You might think it's an exercise in futility to find a new angle to justify yet another book on the life and career of Elvis Presley. However, the newly released volume Elvis 1956 is in many ways the most exciting and intimate portrait of the legendary entertainer I've been exposed to. Photographer Alfred Wertheimer was asked by RCA Victor to accompany young Elvis for a one day assignment when the King was just on the cusp of major stardom. What transpired was a mind-boggling array of photographs that capture Elvis in his most private moments. Elvis invited Wertheimer to accompany him later in the year and the photographer continued to capture outstanding photos from a period when Presley was still very accessible and still very much his own man. Once Colonel Parker became to exercise dictatorial control over his every move, Elvis became unable or unwilling to control many aspects of his own destiny.
Elvis captured in a rare intimate moment, seducing a young woman he met in his hotel's coffee shop.
Wertheimer's photos are as haunting as they are fascinating. He captures the King on the sidewalks of New York, in some cases mobbed by young fans, in other cases able to stroll unrecognized down the streets. He could still stop into a coffee shop without drawing attention. Wertheimer captures especially intimate photos of the King trying to seduce a comely and willing young woman in the corridor of his hotel. So intent on making out with his obvious conquest-in-waiting, Elvis allowed Wertheimer to photograph the seduction from a distance. In other shots, Elvis sits on his tour bus finding small pleasure in reading an Archie comic book, drawing huge crowds of swarming young girls (both black and white), and casually getting off a train so he could make a long walk across fields to his home town.Wertheimer's text is sparing- he lets his photos do the talking, but his observations are never less than fascinating. You don't have to be an Elvis fanatic to recognize the importance of this book. It sheds significant light on the early days of one of the true legends of show business.(For more on this book, click here for the official web site)