The Trentonian's Strange But True Page

Friday, August 17, 2007

Don't be cruel to a tooth that's true

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - A dentist has purchased an unusual bit of Elvis memorabilia — a porcelain crown that covered a gap in the King's teeth and the plaster mold used to make it.

"He had nice teeth," said Dr. Jim McCarthy, 58. "From a dentist's point of view, I find it interesting."

McCarthy received the crown this week from the son of the dentist who made it. The crown came with affidavits from the dentist's family and a signed letter from Elvis' manager, Joe Esposito.

Lewis Weiss, 59, said Elvis Presley lived next door to his grandmother in Memphis, Tenn. His father, Henry Weiss was the Presley family dentist.

"My dad took care of Elvis and his family before he had a record out," Weiss said in a telephone interview. "We used to play in the yard with Elvis. He used to sing to us."

His father kept a mold and spare crown in case Elvis needed one in an emergency. That happened in February 1971, when Elvis cracked his crown on a microphone while performing in Las Vegas at the International Hotel, now the Hilton.

That was before overnight delivery, so Weiss, then 23, volunteered to fly to Las Vegas with the tooth. Elvis invited him to stay and gave him a front row seat to a concert.

"My elbow was on the stage," Weiss remembered. "That night we got to party in his room."

After Elvis took the spare crown, Weiss' father made another.

Elvis died 30 years ago Thursday at age 42. Dentist Henry Weiss died in 1990.

McCarthy, a colonel with the Wisconsin National Guard, cut a deal to buy the mold and crown from Lewis Weiss while serving his second tour in Iraq. His son Patrick is a big Elvis fan and will inherit them, he said.

McCarthy wouldn't say how much he paid for the artifacts.

A forensics dentist, he said it didn't take long to authenticate them.

"If you look at the pictures of Elvis, you can see those teeth line up," McCarthy said.

His examination revealed something else as well: "I tend to think maybe he did some grinding."


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