Brace yourselves, Baby Boomers. Two milestones occurred this week that might just stop you in your tracks:
The 39th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.
And the 80th birthday of Robert Redford.
I’m just gonna give y’all a minute to let those last two statements sink in.
Now, tell me, how old do you feel?
The first Elvis song I ever heard, courtesy of my brothers’ old 45 RPM records (Google that, kids) was Jailhouse Rock. Gotta be honest, it didn’t set me on fire. I was just a little kid, in elementary school; rock and roll wouldn’t sink its hooks in me for a few more years, yet. I mean, he seemed like a perfectly nice young man, and he had a lovely voice, but no, I didn’t become an instant convert.
Like some of my relatives did. You know who you are.
And I certainly wasn’t aware we would all go to Hell for listening to him.
Now, of course, I have much more of an appreciation for just how influential a figure he was, not just in music, but show business, in general.
Elvis’ career, as I see it, had three phases: the rock-n-roll rebel, the movie star, and the Vegas sensation, with the silk scarves and the brilliant white sequined jumpsuit. Everybody has his or her preferred way of remembering Elvis, and my way is as the young rock-n-roller, with the onstage gyrations that earned him the nickname “Elvis the Pelvis”, making black music safe for white audiences and changing the world in the process, as all the girls screamed, cried and fainted at the sound of that one-of-a-kind voice.
The King may be gone, but the legend lives forever.
Poor Groucho Marx. The comedy movie icon died the same week as Elvis, but who remembers?
And now, let us praise the Sundance Kid. (The Sundance Geezer?)
I have always been a Robert Redford fan. He brings to all his roles a certain intelligence that conveys the message, don’t try and outsmart me; I’m onto you. He’s got that disarming smile that conceals the spark of danger just underneath. You get the impression he could be a great friend, but a fearsome enemy. Even the Sundance Kid’s best buddy, Butch Cassidy (played by Redford’s real best buddy, Paul Newman) knew enough to be a little afraid of the guy.
It’s hard for me to decide my favorite Robert Redford performance. The Sting is my all-time favorite movie, but that’s not his best performance, in my view, though it is a good one. I like some of his earlier work, like The Candidate and Jeremiah Johnson. From later in his career, Brubaker, The Natural and The Horse Whisperer are favorites.
Oh, yeah, and from very early on, Barefoot in the Park, with Jane Fonda. The guy has a great sense of humor, and it showed here.
Happy Birthday, Sundance.
The great thing about these two icons is that they each have a body of work that has made them immortal. We can enjoy them over and over, anytime we want, and appreciate the contribution each has made to our culture. Both these guys have marvelous legacies.
Thanks for sharing, fellas.