The overused phrase "cultural icon" is almost never truly warranted, but given that he is the most often impersonated human on the planet, the American singer and entertainer Elvis Presley thoroughly deserves that epithet. The fact is, even the poorest of impersonations by the least Elvis-like of people (thin Japanese gentleman with thick glasses who cannot sing and does not speak a single word of English but who is wearing stick-on sideburns and a sparkly cape) is instantly recognizable.

Elvis impersonation is a truly global phenomenon, embracing every continent. Age, race, gender, build, musical ability; none of these are barriers to Elvis impersonations, which truly do range from the sublime, such as the comedian Andy Kaufman, to the ridiculous, of which there are many.

Elvis impersonators have been widespread for many years, but their actual numbers have been steadily rising -- alarmingly, some might say. American research quoted in the British Sunday Times newspaper in December 2000 identifies 85,000 Elvis impersonators now, compared with just 150 in 1977, the year he died. The report goes on to state that "if growth continues at the same rate, one third of the world will be impersonating Elvis by the year 2019". A scary thought. Thankew, thankew very much.

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