Charlie Hodge died Friday in Decatur, Alabama.
Charlie was Elvis Presley's Army buddy. When Elvis made his Vegas comeback, Charlie gained fame as his onstage valet, handing the King his scarves and water, and collecting keepsakes from fans in the audience. In later years, he wound up doing the same for an Elvis impersonator.
Elvis, of course, figured prominently in the early years of tabloid television. His story was mined constantly. His downfall was chronicled and death foretold in Steve Dunleavy's masterwork, Elvis: What Happened? Charlie, and other members of Elvis' Memphis Mafia were interviewed time again as the Presley legend was exhumed, explored and exploited.
A photo of Charlie, bedecking Elvis with a scarf onstage in Vegas, was featured prominently in the A Current Affair offices in the late 1980s, as seen in a photo from the book, Tabloid Baby (detail on the right):
This website has funeral information, tributes, and this poem, which was posted today and says it all:
by Mr. David Voisine
I was five foot three standing on a platform
so that Elvis would not have to bend a knee
handing water and wrapping those silken scarves
had brought me much laughter a place amongst his star
singing gospel music we first met up on a ship
drafted were we and so darn ill equipped
a pleasure to serve the army but more pleasure later on
when he wanted to record an album and together we sang a song
"I'll Be Home Again" and we will keep this promise
as we both right now are up with the Lord
staging a comeback career like never before
no more moody blues for me my fans and friends
only peace and contentment as I am finally with him
those sideburns and piercing blue eyes
no not Jesus Christ although he is at our side
singing along with the choirs of angels
there is now so much peace in this valley
for you the Elvis fans and for me.