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Blakeview: Elvis in Louisiana 

From Louisiana Hayride to King Creole

As the world remembers Elvis Presley this week on the 40th anniversary of his death on Aug. 16, 1977, we recall some of his Louisiana appearances. Beginning in 1954, the Tupelo, Mississippi native performed often on the legendary Louisiana Hayride country music show, broadcast on radio and TV from Shreveport. One of the guest announcers was Keith Rush, who later became a New Orleans radio star. Rush booked Presley for two shows in February 1955 at Jesuit High School's auditorium. Presley also appeared at Pontchartrain Beach, including for the "Miss Hillbilly Dumplin'" contest. The 21-year-old was there again in 1956 as part of a Gulf Coast vacation with his parents and then-girlfriend, June Juanico of Biloxi. On Aug. 12, 1956, Presley performed two shows at the Municipal Auditorium. "The more he sang and squirmed, the more the crowd squealed," wrote reviewer Rose Kahn in The New Orleans States. "No one could hear more than the opening bars of any song. No one could tell whether Elvis had a voice or not. No one cared." Presley returned to New Orleans in 1958 to film the movie King Creole. Co-starring Walter Matthau and Carolyn Jones, it is set in the city and features a catchy title song and Presley singing the opening number, "Crawfish," from a Royal Street balcony. He stayed at The Roosevelt Hotel during filming, and throngs of young female fans tried to get a glimpse of him in the French Quarter and at the lakefront, where scenes were filmed.

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