ELVIS IN THE ’60s has not captured the attention of caricaturists as much as the Elvis of the ’50s and the ’70s. In the former, he was vibrant, sexy, charismatic, and at times a man-of-many-faces. In the latter, he was resplendent, then predictable, and finally, tragic if not pathetic. In between—mainly 1962 through 1967—his image was often so damn wholesome, so non-sexy, he might as well have been spayed!
In 1968, things changed. Elvis’ look(s) changed. He lost weight and got rid of the somewhat doughy look that popped up in several movies. He rid himself of the pouffy ‘do’s and combed his hair straight back while growing the biggest, flashiest sideburns of his life. He grew a beard for one movie and donned a three-piece ice cream suit for another.
He looked goooood.
He also brought a more invested, more aggressive approach to his recording—even though he was still almost exclusively cutting soundtrack songs for those movies. But A Little Less Conversation and Let Yourself Go were a step in the right direction.
And then there was December 8, 1968, and the world saw him very differently: Singer Presents Elvis gave us not Elvis the Pelvis but Elvis the Panther. Sleek, decked out in black leather, alert to every bit of stimuli, he was in complete command of the television screen.
While watching Singer Presents Elvis on December 3, 1968, it was almost impossible to imagine that this was the same man who had just spent the past few years making movies like Harum Scarum, Frankie And Johnny, Double Trouble, and Clambake!
Elvis Presley was becoming interesting again, and the artists have taken notice: in both this and the second volume of ’60s caricatures, it is this Elvis appears the most often.
Oddly, the equally sleek, sexy, and perhaps in even more animated Elvis that returned to live performance in Las Vegas in July 1969 in an all-black proto-jumpsuit has caught few caricaturist’s attention.
Finally, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what year several of these images are meant to reflect . . .
This is the advertisement for the Frank Sinatra Timex Show television special to “Welcome Home Elvis” from two years in the US Army. The art is by the inimitable Hirschfeld—who, like Elvis, is universally known by one name.
Artist: Bogdan Covaciu
I’m going with the striped shirt and the complete lack of sideburns to mean this is supposed to be Presley backstage during the making of the Frank Sinatra Timex television show.
Artist: David Pugliese
In 1960, after two years in the US Army, Elvis made two movies: a western in which he played a half-breed cowboy who didn’t sing, and another where he played a soldier who sang more often than he talked!
One made a modest profit and little else, the other made a lot of money and generated an album that sold millions of copies. Guess which one served as the template for the bulk of Presley’s movie career?
Artist: Matt Burns
This one is difficult to pinpoint, but the haircut and the lack of sideburns could mean it’s the early ’60s.
Artist: Mark Draws
“Draws” is either Mark’s surname or a verb about what Mark likes to do. Looks like the Presley of the Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad era.
Artist: Alberto “Sting” Russo
Elvis as the Walking Dead had Roustabout been about Zombies or vampires.
Artist: Harold McWilliams (?)
May 1, 1967. Most of the public had never seen Priscilla Beaulieu and when we did, we saw a woman who bordered on being a living caricature of a country & western singer, with the dyed black hair piled up high atop her head and the heavy make-up, especially the eyes. A few years later, free of being Mrs. Presley (and the make-up that required), one of the most beautiful women in the world emerged.
Artist: Gabriel Balazs
While two of these sketches appear to be from the early ’70s, the drawing is here as one of the few caricatures of Elvis from the movie Charro. That movie and Elvis’ attempts to capture the look and feel of Clint Eastwood’s Man-With-No-Name would seem a fairly ripe ground for artists.
Artist: Joan Vizcarra
June 29, 1968, on the itty-bitty stage in NBC’s studio in Burbank, California.
Artist: Senad Nadarevic
Elvis the Pelvis in the ’50s or Elvis the Panther in black leather in 1968?
Artist: Chris Grosz
In December 1968, Elvis invited Lionel Rose to his house in Los Angeles for a visit. The 20-year-old Aboriginal boxer had come to California to defend his world bantamweight title against Mexican challenger Chucho Castillo.
Apparently, the two men spent a couple of friendly hours together chatting and put up their dukes for the cameras. I don’t know why Chris Grosz makes Presley look bad here, but the (stupid) article that this drawing accompanied was even more insulting to Elvis.
Artist: Hanif Bahari
This Elvis has either spent too much time with Bram Stoker or with Lou Reed.
FEATURED IMAGE: Artist Felipe Camelo’s image here seems to have used a very young Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr as his model.
POSTSCRIPTUALLY, I have planned four volumes of caricatures of Elvis in the ’50s, and two each for the ’60s and the ’70s. There are at least two artists who have done enough high-quality caricatures of Presley to merit a volume of their own, Al Hirschfeld and Alberto “Sting” Russo. Here are links to the volumes:
The First Published Caricature of Elvis Presley
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 1 (Rockin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 2 (Rollin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 3 (Rattlin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 4 (Shaggin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 5 (Stuck on the 60s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 6 (Wild in the 60s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 7 (Elvis by Hirschfeld)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 8 (Love Letters from the 70s)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 9 (Aloha from the 70)
Elvis’ Golden Caricatures Volume 10 (Elvis by Russo)