LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Twenty-five years after his untimely death at 42, Elvis Presley's life is being celebrated with a revival of interest in his music and a primetime network TV airing of the rock 'n' roll icon's second feature film "Loving You."
The movie that NBC will present on Saturday has been technologically enhanced, although not to the extent to which Presley's 1968 record "A Little Less Conversation" was altered for its recent re-issue.
The record remix by Dutch deejay Tom Holkenburg leaves Presley's vocal performance more or less as it was in the original, but also offers listeners an array of new sounds that were not part of the original record. It hit the top of the charts in England and the United States -- adding another entry to Presley's record book by giving him 18 No. 1 singles in England, one more than the Beatles.
"Loving You" is being televised in high definition television (HDTV), using a newly restored, digitally remastered print. The telecast will feature commentary from several Hollywood stars who knew and worked with Presley.
Hal Kanter, who directed and co-wrote "Loving You" in 1957, said there is good reason why people still celebrate the man who became known, simply, as The King.
"The man was absolutely authentic, original," said Kanter. "There was nothing like him before, and there's been nothing like him since."
Fresh evidence of Presley's enduring mystique came Monday when Forbes.com named the late entertainer the top-earning dead celebrity from June 2001 to June 2002.
Presley earned $37 million during that span. Second place went to "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz, whose estate settled for $28 million. John Lennon ($20 million), race-car driver Dale Earnhardt ($20 million) and Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel ($19 million) rounded out the top five.
Conventional wisdom holds that Presley was limited as an actor, but Kanter -- who also co-wrote Presley's 1961 hit "Blue Hawaii" -- said he was an excellent actor who could have been great.
"The camera absolutely adored him, and he adored the camera back," said Kanter.
The 83-year-old Hollywood veteran said, however, that Presley's legendary personal manager -- the Barnum-like Col. Tom Parker -- "did not allow him the privilege of being just a plain actor."
Kanter said that he and Philip Dunne -- the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "How Green Was My Valley" (1941) -- thought Presley could have been a great movie star even without the music that Parker always insisted on.
Jerry Lieber, who collaborated with Mike Stoller to write many of Presley's hits -- including "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock" and the title song for "Loving You" -- disagreed with Kanter's evaluation of Presley's acting. He said Presley was more like John Wayne than Marlon Brando.
"I don't think he was an actor at all," said Lieber. "I think he was kind of a natural. I think he more or less played himself."
Presley made 33 movies, but his lasting popularity is mostly due to the music that made him a national star within one year after he recorded "That's Alright Mama" in 1954.
His string of rock 'n' roll hits included "Teddy Bear," "Don't Be Cruel," "All Shook Up" and "It's Now or Never."
After the Beatles and the Rolling Stones led the British invasion of America's music charts in the '60s, Presley's music fell out of favor -- but he mounted a counter-assault in 1968 with a televised special in which he rocked hard and reasserted his supremacy in his field.
In 1973, his "Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite" concert pioneered the use of space-age technology to reach international audiences. It was seen by an estimated 1 billion people, and popularized what was to become perhaps the most enduring Presley icon -- a beaded white leather jumpsuit.
Four years later -- on Aug. 16, 1977 -- Presley's fiancée, Ginger Alden, found him dead on a bathroom floor. An autopsy concluded that his heart was enlarged and his system contained 14 prescription drugs.
Kanter said there were two Elvis Presleys.
"There was the brilliant boy that I knew and respected," said Kanter. "The other was a bloated, beached whale who was evidently dependent on pharmaceuticals to keep his hips swiveling. I didn't know him."
When Presley's only child Lisa Marie married Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage in Hawaii last Saturday, Kanter said he felt a "resurgence of nostalgia" for Elvis.
"If Col. Tom Parker were still around," said Kanter, "I'd suspect that this was a publicity stunt to market his movie."