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Schoolhouse Rock: Will Humes High and other historic Elvis Presley sites influence new Elvis biopic?

What do you think of the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann's new "Elvis" biopic? Despite the many posthumous made-for-tv interpretations of Elvis Presley's life and career, beginning with John Carpenter's "Elvis" in 1979 starring Kurt Russell in the title role, this will be the King of Rock 'n' Roll's first big-screen treatment. I wonder how much influence the architectural legacy of Elvis Presley will have on the film's production design.


The photo below was taken of Humes High School in Memphis during my first tour of the city while representing the Circle G Foundation, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and public opening of Elvis Presley's former Circle G Ranch in nearby Horn Lake, Mississippi. Our grassroots collective of 16 countries worked together to raise the profile of the endangered ranch and successfully attract a buyer to restore and open it to the public (in progress) and last year we installed a Mississippi State Historical Marker at the site.


Elvis and classmates considered his senior year Humes High talent show performance as the start of his ascent to stardom.

Elvis Presley 1953 senior portrait

Elvis attended Humes High from 1948 to 1953, entering school there as an eighth grader in 1948 and graduating June 3, 1953. He won the school talent show in Winter 1948 and, three months before graduation, on April 4, 1953, he participated in the school's annual Minstrel Show. He was 16th on a 22-act bill, listed in the program as Elvis "Prestly." His performance of the country song "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off of Me" and encore of Teresa Brewer's "Till I Waltz Again with You" surprised everyone. It was a seminal moment for the shy, awkward outcast who had taken a chance on moving out of the shadows, and, tasting success from the stage, embraced his newfound popularity and outgoing persona that matched his flamboyant manner of dress and hairstyle.



This would've been Elvis's view from on stage at Humes High auditorium. (Photo: Sideburned Cinema).

L.C. Humes High School was built in 1924 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 for "its significance in education to Memphis, Tennessee and its Collegiate Gothic design" by architect George Awsumb. During Elvis Week in August 2013, the Tennessee Historical Commission dedicated an historical marker to Elvis and his classmates George Klein and Red West. It currently operates as Humes Middle School, a neighborhood charter school.


L.C. Humes High School (Courtesy Elvis Presley Enterprises)

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