sinatra delivered by his daughter, Nancy, on Elvis' first day back in the States.
    Charles Nicholas / The Commercial Appeal
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    Devoted fans -

    A fan shows off her dress at Elvis Presley's concert at Ellis Auditorium on May 15, 1956. More than 7,000 people jammed the auditorium to stomp, shudder, shriek and sigh as a young Elvis writhed his way through a rock 'n' roll repertoire.
    Robert Williams / The Commercial Appeal
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    A quiet moment -

    Elvis Presley in an undated photograph at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, probably 1956-1957. He appears to be wearing the same shoes, socks and ring he wore the night of his May 15, 1956 concert.
    The Commercial Appeal
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    Down time at Graceland -

    Elvis fingered an electric bass inside Graceland in this photograph published on March 7, 1965 in the first issue of Mid-South, the Sunday magazine of The Commercial Appeal.
    Charles Nicholas / The Commercial Appeal
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    Charitable efforts -

    Elvis was always eager to help charities. Over the years he worked with many organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Salvation Army, Memphis Union Mission, Muscular Dystrophy, St. Jude and the March of Dimes.
    Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Sweet ride -

    Elvis pictured in 1957 with one of his Cadillacs.
    Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Calling Memphis home -

    Elvis outside Jim's Barber Shop on South Main Street in Memphis in 1956. On March 8, 1960, Elvis was quoted as saying, "Somebody asked me this morning what I missed about Memphis and I said everything."
    Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    On the rise -

    By the fall of 1955, Elvis had toured the South, including Texas and Florida, performed at the Grand Ole Opry and on "Louisiana Hayride," and recorded all of his Sun Studio songs.
    William Speer / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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    Walking in Memphis -

    Main Street was the busiest street in Memphis back in 1951. All the major department stores -- Goldsmith's, Bry's, Lowenstein's and Grant's -- were located there, along with the Chisca, Claridge and Gayoso hotels. Elvis worked as an usher at the Loew's State Theater on the right in 1950.
    Memphis Heritage Inc. / Mrs. Don Newman
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    Favorite movie venue -

    The Memphian theater, built in 1939, was located at 51 S. Cooper in Midtown and became Elvis' favorite place to screen movies. It was not uncommon for him, when he was home from tours, to spend virtually every night at the Memphian.
    Courtesy Memphis Archives
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    From Tupelo to the big city -

    The Presley family -- Vernon, Gladys and son Elvis -- strapped their few belongings on top of a 1939 Plymouth and drove from Tupelo to Memphis in 1948. This photograph shows an aerial view of downtown Memphis in 1948.
    Robert W. Dye / "Elvis Presley's Memphis"
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    On stage with the King -

    Elvis performed at Russwood Park on July 4, 1956. Photographer Robert W. Dye had access most fans would have died for, watching the show on stage 10 feet from Elvis. Asked once about how he got to be on stage, Dye answered, "It was the only safe place to be. Those girls in the audience would mob you."
    Robert W. Dye / Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.
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