Elvis Presley remains front and center in the hearts and minds of millions of fans from around the world.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee consistently receives between 600,000 to 750,000 visitors a year over the last decade. In the four years prior to pandemic 2020, attendance was up roughly 35,000 visitors annually. A couple of years ago, Elvis Presley Enterprises opened 200,000 square feet of new exhibits, museums and performance space across the street at Graceland Plaza.
The redevelopment was part of a $137 million master-planned overhaul of the Graceland campus, which began in the fall of 2016 with the opening of 450-room resort hotel The Guest House at Graceland. The economic impact of Graceland’s expansion has been estimated at more than $1.1 billion.
“My view is that Elvis, along with a few other people, started pop culture as we know it,” Joel Weinshanker, Graceland’s managing partner said before the pandemic hit hard. “We will have more visitors this year than we did in the first year Graceland was opened…It will be his best year.”
“Our largest specific demographic is 20-something women,” Weinshanker said. “That’s who’s interested in Elvis. Also, with the expansion, we’ve seen the number of children and families doubling. Young couples in their 20s and 30s, that’s a demographic we’ve had forever, but now with the hotel, they’re bringing their kids. And in the process, they’re fostering a new generation of Elvis fans.”
NEW MOVIE, COLONEL PARKER
A new biopic movie about Elvis and his controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker is currently filming and is due to be released November 5, 2021.
To play the role of Elvis’ manager, Tom Hanks has shaved his head bald and admitted he doesn’t look anything like The Colonel.
The 64-year-old said: “Let’s just say the people who played gorillas in Planet of the Apes spent less time in the make-up chair than I did on this movie.”
According to the official synopsis, Elvis is “seen through the prism of [Presley’s] complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The film delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley.”
Colonel Tom Parker was born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk on June 26, 1909, in Breda, Netherlands.
At age 20, he came to America by ship and kept his identity secret. He worked for circus carnivals and joined the U.S. Army. Later, he launched a career as a country music promoter.
About 160 miles northeast of Breda, is Veendam, Netherlands where one of the most remarkable Elvis Presley fans of all time, Lida Keijzer lives.
LIDA KEIJZER, SUPER FAN
Lida Keijzer was born in March 1968, just three months before Elvis began filming and recording at the Burbank Studios in California for what is now known as his “’68 Comeback” television special.
Lida has been a lifelong and devoted Presley fan. Little did her family realize the talented Lida would grow up to become one of the most loyal and steadfast fans in Elvis Presley history.
Beginning in May 2015, Lida began a meticulous project that has earned her worldwide recognition and the opportunity to meet Priscilla Presley and many others who were a part of the Elvis’ life before his death on August 16, 1977.
Her goal was to build a miniature dollhouse-like version of Graceland, the Memphis, Tennessee mansion of Elvis that he bought for his family in 1957.
Virtually every day for years–based on photographs and any printed material she could find–Lida began sawing, cutting, sculpting, sewing and painting an elaborate, detailed mini-Graceland.
When I first wrote about her in 2016, the articles took off like Elvis’ first release out of the army: “It’s Now or Never,” a bullet racing up the Top Ten charts of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and Billboard. One of the articles was read by over a million people around the world in a matter of days.
In January 2017, through a GoFundMe account set up by Kathy Savelio, other Elvis fans and a friend, Lida was able to travel to the United States and visit Graceland, Sun Studio in Memphis and the Elvis Presley Birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi.
She met Elvis Presley Enterprise officials, musicians, singers, people in Elvis’ life and many fans she had been corresponding with through social media.
In Europe, she met Priscilla Presley during a concert tour with a live band and orchestra performing to a backdrop of Elvis singing on giant screens.
Lida didn’t stop with just the Graceland mansion. She expanded it to include the famous gates, guard house, and stone wall, landscaping, the drive, the swimming pool, Meditation Gardens and the burial site of the Presley family.
She sculpted the “Lisa Marie,” Elvis’s personal jet he named after his daughter.
Then, out of popsicle sticks, she built a replica of the Tupelo birth house.
More recently, Lida has built her detailed replica of Sun Studio and Vernon Presley’s (his father) office building, Lisa Marie’s swing set and the smokehouse-target practice room.
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Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.