Because our vision of Elvis, of the legend, of the myth, of the boy who was afraid to wake up from the dream he was living, would never have been the same, without what you showed us of him through your lens: his soul. Thank you Alfred Wertheimer and I will never tire of thanking you.

I bless the day Ann Fuclhino, the RCA publicist, made the phone call that would change the history of Elvis and that would allow us to see and feel his most intimate experiences and the nakedness, purity and naivety of his soul.

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That call that Ann made to “a young photographer, whose work she had seen and liked she had seen some work that she liked enough to assign him to freelance work from time to time”.

His name… Alfred Wertheimer, a young German émigré.

On March 10, 1956, Wertheimer got that call, “Are you available next week?” “I’d like you to photograph Elvis Presley. We signed him up last November and I don’t have any pictures of him.” 

Wertheimer’s response from everyone is familiar… “Elvis what?”…. He didn’t even know who Elvis was! And yet, from the first moment he met him a week later, he would become his shadow and the invisible photographer of his soul.

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The photographs Wertheimer took were and remain the most remarkable and intimate ever taken of a celebrity and are almost as legendary as Elvis himself. The images capture the youthful charm of Elvis as fame awaited him: on stage, backstage, on his travels, at home….

Ah! his last name was Presley! I’ve told you this before, but today I was once again overcome with melancholy for you. You had the privilege of being present at the birth of the legend, and you gave us that privilege through your photographs.

After this work you never met again. How unfair life is… someone marks your life forever and destiny or circumstances make it all end there.

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Wertheimer’s life continued with important freelance work, he photographed Eleanor Roosevelt, Nina Simone… he also collaborated with Mike Wadleigh‘s film Woodstock

He passed away in New York at the age of 84, but his photographs remain and will remain for eternity.

Wertheimer’s photos are now the most treasured collection of Elvis Presley images ever taken.

Information provided by ELVIS. El Chico de Tupelo 

Rosa Garcia Mora.


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