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Elvis Is Back

June 22, 2006 | Other
The Elvis statue at the Las Vegas Hilton has now been put back on display. Due to construction work the statue had been away for a few months.

From the Las Vegas SUN:

John Katsilometes talks with a Las Vegas Hilton employee who has fond memories of hanging out with Elvis Presley

Janie Steele arrived in Las Vegas in 1964, fresh from South Carolina, and went to work as a data processor for the Nevada Test Site.

Six years later she was friends with Elvis Presley.

In October 1970 Steele moved on to the International (today the Las Vegas Hilton) to work as a "camera girl" in the showroom. These were the young women who photographed anyone visiting the show, and in those days the city's biggest show - which would sell out 837 consecutive times from July 31, 1969, to Dec. 12, 1976 - was Elvis'.

"I first met him one night when a co-worker and I were invited up to his suite on the 30th floor, between shows," Steele said Wednesday afternoon as the statue of Elvis was re-unveiled in a courtyard in front of the Hilton's main lobby. "We all sat down and ate dinner ¦ he had steak, but I don't remember what else. But he was really nice, and we got to go upstairs many times and really got to know all the musicians, and all of his buddies who hung around with him."

Steele joined LV Hilton General Manager and Chief Executive Rudy Prieto in dropping the blue satin sheet that draped the Elvis statue for the unveiling. The bronze figure has been a fixture at the hotel since 1978, but was taken off the property several months ago and stored in a warehouse while renovations were made to the Hilton lobby.

It was fitting that Steele represented the Hilton employees; she has been with the company for 36 years and now is a clerk in the accounts receivable department. She is one of those rare casino employees who actually worked with Elvis and is still employed here.

"People forget that he worked so hard - two shows a night, seven nights a week - and we became like a family. That suite was very much like his home, and we respected that," Steele said. "He practiced his karate up there. He would gather everyone around the piano and sing gospel songs. I was not a big Elvis fan when I moved to Las Vegas, but meeting him - wow, it was such an event. He called me 'Little Girl' all the time. That was my nickname."

The last time she saw Elvis, Steele recalled, she was concerned about his appearance, but had no idea of his addiction to prescription pills.

"He was overweight, but I didn't think much of it. I remember coming up from behind him and putting my arms around him and noticing how much weight he'd gained," she said. "But I never saw him do anything like drink, or anything like that. I just thought he'd gotten heavy. And he had a big bottle of water, Spring Mountain water, and he was the first person I ever saw drink bottled water."

Steele laughed when remembering her sister's reaction to meeting Elvis. "She said, 'Tell me I'm not dreaming, that's really him. Please tell me I'm not dreaming.' She loved Elvis. You know, we all did."

From Blogging Vegas:

Elvis Presley’s life-size bronze statue, which stood in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel lobby for oh, so many years, is back in public view. First dedicated in 1978, the somewhat ungainly pose of Elvis, guitar slung over his shoulder and holding a microphone in his left hand, was re-dedicated June 21.

But it wasn’t inside the hotel. This time, Elvis the Pelvis has been kicked outdoors to a garden area, standing atop a pedestal with embedded spotlights. A new bronze plaque at the rock ‘n’ roll idol’s feet reads:

An eight-year exclusive run in the Las Vegas Hilton Showroom 837 consecutive sold-out performances entertained some 2.5 million people enough to fill the Rose Bowl 25 times over! LAS VEGAS’ ALL-TIME FAVORITE, AND SUCCESSFUL PERFORMER

Elvis Presley’s Las Vegas connection was given a boost by his 1964 film “Viva Las Vegas!” opposite Ann-Margret, who drove him wild before Elvis could drive his racing car in the first Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Those were delirious days for the rock performer and fans. But now, the fame and recognition are ebbing. And his bronze statue is now outdoors where it inevitably will be bombed by birds of all feathers, and where many a mutt could lift a leg to leave a liquid signature.

Such is the nature of fame, a bird with paper wings.