March 17, 1956: Elvis in his hotel bathroom an hour before his first TV appearance on 'Stage Show.' The photographer, Alfred Wertheimer, explains: “I love this one…he’s got full concentration. Elvis had just finished showering - he's looking into a small ladies hand mirror to see what's going on with the back of his hair, in a bigger mirror. He's using Vaseline hair tonic, not "bear grease."
Soon after graduating from Cooper Union’s School of Art in New York City in 1951, Alfred Wertheimer began his career as a photojournalist, publishing his work in such magazines as Life and Paris Match. When RCA Victor asked him to photograph the studio’s newest recording artist in 1956, Wertheimer turned the publicity assignment into a unique opportunity to document Elvis Presley. With the sensibility of a reporter and the imagination of a visual artist, Wertheimer observed his subject and environment as no photographer had done before or after.
More than six decades later, Wertheimer when a publicist from RCA records had contacted him, asking if he was available to photograph a young singer named Elvis Presley.
"I'd never heard of the man," Wertheimer told Time magazine. "He didn't have a gold record yet." .
The above photo is from a Alfred Wertheimer collection I recently came across. A collection which I will be featuring much of in the future. An unnamed US critic sums it up best: “Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs of Elvis Presley are a national treasure. They are a unique visual record of the most exciting and influential performer of our time. Taken 50 years ago, Wertheimer’s photographs document Elvis Presley at the pivotal moment of his explosive appearance onto the cultural landscape. After these photos were taken, no photographer ever again had access to Elvis that Wertheimer enjoyed. Apart from Elvis’s own recordings from this period, Wertheimer’s photographs are the most compelling vintage document of this musical artist in 1956.”
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