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King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Is Still Packing Them In

July 07, 1988|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

They lined up at the Old Towne Mall in Torrance to see what is reverently referred to as "His Last Jump Suit," a powder-blue creation trimmed in silver embroidery, polished silver studs and a 6-inch-wide belt.

The $3,500 custom-made jump suit, one of about 100 of Elvis Presley's belongings that were on exhibit at the mall, unfortunately didn't fit the "King of Rock 'n' Roll." He had gained a good deal of weight since the original fitting, said Jimmy Velvet, president of the company that, with the blessing of the singer's estate, operates Presley museums in Memphis, Nashville, Orlando and Honolulu.

A matching jump suit, in a larger size, was being made for Presley when he died Aug. 16, 1977.

This is the fourth year that the Elvis Presley Museum's array of memorabilia has been on tour, and hundreds of thousands of fans nationwide have attended the show, Velvet said. The exhibit at the mall closed Monday.

Although it has been nearly 11 years since Presley's death, Velvet still wears a pendant that marks him as one of Presley's inner circle. The pendant bears the initials TCB, which Velvet says stands for "Taking Care of Business" and was designed by Elvis. It identified friends and staff who were to be admitted backstage.

Elvis' own diamond-studded TCB pendant was part of the show, as was a torn envelope that bears an explanation of the TCB philosophy in uneven handwriting that is said to be Elvis' own. According to the explanation, TCB is a way of life that means "more self-respect" and "more respect for fellow man." The script goes on to extol meditation, body conditioning and "freedom from constipation."

Sealed in plexiglass cases and under a 24-hour guard at the mall were Elvis' birth certificate with his name misspelled "Evis," numerous gaudy rings and pendants and pictures of Elvis wearing them, sunglasses with the initials EP between the eyes and his American Express card.

The steady stream of visitors who attended the show included a number of avid fans, some of whom purchased key chains, T-shirts and posters bearing pictures of Elvis. Also on sale was "Love Me Tender" moisturizing bath lotion ($3.95), an original 45-r.p.m. recording of "Hound Dog" ($25) and a life-size cardboard stand-up of Elvis ($49.95).

Beryl Irwin of Lomita bought an Elvis shot glass ($4.95) as a memento of the singer she has admired for decades. She has most of Elvis' records and tapes, she said.

At the mall exhibit, Priscilla Lagas of Torrance said that she is sorry she never got to see Elvis perform.

"I always kept saying 'I'll see him the next time he's in town,' and then he died," she said.

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