Elvis at 54: Still Earning Interest

--If the king of rock ‘n’ roll were alive today, he would have celebrated his 54th birthday on Sunday. However, George Klein, one of Elvis Presley’s school classmates and now a disc jockey, chose to remember the day by treating Elvis’ fans to a birthday cake and a four-hour radio talk show from Elvis’ mansion, Graceland, in Memphis, Tenn. A breakfast buffet at Heartbreak Hotel was also served, with bacon cooked the way the King liked it--extra crispy. Klein did his best to put to rest rumors that Elvis did not die in August, 1977, and is still alive. “I know that Elvis Presley is really dead,” Klein told one of his callers. “I was a pallbearer at Elvis’ funeral. . . . These terrible rumors are the most cruel and tasteless things people have said about Presley.” Meanwhile, attesting to the staying power of the Presley magic, Forbes magazine reported that the Presley estate made $15 million in 1988 from record sales, licensing fees and tourist visits to Graceland. The magazine said that the only entertainers who earned more than the Presley estate last year were Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and George Michael.

--According to former Rep. John W. Jenrette of South Carolina, the shoplifting charge is a “silly, silly mistake.” But authorities in Fairfax County, Va., think otherwise. Jenrette, who served 13 months of a two-year prison sentence for an Abscam conviction in 1980, has been ordered to appear for trial on Feb. 1 on charges of shoplifting a pair of rubber shoes and altering price tags on a pair of pants and a shirt last month in Baileys Crossroads, Va. Each misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail. Jenrette, 52, who lives in Myrtle Beach, S. C., said in a newspaper story Sunday that he had tried on the shoes and, with the other articles in hand, walked out of the store to check on an announcement that illegally parked cars were being towed away. He was apprehended by security guards as he stepped outside.

--LuLa Ellis said Sunday her Philadelphia, Miss., theater will not show the film “Mississippi Burning,” despite the fact that the fictionalized account of the deaths of three civil rights workers is drawn from events in the town 25 years ago. “We’re not going to show it. No way. It’s not worth it,” said Ellis, who owns the Ellis theater, the only movie house in the town of 6,800 people. “I just see no reason why we should play it. It’s just a mess.” She said church groups had threatened to boycott the theater if it showed the movie. The release of the film, set for Friday, has refocused national attention on the community.