This being the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death in Memphis, I ran a small poll on Deadline’s Facebook page to see which of his film or TV appearances people most enjoyed. After all, his music and film and TV appearances were cultural touchstones in the 1950s and 1960s, and his death brought a huge response from fans who still mark the occasion every year in Memphis (think Michael Jackson, kids).
The resulting voter turnout for my poll was, ahem, modest. Then I realized it might be that a lot of people just don’t have much memory of Elvis these days, despite his music’s continued appearance on dozens of soundtracks, Radio Disney and elsewhere.
I took a peek at our country’s demographics. As of 2010, the Census Bureau says the media age of Americans was 37.2 years of age.
What does that mean? Well, it means that half of all Americans were less than 2 (including many tens of millions who hadn’t been born) when Elvis died way back in 1977.
No wonder they don’t know anything about him (and in truth, I’d be less connected if I hadn’t had a college mentor who grew up around the corner from Graceland playing touch football with the King, and a colleague at my first job, at a Memphis paper, who helped unearth the out-of-control drug prescriptions that helped kill him).