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DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — In a culture saturated with celebrity magazines, paparazzi and red carpets, it’s hard to imagine capturing an image of a young Elvis Presley alone on the sidewalk in New York. Or a picture of Muhammad Ali at play with neighborhood kids in a parking lot.
No screaming fans, no camera flashes, no entourages.
These unguarded moments are among dozens featured in “Ali and Elvis: American Icons,” a pair of photography exhibits sharing gallery space through May 15 at the James A. Michener Museum in Doylestown, Pa., about 25 miles north of Philadelphia. This is the first time the exhibits have been displayed together.
The Smithsonian-curated “Elvis at 21” show offers a glimpse into Presley’s life just as his star begins to rise. Needing publicity photos, Presley’s record company hired photographer Alfred Wertheimer in 1956 to shadow the rock-n-roll prince who would become The King.
Wertheimer had extraordinary access, said Smithsonian project director Marquette Folley.
“After this year, 1956, no one can ever get this close again,” Folley said. “The walls go up.”