Count to Three

Everyone knows that Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. In the course of my radio career, I worked on a fair number of Elvis-themed broadcasts. The most notable was a Don & Mike live remote from Graceland on the tenth anniversary of the King’s death. The most memorable may have been the January 8th birthday show when they interviewed the authors of “The Death of Elvis.” The mental images of the King’s autopsy described in that book remain with me to this day.

Don Geronimo did an “Elvis Death Day Show” yesterday on KHTK. I was able to catch some of it online, including the reading of the list of 31 items Elvis insisted on having at Graceland at all times.

Grave of Elvis, August 2008 - from I took my wife to Graceland two years ago. We timed our visit to miss the huge crowds who flock to Memphis for the anniversary but we did get to see many of the flower arrangements they left behind.

I didn’t realize until this year that Elvis shares his death anniversary with two other giants of pop culture. Bela Lugosi died on August 16, 1956. According to the Internet, Peter Lorre and Vincent Price were at the funeral. Lorre supposedly said to Price, “should we drive a stake through his heart just in case?” Please let that be true!

Babe Ruth died on August 16, 1948. He is buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. I have several relatives who are also buried there. I remember going to the cemetery as a child and my father pointing out Ruth’s grave marker. I told my kids that I will take them to see it the next time a family funeral brings us to the area. I also said that we should drive over to Hartsdale and search for Judy Garland’s grave while we’re in the neighborhood. She died on my 8th birthday.

Bill Johnson at Babe Ruth's Grave in May, 2008 Bill Johnson, a former colleague from Knoxville, is a Yankees fan. Two years ago he made a pilgrimage to New York to see a game at the old Yankee Stadium and to visit Babe Ruth’s grave. He was kind enough to send me a picture of him placing a Yankees cap at the headstone.

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