Happy Birthday, Elvis!

If he was still alive – unless maybe he still is – Elvis would be 75 years old today. To mark the occasion, the Smithsonian Institution is launching exhibits in Washington D.C., and Los Angeles honoring The King.

Although the exhibit opens on the anniversary of his birth, the Washington D.C., exhibit, “One Life: Echoes of Elvis,” centers around the influence of his image after his sudden death in 1977.

The one-room exhibit will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery through August.

Photo: AP Photo

The exhibit’s central image is a painting by Ralph Wolfe Cowan, the only portrait painter Elvis ever sat for. Cowan made the painting from sketches he made in 1969 while creating another portrait that hangs at Graceland. The painting is usually on display in the gallery’s entertainment section.

Additional pieces of art in the exhibit includes a gold bust of Elvis as Julius Caesar by sculptor and original artwork from a 1992 Elvis stamp design competition. The winning 1993 stamp was printed 500 million times, becoming the most popular U.S. postal stamp of all time.

Photo: AP Photo
and an Elvis toy, are part of the exhibit, “One Life: Echoes of Elvis” at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

There are also images from Graceland, Elvis’ famous mansion in Memphis, Tenn., and Elvis merchandise including an Elvis lunch box, nutcracker, action figure and snow globe.

“Think of all the entertainers you know, and how many of them do you know the names of their homes?” said curator Warren Perry. “Everybody needs to have a moment with Elvis.”

Fans can check out a scrapbook featuring newspaper headlines and pictures cut out and pasted in a thick book shortly after Presley died at the age of 42. The scrapbook was found in an abandoned Chicago warehouse.

Photo: AP Photo
Scrapbook by an unknown individual, is part of the exhibit "One Life: Echoes of Elvis" at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

“You can tell it was put together by a fan,” Perry said. “The people who call themselves Elvis fans, I’m sure there are fanatics, but these people have a loving affection for Elvis. It’s conversational. It’s intimate.”

Elvis fans on the West Coast can pay homage to the King at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum. The Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, “Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer” opens Friday, featuring 56 promotional images taken by the photojournalist in 1956 just before Elvis became famous.

If you can’t make it to one of the exhibits, be sure to celebrate Elvis’ birthday with one of his signature sandwiches – white bread topped with butter, peanut butter, banana, honey and bacon.
Click here for the AP article.