“Forgotten Hollywood”- Public Memorial for Debbie and Carrie

March 22nd, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`The Celebration of Life for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher  will finally taking place on Saturday, 1p at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills at the Hall of Liberty in the Freedom Theater.  They are already interred. DEBBIE REYNOLDS / CARRIE FISHER ->

“`One of the afternoon highlights is the unveiling an original song,  composed by James Blunt. The composer will not be perform.  A track will debut over a photo montage. Also on the program: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles; a tribute from members  of the Debbie Reynolds Dance School; and costumes and memorabilia on display.

“`Fisher’s daughter, Billie,  will be present.  But, won’t make any speeches, since she is still distraught over the loss of her mother and grandmother. Other friends and family members are expected to attend. The entire program will be streamed at Debbie’s website at:

www.debbiereynolds.com

“`There are a limited number of seats available for the public,  and it will be on a first-come, first-seated basis. There are no tickets. There will be room for overflow in the huge lobby, as well as the outside, with screens to watch and hear the service.

“`Visitors are welcome to visit the grave sites after the ceremony.

Until next time>                            “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Josh Gibson Ready For Limelight…

March 21st, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`An opera about  Negro Leagues’ baseball great, Josh Gibson, whose home run stroke rivaled Babe Ruth, will have its world premiere in Pittsburgh next month. The Summer King,  presented by the Pittsburgh Opera, premieres April 29th. Gibson’s life story also figured in Fences, the film starring Denzel Washington that was originally a play by Pittsburgh native, August Wilson.

“`Gibson was one of the first three  Negro Leagues players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which lists his career batting average as .350. He was twice named Negro National League batting champ, and led the league in home runs, three times. Gibson played for two Pittsburgh teams; the Homestead Grays and the Crawfords. Gibson passed at 35 from a brain aneurysm, a few months before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball in 1947.

“`The Pittsburgh Opera partnered on The Summer King with the Josh Gibson Foundation, which is run by Gibson’s great-grandson, Sean. While Fences brought attention to his great-grandfather, the opera will tell a more complete story. A ballpark named for Gibson is located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, not far from August Wilson House, the late playwright’s childhood home.  The museum will host a block party on April 29th, starting at noon, a few hours prior to the opera premiere, to mark Wilson’s birthday.

“`Nearly, all 14 principal roles in The Summer King are played by African-Americans, a rarity in operas (Porgy and Bess notwithstanding). Renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves plays Gibson’s lover, and bass-baritone Alfred Walker, will play Josh Gibson (above).

“`The Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit plans to stage The Summer King in March, 2018.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Fantasticks’ Run…

March 20th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`The off-Broadway phenomenon, The Fantasticks, will end its record-breaking run this spring, bringing down the curtain on a show featuring confetti and a cardboard moon that started when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.  The musical, which features Try To Remember, closes June 4th; having played a total of 21,552 performances in Manhattan.

“`For nearly 42 years,  this show originally ran at the 153-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, finally closing in 2002 after 17,162 performances; the victim of a destroyed downtown, after 9/11.  It re-opened four years later at The Theater Center, an off-Broadway complex in the heart of Times Square,  where it will end, after a run of 4,390 shows. Scores of actors have appeared in  The Fantasticks,  from the opening cast that included Jerry Orbach, to Ricardo Montalban, Kristin Chenoweth, and Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham.

“`The tale is a mock version of Romeo and Juliet.  It has since become the nation’s longest-running musical. The Phantom of the Opera, by comparison, is Broadway’s longest-running show, at 12,000.  Its only rival is The Mousetrap in London, the longest-running show in the world, having passed 26,000 performances. (I have enjoyed all three productions).

   

                    MANNY PACHECO

“`In 2015, producers also declared the show would close that summer. But, two donors kept the stalwart, low-tech show open. This time, they are serious. A new production is scheduled to start previews June 17th in the same theater.

“`So, I bid adieu to The Fantasticks!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Writings of a Wise Guy…

March 19th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Columnist Jimmy Breslin was the Pulitzer Prize-winning storyteller about wise guys and underdogs, who was an embodiment of old-time, street smart New Yorker. Jimmy was a fixture for decades in Big Apple  journalism, notably with the New York Daily News. It was Breslin, a rumpled bed of a reporter,  who mounted a quixotic political campaign for citywide office in the 1960s;  became a Son of Sam correspondent in the 1970s;  exposed the city’s worst corruption scandal in a decade in the 1980s; and was taken from a car and stripped to his underwear by Brooklyn rioters in the 1990s. With his uncombed hair and familiar  Queens accent, Breslin (right) was like the characters he wrote about.

“`With typical disregard for authority,  Breslin once took out a newspaper ad to fire the ABC television network, when they aired his short-lived television show in a terrible time slot. He captured the 1986 Pulitzer for commentary, and the George Polk Award for metropolitan reporting. With Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, Breslin helped create a literary approach to news reporting. Breslin dabbled in television and magazine writing, but returned to the newspaper business in 1976 as a Daily News columnist, and became part of one of the city’s horrifying stories; the Son of Sam killings in 1977.  David Berkowitz sent Breslin letters and impressed the columnist. He jumped to New York Newsday in 1988, signing a contract for more than $500,000 a year.

“`He was an acclaimed author, too, moving easily between genres. The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight was his comic chronicle of the Brooklyn mob;  Damon Runyon:  A Life was an account of his spiritual predecessor;  I Want to Thank My Brain for Remembering Me was a memoir. His second book, Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?, was praised for its tales of the sad-sack New York Mets.

“`Jimmy became a news columnist in 1963, and quickly found a human story. As reporters worldwide arrived to cover President Kennedy’s funeral, Breslin sought out the presidential grave-digger. He later covered Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 from a much closer angle; Breslin was standing five feet away, when Sirhan Sirhan struck at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

“`In 1969, Breslin joined author Norman Mailer on a goofy political ticket: Mailer for mayor, Breslin for city council president. His career as an investigative reporter led him to cultivate ties with various Mafia and criminal elements in the city, not always with positive results. In 1970, he was viciously attacked and beaten at The Suite, a restaurant owned by Lucchese crime family associate, Henry Hill.

“`He was no actor, but Breslin was a character. He appeared in the 1978 film, If Ever I See You Again; and he played himself in Spike Lee’s crime thriller, Summer of Sam in 1999.

“`While Breslin had admirers, he formed an equal number of enemies. One of his most enduring feuds was with ex-Mayor Edward Koch.  Breslin also made ill-fated predictions. In his last regular column for Newsday, on Election Day of 2004, he rejoiced an expected victory of Democrat John Kerry; Republican George W. Bush was instead re-elected president.

“`In 2008, the Library of America selected one of Breslin’s Son of Sam articles for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime writing.

“`The pugnacious Jimmy Breslin was 88.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of Chuck Berry…

March 18th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`A true pioneer of rock and roll,  Chuck Berry was a significant influence on the development of the music associated with the rock music lifestyle. While no individual can say they invented rock music,  Chuck Berry (right)  comes closest of any single figure, who put all essential pieces together.  It was his particular genius to graft  country and western guitar licks onto rhythm and blues in his very first single, Maybellene. He was also known for his famed duck-walk while performing.

“`A fan of blues, swing, and boogie woogie, Berry studied the mechanics of music and how it was transmitted. As a teenager, he’d take radios apart, and put them back together.  Using a Nick Manoloff guitar chord book, he learned how to play hits of the era. Chuck was fascinated with chord progressions and rhythm, discovering that songs borrowed from the Gershwins’ I Got Rhythm.

“`Berry claimed he was motivated primarily by the 1940s swing artist Louis Jordan.  His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May, 1955,  and met Muddy Waters, who suggested that he contact Chess Records. His other hits included Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, School Day, Sweet Lil Sixteen, Run Rudolph Run, Carol, Nadine, Little QueenieNo Particular Place to Go, Back in the U.S.A.,  You Never Can Tell, and curiously, his only #1 recording, My Ding-a-Ling.

“`Influenced by the legendary Carl Perkins, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Rodgers, Berry’s sound would be replicated by the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones.  His story was chronicled in the documentary, Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll. It was directed by Taylor Hackford, in celebration of his 60th birthday.

“`Among the accolades Berry has received are the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000.  He was ranked 7th on Time Magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time. When NASA launched Voyager I in 1977, an album was stored on the craft explaining music on Earth. The one rock song added was Johnny B. Goode.

“`Well before the rise of Bob Dylan,  Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music. He was the subject of countless essays. But, in the final analysis, the rocker was his own best biographer.  Along with J.D. Salinger, James Dean, and others in the 1950s, he helped define the modern teenager.

“`On a personal note, I introduced him twenty-five years ago in an outdoor concert that was held in Southern California. He was a real gentleman, and really down-to-earth.

“`The influential Chuck Berry was 90.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Final Film of Orson Welles…

March 14th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Orson Welles’ last production finally has a home.  Netflix has acquired global rights to Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, and will finance its completion and restoration.

“`Netflix’s announcement brings to a final end the decades-long intrigue surrounding one of cinema’s finest filmmakers. Welles began shooting the film in 1970, but never completed it. The director died in 1985.

“`The Other Side of the Wind is a Hollywood satire about a filmmaker trying to make a comeback. It co-stars John Huston, Dennis Hopper, and Peter Bogdanovich, who has helped in its editing.

“`Producer Frank Marshall will oversee the film’s completion.

=============================================

“`Jack H. Harris cemented his place in Hollywood history by producing the 1958 horror film The Blob. Harris’ other producing credits include Dark Star, Schlock, and Eyes of Laura Mars, starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones.

“`A vaudeville performer from a young age,  Harris was a decorated WW II veteran before getting into show business. He worked in marketing, publicity, distribution, and production across his long career.

“`While the critical reception was lukewarm upon its release, The Blob remains a cult favorite. Jack’s first production, which starred Steve McQueen in his initial leading role, became a popular smash, grossing about $3 million on a $110,000 budget, and spawning a sequel and a remake. There is even a Blobfest annually held in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania at the Colonial Theater; a pivotal location in the film. The festival kicks off its 18th event in July.

“`Jack H. Harris was 98.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Live-Action Disney Cinema…

March 13th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Disney, not content with the success of its Pixar releases, Marvel movies, or Star Wars celluloid thanks to the Lucasfilm purchase, has started remaking its classic animated films in live-action form.

“`It began with Maleficent,  a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s point-of-view, with Angelina Jolie starring. The film was a success; but, instead of continuing to put twists on older films, Disney started re-making them.  Cinderella became a lavish period piece by director Kenneth Branagh;  The Jungle Book  was brought to life with jaw-dropping effects; and Pete’s Dragon got a humanistic update.

“`And now, with this fanciful formula,  Disney has other live-action adaptations in the works. Good news for children of all ages. Just released is the stunning Beauty and the Beast. The cast includes Emma Stone, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson. Alan Menken will provide new tunes.

“`In development are Mulan (in 2018),  The Lion King (with James Earl Jones and Donald Glover reprising their roles as Mufasa and Simba),  Dumbo  (with Director Tim Burton, and starring Danny DeVito), Aladdin, Oliver Twist, and Christopher Robin (a story featuring Winnie-The-Pooh).

“`Walt Disney would be proud.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Holywood”- The Reiner Family Honored…

March 10th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Turner Classic Movies will honor legendary father-and-son Hollywood icons, Carl and Rob Reiner, during a hand-and-footprint ceremony at the  TCL Chinese Theater IMAX, during the 8th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Friday, April 7th.

“`TCM will celebrate the storied careers of the family duo, who have collectively worked in the industry for over a century, and have amassed countless accolades along the way.  This marks the initial occasion that a father and son have jointly been honored with this kind of ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theater, putting their feet in concrete outside the Hollywood landmark.

“`Industry titan Carl Reiner has been a celebrated director and comedic performer for over 70 years,  gaining a loyal following for his sketch comedy work with Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks on Your Show of Shows,  and for directing such beloved movies  as Oh God!, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Where’s Poppa?, The Jerk,  and for creating The Dick Van Dyke Show, which he collected multiple Emmys during his career.

“`Filmmaker and political activist  Rob Reiner has had an equally illustrious career,  from his Emmy Award-winning role on All in the Family, to his work behind the camera, directing classics as A Few Good Men, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, Misery, This Is Spinal Tap, and hen Harry Met Sally.

“`Renowned for his staunch support of civil rights, Rob is a co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights,  and has lent support that address social and environmental issues.         CARL REINER  ROB REINER

“`This marks the seventh consecutive year, TCM will feature a hand-and-footprint ceremony at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. In 2011, Peter O’Toole was an honoree, Kim Novak in 2012, Jane Fonda in 2013, Jerry Lewis in 2014, Christopher Plummer in 2015, and Francis Ford Coppola in 2016.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Cue the Italian Music…

March 9th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`The 16th Tribeca Film Festival will close their event with a Godfather cast reunion and the back-to-back screening of the first two motion pictures of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic saga. The 45th anniversary screening will be followed by the spirited and frank conversation with Coppola, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan,  Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire. Robert De Niro is  the co-founder of the fest,  and will join the April 29th chat, to be held at Radio City Music Hall.

“`The New York festival also plans several other anniversary celebrations. A 25th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs will be followed by a conversation with Quentin Tarantino and the cast. A sing-along will be held for the 25th anniversary of Disney’s Aladdin. And, Michael Moore will be at the festival for the 15th anniversary of his Bowling for Columbine.

“`The Tribeca Film Festival will take place April 19th-30th.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- La La Land Concert on Memorial Day..

March 8th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Lionsgate has announced that La La Land In Concert:  A Live-to-Film Celebration will come to the Hollywood Bowl on May 26th-27th.  The shows will be conducted by composer Justin Hurwitz, who won two Oscars for his compositions and  score.

“`The program will feature a 100-piece symphony orchestra, choir, and jazz ensemble, along with the film’s original vocals  from Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and John Legend. And, you get to visually enjoy the musical during the performance.

“`Tickets go on sale the Friday. For the live shows, Hurwitz will use the same orchestra contractor from the movie.

“`Following the Memorial Day dates in Los Angeles, the live production will visit San Antonio; Atlanta; San Diego; Nashville, Tennessee; Washington, D.C.;  and other nationwide cities. It will also travel internationally to the United Kingdom, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and Canada. Those dates, along with more cities, will be announced later.

“`No word yet if and when La La Land will reach Broadway.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Mr. TCM…

March 7th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Anyone who is a fan of classic cinema has lost their most intimate  friend. So has Hollywood historians and others in the motion picture industry. Robert Osborne (right) put Turner Classic Movies on the map, and he helped make it a real global phenomenon. Eulogies are pouring in from luminaries, including Leonard Maltin and TCM’s Ben Mankiewitz. I wrote my Forgotten Hollywood book series partially because of the influence Osborne had on my personal career.

“`He began his career working as a contract actor for Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Studios. There, Robert became part of Ball’s Desilu Workshop. One of his early television appearances was in a 1959 episode of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, starring Hugh O’Brian; a personal friend of mine, who recently passed away. Osborne was featured in a Christmas Day installment of The Desilu Revue in December, 1959. Ball would eventually suggest that Osborne focus his energies on becoming a journalist.

“`Bob also had small roles in television shows, such as the 1962 pilot episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. After this acting opportunity, Osborne would focus more on writing and journalism. In 1965, Osborne had his initial book published — Academy Awards Illustrated. He penned 50 Golden Years of Oscar, which won the 1979 National Film Book Award. Robert began his relationship with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, when he hosted a tribute to Shirley Temple at their Academy Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.  A.M.P.A.S. commissioned him to write 60 Years of the Oscar.

“`Having joined the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Bob was elected its president in 1981;  the position he earned re-election over the next two years. In 1977, Robert began his long-standing stint as a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. Osborne began a five-year stint as the entertainment critic on KTTV Channel 11 in Southern California in 1982.

“`In 1984, Osborne began hosting at The Movie Channel. The next decade, Ted Turner produced Turner Classic Movies; the competition to American Movie Classics  (today called AMC). Osborne was selected as the singular host of nightly prime-time broadcasts. His first introduction was Gone with the Wind. He additionally conducted  Private Screenings conversations with a number of legendary actors and directors.

“`Beginning in 2006, Robert co-hosted TCM’s  The Essentials. He introduced cinematic classics with Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, and Sally Field. In 2010, Osborne (left) was an official host at the initial TCM Classic Film Festival.

“`In 2014, as part of an exclusive programming deal with Disney, TCM agreed to become the sponsor of The Great Movie Ride. Recently, the attraction underwent a refurbishment adding a new pre-show and post-show hosted by Osborne – who also provided on-board narration.

“`Osborne won the Publicists Guild of America 1984 Press Award.  Robert also received an honorary doctorate from the  Academy of Art University in 2005;  and was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. The following year, he received the National Board of Review’s William K. Everson Award.

“`A little known fact: Osborne had small roles in Spartacus and Psycho. His affection for Hollywood’s Golden Age remained undimmed throughout his career. Bob’s friends included Olivia de Havilland and Robert Wagner.

“`Turner Classic Movies will dedicate two full days to honor the legacy of Robert Osborne. Airing on Saturday, March 18th and Sunday, March 19th,  the 48-hour tribute will feature an extensive collection of interviews Osborne conducted during his 23 year tenure at TCM.

“`While film fans mourn everywhere, let me remind you that Robert Osborne was 84.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Great Latina Actress…

March 6th, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`Miriam Colón appeared in films alongside Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. She founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York, where she helped cultivate aspiring Latino actors and writers, and staged work that went into production across the Americas.

“`Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico,  Colón participated in the theater during her school years, and was allowed to audit classes in the drama department at University of Puerto Rico before she graduated from high school. She came to New York in the 1950s to study at the Actors Studio. She eventually moved to Los Angeles,  where she earned roles in over 90 films and 250 television episodes.

“`On the big screen, she co-starred in  One-Eyed Jacks, Thunder Island, The Appaloosa, and the remake of Scarface. Her signature performance came late in her career was the title role in Bless Me Ultima. Colón earned global acclaim as a New Mexico Hispanic healer in the movie based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya.

“`She was prolific  on the small screen,  guest-starring in episodes of  Gunsmoke,  LaramieThe Virginian, Ben CaseyDr. Kildare,  Bonanza,  Sanford & Son, Alfred Hitchcock Presents,  Have Gun Will Travel, Death Valley Days, L.A. Law, Highway to Heaven, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Murder She WroteThe Fugitive, N.Y.P.D. Blue, and Cosby. Miriam also had parts in Daytime Soaps, including on All My Children, One Life to Live, The Guiding Light, and The Edge of Night.

“`In 1993, Miriam Colón was given the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater. Colón received the Raul Julia Founder’s Award,  presented by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. She was presented the National Medal of Arts by President Obama for her work as an actress and theater founder.

“`Considered la gran madre in cinema, Miriam Colón –> was 80.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Read and eBook Week 2017…

March 5th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`It is a most wonderful time of the year for folks who own a Kindle, Nook, Kobo eReader, Android Tablets, Apple iPad, Diesel iPad, Sony eBook, etc.

“`The online locale of my eBook – Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History – is offering for a week: 50% off the purchase of my literary work. Smashwords is promoting Read an eBook Week, and their website is the origin for a week-long discount.  Over the last decade, Smashwords  Read an eBook Week has become the epi-center of this grand bargain.

“`Visit the sites below, and purchase a copy of my eBook by typing in PROMO CODE: RAE50. You will get a 50% savings. This is a great week-long deal!

“`Here are the website links:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53041

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/forgottenhollywood

“`March is a perfect time to add Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History to your eReader!

*** This sale is going on NOW through March 11th.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- For Future Storytellers…

March 4th, 2017

Manny P. here… 

“`Richard Schickel helped engage the conversation about American film. As Time Magazine film critic from 1972 to 2010, author of 38 books on cinema, and creator of documentaries that celebrate great  filmmakers, Schickel served as a beacon for global audiences, striving to better understand the magic of cinema. His extraordinary insights and ability to articulate them with passion, made him one of the art form’s trusted voice — and enduring champion.

“`Mr. Schickel’s influence on the American Film Institute was just as profound.  He was one of the architects of AFI’s iconic movie lists;  serving as an executive producer and a writer, as well as an on screen expert. He inspired new generations to rediscover the classics. When AFI established its annual AFI Awards program, chronicling the best in motion picture storytelling for future generations to cherish, Mr. Schickel was a pioneering voice, serving on AFI’s annual juries — including a year as Chair. In 2003, Mr. Schickel was awarded an AFI Honorary Degree for his commitment to recognizing and celebrating excellence in the moving image arts.

“`In the movie critic’s memory,  his family has established a Richard Schickel Scholarship Fund to support aspiring filmmakers who will carry on his indelible commitment to storytelling at the AFI Conservatory, and beyond. His passing in February had a profound effect on all who love the art of filmmaking.

“`Donations may be made to the Richard Schickel Scholarship Fund.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Hunk of Burnin’ Love…

March 3rd, 2017

Manny P. here…

“`About 200 people streamed into Elvis Presley’s Memphis after the late singer’s wife cut a ribbon and allowed fans to see the $45 million complex for the first time. An outdoor mall, the 200,000-square-foot campus sits across the street from Graceland,  Presley’s longtime home-turned-museum. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played;  a showcase of the cars he owned and used; a soundstage; a theater; two restaurants, and retail stores. The opening comes before the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death on August 16th, 1977, at age 42.

PRISCILLA PRESLEY at GRACELAND

“`It’s part of a $140 million expansion, which also includes a $90 million, 450-room hotel that opened last year.  This complex replaces the aging buildings that have housed Presley-related exhibits for years.  A strip-mall style visitor center is expected to be torn down to landscape a garden along Elvis Presley Boulevard, the street that runs in front of the house.

“`Graceland has been updating its tourist experience. Visitors use iPads for self-guided tours of the museum. The new Guest House at Graceland with modern amenities has replaced the crumbling Heartbreak Hotel, which is scheduled for demolition.

   

“`Gladys’ Diner — named after the singer’s mother — has the feel of a 1950s eatery, complete with photos of Elvis and aqua-colored chairs. Folks can order hot dogs, burgers and ice cream. Across a wide walkway lies the automobile museum, filled with some of Presley’s favorite toys. Several retail stores line the complex. A barbecue joint called Vernon’s Smokehouse — named after Presley’s father — will also open. So will an exhibit about Sam Phillips, the Sun Records producer and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer who recorded Presley for the first time.

“`The complex is still being finished. Priscilla Presley says there is a warehouse full of artifacts, ready for display. This weekend, the area should draw thousands of fans.

Until next time>                               “never forget”